"I am definitely dedicated to doing the tour full time this year, and I want to be prepared," stated Kelly Slater after winning the Quiksilver Pro.
That's not what the rest of the ASP World Tour was hoping to hear. Couldn't he just ride off into the sunset? Four Quik Pro wins, 52 tour wins, 11 world titles, isn't that enough? Apparently not. Slater is very much on a mission in 2013, and unlike years past, he's been very deliberate and clear in stating his intentions.
It seems absolutely incredible that Slater still has the savvy, ability, talent and drive to perform at such a high level. His dedication to the sport of surfing will serve as a constant reminder of what athletes are truly capable of. Not only is he the best surfer ever, he stands as one of the best athletes. Who else is doing what he is at 41 years old?
Slater's road to the final wasn't easy. A marked man both in the water and when it comes to the rabidly vocal Australian crowd on the beach, Coolie kid Mick Fanning had him on the ropes in the semifinals. With minutes to go Slate needed a 9.2, a wave came in and Slater, doing what he does best, drove through a long barrel to post a 10-point ride and advance to the finals. Joel Parkinson, another hometown hero, was ripping the entire event, posting high heat totals and even nailing two 10-point rides throughout the event. It was almost inevitable that the world number one and two met in the finals of the first event of the season. Everybody else on tour seemed to fall by the wayside as things progressed.
The final started with a bang as Slater and Parko posted high eight-point rides, and they both continued to hunt barrels and build scores. At the halfway point of the heat Slater found a long barrel and finished with a huge layback snap posting the highest score of the heat a 9.83. Parko needed a 9.89 and took off on a wave that could have been a perfect ten, but Slater had priority and used it to block Parko from getting the score. That was the defining moment of the heat as it was the last good wave to come through and Slater won the final as soon as he stood up on the wave.
If this is any indication of what's to come in 2013 we're in for a treat. Undoubtedly we will see Slater winning more events throughout the year, and by the looks of things, he'll probably bank a 12th world title in the process. The fact that he has already openly stated that he is all in this year is a sure sign that he is a man on a mission and with Parko and Fanning finishing second and third, respectfully, in the first event, they're sure to be in the mix as well.