Why Airs Aren’t Really A Thing On The Women’s Tour, Yet…
Or how I injured my knee trying to be a Ladybird.
I think a big part of airs not being–or only just becoming a thing–in women’s surfing has to do with the fact that nobody’s really come on Tour doing them consistently in competition.
The first case of them that I can think of was Silvana Lima. She came on tour and would get eight point rides for doing a little air reverse. She probably scared everyone the most when she was doing them in heats; especially because they were scoring eights for a single maneuver.
But then, she ended up hurting her knees a few times, so she stopped throwing them so consistently. And it’s almost become this little unspoken thing, that like, “we don’t have to do them.” Haha. But that’s going to change soon, because whoever is going to bring the air first is going to start smoking everyone!
And, it’s not like we can’t do them. A lot of girls on tour can do them; they just don’t in heats. Like when we go on free surf trips, we will do them to like get a shot and a clip here or there, but no one is doing them consistently enough to make it something to focus on.
"That’s going to change soon because whoever is going to bring the air first is going to start smoking everyone!"
Although, everyone’s getting so good at turns, carves, and barrels that it’s about time. I don’t know what restricts everyone so much in a jersey except for the fear of being ahead in a heat, then falling trying to do an air, and having whoever you're surfing against put up an eight behind you and then losing. I think they’re too risky; like, you don’t want to blow a good wave because you were trying to do an air.
Carissa Moore will do them in competition sometimes, and so does Lakey Peterson. But as far as my generation goes and the women on tour right now, no one really comes from a skateboard background. Like, if you look at all the guys that do huge airs, they’re all crazy good skaters.
And if you look at the Ladybirds—who so politely inspired me to hurt my MCL in the pool following Stab High ;)—Sierra Kerr, Sky Brown, Bella Kenworthy, and Caitlyn Simmers all have this skateboarding background. I’m pretty sure Sky can do 540s in a quarter pipe. Like…crazy good.
Now, with wave pools, it’s really all going to change. It makes it so there’s no excuse not to do them, or not know how to. It’s way too easy to learn new things in the Waco pool.
That was the first time I’ve ever gone at a ramp and thought, Okay, let’s reverse this. I landed a couple straight airs and only got two air reverse attempts before I hurt my knee. When I did it, Pat Schmidt was the only guy there that really had airs down. He told me that I wasn’t absorbing my landing. I was landing too daintily on top of the wave. So when I went for my second attempt, I tried to absorb the landing but instead absorbed my whole body into my knee.
I overcompensated a little bit, and just freakin’ sunk into my MCL…
I was talking to my friend Nora Vasconcellos, she’s an amazing skater, quite a bit this last weekend. And she was like, “We need to go to Waco together because you know how to surf and I know how to land.” With surfing, we don’t have to have a landing mindset the way skaters do.
Skaters don’t try a trick without trying to land it, or else they just slam concrete, whereas we just land in water. We have the luxury of a soft surface to fall into. So, I think a big part of airs is approaching them with a skate mindset. Which is why all the guys and girls that do good airs, also skate.
I do think it’ll be a while until airs become a staple on tour, though—probably when Sierra turns 18!—but once those girls come up and they’re landing them, it’s going to make a whole generation have to raise the bar. And at that point, if you don’t raise it, then you won’t be on tour, and definitely won’t win an event.
When it becomes a necessity, every girl on tour will be forced to progress, everyone has the skill set to do them. It’s kind of like how Kelly landed that 540 once everyone started doing rotations. He’s got so much more knowledge than the younger kids that grew up doing them. It’s just a matter of applying wave knowledge and adding a different aspect to your surfing.
After me and Steph watched the Ladybirds at Stab High, we were like, “Woah, we wanna do airs.” Like, right now, every girl on tour has the stock standard air down, and some can do the air reverse. In the pool, we were landing them consistently and Steph landed a good slob. Haha, I don’t know why she hasn’t posted it yet.
Just seeing the young girls going for them got us all inspired to do them. We thought, okay wait, we have a little more power and little more wave knowledge. Let’s go do these.
And then I tore my MCL…