Once again, the Jeep leaderboard looks very different post-France. The Quik Pro France contest came just after September's upset-filled Hurley Pro at Trestles, and it was unclear who would perform in unpredictable French beachbreaks. While the World Title race remains fairly clear-cut, the Quiksilver event was a critical moment for select members of the Top 34.
Medina's French Connection Gets Stronger
Based on his incredible track record in France, the World No. 2 and defending event champion was expected to dominate in Hossegor, and he didn't disappoint. This was his fourth appearance in six Quik Pro showings. Medina's ability to adjust in variable conditions is second to none, and his performances are always jaw-dropping. Clearly, Medina has a thing for France.
Keanu Asing Can Scrap
Asing isn't afraid of a fight, and it showed at the Quiksilver Pro. Making a Championship Tour final is hard enough. Putting together a win is another story -- much less against mega-star Gabriel Medina. While other underdogs might've been star-struck in the face of the former World Champ, Keanu put his head down and put his precise backhand attack to work. When it was all over, the Hawaiian rocketed up the rankings twelve spots to No. 21 on the Jeep leaderboard, thrusting him right back in the requalification race.
Florence Refuses to Falter
After suffering a Round Three loss at Lowers, many wondered how the Jeep Leader would recover in France. He answered immediately with some impressive early-round wins, including a crucial Round Three grinder vs. rookie Ryan Callinan. John John also starred in the heat of the event with Filipe Toledo, who needed a perfect 10 to get past him. John got his revenge during their tricky Quarterfinal match. His Semifinal finish is still a keeper result, and John will be wearing the yellow jersey in Portugal with a 2700 point cushion. For Florence, nothing else matters at the moment.
Wilko's World Title Woes…
It's been a rough back half of the season for Matt Wilkinson, but his title hopes took a big hammering in Hossegor as John John and Gabe pulled way out in front. Sadly for Wilko, since his solid second-place finish in Fiji, he hasn't been able to get past Round Three. It's hard to pinpoint why, but his own great start may be partly to blame, as he seems to have inspired many surfers around him. Wilko still holds the No. 3 spot on the Jeep Leaderboard, but there's now a generous 9750-point gap between himself and No. 2 Gabriel Medina, so at this point, it's a two-horse race, and Wilko isn't in it.
Kelly's Comeback Takes a Hit
Following a win at Teahupo'o and a solid fifth-place result at Lowers, it seemed the King was making a mid-season push. The potential for another World Title even entered the conversation. That prospect, however, came to a screeching halt in France. In Round One, Slater lost in huge, unruly surf at Les Culs Nus, on a fickle day when only two heats ran. Then he lost in the second round to Italian wildcard Leo Fioravanti, whose win was no fluke. He took down the 11x World Champ earlier in the year as a wildcard at the Margaret River Pro. Kelly now holds the No. 8 spot on the Jeep Leaderboard, and while the notion of title number twelve is back on ice, Slater is banking on making his impact on this year's race when things get to Pipeline.
Tune in on October 18 for the start of the Meo Rip Curl Pro Portugal.