There was no shortage of drama on the final day of the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, but when the spray settled it was two Huntington Beach surfers standing atop the podium.
Back from injury, surfing with passion and conviction, Courtney Conlogue claimed the women's title, while Kanoa Igarashi became the first surfer to win back-to-back Men's Opens since fellow Huntington surfer Brett Simpson did it in 2009 and 2010.
"It's so great performing in front of my hometown," said Conlogue after besting World No. 1 Stephanie Gilmore. "We spend so much time traveling during the season, and when you get your hometown vibe, there's nothing like it. You just absorb all that energy and use it as fuel for your fire."
For Conlogue, who won her first U.S. Open back in 2009, it was a statement-making performance that proved she's most definitely back at the top of her game and going to be a threat for the last three stops of the Women's Championship Tour.
"The win in 2009 was quite amazing for that time in my life, and now this one has its own special meaning for me. Coming back from injury, it's the first event I've felt 100 percent. Both of these wins here have been amazing and unforgettable," said Conlogue after being chaired up the beach.
On the men's side, Igarashi went up against a very in-form Griffin Colapinto in the final. A back-and-forth affair, it was an 8-point ride at the end that sealed the deal for Igarashi.
"That was the best heat I've ever had," said Igarashi. "On that last wave, I don't know, I felt like something just took over me and whatever I was going to do on that wave I was going to land it. When I stood up on that wave I knew I already had the score."
From Round 1 all the way to the end of the contest, Igarashi kept referencing how inspired he was by Simpson's performances years ago and was heavily motivated to follow in his footsteps.
"The whole contest I was just thinking about this final heat," said Igarashi. "I paced myself the whole time and let it all out at the end. It was a really hard heat, the waves were slow, but I just believed that Huntington was going to give me the waves and it did."
For women's runner-up Gilmore, the CT loss was bittersweet. While it was her second runner-up result at the Open, in the bigger picture she was able to open up larger lead in the race for the 2018 World Title.
With Conlogue knocking Lakey Peterson out of the contest in the quarterfinals, Gilmore was able to extend her ratings lead. She started the day 2,000 points ahead of second-ranked Peterson, and finished it by widening the gap to just north of 5,000.
"A final's a final. Everyone starts with zero," said Gilmore. "You have to be spicy to beat these girls. That local knowledge makes a big difference."
For the men, runner-up Colapinto has had plenty of experience in Huntington. Growing up in San Clemente, he's been surfing contests at the pier his whole life. With his cheering squad hanging in the VIP area, he was confidently relaxed throughout the day.
"I've been feeling really mentally clicked in lately," said Colapinto. "Whenever I get a little bit stressed or nervous I'm able to reel myself back. I feel like I've been doing that better than ever in this event."
With the biggest surf contest in North America in the books, the WSL Championship Tour heads to Teahupooi next week for the men's Tahiti Pro. The women have a month to gather themselves and train before they hit the water for the much-anticipated Surf Ranch Pro.