How Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson Arrived at Their Pipeline Showdown

Two Australian Surfers Prepare For Battle

As the world watches two lifelong friends and icons of Australian surfing prepare to do battle at Pipeline for the 2009 ASP World Championship, we pose an important question: How did Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson get to where they are today?

The answer: The way they usually do. Unpredictably.

Here's a look at the 2009 ASP World Tour Season broken down by event.

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast
Winner: Joel Parkinson

When the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast fired up the 2009 edition of the ASP World Tour the world asked one question – and one question only: "Will Kelly win his tenth world title this year?" While the attention on Kelly was nothing new, it surely irked a few serious world title contenders like Joel Parkinson. And as Tropical Cyclone Hamish riled up the Kirra sandbar, Parko rose to the occasion, dusting off Adriano de Souza in the final. Our own headline read: Unstoppable Parko Starts 2009 As ASP #1 and suddenly the world's attention diverted.

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
Winner: Joel Parkinson

It would appear a formerly world-title-shy Joel Parkinson was reveling in the attention and took his party straight to Bells, defeating surprise finalist and event wildcard Adam Robertson. With the win, Parko takes command of the World Tour Ratings.

Billabong Pro Teahupoo
Winner: Bobby Martinez

At this point the Parko bandwagon had taken off and the rest of the Tour was eying his tires with knives drawn. Although Bobby enjoyed a moment in the limelight with his victory, Taj's finals appearance verified his presence in the still-fresh title hunt. Said Taj, "I've had two keepers [this year] in terms of results and I'm hungry. I'm still kicking and I'm looking to win...I feel really strong at and I'm going to do whatever it takes to win."

Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro
Winner: Kelly Slater

Entering Brazil, there was one voice noticeably absent in the coverage of the 2009 ASP World Tour, and when people aren't saying the "K-word," when referring to undecided World Titles, Kelly will give you a reason. His win over Adriano in Brazil put him right back into focus and well-positioned for a 10th World Title. "I feel like I have all those guys right where I want them," Slater said. "I don't feel like I have any pressure on me, and I tend to do my best when I have no pressure. We're coming up on Jeffreys Bay, which is probably my best event historically and hopefully I can build off my result here today."

Billabong Pro Jeffreys Bay
Winner: Joel Parkinson

This is the contest that restored the surf world's faith in competitive surfing. The waves were perfect. The weather was perfect. And Parko was perfect, too. Damien Hobgood rose to the occasion, forcing Parkinson to earn his victory with a questionable hassle in the finals, but ultimately the event was Parko's from start to finish. He scored three tens in that event for goodness sake. "It is definitely a special win," said Parko in an interview with Surfer after his victory. "It's one contest I've wanted to win again. It's a special contest to win, and for me it's a big step forward to achieving what I want. Thinking about it puts a smile on my face, for sure."

Hurley Pro Lowers
Winner: Mick Fanning

If ever there were an event for Kelly Slater to take momentum back, the Hurley Pro Lowers was it. He snatched it right from under Taj Burrow's feet in 2008, but it was just not meant to be in 2009. Instead, a more interesting story line was developing. Mick Fanning had quietly registered solid results in the first five events of the year, and sensing an opportunity, lightning struck. "The win doesn't really change my approach to the title," said Fanning. "I was sitting in seventh before this event and I was looking to climb up the ratings. I wasn't really that happy where I was. I did some work and if it does happen again this year it's going to be pretty big. I guess it's more about building momentum again this year and getting the hunger back."

Quiksilver Pro France
Winner: Mick Fanning

And the real story begins in France. After erasing what many called "a runaway title," Fanning patiently clawed his way back into contention with his win over Bede Durbidge. “It’s back on,” Fanning said. “Everyone thought Joel (Parkinson) was going to run away with it and it’s unfortunate for him that he fell out early, but I’ve put in a lot of work to get these last two wins and I’m just psyched on heading into the rest of the season.”

Billabong Pro Mundaka

Winner: Adriano De Souza

Every story has distractions and sub-plots, and Adriano De Souza was fighting for a lead story all year long. In Mundaka he got one, along with his first ASP World Tour victory. Mick and Joel failed to add a result and Kelly Slater pulled into the periphery of viable title threats with a semi-final appearance. Parko's ankle injury also became a talking point in Mundaka. It has continued to be a talking point.

At this point the ratings appeared as such:

1 - Mick Fanning (AUS) 6350 points
2 - Joel Parkinson (AUS) 6306 points
3 - Adriano de Souza (BRA) 5773 points
4 - C.J. Hobgood (USA) 5748 points
5 - Bede Durbidge (AUS) 5524 points
6 - Kelly Slater (USA) 5514 points

Rip Curl Pro Search Portugal
Winner: Mick Fanning

After a massive swell decimated the contest site at the Rip Curl Pro Search Portugal, like the event organizers, Mick regrouped and got the job done, defeating Bede Durbidge for the second time this year and winning his 2nd Rip Curl Pro Search title. "That's what you always dream of as a kid (competing for an ASP World Title at Pipeline)," Fanning said. "I'm super pumped. I'm going to go home and relax for a couple of weeks and get ready for Pipe. Hopefully we get some big barrels like we did here and we have a real showdown."

Stay tuned to and log on to the live webcast of the 2009 Billabong Pipeline Masters to find out how this story ends.