Round 1 of the ASP PRIME Nike US Open of Surfing saw several elite ASP Top 34 surfers clash against the leaders of the next generation in consistently changing one-to-three foot (.5 metre) waves at Huntington Beach Pier.
The 2011 Nike US Open of Surfing represents the last ASP PRIME contest before the midyear cutoff for the elite ASP World Title Series, making the event crucial for surfers’ qualification campaigns for the back half of the year.
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 17, unleashed his patented aerial-surfing and progressive turns on the wedgy Huntington lefthanders to ignite the day’s highest heat total of 16.73 out of 20 to start the Nike US Open of Surfing in sharp form.
“That was a tough heat,” Medina said. “It’s kind of hard to get a good one, but I got two 8s and I made it, so I’m stoked.”
Medina, current No. 19 on the men’s ASP World Ranking, is in excellent position to join the elite ASP Top 34 at the midyear cut and is trying not to put too much pressure on himself to perform at the final ASP PRIME event before the switch.
“I’m not really thinking about it, I just want to do well in all of the contests,” Medina said. “I want to have fun and hopefully I can qualify at the midway point in the year.”
Richard Christie (NZL), 22, displayed powerful, committed surfing on the small peaky conditions at Huntington Beach to take a Round 1 win while posting the day’s highest single-wave score of an 8.93 (out of 10). The New Zealander’s victory came over reigning ASP World Junior Champion Jack Freestone (AUS), 19, ASP World Title campaigner Damien Hobgood (Satellite Beach, FL), 32, and former US Open of Surfing Winner Nathaniel Curran (Oxnard, CA), 26.
“I’m just having a go and trying to get some scores and I’m stoked to get through that one,” Christie said. “I was just trying to find a good wave and surf it the way I would usually surf it and not get too wigged out by the crowd and it seemed to work.”
Taj Burrow (AUS), 33, was one elite ASP World Title Campaigner to ignite the challenging conditions on both his forehand and backhand to take a convincing Round 1 victory and the veteran campaigner enjoys competing against the next generation of talent at events such as the Nike US Open of Surfing.
“I luckily started with a pretty decent wave out the back and finished up in the shore-pound,” Burrow said. “It’s great surfing against the young guys. They’re so high-fi out there. They’re really light on their feet and can do every trick in the book, I love it. I want to go out there and mix it up with them in these small little waves. It’s always a challenge and I love surfing with those guys.”
Patrick Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 25, took to his backhand to unload a flurry of tail-drifting turns on a series of wedgy lefthanders to garner a 16.33 out of 20 heat score, one of the day’s highest, to advance alongside brother Tanner Gudauskas, 23, in their Round 1 heat.
“I don’t think we teamed up against those guys,” Gudauskas said. “We were looking at the heat draw and it was a bummer that we were in the same heat. You’re hoping to be in the Final together maybe, but not Round 1. Those guys are such good surfers and there were so many waves being ridden that you couldn’t really team up.”
Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, FL), 39, former US Open of Surfing Champion, won his Round 1 heat with a buzzer-beating wave and unloaded a variety of ferocious forehand turns to earn an 8.50 for the ride to overtake Jano Belo (BRA) 28, for the win.
“There were waves breaking outside the heat before and there were only a few in our heat so it was a little tough,” Slater said. “Days like this, it’s a lot of luck, you’ve just got to catch the right waves. I tried to plan that one at the end. I could have gone on the one before, but that one looked a little bit bigger and had that little peak up against the pier.”
Evan Geiselman (New Smyrna Beach, FL), 17, Nike US Open of Surfing Wildcard, was dangerous on both his forehand and backhand and issued a major upset when he defeated elite ASP World Tour surfer Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, in Round 1.
“I lost my Junior heat and I’m just stoked to have another chance in the main event,” Geiselman said. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the week and I’m having fun out here. The more heats I get to surf out here the better, I love it.”
Tomorrow’s action will see the completion of ASP PRIME Round 1 as well as the first half of Round 2. Also surfing will be the elite ASP Top 17 in Round 3.
LIVE webcast of the Nike US Open of surfing will run from August 1 through 7, 2011 via www.usopenofsurfing.com
The Nike US Open of Surfing represents a massive action sports festival which also includes Skate, BMX, Art, Music and Fashion shows all of which are free to the public.
For full results and to watch live head to www.usopenofsurfing.com/