November 8, 2011

A near-40 Kelly wins the world title (twice) while a 17-year-old wins his second big contest

17 years old and on top of the world. Gabriel Medina… and the best is yet to come.

So by now you’d have heard that Kelly Slater didn’t actually win his 11th world title last week. It’s okay, he won it officially this week, but somehow, a calculation error slipped by absolutely everyone involved with professional surfing, and was only spotted by an eagle-eyed fan on Surfline. There are many funny things about this happening. One of them is this hastily slapped-together video.

KE??Y from Surfing Life on Vimeo.

For those who aren’t sure who that other bloke is, it’s the ASP’s longsufferingserving tour manager Renato Hickel, who had the un-enviable task of being the public spokesman for the Association of Surfing Professionals in the palaver.

Kelly was gracious about it in the official press release, saying “It was a confirmed the other day, but we’re sure now,” Slater said. “I’m stoked. I was upset about it, but I also thought it was really funny. There are no hard feelings towards ASP and mistakes happen. It’s easy to point things out.”

What Kelly’s referring to when he says it’s easy to point things out is the fact that he actually alerted the ASP to their error on Twitter.

It would be easy to give the ASP a hard time and point to this being just one more sorry example of the long way this sport has to go before it receives mainstream legitimacy, but it’s not as if other sports have never made these kind of errors. Mistakes happen, and if Kelly can be gracious about it, then so can we.

Anyway, to focus solely on this is to ignore the incredible achievement of a young kid from Brazil named Gabriel Medina. Thanks to the new mid-year cutoff and the fact that he’s a complete freak, Gabriel has surfed in four World Tour events this year. As ASL pointed out, Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson may have won Tour events as wildcards while they were 18, and Kelly Slater won his first world title at 20, but Gabriel haswon two events in his first four starts (previous wildcard outings at Bells aside). On his way to winning the Rip Curl Pro Search today, Curious Gabe Funky Cold Medina surfed four times for four wins, over Matt Wilkinson, Kelly Slater (who he also beat in France), Taylor Knox and Joel Parkinson. As Parko himself said, Gabriel Medina is “one of the brightest talents I’ve ever seen.”

This video here? It’s from exactly two years ago, when Gabriel scored a perfect heat in a French grom comp. Where’s he going to be in two more years? The kid is gnarly.

by POP Magazine