Fitzgibbons Wins 2007 ASP World Junior Title
SYDNEY, Australia (Monday, Jan. 7, 2008) – ASP Australasian Champion Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) may have been one of the smallest competitors in the Billabong World Junior Championships but her performances were by far the biggest; the diminutive was surfer crowned the 2007 ASP World Junior Champion, at Sydney’s North Narrabeen Beach today.
Netting the four highest scoring waves and two highest scoring heat totals of the event; Fitzgibbons sunk her teeth into the Final, defeating New Zealand’s Page Hareb with a 16.77 (out of a possible 20.00) total heat score to Hareb’s 7.84.
“I just can’t believe it,” Fitzgibbons said sporting an enormous grin and holding a cheque for US$6500. “Everything worked out for me today, I guess it was supposed to happen but it hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Surfing through four rounds of competition, Fitzgibbons posted over a nine-point ride in every heat, including a ‘perfect ten’ against Laura Enever (AUS) in the Semifinals; making her the most deserved winner of the event.
“I had a tough ‘Semi’ against Laura, she put me in a pretty good situation and I needed a good score,” Fitzgibbons said. “I thought if the wave comes, it comes but if not, she deserves a good win and I was just stoked to get through that one and was on a high for Final.”
Fitzgibbons became the third straight Australian to win the Girls event, following in the footsteps of Jessi Miley-Dyer (2005) and Nicola Atherton (2006). She will now stand shoulder to shoulder with the 2007 elite Women’s ASP World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS).
“I’d hoped the Aussies would stay on a good roll at this event,” Fitzgibbons said. “Once I’d made the Final it was down to me; I was doing it for the Aussies and I ended up winning.”
Hareb’s performance marked the best of a Kiwi surfer in the history of this event, her runner-up result earning her US$3400.
“Sally and I had a bit of a paddle battle even before the heat started,” Hareb explained. “We went real deep and that wasted a bit of time. Sally just got the waves and I couldn’t get in rhythm with the ocean. It just wasn’t my day.”
Reaching the Semifinals, to finish equal third and take home US$750, were ASP International wildcard Laura Enever (AUS) and Courtney Conlogue (USA).
Pitted as a favourite to win the event, Enever, who hails from North Narrabeen, looked like she had Fitzgibbons beat; posting a near perfect 9.17 in their Semifinal match-up. But, a late drop and some superbly critical surfing from the new World Junior Champion, quickly dissolved Enever’s hopes, Fitzgibbons scoring a ‘perfect-10’ to advance into the Final.
“Sally’s such an awesome surfer, I had no doubt that she would be able to get a score like that because she’d been getting nines the whole contest,” Enever said. “Even once I’d got my nine, I knew my work wasn’t done. It ended up being pretty close so it’s not like she smashed me or anything.”
Conlogue found herself at the disposal of Hareb in their Semifinal match-up, the New Zealander racking up scores faster than Conologue could position herself, which ultimately cost her heat.
“I’m feeling pretty horrible.” Conlogue said. “I really wanted to make the Finals, that was one of my goals but I slipped it and waited a little too long. Whoever wins out here today deserves it, everyone put on a great show.”
The girls waited six long days to compete in the business end of competition, Sydney’s North Narrabeen beach producing contestable one- to-two meter waves for the final day.
Fitzgibbons will join yesterday’s Boy’s World Junior champion Pablo Paulino (BRA) at the ASP Awards Banquet on the Gold Coast in February, where they will be awarded their 2007 ASP World Title trophies.
A total field of 48 junior men, 18 junior women plus four wildcards from eight surfing regions, featured in this year’s Billabong ASP World Junior Championships which saw excellent surf at North Narrabeen for all six days of the event.
The event was broadcast live via the internet on www.billabongpro.com
The Billabong ASP World Junior Championships are supported by Panasonic, The Association of Surfing Professionals, Von Zipper, The Warringah Shire Council and Surfing NSW.
Billabong World Junior Championships Girls Final Results:
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.77 def Page Hareb (NZL) 7.84
Billabong World Junior Championships Girls Semifinal Results
Heat 1: Paige Hareb (NZL) 14.17 def Courtney Conlogue (USA) 11.74
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.83 def Laura Enever (AUS) 14.00
Billabong World Junior Championships Girls Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.50 def Kirby Wright (AUS) 10.74
Heat 2: Paige Hareb (NZL) 13.53 def Nikita Robb (ZAF) 12.67
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 18.60 def Sage Erickson (USA) 13.34
Heat 4: Laura Enever (AUS) 15.50 def Coco Ho (HAW) 12.66
Billabong World Junior Championships Girls Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 10.50 def Leila Hurst (HAW) 5.67
Heat 2: Kirby Wright (AUS) 11.07 def Pauline Ado (FRA) 9.16
Heat 3: Paige Hareb (NZL) 11.00 def Marina Werneck 6.77
Heat 4: Nikita Robb (ZAF) 13.84 def Alessa Cuizon (HAW) 13.34
Heat 5: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.60 def Nao Oumaro (JPN) 8.00
Heat 6: Sage Erickson (USA) 14.83 def Lee Ann Curren (FRA) 6.23
Heat 7: Laura Enever (AUS) 15.40 def Airini Mason (NZL) 10.16
Heat 8: Coco Ho (HAW) 16.23 def Bruna Schmitz (BRA) 13.50