After a brutal ankle injury removed the Santa Ana, Calif. native from a promising Championship Tour season in 2014, Courtney Conlogue (USA) now has a shot at her first World Title. Her unyielding drive, determined focus and powerful athleticism have pushed her to the No. 2 spot in the world. But her rank won't be enough for the ever-competitive Conlogue, who has one more shot to overtake Jeep Leader Carissa Moore (HAW) at the Target Maui Pro.
On World Title Ambition: "It's my dream. We all want a World Title. And if we don't admit it and we're on the World Tour, it's because we're too nervous to admit to wanting it. I want that Title. I've worked very hard and all I can do is go out there, put that jersey on and let it happen and adapt to whatever's out there. Whatever's thrown your way, be the best on your worst day. I've been aiming at a World Title since I've started competing on the World Tour but I knew there was going to be a learning curve. If I had won a Title my rookie year, heck I'd take it, but I knew there was going to be a process. And coming in my first year I had to understand what equipment I needed at these locations."
On Dealing With Pressure: "I love pressure. The people who train me are 'the more pressure the better' [type]. I don't mind it. It's definitely been different dealing with it in a heat, but I welcome it. It's usually what tests an athlete the most and where you get to see how much you can handle - see that willpower come through. And what you're willing to do to get through those pressures and anxieties and utilizing it as fuel instead of as a burden. All the things I do in the gym and all those training sessions and any of that pressure - I have those same pressures in these other elements. Just realizing when I'm feeling that anxiety and all these things building up and figure out how my body adjusts and how performance changes while I'm in these situations."
On Winning Back-to-Back Events: "I think it just showed me I could do it. Coming away from a back-to-back win, I had never done that so I just thought ‘Okay, this is cool.' I went from surfing a big reef wave to a small beachbreak and it's literally both sides of the pendulum. Being able to adapt that fast and having the equipment work, it just gave me that bit of confidence toward making it a fun year."
I've just been going with the swings and getting myself back up when I fall and learning from the mistakes.
On Bouncing Back From Injury, Loss at Fiji: "When I went to Fiji thinking I was going to do well and ended up hurting myself I just thought ‘Damn, oh well.' But I've just been going with the swings and getting myself back up when I fall and learning from the mistakes. Just constantly evolving throughout this season and being a chameleon with what I have to become in order to win these contests. I think it was more difficult to swallow that I got super injured the first day of the trip. I thought I performed pretty well not knowing what I had since I wasn't able to get diagnosed until getting back. It turned out I severely tore something. Going into that event I was wanting to get to the Final because I knew I could but also knew I was really injured. I hadn't surfed the location until I put a jersey on - literally the first surf day I surfed for maybe thirty minutes and was out until the start. I had to learn the wave while I was competing and that was such a cool learning experience."
On Highlight of 2015: "Margarets was a special moment for me. That wave is insane, I just love it. It suits my surfing, the power of the wave and just how it's in the middle of the ocean, it has a mixture of big wave and high-performance and just has so many variables that are always changing. I have such an amazing family there, I want to win it for them because they've been supporting me the whole way up. I loved winning that one, it was just the icing on the cake for me."
On Earning No.1 Spot: "I was so happy when I got that yellow jersey. It's my first time ever getting to that No. 1 rating and feeling what it felt like to be on the top and having to hold that zone. I think that was a really cool moment in my season. It was that evolution of starting from that low rating to getting to the top and it was just a see-saw battle from there. It's been so fun honestly."
On Consistency To Win A World Title: "To be at the top you have to be able to adapt to anything that's thrown your way. I think that's what makes a champion at the end of the season and you have all these different variables - conditions, boards don't come, boards break and you can get hurt. It's been really cool to have that consistency throughout the season and have pretty much Quarters or above the whole year, just that one ninth in France. Trying to constantly improve yourself throughout the season [is important]."
On What It Will Take To Claim Victory Over Carissa Moore (HAW): "Coming into this one, [Carissa] won it last year and with Target putting it on it'll make it feel like home. She'll be tough to beat. But I've been doing a lot of training, coming here the last nine years. I know this spot and it's just a matter of Mother Nature giving us the waves and [me] getting the job done. Just win heats and win an event. That's what I'm focusing on and just surf my best. I have four hours I have to surf going the long way and three hours going the short way - that's all I have to do is just surf three hours as good as I can and get to the finish line."
Don't miss Moore and Conlogue battle through the rounds for the 2015 World Title at the Target Maui Pro LIVE on the World Surf League through December 4.