As a testament to the growing European powerhouse, French surfers dominated this year's ASP World Junior Championships in Narrabeen, Australia. Proving that the French are an increasing competitive threat, Marc Lacomare took the event win with Alizee Arnaud claiming the women’s season title crown.
Compact, solid, and powerful, Lacomare looked at ease as he cut through the bevy of international heavy hitters. Having gashed his head on his fins prior to the event, Lacomare rocked a swim cap throughout each heat to keep the four staples in his head dry—a move that I suspect made loosing to him all the more uncomfortable. In the final, Lacomare took on Nat Young as the two traded mid-range scores amid the playful 3-foot lefts. Young, who recently inked a head-to-toe deal with Nike, looked downright lethal throughout the event and didn't go down without a fight. Needing a 7-point ride to take the lead back from Lacomare, Young faltered in the dying minutes when he dug rail on an end section, landing him a runner-up finish. The Frenchman had solidified his victory.
Through a thick accent, Lacomare took to the podium after the final and expressed his gratitude for the Narrabeen locals' hospitality and patience. "This feels great," he said, "I'd like to thank all of the locals for having us again this year."
Set up in a similar fashion the ASP World Tour, an overall season champion was crowned in the form of Australia's Jack Freestone at the end of the event. As the first Australian to win the season title since Joel Parkinson in 1999, Freestone drew thunderous approval from his countrymen when he took to the stage to claim his title. Having won an event in Bali earlier in the season, Freestone was a top contender to take the crown this year despite his ninth-place finish at the event. With the ratings situation still up in the air, Freestone’s win wasn't solidified until Lacomare prevailed over Nat Young in the final, giving Freestone the edge and ratings lead.
"This has really been a mixed roller coaster of emotions for me. It's really a dream come true and I never thought it would happen after my ninth place finish here," said a remarkably collected Freestone.
On the women's side, South Africa's Bianca Buitendag took the event win with Alizee Arnaud taking the season title earlier in the week. "I'm so happy," Arnaud said. "This is what I've wanted since the beginning. Since I was 10 years old I've wanted to be World Champion and to do it in my last event as a junior, what a feeling."