Medina Loses On An Interference, World Title Race Blows Wide Open
“Didn’t you say Portugal was going to be boring?”
“Didn’t you say Portugal was going to be boring?”
That was my mother this morning as I shouted, emphatically, “Holy shit, Medina got an interference!”
Fair point, mom. Perhaps in my vehement assault of the post-John era, I forgot the most important thing about the sport of surfing: anything can happen. And today, it did.
In a heat that Medina had won within the first eight minutes, he actually lost due to a blatant priority error. Holding 14 points to Caio Ibelli’s 7.17, Medina would have been better off coming to the beach with half of the heat remaining than staying out for what ultimately transpired.
The transaction was straightforward. Both surfers thought they had priority, but of course only one did. When a set wave approached, Medina shouldered Ibelli toward the whitewash. Ibelli stood up and both surfers lifted their arms toward the scaffolding.
The commentators thought Ibelli had priority and that Medina would receive an interference. They were correct. Medina shock-laughed when the decision was announced over the intercom. Total disbelief.
Interestingly enough, Medina still found himself in the lead with an 8.17 single-wave score. With less than ten minutes remaining, Caio needed just under a three to advance. He went on a closeout with priority and did not attain the required number. It started to feel like Medina might still win the heat. With four minutes left, Gabriel let Caio go on another closeout. Caio tagged the lip quickly and air-dropped to the flats.
A three? My instincts said no; Pottz and Strider would agree.
The judges would not.
Three-point-one was the official number, leaving Medina in need of an 8.5 to regain the lead. It never came. Following the heat, our 2x World Champion stormed straight up the beach and into the Commissioner’s office where a heated exchange took place; viewers were never notified what exactly happened, but Strider openly wondered if Medina had left the office over two hours later.
Now, how does this affect the World Title race?
The following numbers show the top 5 men’s unofficial point totals following the Portugal event, with every surfer’s two lowest event scores already being deducted. Medina’s number is concrete, the other surfers have a range based on quarterfinal (minimum) and first place (maximum) finishes. (As always, feel free to correct my janky arithmetic in the comments.)
Toledo: min 47,815, max 53,070
Jordy: min 43,610, max 48,865
Italo: min 43,155, max 48,410
Kolohe: 43,335, max 48,590
The title race is well and truly going to Pipe, and it won’t be a walkthrough for Medina by any means. More importantly, I’m officially un-bored with competitive surfing. So thank you to the priority judge for making this year interesting.
[NOTE: It was pointed out in the comments that Medina and Ibelli may have a re-surf next time competition resumes, which would be another fun plot twist.]
Other things that happened:
Kolohe got a super-tube and Slater lost to Kanoa.
Filipe dominated despite a salty spine.
Jordy performed a floater-to-snap that was more progressive than Peterson Crisanto’s two supermans. Supermen? Sorry, it’s 2019. Superthem.
Italo landed 43 airs in a no-contest decision over Conner Coffin, and Jack Freestone got a much-needed victory over Soli Bailey, or Solomon, as Rosy lovingly refers to him. Jack will almost definitely qualify for the 2020 CT with (at least) a quarter here.
On the women’s side, Commie Caroline made another final series, Carissa Moore continued her Title charge, and Steph Gilmore still looks fucking awesome on a surfboard, though mostly on her forehand. Lakey and Sally also made their heats, which means Carissa will need to make the final (at least) to win the Title in Portugal.
Here’s the official play on the women’s race.
The WSL has another week to finish this event, but the forecast looks grim. Small surf, swirling winds, the whole deal. Tough to say when they’ll finish this event off, but regardless of conditions, the results will have a massive impact on both Title races. Especially the men.
Who knew a waist-high day in Portugal could be so thrilling?
Mom was right again.
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