Kelly Slater, Julian Wilson, Dane Reynolds, Gabriel Medina
The old Medina would have gone to the air, but the new and improved Medina finishes off with a couple nice turns.
– Martin Potter (ASP announcer, Snapper 2014)
That quote felt like a punch in the gut. Over past few years, there has been a buzz in many of the heats that someone could try something big at any time. Something seems to be discouraging that risk (and thus aerials) lately. Whether it’s the judges scoring criteria or the results that Mick and Parko are getting with rail to rail surfing, it seems that guys like Medina, Kolohe and some of the others who can throw jaw-dropping aerials are sticking with “safer” surfing to pick their way through the heats (Josh Kerr seems to be an exception).
My take on aerials in surfing:
Aerials should be treated like every other maneuver. How hard are they to pull off? How well are they executed? How does it fit into the overall ride? A huge stalefish is way harder than a “big wrapping turn”. Score it like that. Give the points making the risk worth it. And if it’s sandwiched between some other great sections, score the wave even higher. If Parko gets a slightly better barrel at Pipe than John John, but John John pulls a huge inverted air at the end of his wave, John John should get the score.
To be fair, that may already be the case (although some would argue they are scoring airs less these days), but rather, the risk of falling on an air attempt isn’t worth it when it could ruin a scoreable ride. Hence: “surf to the judges’ criteria and take advantage of the entire wave” (another quote we hear on the broadcast from time to time). Maybe that’s why it was exciting when the judges were throwing huge scores for a single air–it became worth the risk. I dunno. I just hope we see more guys pushing it in the heats down the road.
– pull big gouging turns
– ride deep critical barrels
– huck great spinning airs
– huck even bigger straight airs
– do all the above switch (…I can dream, can’t I?)
…and call out and cut anyone playing it safe by R3.
I agree that only having an air reverse in your quiver should only get you so far, but I’m hoping the ASP brings back that push for pushing it.