A momentous day culminated on the shores of Pismo Beach for Leon Glatzer and Kirra Pinkerton with their first-ever Qualifying Series (QS) victories at the Pismo Beach Open on Sunday afternoon, respectively. Both earned two, hard-fought victories over two of the event's standouts Kevin Schulz and Samantha Sibley in clutch fashion as one last day of swell pulsed to end competition.
The two competitors earned a well-deserved 1,000 points after battling through four days of competition to find themselves atop their respective podiums for the first time.
Glatzer Goes The Distance
The world got a glimpse of Glatzer, 21, at the Essential Costa Rica Surf Pro last week with his jaw-dropping, aerial antics and he followed up with more of the same all weekend at Pismo Beach. Glatzer was hoisted up the sands of Pismo Beach as a QS victor for the first time in his young career after taking down Schulz -- one of the top event threats and newest competitive threat on the QS level. The Pavones, Costa Rica, native's massive, last-minute air-reverse earned him an excellent 8.70 (out of a possible 10) to steal the win from Schulz with a 16.03 (out of a possible 20) heat total.
"It's an amazing feeling to take out an event with this level of competition and I had a great support group this whole time," Glatzer said. "The waves were so good the whole contest and it's one of the best QS events I've ever surfed. It's funny because the boys were saying this place doesn't really get that good, but then seeing it I just thought it was amazing out here and it felt like home. I've been doing QS events for three years already and finally got a win. They say you have to get on the grind and at some point it'll hit but recently it just keeps hitting."
Glatzer's road to the Final was no easy task taking down an in-form Schulz after overcoming QS veteran Michael Dunphy in a hard-fought Quarterfinal before taking down the explosive, Encinitas, California, talent Taylor Clark. The German representative, by parent's heritage, posted a Perfect 10 last week in Costa Rica and that confidence helped push him here at Pismo Beach with everyone at home watching. Now, with a win under his belt, Glatzer is hoping for more in the future.
"My brother sent me a message with everyone at home watching online with about twenty of them in the living room which felt so nice," Glatzer said. "I knew Kevin's (Schulz) airs were insane today and I thought that if I get one of these sections I'll have to do something much bigger that that. I landed in the flats and felt my back just bend so I'm sure after all the excitement calms down I'll feel that later for sure (laughs). But, I'll really enjoy this win and soak it in as much as I can since it doesn't happen often in this sport before getting ready for the next one."
Kirra Pinkerton Takes Her Success Up A Notch
The Women's Pismo Beach Open Final offered another glimpse into what's to come from some of North America's top, upcoming talents once more. 16-year-old Pinkerton is on an all-time run in 2018 with her first Regional Pro Junior Title already under her belt and now has a maiden QS victory to boast. The San Clemente, California, native continues to look dominant over her fellow North America standouts such as Semifinalist Alyssa Spencer and eventual runner-up Sibley. Pinkerton needed a 6.67 as the clock neared its 30-minute heat end and her decimating backhand delivered one last time to earn a 7.00 and her third WSL chair-up the beach this season after notching two Pro Junior wins.
"It means the world to me to win this event," Pinkerton said. "It gives me more confidence going into the rest of the QS events and I can tell myself that I've won one of these before and I can do this again.The waves were really fun, but it was a little sketchy just waiting for a long time for waves. Then Sam got a good one before we started getting some solid waves coming through for the rest of that heat which helped.
"We're going to keep battling it out until the end and I know that we're going to have more of those events together. Sam wants it just as much as I do so I can say it felt pretty good to get the win back over her, and I know she's going to want take the win back in the next event."
Pinkerton took down event dark horse Mathea Dempfle-Olin in dominant fashion before moving into a tight Final bout. Now, Pinkerton prepares for the Live Like Zander Junior Pro to defend her win from last season that sent her on an amazing run in 2018.
Schulz Takes the Regional Title Race to Barbados
For Schulz, a runner-up result was just what he needed to push the North America Regional Title to the last event. Lucca Mesinas' elimination on Saturday opened the door for Schulz to chase him down and an incredible finals day performance fell just short of his second win of the season, but 750 points put him at 3,150 on the year. The 22-year-old blasted the day's highest single-wave score of a 9.53 in his Semifinal heat over Jake Marshall after already earning near-perfection against fellow San Clemente surfer and former Championship Tour (CT) surfer Nathan Yeomans.
"That was legit air show all day and I feel good even though I didn't get the win, but it feels good to get second in any event no matter what," Schulz said. "The heat with Nate (Yeomans) was grear He's been my idol since I was a grom and we're good friends now so I knew that was going to be a tough heat. Then it was Jake (Marshall) and he opened with a 9 so I knew I had to do something big, but a huge section came and I just threw the hail-mary. Coming into the Final I knew it'd be an air show because I know Leon (Glatzer) can throw some punts and falling on my first wave was probably the difference."
"It sounds like I've kept the dream alive for the North America title heading to Barbados so I'm super excited about that," Schulz added. "I haven't looked at what I need to do there just yet, but I'll hopefully just do what I did here."
Sibley's Stellar Run Ends Matching QS Career Best
Following her RVCA Pro Junior win at Newport Beach, California, over Pinkerton, Sibley now has back-to-back WSL Final appearances and continues to show her potential unfolding. The 15-year-old took down 2017 North America Pro Junior Champ Spencer with an excellent 8.17 after a slow start and didn't let that lead diminish. But, the San Clemente competitor is just getting started and left with her head high, ready for the next event.
"I was just hoping to get an opportunity to get a long left and tee off a few turns and unfortunately I never got a good backup," Sibley said. "I'm really excited for Kirra (Pinkerton) and just stoked to have another Final with her. Now I'm just ready for the next QS and hopefully take a win. That first heat against Alyssa (Spencer) I got that really good wave that gave me an opprotuntiy for the 8-pointer and after that wave I felt really confident going into the Final. I went into that Final with no nerves and just wanting to have fun so I still had a great time, and I'm really stoked with how I did at this contest overall."
The next men's North America QS event will be the Thomo QS 1,000 in Memory of Bill Thomson at Soup Bowl, Bathsheba, Barbados from November 6 - 10.
The women's North America QS season concludes with this event and Caroline Marks is the 2018 QS Regional Champion once more, now going back-to-back with an incredible season.