Citing an injured ankle, John Florence announced today that he will be pulling out of the Billabong Rio Pro. Florence, who's the defending champ of the event, twisted his ankle at the Quik Pro Snapper expression session and was unable to finish the event. He would also pull out of competing at Bells.
"I am going to take my time and wait for my ankle to heal 100 percent before competing," Florence told the ASP. "I am looking forward to being healthy and ready for Fiji and the rest of the year."
A nagging ankle injury has also forced Fred Patacchia to pull out of the event. He will relinquish his spot to a yet-to-be confirmed injury wildcard competitor. Patacchia, who's been a stalwart on the World Tour since 2005, suffered a high-ankle injury in February during a freesurf session and has yet to compete this season. According to Patacchia, while he is indeed making progress rehabbing his ankle, it’s not yet healed enough for competition. With any luck, he hopes he'll be rejoining the tour in early June when they head to Fiji for the Volcom Pro at Tavarua.
[UPDATE] Tiago Pires has now officially withdrawn from the event as well, to rehab a knee injury sustained at home in Portugal. “My knee has been getting better, but unfortunately I’m still not able to surf yet,” said Pires. “I’m gonna keep working on my rehab to come back stronger then ever.”
The holding period for the Billabong Pro Rio begins on May 8. Trading is currently open at Fantasy Surfer.