NORTH NARRABEEN, Sydney/Australia (Tuesday, January 4, 2011) - Queensland surfer, Jack Freestone (Gold Coast, AUS), 18, is well poised to become Australia’s first ASP World Junior Champion in 10 years with the natural-footer ranked No.1 heading into the deciding event, the Billabong ASP World Junior Championship fuelled by Monster Energy, which will begin next week at North Narrabeen, Sydney, Australia.
Freestone trumped the 48-man field at event one in Bali (Oct 2 - 13) defeating an in form Dale Staples (ZAF), 20, of South Africa in the Final. Freestone earned himself US$10,000, along with 10,000 ratings points and the lead in the revamped ASP World Junior Tour.
Three-time Triple Crown champion and former ASP World Runner-Up Joel Parkinson (Gold Coast, AUS), 29, was the last Australian to hold aloft the prestigious ASP World Junior Crown before he turned professional full-time in 2001. A good result at Narrabeen will see Freestone return the crown to Australian shores for the first time in a decade.
"The ASP World Junior Title is such an important stepping-stone, to achieve what Joel (Parkinson) has done would be really, really special," Freestone said. "When you look at the list of winners' names, every surfer has gone on to the World Tour and a solid career, and of course, I'd love to bring it home for the green n' gold. It's been too long!"
The event stars the top 45 junior surfers on the planet, plus three wildcards, and carries a total US$95,000 prize purse. More importantly, it affords the finalists an unrivalled seeding in ASP Star and ASP PRIME events that serves as a springboard to the elite ASP World Tour.
Former winners of the Billabong ASP World Junior Championship include Maxime Huscenot of France (2009), Hawaiians Kai Barger (2008) and Kekoa Bacalso (2005), Brazilians Pablo Paulino (2007 & 2004) and Adriano de Souza (2003) and South African Jordy Smith (2006).
"I feel like I am in a really good spot, I would have been happy with the quarters in Bali, but I got the win," Freestone said. "There is definitely a little bit more pressure for me to do well at Narrabeen now, but I wouldn't trade my position - being in the box seat is perfect."
South African, Dale Staples, will be pushing hard to topple Freestone from the top of the ratings heap, the 20 year-old hoping to become only the second-ever South African to claim the title since compatriot Jordy Smith won in '06.
At stop one on the ASP Junior Tour in Bali, Staples was just metres from beating Freestone on a heart-stopping last minute ride in the Final.
"I had a pretty good wave, a solid tube which I didn't come out of and it could have been the winning ride, for sure," Staples said. "But, I was happy to make the Final and we'll see what happens at Narrabeen."
"It's (the Billabong ASP World Junior Championship) easily the most important event of any junior surfer's career, it's the one to win for sure. Narrabeen is a high performance wave. There's not much you can't do out there. It's a beachbreak and I'm sure every surfer in the event will be going hard and pushing it. I'm looking forward to it," added Staples.
Explosive Hawaiian, Keanu Asing (Ewa Beach, Haw), 17, is among the pick of international names heading Down Under. The 17 year-old is ranked No. 1 in the ASP Hawaiian Pro Junior rankings and will return to Narrabeen for a second time.
"The performance across the board has been crazy this year," notes Asing. "We've seen guys pulling new tricks, airs ... just going crazy. Narrabeen is a good left and if it's firing could favour the goofy-footers. The Brazilian's especially, they love it. We saw Jadson (Andre) doing the craziest aerials last year and guys like Miguel (Pupo) will be on fire. I think the field will be more evenly matched than what we saw in Bali. It will go down to the wire."
A traditional Aboriginal ceremony will open proceedings. The Koomurri Performance Group will perform from 07:15am, Saturday 8th January. Interested media should be on site from 07:00am. The performance includes a "Welcome to Country" & "Smoking Ceremony", and face painting of competitors representing the various world surfing regions.
Koomurri Aboriginal Performance Group
07:15am, Saturday, Jan 8th
Billabong ASP World Junior Championships
North Narrabeen beach
The Billabong ASP World Junior Championships will be webcast LIVE via http://www.billabongpro.com
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
The Billabong ASP World junior Championships fuelled by Monster Energy is made possible with the support of Sony, Volkswagon, VonZipper, Nixon, Australia's Surfing Life Magazine, Manly Warringah Council and NSW Sport and Recreation.
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About ASP: The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) is the recognized world governing body of professional surfing and has been crowning surfing's undisputed World Champions since 1976. The ASP sanctions and crowns World Champions for the following tours: the ASP World Tour, the ASP Women's World Tour, ASP World Junior Tour, ASP World Longboard and Masters Championships. The ASP is dedicated to showcasing the world’s best surfing talent in a variety of progressive formats and has revolutionized the way the world watches surfing via their webcasts and other media platforms. The organization is divided into seven different regions: Africa, Japan, Australasia, Europe, Hawaii, North America, and South America.