The upcoming Oi Rio Pro and Oi Rio Women's Pro will play a crucial role in the WSL Championship Tour, as the 2018 Title Race begins to take shape. That said, the injury list for the event just got bigger.
Caio Ibelli and Kelly Slater are officially out of the event due to ongoing injuries. Ibelli broke his foot last month at Main Break while training for the Margaret River Pro while Slater has been on an extremely long road to recovery after an injury he sustained freesurfing at last year's Corona Open J-Bay.
"I'm still using crutches and in a lot of pain on my right foot," said Ibelli. "On May 21 I have a return visit with my doctor. At that time we will take new scans to make sure the bone is healing properly. I am planning to undergo surgery but I will have more information after my next assessment."
Brazilians Miguel Pupo and Wiggolly Dantas will be their replacements. The two both competed on the CT full time last year, but fell off after ranking No. 25 and No. 26 on the Jeep Leaderboard by the end of the season. Both surfers grew up in São Paulo and will feel right at home in the leisurely beach town of Saquarema.
Australian Joel Parkinson has also withdrawn from the event due to personal reasons. He will be replaced by Mikey Wright, who is currently ranked No. 2 on the Qualifying Series (QS). As of late, Wright has revamped his competitive drive - having surfed in multiple Championship Tour events this year and taking down numerous heavyweights along the way.
The pre-selected Wildcard for the men's Oi Rio Pro will be QS rankings leader Alejo Muniz. The Brazilian fell off the CT back in 2015 but given his current QS standing, he's got a good shot a re-qualifying this year. The remaining Wildcard spot will be allocated to the local Trials winner.
On the women's side, Courtney Conlogue has withdrawn from the Oi Rio Women's Pro due to an injury she received on the Gold Coast prior to the start of the season. She will be replaced by French surfer Pauline Ado. The Wildcard spot will also be allocated to the Trails winner, taking place the day prior to the event start.
Watch the Oi Rio Pro and Oi Rio Women's Pro live daily May 11-20 on WSL.com and Facebook.