An Early Pipeline Exit For Stephanie Gilmore Amidst GenZ Glory - Stab Mag

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Just a few years ago, Bettylou wouldn't have even been afforded the chance for a Backdoor wave like this on the world surfing stage. Photo by Tony Heff/WSL

An Early Pipeline Exit For Stephanie Gilmore Amidst GenZ Glory

Day Two of the 2023 CT season was a clear notice that the kids are alright.

features // Feb 3, 2023
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Another morning of playful Backdoor, another morning of duck books on the commentary table and talk of “wearables.”  With a bit of Hawaiian sun and the odd backless pit, the conditions look extremely similar to yesterday. 

The day begins with the women’s Opening Round and a rhythm reminiscent of yesterday — if you’re in sync with da aina, you’ll get a couple visions and a 9 point heat total, if you’re not, you’ll sit without a decent wave for the whole heat (or resort to turns for a couple 1.83’s)..

Here’s how the day unfolded…

TLDR

  • The morning brought good conditions and playful tubes — amidst long lulls.
  • Carissa and Bettylou duel for dominance, trading off dreamy Backdoor vortexes
  • Teenagers Caity Simmers and Alyssa Spencer eliminate defending World Champion Stephanie Gilmore, in the proverbial changing of the guard.
  • Molly Picklum went off, looking like a low-key event favorite.
  • By the Round of 16 the conditions look like an onshore Rio QS, leaving competitors hunting for literal one turn waves.
Mols gonna have a mean helmet tan after this winter. Photo by Brent Bielmann/World Surf League

Come-Ups

Peak performance: Tyler Wright, Molly Picklum

Hit replay: OR Heat 2 & Heat 5. ER Heat 1.

Monster maneuvers: 

  • Carissa & Betty-Lou’s crystal drainers.
  • Gabriela Bryan’s barrel-bash combo
  • Molly Picklum’s foamy fin-sliding 8 point vision

Praise be to Ross Williams for his ability to speak substantially on strategy and the particulars of professional surfing. His intimate knowledge of the CT and it’s athletes always leads to less bland conversations throughout WSL broadcasts.

The first heat of the day was extremely slow, seeing Tatiana Weston-Webb and Caroline Marks skate by Teresa Falls-a-lot with a few 3’s.

Then, in potentially the best heat of the morning, Bettylou Sakura Johnson and Carissa Moore went back-to-back on perfect righthand runners. Carissa just slightly bested the youngster courtesy of a bonus section, but BLSJ already looks like a different surfer than she did last season. Though she finished second, her first heat confidence shows possible promise to fulfill my dreamstate prophecy.

I’d imagine Carisaa was particularly satisfied with her win, considering her interference on Bettylou was to blame for her Vans Pipe Masters loss.

The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Champ in familiar territory. Photo by Tony Heff/World Surf League

To follow that, current World Champ Stephanie Gilmore took to the water with defending event champ Moana Jones-Wong. The two hardly glanced at each other, with Moana strictly looking left and Steph doing the opposite. Moana’s goofy-bias paid off, and she was the only gal on the morning to win her heat without a right. Aside from a just-too-deep foamball ride, Steph looked mostly unengaged, and the yellow jersey headed to the Elimination Round.

After Sally Fitzvisions dominated her matchup, it was time for ‘Toasted’ creator Caity Simmers to make her CT debut. The O-side punkette ended up out of rotation on the highest scoring heat of the morn, and ended up watching Gabriela Bryan and Lakey Peterson pick off a few proper scores. Gabriela’s first wave — and the buckets she sent skyward after her tube — was a clear statement of intent. Caity to the ER.

The almost universally improved degree of comfort that the ladies are exhibiting at Pipe is exciting. There’s no denying adding this event to their schedule has assisted in the rapid ascent — and display — of female progression.

Gabriela Bryan reminding us why she was Rookie of The Year . Photo by Tony Heff/World Surf League

Molly Picklum started her heat by establishing a bit of next-gen dominance over veterans Tyler Wright and Courtney Conlogue with a solid 8.00, and the youngster held her ground to the final buzzer.

The Elimination Round then snuck up out of nowhere, with our Rookie-darling Caity on the chopping block against Steph and Alyssa Spencer. Fortunately, she collected a handful of points via a stylish head-dip layback combo. She then found a double-dip for a solid 7, while Steph faceplanted a couple times and Alyssa slapped some lefts around.

The clock clicked down, and unbelievably, 8x World Champion Stephanie Gilmore was knocked out of the event by two teenagers — a rookie and an injury replacement, no less.

Caity, ever collected Photo by Brent Bielmann/World Surf League.

Maybe I’m suffering from recency bias, but it feels as though it’s been at least a few sesasons since Steph felt like a real juggernaut at most events. Aside from last years wins at El Salvador and obviously Lowers, she hasn’t had the consistency or potency of Carissa or Tyler at events other than right points.

Steph, of course, gracefully accepted her loss and smiled the entire time. “I think this year will be different, I won’t be able to just scrape by like I did last year.”

Amen.

Between Caity defeating Steph and Molly besting Tyler, ‘Toasted’ takes the World Tour.

Atleast, until Brisa Hennessey outgrinded Caity in their Round of 16 heat. See ya at Sunset.

Caity, smiling because she dodged the ominous “33rd”. Photo by Tony Heff/World Surf League

Overlapping heats ensued in rapidly deteriorating conditions, and Moana returned to her goofy tendencies against Lakey Peterson — except this time, Lakey’s Backdoor hacking bested the Pipeline Queen.

Then, in what felt like a rapid fire QS, Tyler mopped Sally, Tati trumped Teresa, and Carissa vanquished Alyssa.

A serious standout on the day, Molly Picklum perfectly managed the grindy conditions for fizzing roundhouses and — to quote Ross Williams — “the best turn of the day.” .

As the Round Of 16 came to a close, Bettylou advanced past Caroline, the final battler in a torched lineup. After hours of watching lumpy cutties in sideshore 1-footers, my only consolation is that the cryptic Bettylou prophecy may yet be fulfilled.

C’mon Betty. Photo by Brent Bielmann/World Surf League

Let-downs

Caught behind: Steph Gilmore, hardly catching a decent wave two heats in a row.

Blind mice: Judging was on-point, especially considering the minute differences between cutbacks on half-baked crumblers.

By the end of the day, the waves seriously sucked. Hopefully the run of NW swell that’s popped up for the 6-10th delivers something slightly more serviceable.

Courtney Conlogue straightening out on potentially the wave of the day was heartbreaking, only made worse by her subsequent elimination of just .04 points. She’ll be having nightmares about that one tonight.

Also, can we please never see a Jamie O’Brien x Turtle Bay commercial ever again? I love Jamie and Kaipo, but atleast give us some content that doesn’t sound like Erik Logan’s pet AI robot wrote the script.

By the afternoon, this was a good section. Photo by Tony Heff/World Surf League

Gamble Ramble:

Betting on top seeds doesn’t make sense…unless it’s Carissa Moore. Mikey C has redeemed yesterday’s catastrophe with handful of clever Betonline.ag picks today.

R1
$10 on Macy Callaghan at +850 (to win $85) LOST
$10 on Bettylou Sakura Johnson at +275 (to win $27.50) LOST
$10 on Molly Picklum at +450 (to win $45) WON

R3
$500 on Carissa Moore at -375 (to win $133) WON
$20 on Lakey Peterson at +140 (to win $28) WON
$10 on Macy Callaghan (to win $12) LOST
$10 on Brisa Hennessy (to win $11) WON

Day 2 total: $187
Event total: $142

Men’s R3 picks

$50 on Callum Robson at -120 (to win $42)
$20 on Seth Moniz at -110 (to win $19)
$20 on Joao Chianca at -130 (to win $15)
$20 on Carlos Muñoz at +250 (to win $50)
$20 on Liam O’Brien at +215 (to win $43)
$20 on Leo Fioravanti at +150 (to win $30)
$20 on Nat Young at +185 (to win $37)
$20 on Ian Gentil at +340 (to win $68)

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