The ISA World Surfing Games have been enjoying a bounty of swell in El Salvador all week, and with the final 12 Olympic spots up for grabs, plus gold medals, national bragging rights and plenty of Championship Tour talent in the draw, the stakes couldn't be higher going into the final few days of competition.
In the most recent day of competition, Australia's Owen Wright was a standout. Wright had earlier stumbled in an Elimination Round heat, but had another chance to shine in the Repechage round, where he locked in the highest Men's heat total of 16.17.
Meanwhile, in earlier rounds of competition several other CT athletes put in standout performances. Sally Fitzgibbons, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Stephanie Gilmore, Frederico Morais, and Italo Ferreira were among the big names to flair.
And looking forward, there are some exciting match-ups locked in, with Kanoa Igarashi, Michel Bourez and Jeremy Flores all surfing in Heat 2 of the Men's Main Round 5. Fitzgibbons and Gilmore will both surf again next in Round 6 of the Women's Repecharge round, which gives athletes knocked out of the Main Round another path to compete for a medal.
Several CT athletes have pulled out of the event after surfing the requisite heat to lock in their Olympic qualification -- understandable with the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro Championship Tour event coming up soon, as well as preparation for the Games themselves.
Spend A Few Days On Rottnest With Italo
While we're talking Italo, the defending World Champ dropped an edit detailing the last stop of the great Australian leg. Classic Italo, it's got backflips, alley-oops, head dips and even a quoka or two. Hard to imagine anyone having more fun on Tour than this guy.
New Edits Showcase Up-And-Coming Talent
Outside of the arena of competition, the freesurf world has much to froth out on as two new edits from Eli Hanneman and Noah Beschen, both out of Hawaii, have put a spotlight on the future of progressive surfing.
"Twenty Seven Clips" from Hanneman, a short film shot in Indonesia which showcases how good he is in the air. These clips provide some food for thought when considering where the future of surfing is headed, especially with the increased levels of progression seen on the Championship Tour of late.
We also have "Wax," which follows Beschen through a season on the North Shore of Oahu through his eyes, showcasing some phenomenal surfing.
Athletes such as Gabriel Medina and Ferreira are doing airs in heats which used to be saved for the end sections of big-budget films, and if the question becomes whether they are raising the bar beyond reach of many other up-and-coming surfers, edits like this give us something to think about.
Can Anyone Stop Medina At Surf Ranch?
Speaking of Medina, we asked this week if anyone will be able to stop him at the Surf Ranch.
It's a fair question. Medina usually has a slow start to the season, but this year he has lost just three of the 25 heats he has surfed so far. Many of those heats he won with an air game which in technicality and consistency is above almost everyone else on Tour, bar perhaps Ferreira.
Whoever wins at the Ranch will need to be able to match him in the air...