Before the 2018 season even kicked off, Lakey Peterson had her eyes set squarely on the World Title. In an interview on the WSL's back porch in Coolangatta, Australia -- a 15-minute walk from Snapper Rocks -- she looked directly to camera and said that, this year, winning was her number-one goal.
Of course, every competitor on the WSL Championship Tour (CT) is chasing that same shiny cup -- but fewer are as well-positioned to actually win it as Peterson. With seven years on the elite tour, she has deep experience amid the headiness of the world stage. Add to that her committed fitness regime, coaching from Mike "Snips" Parsons, and a progressive game better than most of her peers, on paper, Peterson has it all.
But this season, after years of hovering just outside the Top 5, she's armed with something else: contentment. With a wedding in the works and an unmistakable ease about her, Peterson's results have mirrored her poise. She won the first event of the year, the Roxy Pro, at Snapper, dropped to a ninth-place finish at Bells, and then a fifth at Margaret River. Now, after finishing runner-up Friday Oi Rio Women's Pro, she's sitting solidly at World No. 2, just behind Jeep Leader Stephanie Gilmore (who won the Rio contest). Amid the fanfare at Praia da Itaúna, Peterson paused to reflect on her year so far.
World Surf League: At the beginning year, you said your plan for 2018 to win this thing. Where are you at with that now?
Lakey Peterson: The plan hasn't changed, the World Title is that goal, and I'm just trying to take it one event at a time. I feel like the momentum's working for me now, and it's obviously working for Steph right now. She's obviously in a great groove, and she's got an extra win over me, I'm aware of that.
For me, it's cool to feel like I'm keeping pace and doing my job, and everything is coming together the way I want it to. I'm proud of that, because it's been a lot of years of working hard and learning, and going back to the drawing board. So, it's nice to feel like Snapper wasn't a one-off thing, and I'm continuing [to do well].
To that end, are there any specific things that have changed, in terms of your approach, or mindset?
It's been different for me this year. I have been so content with my life. Just personal stuff -- I'm getting married. It feels like I have finally let go of feeling like every result reflects happiness, and I'm more content with who I am and my work ethic. I've also taken past experiences to learn and grow. I'm embracing everything a bit more. So with that contentment come some great results, and really enjoying it. I think that brings with it confidence, too.
Is there anything you do to solidify that for yourself? Either work you did pre-season, or work that you do generally, to keep yourself in that content, confident place?
There are a few things. Obviously, I work with Mike [Parsons] in the offseason on my actual surfing. I'm into that. And I'm really into the gym and fitness. But I've been into that for quite a few years, and gotten really invested in the mindset side of things. That's been so helpful for me to tap into some sports psychology. It's something I worked on a lot in the offseason, but I continue to learn and grow as I go through the years. Unlocking some things mentally for me has been awesome, and helped me take it to the next level and get to this consistency and to the point that I'm at right now.
To the extent that you can share, are there any techniques that you use, or tools that have been particularly helpful?
I can't give away all my secrets, but there are a few things I've been doing differently, and I've got a few people I talk to who help me out, who have some great advice and help me see things in a positive, cool light. And meditation has been a cool thing for me. I think it's been a key component to it all.
Next up for Peterson, Gilmore and the rest of the Top 17 is the women's Corona Bali Protected, with an event window of May 27 - June 9. Watch live on the WSL and Facebook.