ASP Top 17 Return to Brazil Amidst Fiery World Title Race for Billabong Pro Rio

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 23, reigning four-time ASP Women's World Champion and current ASP Women's World No. 4, will look to make a late charge in the 2011 ASP Women's World Title Race at the Billabong Pro Rio. Credit:© ASP / MORRIS

BARRA DA TIJUCA, Rio de Janeiro/Brazil (Monday, May 9, 2011) - After a two-year hiatus, the world's best female surfers will return to Brazil this week for Stop No. 5 of 7 on the 2011 ASP Women's World Title season, the Billabong Pro Rio.

Running from 12 to 16, 2011 and boasting a primary venue of Barra da Tijuca, the Billabong Pro Rio will return women's surfing to Rio de Janeiro during one of the most exciting seasons on record.

Carissa Moore (HAW), 18, current ASP Women's World No. 1, has been on an absolute rampage in 2011, making four Finals from four events and scalping two victories. The young Hawaiian holds a solid position as frontrunner at the moment, and has consistently put in mind-blowing performances across Australia and New Zealand during the opening half of the year.

"I've have had an amazing year so far," Moore said. "To make four Finals from four events is a really good start for me and I'm having a lot of fun. Everyone is surfing really well and I'm feeling really pushed right now by all the girls like Coco (Ho), Tyler (Wright), Steph (Gilmore) and of course Sally (Fitzgibbons)."

Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 20, current ASP Women's World No. 2, has had a breakout year of her own, making two Finals and collecting a well overdue inaugural victory at Bells Beach.

"I've had a pretty good run this season for sure," Fitzgibbons said. "I'm still buzzing off that Bells win and I probably will be for a while. It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks for me - definitely the craziest of my life. It's a good race going on right now and I'm focused on another solid result in Brazil."

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 23, reigning four-time ASP Women's World Champion and current ASP Women's World No. 4, has shown flashes of brilliance this season, but has yet to make a Final since 2010. For the first time in her career, the iconic natural-footer faces the possibility of losing the ASP crown.

"It's definitely now or never in terms of making a run at it this year," Gilmore said. "I'm sitting at fourth right now and haven't cracked the Finals yet. There're three more events and if I'm going to make a move, it will have to start at this event. There are no easy heats on tour anymore, regardless of the round. It's an exciting time for women's surfing. I'm looking forward to coming back to Rio and having some fun."

Silvana Lima (BRA), 26, current ASP Women's World No. 5, will lead the South American contingent at the Billabong Pro Rio, utilizing the passionate hometown crowd to her advantage.

"I'm very excited to be coming back to Brazil with the women's tour," Lima said. "Rio is a very special place and the fans are very passionate about surfing. It's going to be exciting."

In addition to the best female surfers in the world, the ASP Top 34 will converge upon Brazil for the third stop of the 2011 ASP World Title season, including current frontrunner and reigning 10-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 39, defending event winner Jadson Andre (BRA), 21, winner of the last event in Bells Beach Joel Parkinson (AUS), 30.

The Billabong Pro Rio will be webcast LIVE via

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