What gets guys on tour psyched? Come to find out, it's the same thing as most any sport's fan: a good, old fashioned rivalry. In conversation yesterday with Pat Gudauskas we got to talking about surfing's better rivalries and what they've meant to the sport. The epic battles of Curren v. Occy or Kelly v. Andy not only made for good action, it made for great drama, and when combined it made for epic theater. Gudauskas brought up the question of what the next big rivalry could be. Who will pit themselves against one another, putting fortune, glory and immortality on the line? I thought about it a little bit and here are five pairings that I've come up with:
Dane Reynolds v. Jordy Smith
This one's kind of a gimme, and this would-be rivalry's almost over before it ever began. With Reynolds being sidelined by a knee injury through at least the first or second event of the 2011 season, the world will have to wait to see how he returns. When the two came on tour in 2008 they were immediately reckoned heir apparents to Slater, Irons and Fanning. For both surfers 2010 showed much progress, as Smith vied for a world title and finished the year rated second, and Reynolds blew minds and finished respectfully in fourth. All eyes are watching, it'd be a boon for surfing if they blew this thing up, and how high would those webcast numbers go? Now if they only hated each other a little more.
Carissa Moore v. Sally Fitzgibbons
A potential cat fight of epic proportion, women's surfing's never really had a proper rivalry. Lisa Andersen, Layne Beachley and now Stephanie Gilmore have all ruled with relative impunity, nary a challenger has come their way. But that could all change as Moore and Fitzgibbons assert themselves on the global stage. Both are young, ambitious, exceptionally bright and talented, and both have been touted as future world champions. When it comes to Moore and Fitzgibbons, think Curren and Occy in bikinis ... there's a visual for ya.
Julian Wilson v. Justin Bieber
Pouty lips, sleepy eyes, what's a squealing under-age girl to do? Wilson probably gets the nod in the talent department, but Bieber's got him when it comes to groupie count.
Kolohe Andino v. John Florence
This one's been brewing for years. The battle of the wonder groms. One a well-refined, technically near-perfect NSSA all-star, the other a 10-year Pipeline veteran before even graduating high school. With his recent win at the Pipe Pro, right now Florence's stock may be a little higher, but to be fair, Andino did spend a good chuck of the winter with his foot in a cast. Both continue to develop and mature, getting stronger and more innovative with every passing swell. When you think about where these two will be in five or six years, it's very easy to see them sitting one and two on the ASP rankings, but who takes that top spot is anybody's guess at this point. Even Pat Gudauskas was enthralld by this one.
Jack Robinson v. Jack Freestone
Aussie versus Aussie. Mate versus mate. Jack versus Jack. While Freestone has a distinct edge in the age department, young Mr. Robinson is loaded with both talent and charisma. Freestone's the reigning ASP Junior World Champ and just inked a big deal with Billabong, while Robinson just signed a footwear deal with Nike 6.0 and has been sessioning with Taj Burrow as of late. Google search either name and you're apt to have your mind blown. Whether they actually develop some competitive rivalry is really a shot in the dark, but it'd be fun if they did.