After falling off the Championship Tour in 2014, Pauline Ado had to stomach a return to the Qualifying Series. But the French surfer has spent the last two years honing her style and building her confidence. In 2016, she again made an authoritative push up the QS rankings, finishing just above of Alessa Quizon to qualify.
She picked a good time to do it. Joining the 25-year-old are fellow European surfers Joan Duru, Frederico Morais and Leonardo Fioravanti, upping Europe's representation in a big way. Pauline will be the second French woman added to the 2017 CT roster, joining Johanne Defay.
WSL: Compared to the first time you qualified, has your approach changed at all?
Pauline Ado: It is definitely different this time compared to when I first qualified in 2011. I feel like I have matured and I know myself a lot better. My approach is different. Now the most important thing is to love what I do and be the best I can be, instead of constantly worrying about results.
Did the QS teach you anything that you might have forgotten while focusing on the CT?
This experience has taught me that you can't take anything for granted and you always have to find ways to better yourself. There were definitely hard times but it has been a good thing in a way. I learned a lot about myself and what I want.
What was the hardest thing about returning to the QS?
The hardest thing was having to question myself. I had to think about what I should change in my approach and my training to get better and reach my goal of requalifying. It was hard because it didn't work straight away. Obviously, not being able to go and compete in all those dreamy destinations was hard too.
Was there ever a time when you didn't think you would return to the CT? What kept you going?
It took me two years to requalify and there have always been doubts. I think I always thought I could do it, I just wasn't sure if I would. I wanted to give it my better go. I learned to love what I do everyday, whether that is on the QS or CT.
European surfing is stronger than ever. What do you think clicked this year?
I think Europe has always had great surfers. For some reason not many of them have been able to qualify. This year everyone stepped up. Seeing Leo do so good at the beginning of the year really motivated all the European guys to do the same. A guy like Jeremy has been showing the way for years, so that's always encouraging. On the women's side, Johanne has been doing so well, too. They are all great sources of inspiration.
What are you looking forward to most about the 2017 CT season?
I am looking forward to a lot of things but if I had to pick one it would be competing in world-class waves with only one or two other girls out!
What were you up to over the holidays? Go on any trips?
I trained in the Canary Islands at the end of last year. After that I spent some weeks at home training and I will be heading to Australia pretty early to get ready for the Australian leg.
What does your training regime look like right now?
I've had some time off between the two seasons. I've been working on different things to make sure I'm ready for the beginning of the year. I'm working on my surfing, physical stamina and and the mental aspect. I took some time to work on my quiver with my shaper RT Surfboards.
Winter at home can be pretty hard. It gets cold and you don't spend as much time in the water, so you work on quality and other aspects of preparation. I'm really excited to start the 2017 season!