The ASP ratings lead deadlock between Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and Chelsea Hedges (AUS) ended today, when only Gilmore advanced into the Semifinals of the Billabong Girls Pro Itacar.
Aussie Stephanie Gilmore now sits solidly atop the ratings lead now that the her main rivals have been eliminated from the Billabong Girls Pro in Brazil
On a day that saw three former ASP Women's World Champions crushed, it was ASP rookie Gilmore who outshone her competition to secure the first of four Semifinal berths, defeating 2004 ASP World Champion Sofia Mulanovich (PER) in the final minute of their Quarterfinal clash.
"I'm just so happy, it's exactly where I want to be," Gilmore said. "You always dream of what you want to happen and I'd been thinking about it a lot. Everything's just fallen into place really well for me, I mean we're still only in event three, we've got four to go so it's anyone's game and I know Chelsea's extremely hungry and this will probably make her even hungrier. I'll live it up while I'm in the number one spot, that's for sure."
Gilmore has retained her World No. 1 ranking which she previously shared with room-mate Hedges, and is all set to capture her second straight ASP crown, when the event culminates tomorrow.
"With Chelsea being out of the competition, it takes a bit of the pressure off because I'm in the lead now and everyone's chasing me," Gilmore said. "I like being in the number one position because then I am only trying to beat myself. It's pretty exciting, but I don't really know what to think, it hasn't really sunk in yet. Obviously I'm here to win in this event and that would really help my points and give me a good gap over Chelsea."
Samantha Cornish (AUS)was the surfer responsible for the ratings lead upset. After nearly falling off the top tier tour last year, Cornish appears to be making a serious comeback, including taking down ratings leader Chelsea Hedges at this late stage of the competition.
"I'm feeling pretty good right now, it was an amazing heat," Cornish said. "Chels is always a tough competitor, she always puts up a good fight right until the end and she did. I am really focused and I'd love to put up a good fight against Steph and hopefully take her out."
Brazilian sensation Silvana Lima (BRA)caused the third major Quarterfinal upset. The 2006 Billabong Girls Pro Semifinalist posted the highest combined two-wave heat total of the day, a 17.00 (out of a possible 20.00) to displace 7X ASP World Champion and defending Billabong Girls Pro Champion Layne Beachley (AUS).
"It was so hard, Layne is such a good surfer," Lima said. "After that 7.75 (out of a possible 10.00) ride I felt good and then I got a 9.25 and knew I could relax. I've never made a Final, always the Semifinals but I feel confident."
Lima will take on fellow ASP World No. 4 Rebecca Woods (AUS) in Semifinal No. 2 tomorrow.
Woods took her third straight win over ASP rookie Melanie Bartels (HAW) in the Quarterfinals, and will be looking to add her first ASP World Tour victory to this tally tomorrow.
"I am very happy to be through to the Semi's and to have a shot at the Final," Woods said. "But I know there is one more heat to go. The 'semi's stumbles' is something I want to overcome but I've got the Brazilian pocket rocket in my next heat so I will see how it goes."
The 1- 1.5 meter conditions are expected to hold out until tomorrow and organizers are confident of crowning the 2007 Billabong Girls Pro Itacar Champion by 11h00 (local time).
Chelsea Hedges has now fallen from her spot atop the ratings where she was previously tied with Stephanie Gilmore
Upcoming Billabong Pro Girls Itacare Semifinal Heats
Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore vs. Samantha Cornish
Heat 2: Silvana Lima vs. Rebecca Woods
Billabong Pro Girls Itacare Quarterfinal Results
Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore def. Sofia Mulanovich
Heat 2: Samantha Cornish def. Chelsea Hedges
Heat 3: Silvana Lima def. Layne Beachley
Heat 4: Rebecca Woods def. Melanie Bartels
Billabong Pro Girls Itacare Round 3 Results
Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore def. Claire Bevilacqua
Heat 2: Sofia Mulanovich def. Jacqueline Silva
Heat 3: Samantha Cornish def. Jessi Miley Dyer
Heat 4: Chelsea Hedges def. Nicola Atherton
Heat 5: Layne Beachley def. Caroline Sarran
Heat 6: Silvana Lima def. Amee Donohoe
Heat 7: Rebecca Woods def. Megan Abubo
Heat 8: Melanie Bartels def. Melanie Redman-Carr