The opening events of the 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour, the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast presented by BOQ, went down in sizzling fashion last week with Snapper Rocks delivering the goods for the world's best surfers' initial campaign offerings.
With one of the best sand banks in event history on tap and consistent East swell throughout the event window, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast recorded what many are considering the best day in women's surfing ever (Tuesday, March 4, 2014) and five-time ASP Women's World Champion and local icon Stephanie Gilmore collected her fifth event title, reasserting her place as a major contender for the world surfing crown.
On the men's side, 2012 ASP World Champ and Snapper Rocks local Joel Parkinson looked solid to make it a double hometown victory, but Brazilian wunderkind Gabriel Medina and his electric backhand put a stop to it with the youngster collecting the first event win for the goofy-footers in a decade.
Throwing a twist in this year's title race is the addition of Western Australia to the Australian leg of the schedule. A long-celebrated ASP Qualification Series (QS) event, the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro joined the ASP Women's WCT schedule last season and will host both the men's and women's elite fields in 2014.
The importance of a strong start on the Gold Coast in the hunt for the ASP World Title is not without precedent. In the past decade, 40-percent of the men's and women's winners of the opening event of the season went on to win that year's ASP World Title.
It's with this in mind that we take a historical look at both Medina's and Gilmore's track records at the Australian leg events of the Gold Coast, Western Australia and Bells Beach.
There are so many events to come and I just have to try and keep focused. It's not easy, but I am going to try to be consistent, it's my goal to be at the top. - Medina
Gabriel Medina Gold Coast History
2012: 25th (First Year)
Medina has steadily improved at the opening event of the season. Qualifying at the mid-year rotation in 2011, Medina's first shot at Snapper Rocks came in 2012. After posting two big wins in the back half of 2011 (France and San Francisco), the Brazilian's initial offering on the Gold Coast was less than stellar. He went one round better in 2013 before posting his big win this season.
Gabriel Medina Western Australia History
2013: Did not compete
2012: Did not compete
2010: 49th (First Year)
Medina's opening two runs in Margaret River were poor results of 49th a piece in 2010 and 2011. Since then, he has abstained from the event, opting to focus strictly on the ASP WCT level events. With the addition of Western Australia to this year's elite schedule, however, Medina will need to improve on his history at the break if he is to maintain his frontrunner status.
Gabriel Medina Bells Beach History
2011: 25th (as Wildcard)
2010: 17th (as Wildcard, First Year)
A Rip Curl athlete, Medina had the benefit of competing at Bells Beach as a wildcard in 2010 and 2011 where he finished 17th and 25th respectively. A slight improvement in recent years to 13th place finishes, Medina will hope for better results as we wrap up this season's Australian leg at the iconic amphitheater of Bells Beach.
I didn't get a win at all last year and I can feel comfortable heading in to the next events. - Gilmore
Stephanie Gilmore Gold Coast History
2006: 5th (as Wildcard)
2005: WINNER (as Wildcard, First Year)
Growing up in the groomed righthanders of Snapper Rocks, it was foregone conclusion that Gilmore would eventually dominate the venue, and dominate she has. In 10 years competing in the event, the Gold Coaster has claimed an incredible five wins (including her first in 2005 as a wildcard). Further to this, Gilmore has capitalized on an opening event win on three occasions (2009, 2010 and 2012) where she would eventually sail it to an ASP Women's World Title.
Stephanie Gilmore Western Australia History
2011: Did not compete
2010: Did not compete
2009: Did not compete
2008: Did not compete
2007: No event
2006: 13th (First Year)
An ASP QS event up until last season, Gilmore's experience at Margaret River is minimal. A 13th there in her first year in 2006 preceded five years of absence until 2012 where she finished 5th and then 3rd place last season. The Australian will hope to continue her trend of recent years as the world's best descend upon Margaret River in the coming weeks.
Stephanie Gilmore Bells Beach History
2007: WINNER (First Year)
As on the Gold Coast, Gilmore is one of the strongest competitors in the field at Bells Beach. A win in her rookie year (2006) amongst the world's elite came before another two wins as well as two additional Final appearances. Gilmore's experience, history and ability give her a huge advantage at Bells Beach.
Medina and Gilmore will be joined by the world's best surfers from April 2 - 13 for the 2014 Drug Aware Margaret River Pro