(December 6, 2019) – The one remaining spot on Team USA’s first Olympic surf team will be decided in an epic showdown between John John Florence and Kelly Slater at the World Surf League’s Pipe Masters event at Banzai Pipeline on Hawaii’s North Shore. The window for the event runs Dec. 8 – 20 to take advantage of Pipeline’s best conditions. Watch the action live at www.worldsurfleague.com
John is returning to competition after missing the last five events recovering from ACL surgery. He is aiming to hold off 11-time world champion Kelly Slater and punch his ticket to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. John is currently ranked eighth in the world and Kelly 10th. Whoever comes out ahead will provisionally qualify for surfing’s first Olympic Games, joining Kolohe Andino, Carissa Moore and Caroline Marks on Team USA’s two-man, two-woman team.
USA Surfing CEO Greg Cruse said no one could have imagined a more exciting battle for Olympic qualification. “From having America’s top three women in the world vie for two Olympic team spots to a battle between John John Florence and Kelly Slater, surfing is putting on an edge-of-your-seat show,” Cruse said.
John won two of the first four events of the season, giving him a lead so commanding, he remains 3,000 points ahead of the other American men. After injury forced him to the sidelines, he slipped from first in the world to eighth. He is a two-time world champion, but has yet to win at his home break Pipeline. Kelly has won the Pipe Masters event seven times.
The scenarios for provisional Olympic qualification include:
John John Florence qualifies if:
- John is third (or better), he qualifies no matter what
- John is 33rd, Kelly is ninth or 17th or 33rd and Seth Moniz is third or fifth or 17th or 33rd
- John is 17th, Kelly is fifth or ninth or 17th or 33rd and Seth is second or third or fifth or ninth or 17th or 33rd
- John is ninth, Kelly is third or fifth or ninth or 17th or 33rd (Seth is not a factor here)
- John is fifth, Kelly is second or third or fifth or ninth or 17th or 33rd (Seth is not a factor here)
Kelly Slater qualifies if...
- Kelly wins, John is fifth or ninth or 17th or 33rd (Seth is not a factor here)
- Kelly is fifth, John is 33rd and Seth is third or fifth or ninth or 17th or 33rd
- Kelly is third, John is 17th or 33rd AND Seth is second or third or fifth or ninth or 17th or 33rd
- Kelly is second, John is ninth or 17th or 33rd (Seth is not a factor; he could win here and Kelly would still qualify)
Seth Moniz qualifies if...
- Seth wins, John is 17th or 33rd and Kelly is third or fifth or 17th or 33rd
- Seth is second, John is 33rd and Kelly is fifth or ninth or 17th or 33rd
Provisionally qualified athletes will 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 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. 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 finished the year ranked No. 8 and 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. In 2014, she made the move to split her time between Florida and California, making the most of San Clemente’s world-class waves and year-round surf to improve her performance. Her strong start to this season earned surfing’s first Team USA “Athlete of the Month” award – a distinction awarded by the USOPC to top athletes in all sports. Before going on the Championship Tour, she racked up multiple USA Surfing championship wins with powerful surfing that just keeps getting more impressive. In addition, she surfed for USA Surfing in the 2016 ISA World Junior Surfing Championships Girls Under 16 division in the Azores and won the Gold Medal.
Kolohe Andino was the first American surfer to provisionally qualify for Team USA’s Olympic surf team following his strong performance in the penultimate event in Portugal. His current world ranking at No. 5 guarantees that he will finish in the two top American men on the 2019 WSL Rankings, which earns a spot on Team USA’s first Olympic surf team. 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.
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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