Last year the surf at the U.S. Open was small--so small that some speculators blamed the all-grom Women's Final on the fact that their small builds offered an advantage. This year's event proved them wrong.
In massive, well-overhead surf, the young girls shone once again. After knocking out all the top World Tour surfers--including World Champ Steph Gilmore--15-year-old Malia Manuel and 16-year-old Courtey Conlogue found themselves face-to-face in the Women's Final. Malia, having just won the Junior division, put on an amazing display of progression and style, but she was no match for the fired-up hometown favorite, Courtney Conlogue. Courtney's competitive fervor and fierce training leading up the event were evident in every heat she surfed. She had one of the highest heat totals of the event, a near-perfect Quarterfinal on Friday (a 9.93 and 9.7), and judging from her ability and results here, she's sure to be a dominant force on both the WQS and World Tour--once she finishes high school.
Hurley Women's 6-Star Pro
1. Courtney Conlogue
2. Malia Manuel
3. Laura Enever, Carissa Moore
Nike 6.0 Pro Junior Women
2. Sage Erickson
3. Cannelle Bulard
4. Coco Ho
Though the women's finals offered by far the day's most definitive moments, there were many other happenings of note. In case you weren't privy to all the madness that is the U.S. Open, here's what you missed today:
Kelly's Perfect 10
"When's Kelly's heat?" seemed to be the mantra at the 2009 U.S. Open. The World Champ hasn't surfed this event in eight years, and his presence alone seemed to attract a substantial portion of the hundreds of thousands of spectators. In his Round 5 heat, he managed to summon a barrel so uncharacteristic of Huntington that the judges awarded him tens across the board. Kelly was on his game, backing that score up with another short barrel and several more high-scoring waves--opponent Nic Muscroft didn't even have a chance.
Jet Ski Assists: Yes, Please.
This was the first time in the history of the event that the surf was so big that it required jet skis to transport the competitors back to the lineup. Not only did this allow for a more entertaining event, (as time wasn't wasted paddling), but it also allowed crowd favorites like Kelly an opportunity to wave (parade-like) to the throngs of screaming fans.
Tow-In Expression Session and the Hurley Phantom Man
At the U.S. Open, nothing is surprising. So when a man, dressed in head-to-toe Lycra and plastered with Hurley logos, went running down the pier, board in tow, no one gave him much more than a cursory glance. But when he leapt off the end of the pier, grabbed a hold of the tow rope attached to one of the skis, and whipped into a set, everyone took notice. Joining the Phantom (rumored to be Australian Damien Wills), were the All-Stars, as voted by the public on WorldProSurfers.com: Andy and Bruce Irons, Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, C.J. Hobgood, Mick Fanning, Dane Reynolds, Taj Burrow, Jordy Smith and Yadin Nicol. This event proved to be a highly entertaining crowd-favorite.
Overhead Closeouts... on a Log
The Corona Noseride Invitational, a timed noseriding competition, was another new addition to the event this year. Made up of eight of the top noseriders in the world, hand-picked by Joel Tudor, the two-round event included names like Alex Knost, Christian Fletcher (yes, he can longboard, too), Christian Wach, Tyler Warren, and Joel Tudor himself. And these surfers weren't riding potato-chip thin, 9' tri-fins that would be at least slightly more compatible with the double-overhead shorepound--they were riding heavy, '60s-style logs. The only thing that looked less enjoyable than actually riding a 10-foot boat in these conditions, was trying to get out through the whitewash on the back of a ski while maintaining a death-grip on the leash-less log. I suppose these weren't the conditions they had in mind when they first envisioned the event. The highlight: Herbie Fletcher shooting the pier in Semifinal 1, and then his son following suit in the next semi.