The storyline of the final day of the Quiksilver Pro France actually began the day before. After losing to John John Florence in Round 4, Mick Fanning was forced to take on fellow world title contender Taj Burrow in the dangerous Round 5. Fresh off his Hurley Pro win, Burrow had the perfect opportunity to become a credible threat for the title. Fanning had other plans, making Burrow the first of two title contenders he took down en route to his fourth Quiksilver Pro France victory.
In the quarters, it was time for Fanning to repay the favor to Florence. Fanning was quick to post a 17-point, two-wave total, leaving Florence combo'd and forced to remain patient out the back in conditions that favored the active. Florence’s late rally fell short, and it was beginning to seem as if the elusive event win would finally be Fanning's.
A pattern was beginning to form. In the next heat, Filipe Toledo started strong against Kelly Slater and never let up. Slater was left searching for an 8-point plus ride the remainder of the heat, which, even for Slater, was no easy task in these waves. Toledo was better suited to the conditions, which trumped Slater’s experience card. It’s worth noting, Slater won his first world title before Toledo was even born.
The semifinal draw insured an Australian and a Brazilian would face off in the final. On the top end of the draw, Fanning needed to solidify the No. 1 on the back of his jersey by defeating Joel Parkinson in the classic, all Aussie affair. It was a hard fought heat, but ultimately Fanning held on. Meanwhile, Medina quickly dismantled Toledo in a heat that saw as many airs as ridden waves.
Despite an underlying sense that finals day belonged to Fanning, it appeared early that the Final would be Medina's. His high-flying antics on the frontside wedges left Fanning looking outmatched. But then, with the dropping tide, the lefts quickly lost their charm. Looking like the 2X World Champ that he is, Fanning adapted by connecting the rights all the way through to the inside and on to the podium.
Mick Fanning's win gives him a 6,000-point lead in the world title race over Kelly Slater going into the Rip Curl Pro in Portugal next week. Though things are much closer than they appear. After the Rip Curl Pro, they will drop their lowest event score of the season, to the benefit of Slater, who is holding onto two 13ths.
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE FINAL RESULTS:
1st – Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.66
2nd – Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.00
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE SEMIFINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.10 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.03
SF2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.87 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.93
QUIKSILVER PRO FRANCE QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.77 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 13.60
QF2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.00 def. John John Florence (HAW) 13.77
QF3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.37 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 11.40
QF4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.70 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.00
ASP WCT TOP 5 SURFERS (Following Quiksilver Pro France);
1. Mick Fanning (AUS) 51,900 pts
2. Kelly Slater (USA) 45,900 pts
3. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 39,700 pts
4. Taj Burrow (AUS) 39,400 pts
5. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 38,950 pts