Courtney Conlogue (USA) kicked off the 2014 ASP Women's World Championship Tour in dangerous form. The Californian's highlight reels at Snapper Rocks, Margaret River and Bells Beach established Conlogue as an ASP World Title threat and while the regular-footer was hunting her first victory of the season at the Bells, she was forced to withdraw from the event due to a devastating injury sustained in a freesurf.
The progressive American was enjoying an empty Victorian lineup one evening outside of competition and in less than a second, Conlogue went from sharing a memorable session in flawless barrels to panic over an injury that could unhinge her dream of chasing this year's Title.
â€œInitially I was having one of my best sessions of the whole year,â€ Conlogue said. â€œThere was only me, Steph (Gilmore) and a few other people and conditions were perfect. Perfect barrels. I was having a magical moment and in a split second the foamball just exploded from the toeside rail and twisted my ankle, but it rolled the other way. Under water, I instantly had extreme pain in my shin and knew something wasn't right.
â€œI went in to recovery mode straight away, still thinking I could maybe surf in the event, because I didn't know what had happened. I think the adrenaline kicked in and I didn't really feel the pain at first because I wanted to do well in Bells so badly. The next day, I had the biggest limp. I strapped it, but the pain was pretty extreme.â€
Conlogue would do everything in her power to chase the coveted Bell, but the pain forced her to withdraw from the Rip Curl Pro in an attempt to avoid any further damage. After the long travel home, Conlogue has immediately turned her focus to full-time recovery.
â€œIt was an emotional moment and a big decision to have to withdraw. I've been working with two amazing people back home and it's all positive building blocks. I haven't had an injury like this before, so it's been amazing to see all of the support that I have. Sometimes it's good to have to slow down and reboot. I've been doing a lot of swimming, a lot of painting and a lot of writing in the journal.â€
Conlogue's dedication to full recovery is her main focus. With the healing process still in its early stages, though, Conlogue had no choice but to withdraw from the upcoming Rio Women's Pro presented by Billabong.
â€œIt was a tough decision to withdraw from Rio, but it's the right decision for me right now. I'm still wearing a boot and it's definitely not ready for competition. For the long-term, and trying to do well for the rest of the season, I need to make sure I'm 100 percent.
"I'm still in the beginning stage. I'm doing as much as I can to get better faster than what people are saying. I'm giving my body the rest that it needs. It's almost the reverse of training, getting pumped up, and getting in shape for the tour. Now it's slowing things down and doing what you need to do in the recovery process and slowly rebuilding.
"I was really looking forward to Rio. I'd been going there for six years and I love it there. The people are amazing and it's always an exciting event. I'll be here watching and learning."
Conlogue is taking her recovery process day-by-day and has yet to announce an official return date to competition.
â€œI'm not sure exactly when I'll be in the water yet, but I am progressing really positively and everyday I feel my ankle getting stronger and taking steps in the right direction. Hopefully I'll be back soon. I'm really looking forward to putting that jersey back on. It's definitely something I love so much and it's hard to watch a heat go on when it's what you live for. I love that feeling. I'm doing everything to get back into that moment.â€
Hawaiian Tatiana Weston-Webb will surf in Rio as Conlogue's injury replacement.