Amid some of the most trying conditions of the event, Brazil's own Adriano de Souza defeated Taj Burrow in the final at the Billabong Pro Rio today. As de Souza made his way in from the head-high closeouts that defined the lineup and moved towards the podium, the event's security guards formed a human chain around him to keep the thousands of screaming surf fans chanting his name at bay.
"There are no words to express how I feel right now," de Souza said to the ASP. "Thanks to my manger for pushing me every day, I couldn't have done this without him. Thanks so much to my fans, who have been on the beach supporting me from the beginning to the end and to my sponsors. I'm happy to keep the title in Brazil one more time."
With his win at the event, de Souza now commands the World Tour ratings lead.
Back on the podium, it was clear that Taj Burrow felt the sting of yet another second-place finish. Throughout the event, Burrow genuinely appeared to be the sharpest surfer of the contest and posted the event’s highest heat scores. Having found competitive success on the Brazilian leg of the World Tour three times before, it felt like Burrow was destined for a solid result here. In the opening minutes of the final, Taj drew first blood and dropped a 7 but failed to back it up with another score. As fate, and some very unruly beachbreaks would have it, Taj would finish the comp with another second.
"I'm pretty devastated right now, but eventually I'll be able to smile about it," Burrow told the ASP. "Two seconds is good, but I didn't want to lose that one, I wasn't planning on losing that one."
Despite the constantly shifting conditions that rarely offered up enough room for more than one turn, judges at the event were awarding excellent-range scores for single maneuvers. In their quarterfinal matchup, de Souza and Owen Wright's heat drew some controversy as Wright opened up the heat by dropping a pair of top-turns and a rotational air on the inside section that earned him a 7.5. He followed up with another ride in similar fashion that earned him 6.6. De Souza, on the other hand, dropped a single-albeit-committed floater to the tune of an 8.23 along with another ride that earned him a 6. The 8-point-plus ride sealed de Souza's win, but left a blizzard of chatter online questioning the scoring.
The World Tour will take a break until the next contest, The Billabong Pro at J-Bay, gets underway way in mid July. Until then, stay locked to Surfermag.com.
Billabong Rio Pro Final:
1 - Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.63
2 - Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.17
Billabong Rio Pro Semifinals Results:
SF 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.27 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 10.50
SF 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.00 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 8.40
Billabong Rio Pro Quarterfinals Results:
QF 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.26 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 14.43
QF 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 15.60 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.17
QF 3: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 16.03 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 6.27
QF 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.23 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 14.10
Billabong Rio Pro Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Bobby Martinez (USA) 14.60 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.63
Heat 2: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.60 def. Dan Ross (AUS) 11.63
Heat 3: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.43 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 12.67
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.73 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 7.90
Top 10 on the ASP World Title Series After the Billabong Rio Pro:
1. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 20,500
2. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 19,200
3. Kelly Slater (USA) 16,950
4.Taj Burrow (AUS) 16,500
5. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14,750
6. Owen Wright (AUS) 12,150
7. Michel Bourez (PYF) 12,000
8. Mick Fanning (AUS) 11,500
9.Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11,000
9.Tiago Pires (PRT) 11,000