HUNTINGTON BEACH, California (Saturday, July 28, 2007) –
The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star event, the biggest on the women’s ASP WQS along with Western Australia and Hawaii, saw the prodigious Australian take the big win today, dominating the 1’ to 3’ (half metre) waves.
Gilmore, current No. 1 on the elite ASP Women’s World Tour, applied her point break-groomed, stylish approach to the playful peaks of Huntington Beach all week, managing to muster up enough energy to take down Petroni in the final.
“It was a long day of surfing for us, but I’m happy I was able to save a little bit of energy for the final,” Gilmore said. “I’m so stoked I came away with the win today. The U.S. Open is such a massive event and it was practically like a World Tour event with all the girls competing here. The draw was super tough, and it’s just a real honor to be a part of it.”
In addition to the slew of elite tour competitors who competed in the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O’Neill, a new crop of fresh faces made a huge impact on the draw. Despite only being 19, Gilmore found herself challenged by girls several years younger than her.
“I just can’t believe how good some of these younger girls are,” Gilmore said. “I’m used to being the younger girl coming up, but then you’ve got Sally (Fitzgibbons) who’s 16 and Courtney (Conlogue) who’s 14. It’s really cool to see where women’s surfing is going. I reckon it’s going to undergo a huge transformation in the next couple of years.”
Petroni, who sees her ASP WQS rating rocket from 31 to 11 with her solid result, was ecstatic with her runner-up finish.
“I was just so excited to be in the final at the U.S. Open,” Petroni said. “I’m a little bummed that I ran out of steam in the final, but it’s a huge result for me. My goal is definitely to be up there on the World Tour with Steph next year so hopefully I can put together a few more results.”
Courtney Conlogue (Santa Ana, CA), the 14-year old phenom, finished an incredible 3rd at this year’s Honda U.S. Open, only losing out to eventual-champion Gilmore in the dying moments of their semifinal bout.
“Steph (Gilmore) is definitely my favorite surfer so to have a semifinal heat here in front of all these people is a dream come true,” Conlogue said. “I told myself that I wanted to make the quarterfinals, and everything on top of that is just a bonus. I don’t feel bad about losing like that. Steph deserved the win and I hope she goes on to win the final.”
Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, AUS), 16, looked the form surfer of the event, collecting four out of the top highest heat totals of the women’s division. Despite looking poised for a finals berth, Fitzgibbons was unable to stop a rampaging Karina Petroni in their semifinal clash.
“It’s a bit unfortunate that I lost out to Karina, but she’s a great surfer and she was on point,” Fitzgibbons said. “However, a 3rd at the U.S. Open for my first trip to Huntington isn’t too bad so I’m pretty stoked about that. There wasn’t anyone over 19 in the semifinals so it’s interesting to see the transition and where women’s surfing is going.”
Amidst the women’s action today was a spattering of men’s heats that included some fiery match-ups as the field entered the Round of 12.
Jeremy Flores (Hossegor, AUS), current No. 12 on the elite Foster’s ASP World Tour, continued his searing form today, eliminating fellow Dream Tour competitor Adrian Buchan (Avoca Beach, AUS) en route to his quarterfinals berth.
“It was a tough heat as Ace is such a smart competitor,” Flores said. “I’ve been surfing with him on tour this year and he’s really fast and can get the score at any moment. It feels good to get into the quarterfinals. I had a good result here last year, but I definitely want to finish better this year. Hopefully the waves pick up tomorrow and we can have a good finish.”
Tomorrow will be the final day of competition for the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O’Neill, crowning a men’s champion as well as deciding victors in the ASP Grade-2 Lost Pro Junior and the Honda U.S. Open of Longboarding.
Surfline, official forecasters for the Honda U.S. Open of Surfing presented by O’Neill, have called for the surf to continue with modest fluctuations throughout the weekend, the result of Tropical Storm Dalila.
Daily updates will be available at www.aspnorthamerica.org, www.aspworldtour.com and www.usopenofsurfing.com.
Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com