Lima, Peru (July 29, 2019) – It was a good day for Team USA longboarders. Santa Barbara’s Cole Robbins won his round one heat with a 11.93 heat total over Costa Rican Anthonny Flores’ 9.27. Robbins wrung as many points possible from some tricky waves with long nose rides, graceful carves and stylish flow.
In the first heat of the women's longboard, La Jolla’s Tiare Thompson led world champion Chloe Calmon of Brazil for most of the heat with a series of nose rides and smooth carves in 4- to 5-foot, clean conditions. Calmon scored an 8-point ride with four minutes left to win the heat with a 13.07 heat total edging out Thompson’s 11.17. Thompson is headed to the repechage rounds for shortboard, frothing to compete in bigger conditions.
Team USA’s Kevin Schulz, Cole Robbins and Tiare Thompson made their Pan Am Games debut today, an event that takes on even more significance as 2019 marks the first time the Pan American Games is an Olympic-qualifying event for surfing in many countries. Thompson surfed in both shortboard and longboard events. Teammates Candice Appleby, Connor Baxter and Daniel Hughes will compete in their first Pan Am Games heats later in the week.
The Pan Am Games draws more than 600 athletes from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean and is the second largest sporting event in the world behind the Olympic Games.
Kevin Schulz had a disappointing first round loss to his longtime friend Canadian Cody Young. Schulz now moves to the repechage double-elimination rounds, where he plans to battle back into medal contention and potentially qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games. If Schulz wins the Pan Am Games Open Men’s event and two U.S. men do not end the WSL season in the top ten of the world rankings, Schulz would qualify to surf in the 2020 Olympic Games.
The Associated Press featured Schulz in a piece picked up by the Washington Post highlighting his friendships with the Canadian team and the significance of their being in the first heat for the first-ever surfing event in the Pan American Games.
“It’s exciting to think that by the end of this event, we will know who many of the surf athletes headed to the 2020 Olympic games will be,” said USA Surfing President Andrea Swayne. “The stoke level and fierce commitment to deliver peak performances among the surfers here is off the charts.”
Team USA’s six-member team listed below has won dozens of medals and Championship titles. As shortboard surfing makes its debut at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, an entirely new audience will be introduced to exciting performances.
Team USA’s Pan American Games athletes include:
Candice Appleby, Women's SUP Surf and SUP Race
33 years old
San Clemente, Calif.
Not only is she the winningest women's SUP athlete, Candice Appleby is the first and only woman to beat men in a professional SUP surfing event, winning both the women’s and Open Pro divisions. Appleby began surfing at the age of 9 and competing at 10. As the captain of her high school surf team, she led San Clemente High to four consecutive national titles.
She went on to obtain her degree at the University of Hawaii and pursue surfing full force. In 2006, she decided to give stand up paddle surfing a try. She went on to claim victory six times at Battle of the Paddle and is a three-time Pacific Paddle Games champion. She’s also been the No. 1 Female SUP Athlete of the Year three times, APP World Tour Champion in 2015, and collected four gold medals for the United States at the ISA World Championships in 2015, 2016, and 2018. Candice is considered a pioneer of SUP. ESPN W calls her “Abby Wambach, Serena Williams, Brittney Griner and Danica Patrick all rolled into one. She’s talented, fiercely competitive, tremendously well-respected and a true ambassador of the sport.”
Daniel Hughes, Men’s SUP Surf
26 years old
Costa Mesa, Calif.
Daniel Hughes is renowned for SUP Surfing the Wedge in Newport Beach – one of the gnarliest smack-down beach breaks. He is the Zuma Beach Malibu 2014 US SUP Tour Champion and also took first place in the 2017 Ventura Paddle Surfing Championships.
He took first and was the Biggest Air winner in the 2017 Surfing Santa & Stand Up Paddleboard competition. In 2018, he helped Team USA earn the overall team Silver Medal in the World Standup Paddle Championships in Wanning, China - their best finish since earning the Gold in 2015.
Hughes got his first surfboard when he was five years old and remembers standing up on his first wave as “the most incredible feeling in the world.” He first tried SUP surfing in 2007 and quickly fell in love with the sport. “I knew I was going to land airs and surf my SUP just like my shortboard,” Hughes said. “My whole life I have thrived off the thrill of the ocean. That thrill, that passion, has allowed me to progress as an athlete and as a person. I strive to be the best and share my passion with others.”
Connor Baxter, Men's SUP Race
24 years old
ISA SUP Gold Medalist Connor Baxter wins. A lot.
Raised in Hawaii, Baxter began competing in windsurfing and surfing events at the age of 8. By 14, he was surfing the biggest waves in the world – becoming the youngest person to ever windsurf the infamous Jaws break. At 16, he shifted his focus to Stand-Up Paddle and set a world record at the Molokai-2-Oahu World Championships - four minutes ahead of the closest competitor.
He is the Stand Up Paddle World Champion, the Fastest Paddler on Earth, five-time SUP Athlete of the Year, five-time Male Paddler of the Year, Battle of the Paddle Champion, Pacific Paddle Games Champion and has more than 100 first place finishes.
Kevin Schulz, Men’s Open Surf
24 years old
San Clemente, Calif.
A 2018 Jacks Pro QS 1500 Champion, Kevin Schulz is competing on the World Surf League’s Qualifying Series, trying to crack the top 10 to qualify for the Championship Tour. He surfed on the ISA World Surf Games in 2018, helping the team take home the Bronze Medal. Just last month, Schulz won Stab High’s “Freak Peak” event with what is being called the biggest air landed in Waco, Texas’ BSR Wavepool’s history. The clip of the air he has been working on for more than three years went viral on Instagram.
Schulz is a product of the USA Surfing program, coming up through the Western Surfing Association, National Scholastic Surfing Association and USA Surfing Prime Series. He was on the USA Junior Surf Team in Nicaragua in 2013 and the USA Surf Team in Costa Rica in 2016. Kevin has pioneered surfing in the cold waters of Canada and Alaska and been featured in many surfing magazines and websites. While competing on the World Surfing League Qualifying Series, he is attending Northwestern University, working on earning a Bachelor’s degree in Health Management.
Tiare Thompson, Women’s Longboard and Shortboard
18 years old
La Jolla, Calif.
Tiare Thompson has been chosen by USA Surfing to represent the United States in ISA competitions every year since 2014. She helped Team USA’s 2015 World Junior Championship team win Gold, which at the time was USA’s first gold in 33 years of ISA competition. She surfed for Team USA in the Pan America games in Peru in 2018 and competes in the World Surf League Women’s Qualifying Series & Junior Women’s Tour. She holds several NSSA Southwest Conference titles and was a WSA West Coast Champion in two divisions.
Cole Robbins, Men’s Longboard
28 years old
Santa Barbara, Calif.
By the age of 15, after winning four National Championships and Scholar of the Year, Cole Robbins became a professional surfer and joined the World Tour of Professional Longboarding. In 2012 & 2017 Cole placed 5th in the world, in 2013, 2014, and 2016 he placed 9th. Last year in 2018, he placed 3rd. Robbins shares his surfing passion with his twin brother, Brett, who also has been a professional surfer.
Traveling to surf in diverse places like Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Italy, France, Spain, Indonesia, South America, and China has given Robbins a broader perspective on world cultures and the appreciation for the common humanity everywhere.