Mon, 5 August 2019

Sage Erickson marked another milestone in the evolution of women's surfing when she won the first WSL QS10,000 for women, and equal prize money, at Huntington Beach yesterday.

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WIN WIN: Dora and Erickson achieved firsts in their careers. Photo WSL / Morris

In an amazing performance at the iconic Huntington Beach in 3-5' surf, Erickson claimed an all-California final over defending event winner Courtney Conlogue (USA). In the men's event, the high-flying antics of Yago Dora were enough to overcome the brilliance of Liam O’Brien (AUS), who stamped his presence on the surfing scene during the event.

'It’s equal pay, it’s a prime, it’s a lot for us women'Erickson paid tribute to her grandmother who died recently. “I shed a lot of tears when I came in from the water and I just want to say this is dedicated to my grandma who passed two weeks ago,” Erickson said. “It’s crazy how it takes someone to leave for everything they’re about to really set in. A lot of the lessons and things she believed in me, I have to speak over myself here for a second for her and it’s just about the people you value in your life. Whether it’s your friends or your family or even the people you can make a mark on and encourage.”

To make the final, Erickson had to deal with an all-star cast including Malia Manuel (HAW) and former Vans US Open winner Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA). “To be home in California, have a heat against Courtney and to be 10,000 -- it’s more than just points,” Erickson added. “It’s equal pay, it’s a prime, it’s a lot for us women and a big shout out to Jessi (Miley-Dyer) for believing in our sport and to Sophie (Goldschmidt) leading the WSL as a strong woman.”

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FINAL APPROACH: One of two Yago Dora airs that landed him the win. Get it? Photo WSL / Morris

Dora came firing right out of the gates on finals day with the day’s top single-scoring wave of a near-perfect 9.27 after a massive air. The Brasilian CT elite’s excellent 8.60 on yet another massive air-reverse before shooting through the pier to finish it off sealed his first QS10,000 victory.

“It feels so incredible right now and I just want to thank everyone who showed up yesterday -- it’s just amazing to surf in front of a huge crowd,” Dora said. “It gets me fired up to do my best and that’s what I did yesterday. I gave everything I had and it worked out for me. I just want to congratulate all the finalists and especially Liam, he’s been surfing amazing.”

The win skyrockets Dora 46 spots to 4th on the QS ranks and in a position to secure his CT spot for 2020 heading into a vital back-half of 2019. The 23-year-old decimated the hopes of Frenchman Jorgann Couzinet's chance to distance himself from the pack (as #1 on the QS leaderboard) in the Semifinals and surviving a scare from former CT competitor Alex Ribiero (BRA) in the Quarterfinals. Dora now sets his eyes on Tahiti for one of the CT’s most sought-after events.erickson s6131USopen19herron

BACKHAND TRACK: Erikson overcame Courtney Conlogue in an all-Cali final. Photo WSL / Herron

The women’s all-American final had the crowd roaring for hometown hero Conlogue with every turn as she hoped to claim unprecedented back-to-back titles. But, it wasn’t meant to be. Erickson's form forced Conlogue into attempting hail mary airs toward the end of the heat. Athough a runner-up spot was disappointing for the Santa Ana native, her explosive air-reverse in Quarterfinal Heat 1 against phenom Caroline Marks (USA) started the day in amazing fashion that carried through to the end. The recent Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame inductee can carry this momentum forward.

The Vans US Open can provide a platform for surfers to make their names known and Burleigh Heads local O'Brien did just that with jaw-dropping performances. O’Brien helped eliminate event favorite, hometown hero and back-to-back defending event winner, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and CT competitor Jack Freestone (AUS) just two days prior before taking down Barron Mamiya (HAW) in the Quarterfinals and California’s last hope Griffin Colapinto (USA) in the Semifinals yesterday.

O’Brien will now look to finish the season competing in the QS10,000s with a chance to qualify.

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LIP SERVICE: Liam O'Brien announces himself on the world surfing stage. Photo WSL / Morris

“I’m ecstatic and it still feels so surreal to be standing here, I don’t even feel like I’m supposed to be here to be honest (laughs),” O’Brien said. “I’m so thankful for this opportunity and to come as far as I did and can’t say thank you enough for everyone coming down. To make it through some of the heats I did, I can’t believe it. I’ll keep working to improve my surfing as much as I can and to be into the QS 10,000s heading is such an amazing feeling so I’m just really grateful.”

Recognized as the largest professional sports competition and action sports festival in the world, the Vans US Open of Surfing presented by Swatch is currently sanctioned and operated by the World Surf League under license from IMG, the event owner. Official partners of this year’s event include Vans, Swatch, Jeep, ULTRA, Red Bull, Jose Cuervo, Barefoot Wine, Hydro Flask, Harley-Davidson, Polo Blue, BF Goodrich, CLIF Bar, and Frontier Communications.


DRONE OF THE CROWD: The iconic Huntington Beach is always a crowd favourite. Photo WSL / Morris

Women’s Final
1 - Sage Erickson (USA) 15.40 10,000 points
2 - Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.93 8,000 points

Men’s Final
1 - Yago Dora (BRA) 16.03 10,000 points
2 - Liam O'Brien (AUS) 11.34 8,000 points

Women’s Semifinal
SF 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.86 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 11.36
SF 2: Sage Erickson (USA) 16.33 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 12.83

Men’s Semifinal
SF 1: Yago Dora (BRA) 14.77 DEF. Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 14.16
SF 2: Liam O'Brien (AUS) 13.50 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 10.77

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