Medina wins Quiksilver Pro Australia
An Early Win For Brazil
In a brilliant display of backside surfing, Gabriel Medina took on the best and came out on top at the first elite event of the season, the Quiksilver Pro on Australia's Gold Coast. After a bit of a shaky season last year, the win puts him in command of the ASP World Tour ratings and makes him the early front-runner in the title race. Beating Joel Parkinson in the final, Medina remarked, "It's weird, it's really weird, but it feels so good."
Finishing runner-up to Gabriel Medina, Joel Parkinson desperately would have liked to go the distance, especially after finishing in the same spot last year to Kelly Slater. "Second two years in a row is heartbreaking, but on the other hand it's still a great start to the year," Parkinson said. "World titles aren't won or lost at the first event."
"It's an honor to win this event," Medina said. "This is the hardest event of the whole tour and I feel like all the best surfers in the world -- Mick, Parko and Taj -- have won it. It's been a dream to win since I was a grommet. I've been watching those guys on videos and reading about them in magazines. Today I had the opportunity to compete against them and I couldn't let this chance go."
Consistently taking off behind the rocks at Snapper and getting the best barrels of the entire event, Parkinson was in fine form from beginning to end. Opening the final with a nine-point ride, he would ultimately fall to Medina by a mere 0.06 of a point.
For most, a quarterfinal finish at the Quiksilver Pro would be enough, but for Kelly Slater, the event's defending champ, it was a bit of a disappointment. Experimenting with his boards, he never appeared to be 100 percent in the groove. That said, at 42 years old he's still a force to reckon with and is certain to contend for the 2014 ASP World title.
Coming off his 2013 ASP World title win, it wouldn't have been surprising if Mick Fanning had been a little flat at the Quik Pro, but his surfing was tack sharp and on point. After a slight bobble in Round 1 against Dane Reynolds, he snapped into form. Throughout the middle rounds of the contest he very much looked like the man to beat, until Medina took him down in a tightly contested quarterfinal.
Adriano De Souza
While everybody on tour wants to win, arguably nobody wants it as bad as Adriano De Souza, especially when he's up against Slater. Fired up for their quarterfinal duel, De Souza dropped the hammer on the 11-time world champ, but came up flat in the semis against Parkinson.
The world tour is a more interesting series with Reynolds on it. He may not have won, but he did leave an impression. With his progressive, go-for-broke approach he brings much needed excitement and spontaneity to every heat. And with a seemingly renewed interest in competition, hopefully we'll see a lot more of him in 2014.
Now 35, the journeyman that is Taj Burrow continues to surf at a high level, finishing fifth at the Quik Pro. But the younger guys on tour are coming up quick. With two more stops in Australia he has to take advantage of his home turf and try to climb as far up the ratings as possible if he's going to have a title shot in 2014.
Upset by rookie and fellow Hurley team rider Mitch Crews, Julian Wilson was left wanting more after the Quik Pro. While he possesses all the right moves, to date he's never been able to put a big performance together for his home audience in Australia.
John John Florence
Losing out way too early than most fans would have liked, John John Florence was sent packing in Round 2. Feeling the sting of defeat, expect big things from the rising Hawaiian as the tour turns to Western Australia's powerful Margaret River.
CJ Hobgood came into the Quik Pro with a chip on his shoulder. The former world champ has been eager to show the world that he still has plenty of fight left in him after more than a decade on tour. Surfing all the way to the quarterfinals, eventually Hobgood's momentum would be stalled by Burrow, but not before he locked in a fifth-place result to get his season off on the right foot.
Kolohe Andino made it into Round 3 before being knocked out of the event, but his surfing continues to mature and evolve. This year he could very easily have the breakout performance so many have been expecting from him, and if that happens and his confidence gets a little stronger, there's no telling how high he could climb in the rankings.
After dealing with the ups and downs of injury over the past couple of years, Freddy Patacchia is back in fighting form. In an all goofy-foot affair, he was edged out by longtime friend Hobgood in Round 5, but still came away smiling with a respectable ninth-place finish.