Team USA's two-man, two-woman Olympic surf team L to R: Kolohe Andino, Carissa Moore, Caroline Marks, John John Florence
(December 19, 2019) – John John Florence clinched the one remaining spot on Team USA’s first Olympic surf team, after 11-time world champion Kelly Slater lost in the semifinals of the World Surf League (WSL) Pipe Masters event.
While Kelly placed ahead of John in the event, John came into the final event with such a commanding lead, he forced Kelly Slater to have to win the Pipe Masters event to provisionally qualify for the Olympics.
John returned to competition after missing the last five events recovering from ACL surgery, losing in the quarterfinals to Gabriel Medina. John ended the season ranked No. 7 in the world and 2,855 points ahead of No. 8 Kelly. Kelly lost in the semifinals to world No. 1 Italo Ferriera.
John joins Kolohe Andino, Carissa Moore and Caroline Marks on Team USA’s two-man, two-woman team headed to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where the sport of surfing makes its debut.
“This is an absolute dream team,” said USA Surfing CEO Greg Cruse. “Team USA not only has the best surfers in the world, they are spectacular representatives of our sport and country. Their professionalism, passion and dedication to excellence is unmatched. Tokyo 2020 here we come!”
USA Surfing became the national governing body for surfing in the Olympics in 2017 and is creating a high-performance path to the Olympic stage and cultivating the next generations of talent. Cruse said an Olympic gold medal will represent a pinnacle of achievement for surf athletes with more national and worldwide attention than surfing has ever known.
“Congratulations to the athletes who were named to the USA Surfing Olympic Surf Team,” said Dedra DeLilli, group manager, Olympic and Paralympic marketing, Toyota Motor North America. “With surfing’s debut at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, we’re excited to celebrate this historic moment in partnership with USA Surfing and its athletes on their epic journey to compete on the world’s stage.”
The four provisionally qualified athletes await U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee approval of the full U.S. Olympic Team for the 2020 Games and fulfilling requirements for USA Surfing, such as surfing in the Spring 2020 International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games and mandatory training camps.
The 2020 Olympic surfing competition will be held at Tsurigasaki Beach in Chiba — about 40 minutes outside Tokyo. USA Surfing’s official forecasting partner Surfline has been watching weather and wave patterns that bode well for good conditions during the late July window of 2020.
The window for competition at the 2020 Olympic Games 2020 runs July 26 – August 2. With the help of official forecaster Surfline, Olympic Game leaders will identify the dates during that window with the best conditions to run surfing’s first Olympics. The contest could be compressed into two-and-a-half days, but ideally will run over four days.
John returned to competition this month after missing the last five events recovering from ACL surgery. Both John and Kelly progressed through the event's round of 16 and into quarterfinals, where Kelly lost to Australian Jack Freestone. John came into the final Pipe Masters event with a commanding lead, ranked eighth in the world and 3,000 points ahead of No. 10 Kelly. "Kelly and John are such good surfers
The WSL CT is the pathway for 18 surfers to qualify for the Olympics. The remaining 22 surfers from countries that don’t participate in the WSL are determined through the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, and the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. A one-man and one-woman team is reserved for the host nation Japan.
More about Team USA’s provisionally-qualified Olympic athletes:
Carissa Moore is a four-time World Champion from Honolulu and ranked No. 1 in the world. She surfs with remarkable power and finesse and is known for her work to help young girls develop confidence and pursue their dreams. Carissa started racking up wins at National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) junior surf competitions and top spots at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships, where she helped Hawaii win a team victory. In all, she clinched a record 11 NSSA amateur titles, and at age 16 became the youngest champion at a Triple Crown of Surfing event. At age 18, she became the youngest person – male or female – to win a surfing world title and was the first woman to compete in the Triple Crown of Surfing, Hawaii’s most prestigious contest series featuring the world’s best male surfers. Carissa was a star student at Punahou High (the same high school President Barack Obama attended) where she met her husband, Luke Untermann. She took four years of Japanese in high school and is looking forward to sharpening her use of the language during the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Caroline Marks made history as the youngest surfer (man or woman) to qualify for the World Surf League Championship Tour at just 15 years old and had a performance so strong she was named WSL Rookie of the Year. She grew up in Melbourne Beach, Fla., where she learned to surf with her brothers when she was 8 years old. Before going on the WSL CT, she racked up multiple USA Surfing championship wins, including winning the gold medal in the 2016 ISA World Junior Surfing Championships Girls Under 16 division.
Kolohe Andino was the first American surfer to provisionally qualify for Team USA’s Olympic surf team with performances so strong he earned the position in October before the season ended. Growing up in San Clemente with a pro surfer dad, Kolohe won seven USA Surfing Champion titles and nine National Scholastic Surfing Association championships – a record for boys under 18. One of the most entertaining surfers to watch, Kolohe has an aggressive, progressive style. Many of the local groms look up to Kolohe, who is quick to encourage and support the up-and-coming talent.
John John Florence is a two-time world champion who grew up on the North Shore of Oahu. John made an incredible comeback from injury to gain provisional Olympic qualification. Despite missing more than half the season recovering from ACL surgery, he held onto one of two top U.S. spots, after returning to compete in the WSL's final event of the season - the Pipe Masters. John started surfing when he was just 2 years old. At the age of 13, John became the youngest person to compete in the Triple Crown of Surfing. Just six years later he would win his first title and in 2017 clinched his second. John’s surfing is in a league of its own; he effortlessly pulls off freakish airs and maneuvers with athleticism and style.
Contact: becky (at) usasurfing (dot) org
USA Surfing is the National Governing Body for surfing in the United States, recognized by the International Surfing Association (ISA) and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC). USA Surfing’s mission is to promote and grow the sport of surfing and support United States athletes of all backgrounds to achieve sustained competitive excellence in Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American competition. USA Surfing will oversee and support America’s Olympic team as surfing makes its debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and surfing and stand-up paddleboarding athletes compete in the 2019 Pan American Games.
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