The electrifying action of the final day of women's competition at Barra da Tijuca culminated in dramatic fashion with the world's best female surfers going toe-to-toe with the highly-coveted 2011 ASP Women's World Title on the line.
Moore and Fitzgibbons nearly matched scores on their opening accounts, but the young Hawaiian notched a solid 8.10 midway through the heat with polished backhand surfing on a lefthander that proved to be enough to solidify Moore's third elite event victory of the 2011 season.
"I just went out there and had fun and to me there was no pressure in the Final," Moore said. "I was just stoked to be in the Final regardless of how I finished. Obviously I'm happy that I won. The girls really didn't go on those lefts, but they worked out for me today."
Moore, who marched past local favorite Silvana Lima (BRA), 26, to earn her final berth, appeared in her fifth consecutive final out of the five events held this year and her victory at the Billabong Rio Pro extends her lead on the 2011 ASP Women's World Title Season over current ASP Women's World No. 2 Sally Fitzgibbons.
"I was really nervous that I wouldn't make the Final because I was up against Silvana (Lima) and she's the local favorite," Moore said. ""I'm excited. We have two events left and it'd be nice to just finish really strong."
Fitzgibbons built momentum throughout the Billabong Rio Pro, winning her non-elimination Round 3 heat before topping ASP Women's World Tour Rookie Pauline Ado (FRA), 20, and Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 22, but was unable to find the score needed to surpass Moore in the final and continues to trail the Oahu prodigy for the 2011 ASP Women's World Title.
"It's a long year and there are a couple of events to go and it has been great here competing in Rio for the first time," Fitzgibbons said. "Looking into the next few events it's really going to be about stepping it up and having fun and focusing on my surfing. Hopefully I can get a few more results."
Moore and Fitzgibbons remain the only two surfers in contention for the 2011 ASP Women's World Title.
Stephanie Gilmore, reigning four-time ASP World Champion, was lethal in her Quarterfinals heat against Laura Enever (AUS), 19, but was unable to find the score needed to surpass Fitzgibbons in their Semifinals matchup, finishing Equal 3rd overall.
"It was tough work out there," Gilmore said. "Sally (Fitzgibbons) got a couple and I had some opportunities. I only needed a six and was too deep on that wave that came in at the end. Sally's in the zone right now."
Gilmore, who made surfing history by winning four ASP Women's World Titles in four consecutive attempts, was knocked out of the 2011 ASP Women's World Title race today, with her failure to advance past Fitzgibbons and into the Final. This historic moment in women's sport proved emotional for the Australian icon.
"I'm going through so many emotions right now, it's hard," Gilmore said. "It's been a pretty good year and Sally and Carissa (Moore) have been on fire. It's good for the sport and good for me. I really don't know what to say."
Silvana Lima (BRA), 26, put on an impressive performance in front of her hometown crowd to match her best result of 2011. The talented Brazilian finished behind Carissa Moore in their Semifinals matchup and was happy to tie her best result of the season at her home event.
"I'm so excited to have matched my best result in front of my home crowd," Lima said. "Of course I wanted to make the Final, but I'm so happy with my result and thanks to everyone for all of the support."
When men's competition begins, 2010 ASP Rookie of the year Owen Wright (AUS), 21, will surf against Heitor Alves (BRA), 29, and Bobby Martinez (USA), 28, in Heat 1.
A call will be made at 7am local time tomorrow morning for a possible start to men's Billabong Rio Pro competition.
The Billabong Rio Pro men's waiting period runs from May 11 through 22 and is webcast LIVE via http://www.billabongpro.com
For additional ASP information log on to www.aspworldtour.com.
Billabong Rio Pro Final Results:
1 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.87
2 – Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.80
Billabong Rio Pro Semifinals Results:
SF 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.67 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 10.33
SF 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.16 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.23
Billabong Rio Pro Quarterfinals Results:
QF 1: Silvana Lima (BRA) 13.63 def. Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.27
QF 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.50 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 9.93
QF 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.44 def. Pauline Ado (FRA) 10.97
QF 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.10 def. Laura Enever (AUS) 9.57
Billabong Rio Pro Women's Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Silvana Lima (BRA) 14.33 def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 9.30
Heat 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.63 def. Alana Blanchard (HAW) 10.14
Heat 3: Pauline Ado (FRA) 12.40 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 11.03
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.84 def. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 9.24
Billabong Rio Pro Women's Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.50, Silvana Lima (BRA) 7.14, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 1.97
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.83, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 11.26, Paige Hareb (NZL) 4.66
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.17, Pauline Ado (FRA) 10.73, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 8.00
Heat 4: Laura Enever (AUS) 11.66, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.00, Coco Ho (HAW) 9.00
ASP Women's World Title Top 5 (After Billabong Rio Pro):
1. Carissa Moore (HAW) 47,000 pts
2. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 41,650 pts
3. Tyler Wright (AUS) 30,620 pts
4. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 29,350 pts
5. Silvana Lima (BRA) 27,920 pts
Billabong Rio Pro Men’s Round 1 Match Ups:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS), Heitor Alves (BRA), Bobby Martinez (USA)
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS), Adam Melling (AUS), Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS), Alejo Muniz (BRA), TBA
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS), Dusty Payne (HAW), TBA
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Patrick Gudauskas (USA), TBA
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA), Julian Wilson (AUS), TBA
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA), Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 9: Damien Hobgood (USA), Tiago Pires (PRT), Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF), Chris Davidson (AUS), Cory Lopez (USA)
Heat 11: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kieren Perrow (AUS), Daniel Ross (AUS)
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Taylor Knox (USA)