LOBITOS, Piura/Peru (Sunday, November 8, 2009) – Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 26, has taken out the Movistar Peru Classic presented by Rip Curl over reigning two-time ASP Women's World Champion and two-time defending event winner in Peru, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 21.
Event No. 5 of 7 on the 2009 ASP Women's World Tour, the Movistar Peru Classic culminated in offshore three-to-four foot (1 – 1.5 metre) waves at Lobitos today, and delivered all the drama and action the fans had been waiting for.
Mulanovich, who suffered a horrific wipeout yesterday, was a standout in the hard-fought Final, muscling through one section after another on her backhand, to post an impressive 15.00 out of a possible 20. While the lead would seesaw back and forth between the Peruvian and the Australian, it was ultimately Mulanovich who would come away with the win in front of a raucous crowd on the sand.
"It doesn't even feel real that this is happening right now," Mulanovich said. "I have wanted to win this event for so long, and have always been disappointed. To do it here, in front of my friends and family and in good waves at Lobitos is a dream come true. Viva Peru!"
The win boosts the former ASP Women's World Champion (2004) from fourth to third on the 2009 ASP Women's World Tour ratings and puts her within striking distance of the crown heading into the business end of the season.
"I haven't had the best season and I was really waiting for a breakout result," Mulanovich said. "To finally get it at home is really special. I am just so stoked."
Gilmore's Runner-Up finish today marks her third of the season, and while missing out on making it three-inrow in Peru, the Australian is still pleased with her performance.
"Definitely been pretty consistent with making Finals," Gilmore said. "Obviously I was looking for another win. But in a way, it is pretty special to see Sofia (Mulanovich) win, like, it is crazy. There are thousands of people on the beach here in the middle of nowhere, it is just phenomenal. To make another Final felt good. I had a lot of fun. It was good to see Sofia up there and not Silvana (Lima) or Coco (Ho), it is going to make the ratings really interesting and it's keeping things really tight and close between everyone. It is going to be an exciting finish in Hawaii."
Gilmore retains a slender lead over challengers as she contests for a third, consecutive ASP Women's World Title, but retains collected frame of mind heading into Hawaii.
"The world title is in your head sometimes," Gilmore said. "It is just event by event. This event was a good one as everyone was surfing so good and so after a fifth in Portugal, I wanted to come here and perform really well and I put my mind to it and I did it, the title race is hot."
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 18, 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie, matched her best result of the year with an equal 3rd at the Movistar Peru Classic. Arguably one of the most in-tune performers at Lobitos, Fitzgibbons lost a nail-biter Semifinal to eventual winner Mulanovich.
"I'm definitely happy with my performance," Fitzgibbons said. "I have felt good this whole event and it came down really close there at the end. I knew that set was on the horizon and I couldn't hold on in the end. It would be amazing to make it through to a Final. I will take the third place but it is always nice to be there on the podium and in the Final. I will just keep trying and doing what I am doing and hopefully crack it pretty soon."
Coco Ho (HAW), 18, 2009 ASP Women's World Tour rookie and winner of the previous event in Portugal, was a major standout at the Movistar Peru Classic. Ho took down fellow Hawaiian rookie Alana Blanchard (HAW), 19, and stylish natural-footer Rosanne Hodge (ZAF), 22, before falling agonizingly close to Gilmore in the Semifinals.
"It's always hard having a 9 and waiting for your second score but that's what surfing with the Champ is all about," Ho said. "It was frustrating seeing the waves I needed coming in after the heat, but that's okay. Competing against Steph definitely pushes my surfing and I'm happy with an Equal 3rd."
Despite missing out on a Final's berth in Peru, Ho is looking forward to finishing the year at home in Hawaii and the finale of the 2009 ASP Women's World Tour Rookie of the Year race.
"I'm definitely looking forward to heading home and finishing the season in Hawaii," Ho said. "Rookie of the Year and a Top 5 finish has always been my goal, but Sally (Fitzgibbons) is right there and it will come down to the wire."
Highlights from the Movistar Peru Classic are available via www.aspworldtour.com
The next stop on the 2009 ASP Women's World Tour is the Gidget Pro at Sunset Beach, Hawaii from November 24 through December 6, 2009.
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
MOVISTAR PERU CLASSIC FINAL RESULTS:
1 – Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 15.00
2 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.74
MOVISTAR PERU CLASSIC SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.60 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 15.17
SF 2: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 16.27 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.20
MOVISTAR PERU CLASSIC QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Coco Ho (HAW) 14.74 def. Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 10.16
QF 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.27 def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 6.60
QF 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.16 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 6.83
QF 4: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 10.67 def. Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 10.17
ASP WOMEN'S WORLD TOUR TOP 5 (After Movistar Peru Classic):
1 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 4765 pts
2 – Silvana Lima (BRA) 4188 pts
3 – Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 3891 pts
4 – Coco Ho (HAW) 3679 pts
5 – Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 3043 pts