After taking out the Rip Curl Pro Search in San Francisco on Monday, 17-year-old Gabriel Medina has asserted himself as the face of the rising Brazilian insurgency. One win during the back half of the season would have been enough, but two wins in only four events? That's downright Slater-esque.
"I don't even know what I did," stammered Medina as Joel Parkinson showered him with champagne from atop the podium.
Parkinson's response: "He's one of the best surfers I've ever seen."
Right from the onset of the final Medina came out swinging, bagging a seven-point ride right on the opening horn. Parkinson was caught on his heels. Medina followed that up with a nine-point ride, and that was it, the final was more or less decided in the first ten minutes. Parkinson never really answered.
Medina was able to edge out newly-minted 11-time world champ Kelly Slater earlier in the day in a high-flying quarterfinal. Then he laid waste to Taylor Knox in the semis. Slater won his first title when Medina was but a one-year-old gremlin in Brazil, and Knox and Slater are the two oldest competitors on tour. "I'm old enough to be his dad," joked Slater. As far as today goes, it was showtime for the New School generation.
And maybe now is a good time to point out that while there's been a lot of criticism regarding the new ASP tour format, most notably the mid-year cutoff, Medina is proof positive that the system is working to some degree. If the idea is to have the hottest surfers on tour constantly circulating through the Top 32 ranks, Medina's two victories in only four events is a testament to the fact that somebody can jump on tour halfway through the year and have an immediate impact.
"I didn't really think about it when I qualified," said Medina, "I was just busy surfing and trying my best. Just trying to do the best I can. But yeah, man, I'm just so stoked. I can't even believe it."
Admittedly, San Francisco hasn't been Medina's favorite destination thus far. "It's cold, very cold in the morning," he laughed. "I haven't been doing any warm-up surfs because it makes me cold all day."
Well, he certainly wasn't cold today. And neither was fellow countryman Alejo Muniz, who was edged out by Parkinson by half of a point in their semifinal matchup. Muniz currently finds himself locked in a heated race with Julian Wilson for Rookie of the Year honors.
"We push each other every time we surf together," says Muniz of Wilson. "We don't talk about it a lot, but we've been spending a lot of time surfing together and it's there."
As far as what this means for Brazil, Medina put it best: "We're coming. I hope someday soon somebody from Brazil can win a world title."
If he's not careful he might just be that someone.
RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SAN FRANCISCO FINAL RESULTS:
1. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.50
2. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.90
RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SAN FRANCISCO SEMIFINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.33 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 14.27
SF 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.97 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 14.34
RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SAN FRANCISCO QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: Taylor Knox (USA) 14.96 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 12.83
QF 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.50 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 11.10
QF 3: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.83 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 11.83
QF 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.76 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.93
RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SAN FRANCISCO ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Taylor Knox (USA) 14.67 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.83
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 13.93 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.70
Heat 3: Brett Simpson (USA) adv. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) *Gudauskas withdraws due to injury
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 11.60 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 6.40