Carissa Moore's aerial move in her Quarterfinal win over Johanne Defay has, rightly, been heralded as one of the best airs in women's competitive history. Yet, obscured by the leap in progression, was another incredible statistic. That 9.90 helped Moore move into her eighth consecutive Championship Tour Semifinal.
It's an incredible run of consistency that has led the Hawaiian to reassert herself as the dominant force in women's surfing. And one that shows no signs of dissipating.
In some ways, this shouldn't be surprising. Since Moore burst onto the scene as a 12-year-old she was predicted to change the game. And in many ways she did. She won her first World Title at 19, and by 2015, at age 24, had claimed another two. In that time she brought new levels of professionalism, progression and power to women's surfing.
However, in the years after her third World Title, an air of vulnerability crept into Moore's competitive surfing. The rise of Tyler Wright and the re-emergence of Stephanie Gilmore played their part, but it also seemed Moore was questioning her approach. Sometimes it seemed she wanted it too much, other times it was as if the pressure that had come with a decade of non-stop competition, half of them as a teenager, had taken its toll.
We can trace the end of this period of uncertainty back to the Margaret River Pro in 2019. A poor start to the Australian leg was rescued by a strong Semifinal finish in Western Australia. Shortly after, a historic win a J-Bay, and another in France, saw her in pole position to claim a fourth World Title. The relief when she did so at home in Hawaii was huge.
"It's been years of work and years of growing and learning," she said after that win. "It's been a journey and I've been really looking forward to this moment, but it hasn't sunk in yet."
The break in competition in 2020 due to the pandemic may have not only given her time for that achievement to sink in, but also gave her a chance to reset. After a Final at Pipeline, she came to Australia with her confidence at a career-high. Like Gabriel Medina, she also traveled to compete without her father by her side.
Now 28, her team includes her husband Luke Untermann and long-time Hurley team manager and coach Mitchell Ross. Outwardly, she seems clear-headed and in control, balancing life and her career on her terms. She also has spent the last year working harder than ever with her long-time shaper Matt Biolos to fine-tune her competitive quiver.
It's a combination that has kept her on an incredible roll that now goes back to 2019. In those eight events, she's had three Semifinals, two runner-ups, and three wins. The last in Newcastle, perhaps the most dominant victory of all of them, earned her the Yellow Leader Jersey going into the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona.
It also came dolloped with a dose of progression that showed she is nowhere done with this thing called surfing. The four-time World Champion keeps changing the game. And right now, her competitors can't seem to keep up.