It's been a whirlwind year for Ethan Ewing. In January the 17-year-old from North Stradbroke Island approached the 2016 season merely hoping to gain enough points on the Qualifying Series to earn himself some seeds into the QS 10,000 events. He did quite a bit better.
On Monday in Kiama Ewing clinched the men's World Junior Championship for 2016. He defeated California's Griffin Colapinto in what was ultimately an anticlimactic Final due to dropping swell. Fortunately Ewing had put enough of his crisp powerful surfing on display to justify the result.
Now 18 years of age, Ewing entered the event as a Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour rookie -- the only CT player in the entire event. That made him the odds on favorite coming in, and he delivered.
As a junior surfer in 2016 Ewing went on a certifiable tear during the Australian leg, winning four-straight Pro Junior events as well as a QS 1000 at Burleigh Heads. Feeling confident, he then decided to dabble on the world stage, traveling to Africa, Europe, California and Hawaii to compete in those big QS events. After a runner up finish at the U.S. Open in August, Ewing jumped to No. 6 on the QS.
He wasn't done.
He followed up with a dominant run in Hawaii, where he earned Rookie of the Year honors at the Vans Triple Crown and finished the year at No. 2 on the QS, earning himself a spot on this year's Championship Tour.
The Junior World Title was the perfect way to cap his year. "This has been such an incredible season for me," Ewing said afterward. "I've worked really hard to get here but I never imagined I'd be where I am."
Ewing was joined on the podium by fellow Australian Macy Callaghan, who clinched the World Title for the junior women over Hawaii's Mahina Maeda, the 2014 champion.
Like Ewing, Callaghan got very familiar with the podium in 2016. She too won four events on her way to clinching the Australasia region title sharing several of the same stage's with Ewing. But unlike Ewing, Macy just turned 16 in October and has two more full years on the junior platform.
"This has been a dream season for me," Macy said afterward. "I'm really excited to be bringing this title home to Avoca Beach, and I can't wait to see what the future holds."
Callaghan finished No. 15 on the 2016 women's QS, which means she's not that far removed from having a shot at the elite world tour, and she intends to start chipping away at that dream. "I'm going to do my best this year to see how it goes."
Given the performances she turned in on the South Coast of New South Wales this week, there's few who doubt Callaghan's ability to break through to the elite ranks, and the same goes for her counterparts like Maeda and fellow Hawaiian Brisa Hennessy.
Indeed the entire World Junior Championship seemed to be a glimpse into pro surfing's future, which is why the Australians have very much to be proud of with their two new champions.
"Pro surfing is in good hands" said Aussie legend Luke Egan from the commentary booth. "The caliber of surfing has been going through the roof all week, and it's really a testament to how much depth there is right now."