SEBASTIAN INLET, Florida (Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008) – The 2008 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) North America Pro Junior series is ready to start off the year with the Billabong Sebastian Inlet Pro Junior held at Florida's Sebastian Inlet originally scheduled from Mar. 1-2, 2008, but changed to Mar. 8-9, 2008 in hopes of attracting better surf conditions.
At present, the contest site at Sebastian Inlet has not seen waves for the past few days and the outlook for this weekend looks grim. The call to change event dates was made by event organizers and ASP North America officials today, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008.
An ASP Grade-2 Pro Junior event, the Billabong Sebastian Inlet Pro Junior will consist of 85 junior men and 16 junior women competing for $10,000 and $2,500 in prize money respectively, as well as extremely valuable ratings points and confidence leading into the new season.
The points from this event will then be recorded into each surfer's regional rankings with the top five men and top two women qualifying for the renowned Billabong ASP World Junior Championships, held in Australia at the beginning of each year. This event has spawned exceptional surfing talents such as Joel Parkinson (AUS), Andy Irons (HAW), Adriano de Souza (BRA), and much talked about 2008 ASP World Tour rookie Jordy Smith (ZAF), all of whom former champions.
Adam Wickwire (Satellite Beach, FL), who is the reigning 2007 ASP North America Pro Junior Champion, will be a favorite at the opening event of the season, and will be look to defend his title. With three victories, and a third place at the Oakley Pro Junior Santa Cruz in the previous year, Wickwire has more than proven his ability to perform amongst the nation's finest ASP Pro Junior competitors.
"I would say there is a little bit of pressure, but it's a good pressure," Wickwire said. "I want to do the same thing that I did last year go into every heat with an open mind, not expecting anything."
Into his final season on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series, Wickwire will have his work cut out for him as there is a bevy of up-and-comers challenging the status quo.
"There are some great young guys coming up – Evan Geiselman, Nat Young, etc. and I'm sure that the little guys are just improving," Wickwire said. "Hopefully Eric (Geiselman), myself and some of the older guys can keep them in check."
Wickwire will be joined by fellow top seeds Cory Arrambide (Ventura, CA), Travis Beckmann (Vero Beach, FL) and Eric Geiselman (New Smyrna Beach, FL) at Sebastian Inlet this weekend.
In addition to the junior men's division, the Billabong Sebastian Inlet Pro Junior will also host an ASP Grade-1 Pro Junior event for the women.
Courtney Conlogue (Santa Ana, CA), reigning ASP North America Pro Junior Champion, will be out to defend her title, with hopes of requalifying for the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships. This event has extreme significance for the women as the Billabong Sebastian Inlet Junior Pro is one of only two events in North America in which the women can qualify for the World Junior Championships.
"I always want to do well in every event I enter no matter what I've done in the past," Conlogue said. "Every heat is a new heat. I'm glad that Billabong sponsors this event and I'm proud to compete in it. It would be wonderful, however, to see others in the surfing industry step up and put into other Pro Junior events for women athletes in North America. It's a bummer for all the women surfers in the Pro Junior division to have everything based on the outcome of one event."
Sage Erickson (Ojai, CA), Conlogue's North American partner at last January's Billabong ASP World Junior Championships in Australia, will also looking for a solid result in Florida as she has qualified through the Billabong Sebastian Inlet Junior Pro in the past, and understands the significance of this event.
The Billabong Sebastian Inlet Pro will begin on March 8 and will be webcast LIVE on www.billabongpro.com
For more information, log onto www.aspnorthamerica.org