Conditions: 3-4 foot and rippable
Events Held: Finals
Nature's Call: Best waves ever at an ISA juniors event
Predictions: Big things for all the winners today
"On Friday, when we lost so many guys our pride went down a bit, but we never gave up. Aussies don't give up." Team Australia coach Mark Richardson
Tenacity, in a nutshell, is the reason Australia came from behind today to win again at the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Championships. The Aussies victory today in Ecuador, their 4th in a row at this event, was their most dramatic considering that they were in 6th place only two days ago. "I told you we'd come back, mate," said Richardson after being dunked in the ocean by his squad.
Australia's success came on the backs of three surfers who lasted till the final day, Dean Bowen, Tyler Wright and Laura Enever. Wright and Enever both made the Girls Under 18 final. Wright took the win over last year's champ Enever, who placed 4th. For Bowen, a stocky powerful goofyfoot, earning a gold medal in the Under 18 Boys was as emotional as it gets. "It's been a long hard road for me," he said. My mum passed away when I was 9 and I know she'd be super proud. I dedicate this win to her."
Hawaii came in to the finals in first, but had to settle for the team silver medal. Their rock solid surfer Keanu Asing brought them home gold in the Under 16 final but Alessa Cuizon's and Dylan Goodale's 3rd and 4th in the Girls and Boys Under 18's allowed Australia to sneak past Hawaii for the team win. "We got 3rd last year in France so we're stoked to move up and get 2nd," said Hawaii coach Donald Pahia.
The determined Asing, who grinded his way through 6 repercharge rounds to make the Under 16 final, said he was motivated by his early round loss in the qualifying rounds. "Losing got me amped," he said. "I really got into rhythm after that."
The USA, who came in today in 3rd place with a realistic shot at gold, had to settle for a disappointing 4th, – the same as last year. Courtney Conlogue was again a standout, taking the silver in the Under 18 girls, but Nat Young and Kolohe Andino went down early. Andino, who battled his way past two Brazilians yesterday in a heat featuring some of the most heaviest hassling of the event, seemed to run out of gas today losing in both his qualifying and repercharge heats. Young, who steadily made his way to the rep. final, came up short against Bowen and Goodale.
Surfing America Executive Director, Mike Gerard, could only consider what would happen if the Hawaiian and US team were merged as he watched Keanu Asing's teammates celebrating his victory with him. "Well, they are Americans," said Gerard. "I respect that Hawaii wants its own team and it does give twice as many kids an opportunity to be here, but we'd obviously have better results if we were one team."
If there's an identifiable flaw in the US squad, which has never won gold at this event since Surfing America took over as its National Governing Body and hasn't done better than 4th since 2005, it's a visible lack of heart. Other teams seem to compete harder in the water and have more fun on the beach while some of the Americans seem a bit jaded by it all. Webcast commentator and 1989 ASP world champion Martin Potter was shocked when Connor Coffin, who'd been a stand out in the Boys Under 16 division, elected not to paddle back out after finishing a ride with two minutes left in the heat. "I can't believe he's giving up," said Potts. "He needs an 8 and he's been getting them all event."
After it was over, USA coach Joey Buran found himself a tiny bit of shade on the scorching sands of La FAE beach and reflected on the contest. I'm proud of our kids – especially Courtney," he said. "We put ourselves in a bad spot, but we fought back and gave ourselves a chance to win. We had some great moments. It just didn't go our way today."