As one of the most talented surfers on the planet, it should come as no surprise that Gabriel Medina has a World Junior Championship notch in his belt. What should strike you as odd, however, is that it didn't happen years ago when he was transitioning from the Pro Junior circuit onto the 'QS. It happened just this past weekend.
When you're winning events on the World Tour, something tells me that you may have outgrown competing in Pro Junior comps. Yes, he's only 19, and yes, he met every criteria required to surf in the event, but can you imagine what was going on in the minds of those poor young souls who drew him in a heat? After all, the man just dusted the likes of Travis Logie, Ace Buchan, Jordy Smith, and Julian Wilson to finish runner up at the Quik Pro France. It was as if LeBron--after playing in the NBA for three years--decided to go and play college ball and, surprise, dominated the shit out of his opposition.
To the point, in the last day of the comp, Medina posted the highest score of each round, eventually peaking in the Final against Morocco's Ramzi Boukhiam, where he dropped a high 9 and solid 8-point ride to take the win. A quick glance at the highlight reel speaks volumes. While there's no denying that the other juniors in the event will take surfing to new realms as they mature, it was evident that at this point in time, Medina was literally surfing at a higher level. (Read: World Tour level. Because that's where he should be competing.) The top four finishers in the comp were also seeded into the Round of 96 in upcoming Prime and 6-Star events, giving them an opportunity to fast-track their push from the ‘QS to the World Tour. By winning the event, Medina essentially blocked one of the other junior competitors from the “fast-track” seeding.
With more than a month-long break between Portugal and Pipeline, it's easy to understand why Medina would want to keep himself sharp. After all, you don't make it to the World Tour without a sickening commitment to competition. Plus, the event was held while he was at home in Brazil and it was probably convenient. But there's an adage that plays into this kind of thought: just because you can do something, doesn't necessarily mean that you should.
To be fair, I rang up a few pros to get their take on the matter. To my surprise, there were mixed reactions. Some agreed with my sentiment while others argued that it was a fantastic opportunity for the juniors to compete against someone of Gabs' caliber. Had Ramzi won, they argued, imagine what that would have done for his career. But then again, one quick look at the recap and it is abundantly clear that that was never going to happen.
Yes, Gabs, you were by far and away the best surfer in the comp. Hands down. And man do I love to watch you surf. But on behalf of all the groms out there, please, stick to the Primes and World Tour comps from here on out. Give the other kids a chance to make a name for themselves.