Gabriel Medina wins 2014 Fiji Pro
Gabriel Medina, 20, won the Fiji Pro on Thursday in Tavarua, Fiji, further proving that the youth brigade has officially taken over the ASP World Tour.
Claiming his second win of the 2014 season, Medina now sits back atop the ratings as the tour heads into the second half of the season. Facing Nat Young in the final, Medina took control early and never looked back. Locking in wave scores of 9.87 and 8.53, Young was left in search of a combination of scores for the final 20 minutes but was never able to recover.
"This tour is amazing. I'm really stoked," said Medina afterward. "Nat's a tough guy, he doesn't like to lose. I tried to get the good ones because I knew he was going for it. It was a good final."
When asked about his world title chances, Medina smiled. "It's too early to tell, you know?" he said.
The final day of the Fiji Pro began with Young defeating Tahitian Michel Bourez in the first semifinal. Bourez briefly took over the ratings lead but slid to second after Medina took out California's Kolohe Andino in the second semi.
"Since the beginning I knew Nat was going to make the final," Bourez said. "I'm super happy to make the semis. Kelly [Slater] was ahead of me on the ratings, and now I move up, so that's good."
More than Bourez's consistency, Young's statement-making or Medina's incomparable performance, the Fiji Pro may ultimately be remembered for signaling the changing of the guard on the ASP World Tour. Medina and Andio are both 20 years old, and Young is just 22.
Eleven-time ASP World Champion Slater went into the Fiji Pro leading the ratings, and after winning the contest the last two years, had his eyes set on distancing himself from the field. But in a heat that may ultimately prove to have world title implications, for the second time this season Bourez got the best of Slater (making him only the second person currently on tour to beat Slater at Cloudbreak).
Other tour journeymen suffered similar fates. Defending world champ Mick Fanning was upset by Young, while Adriano De Souza fell to Andino. Joel Parkinson and Taj Burrow were shown the door in Round 5.
For now the men of the ASP World Tour will take the next month off, reconvening at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa, on July 10. J-Bay is a wave that calls for experience and well planned lines. It's also a place that Slater, Fanning and Parkinson have had great success. Meanwhile, Medina's never surfed there. Can the old dogs come back and make statements of their own? Or will the next generation continue to strengthen their hand? Either way, the ASP World Tour season is hitting the halfway mark and as Medina pointed out, it's still early and anything is possible.