The goal was to get Carissa Moore to crack. I wanted the fired-up, Andy Irons-like competitor to roar. But the thing about interviewing world champs is that they're going to tell you only what they want to. They're just as smart in an interview setting as they are in a world title-winning heat. Kelly Slater is the master. He's like an interview Jedi -- those piercing eyes, the oversize cortex, and a competitive drive that makes Ricky Bobby look like a quitter. After countless interviews with Moore, I've come to understand that she masks her intentions with warm, bubbly answers. She is articulate and well-spoken. According to Moore, "Life's just hunky-dory."
But the thing is, it's not. There's a tremendous amount of pressure on her. Going into the 2014 U.S. Open of Surfing, arguably the biggest surf stage in North America, she is the defending champ. She is also holding down a slim lead in the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Women's World Tour rankings as she hopes to defend the world title she won last year. And she was nominated for an ESPY for Best Female Action Sports Athlete. To say she's a marked woman is an understatement.
X Games Surfing caught up with Moore while she was on the way to the launch party for ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue with her best friend and featured athlete Coco Ho. As I said, I tried to get Moore to crack, but it wasn't easy.
XGames.com: So, you and Coco Ho are heading to the Magazine's Body party?
Moore: Yeah, it's going to be so fun. I'm pretty dressed up, it's fun. Even Coco is wearing clothes.
Getting down to business: You're leading the ASP World Tour rankings, but really, how's the year going?
I'm having a really good time. I went into this year really excited to surf and feeling pretty confident. I went on a couple of different surf trips that really pushed me outside of my comfort level, and I just felt really good going into the season. I felt like I had a pretty good start. I wasn't worrying too much. I felt like I didn't want to put that pressure on myself of having to defend a world title, but at the same time I do want to do a better job.
I have to admit, Fiji wasn't the best event for me. I left pretty frustrated. I just felt unprepared and things didn't really click for me there. I was disappointed with my result, but I think it was a good learning experience and a great wake-up call. It'll keep me on my toes. Everyone is surfing really well, and going into California, there's a lot of girls that know these waves really well and can perform really well. I'm just looking forward to getting to Huntington and getting back into a jersey.
You and Sally Fitzgibbons are pretty locked up in the race. I know you like to say that there's no rivalry and that you're friends, but come on!
No, I'm sticking by my stance. I love Sally. I think we both really want to beat each other, but that's how competition is. But we're only halfway through the season and we still have five more events to go. Anything could happen. Steph Gilmore or Tyler Wright -- if they win events, they're right back in it, too. I think for now I'm not even going to worry about the title race and the numbers. I'm going to stick to my own game plan.
I'm going to keep asking you that question until I get the answer I want.
OK, you can if you want. But it's not going to change.
And the ESPYS, how did you find out you were nominated?
I actually found out on Instagram. Somebody posted a photo, and I was like, oh, this is quite nice. I originally wasn't going to come. I thought I'd just stay home and cruise, but my dad was the one who told me this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He told me, "You gotta go, you gotta experience it, you gotta enjoy it. There will be so many memories."
I was walking through the hotel last night with my boyfriend and the whole hotel was all branded with ESPYS, and I just thought, "Wow, this is going to be so rad!" I don't know any sports people, but I've seen some. My boyfriend can help me with that.
How does it feel to be up there with Jamie Anderson and the other nominees?
It's so cool. For the sport of surfing, it's so good. Grant "Twiggy" Baker is nominated on the guy's side, and I think it's really great to see surfing recognized amongst the best sports and athletes. It's really exciting. I'm honored to be there amongst Olympians and other athletes.
And overall, the new ASP, what's your take from the inside looking out?
I'm really stoked how the ASP is working out this year, especially on the women's side. They really stepped up and made it a priority. They made us feel like they really believe in us, giving us the opportunity to choose better venues and better surf. They've made us feel important and that's amazing. And the whole package of the ASP, I think it's all very visually attractive. On the website and TV, it's fun to watch. It's going in the right direction, which is awesome.