The Queen Lives
From fifth to first, Stephanie Gilmore clinches 8th World Title at Lower Trestles.
For all the pros and cons of the Final Five format, it did allow two of the best women of the modern era go head to head as they’ve never done before.
Carissa Moore versus Stephanie Gilmore was the dream prizefighting matchup of global surf fans and WSL staffers alike. Records on the line: Carissa was looking for her third straight title and sixth in 11 years. Steph sought a record eight crowns.
“It’s such a looney situation right now for the women,” Mick exclaimed. Agreed.
But on a wind-swept and choppy day at Lowers, Steph, the No. 5 seed, hit a new high in a career filled with highlights. Sorry Layne Beachley, but the queen of the Gold Coast just claimed a record eighth World Title by winning five heats today, including two straight in a best-of-three matchup over the perennial Hawaiian powerhouse. Another chapter in her anthology of greatness.
Steph beat Brisa Hennessy, Tatiana Weston-Webb and Johanne Defay before facing Carissa Moore. After a slow start (including being comboed in heat one), Steph improved heat after heat. She used a blistering wrap to stun the reigning champ in the first heat, then picked cleaner lines in the second. The dominance was exemplified in the waning minutes when Carissa missed a clean runner and Steph pounced. Sizzling wraps and a nose pick reverse to seal it. Tears and champagne onto the cobblestones.
Steph used the example of her victory to question the new WSL system.
“The beginning of the year was so bad — missing Pipe and then having a bad one at Sunset. I barely clawed my way over the cutline.
“But I told myself this morning, ‘You have a chance. Let’s just prove this whole system…wrong.’ Carissa is the real world champ this year.”
If Steph’s regular season was a roller coaster, it would be one of those vintage rickety ones that pops a few screws loose while creeping up to the top. But those older rides are special for a reason. After starting slow, Steph peaked at exactly the right time for an exhilarating finish.
She missed Pipeline to start the season with a bout of Covid. A couple of ninths and fifths followed. But she made the MYC, because how could she not? Her vintage frontside form was on full display on the running El Salvador point, where she got her first win of the year. But gone are the days of unmatched dominance. This year’s tour was tricky, with more talent parity than we’ve seen from the women’s tour in some time. Her victory was one of nine different winners in 10 events.
Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that the
seven eight-time world champ could blitz the field and win five straight heats at playful, albeit tricky, Lowers Trestles. When the WSL unveiled the Final Five format, you had to wonder if this kind of improbably come-from-behind win was possible.
Turns out it is, but only the She-GOAT can do it.
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