Groundswell, the Fantasy Surfer forum moderator, lays down his hot & cold picks for the 2017 WSL Championship Tour.
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro
After watching my team completely bow out before the final day, I’m more than ready to hop on the hype train for Margaret River. I know the West Oz government is sponsoring this event, and a big thank you to them for it. But can we call it something other than the Drug Aware Pro yet? We’re all pretty well AWARE of drugs, and this message board is a fine example of that. Maybe the Sober Up Pro? The Hey This Is A Long Way From Everywhere Else In The World Pro?
It’s also kinda funny to see the name of the contest is the Drug Aware Pro, yet all the pros go to the wineries in the area on their lay days with their significant others. “Don’t do drugs! Enjoy your wine!”
So here we go to West Oz before heading back across the country to Bells. Road trip!
MICK FANNING – What?!? Yes, Mick. He got an early break in Round 1, but then was similarly hosed in Round 3 at Snapper Rocks. He’s just coming off a solid six months of no contests and remembering that you have to obliterate your opponents, not just win by a slim margin. His speed is right up there where it needs to be and his carving ability has gone up a notch or two based on some free surf sessions I saw at Duranbah before the Quik Pro. The Snapper Rocks event has turned into a full blown Goofy foot domination, so I’m not so sure we’ll ever see him slaughter his opponents on his home turf like he used to in the early 2000’s. I think Mick will use this as a tune up for one of his marquee events (Bells) and possibly win both.
SEBASTIAN ZIETZ – Defending event champion means he can no longer sneak through the draw unnoticed. The level of turns that he was pulling off in the Quik Pro was impressive. Now he’s just gotta get that head straight into the competitive muscle that it was last year. And besides, he needs one great event so he can coast the rest of the year on equal 17ths, right?
KOLOHE ANDINO – I think there’s a few guys who are just about to break through to the top level. Kolohe is one of them. But nobody is going to take him seriously until he wins an event, or a world title. And, lets be honest, those two things usually go hand in hand. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for him to start traveling on his own without his parents? He’d sure look like one of the big boys if he did.
The Sentimental Pick: JOEL PARKINSON and KELLY SLATER on their “Just One More Run” Farewell Tour.
The Phantom Knee Injury Pick:
GABRIEL MEDINA – His parents will be in West Oz to kiss his boo boos, but they won’t be allowed at the event site. Will that be enough for Gabby?
The Yeah I Botched This Pick At The First Event So I’m Overcompensating But Putting Him On The Hot List At This Event Pick:
EZEKIEL LAU – You can also put this under “Yes, I’d Still Like To Go To The North Shore Without Getting My Ass Kicked” pick. I’m not into MMA, so I’m just going to play ass kisser on this one.
FILIPE TOLEDO – Look, I know that 2nd Round losses occur. And I always look like an asshole when I call out poor effort of surfers. But that Quik Pro Round 1 loss followed up by what I will only consider one of the worst efforts I’ve ever seen in conditions that weren’t that bad in Round 2 gets him here. And I’m tempted to leave him here for quite some time if that’s the type of effort we’re going to see from him. Even his super fun, lovable dad in the stands looked pretty puzzled by what he saw at Snapper from his son. But maybe this goes back to bringing your parents on tour with you. Maybe once you have a kid of your own, it might be time to put on some big boy pants and start doing this tour thing “sole mio” as Italo Ferreira would say. Oh wait, Italo isn’t the Italian guy is he? Well, then Leo Fioravanti would say it, right? No? Raised in France. Shit. Well, it’s Italian. And I had pasta last night, so I’m claiming there’s a little Italian in me and I said it.
IAN GOUVEA – This falls under what I saw at Snapper Rocks and I didn’t really like it type of pick. Did you see his heats against fellow goofy foots? Yikes. This is one of those things you really don’t like to see – a surfer’s style exposed for what it is. And it was NOT pretty. Matt Wilkinson and Gabriel Medina made Gouvea look down right amateur. Yes, he scored almost 15 points in Round 3, but he did that against Gabriel Medina’s 19.00 score. Which means the judges were throwing out some big scores as it was and his scores probably got bumped just a smidge. Kind of the rising tide lifts all boats with it type of analogy.
KANOA IGARASHI – Was what we saw at the Almost Pipe Masters last year the real thing? Or was what we saw in Round 1 at Snapper Rocks Kolohe and Freestone more of what we can expect? He managed a 3.10 heat total. I repeat; heat TOTAL. Not quite as bad as a 0.00 at Teahupoo, but when you’re a serious small wave guy and you can’t manage a double digit heat total in your type of conditions, there’s gotta be something going on. Maybe this is that sophomore slump that typically happens after rookie success. Or maybe being at home in Huntington Beach and listening to every bro with a pulse congratulate you on your epic year had a lingering effect. Who knows, really? But it needs to stop now. He’s young and flexible, so everyone else should be worried at what he’s doing next. But if Snapper Rocks was any indication, he’s going to be sore after getting beat up at every event.
The I’m putting Him On This List Because I Secretly Hope He Sees It And Proves Me Wrong Pick:
The Looked Like Trash At Event 1 Pick:
The Wait He’s Also On Your Hot List Pick:
SO YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE
Here’s the bonus section where I cover my ass and pick 4 or 5 surfers that I didn’t put on my hot list. This way, it doesn’t look SO off-the-wall when I don’t have either of the finalists on my hot list. It’s, uh, because they’re wild and unpredictable! Yeah, that’s it.
JOHN JOHN FLORENCE