La Jolla, California (December 16, 2018) – After several spectacular, hard-fought finals, the Toyota USA Adaptive Surf Team won the overall team gold medal at the 2018 Stance ISA World Adaptive Championship in La Jolla, Calif. It is Team USA’s first gold medal in the history of the event. The overall team silver went to Brazil, the bronze to Chile. Hawaii won the copper medal.
Team USA’s point total of 8,771 was the product of several outstanding podium performances, including:
Alana Nichols, San Diego, Calif. – gold medal in the AS-4 (Prone)
Christian Otter Bailey – silver medal in the AS-4 (Prone)
Sarah Bettencourt, San Diego, Calif. – silver medal in the AS-3 (Upright)
Jeff Munson, Corona Del Mar, Calif. – silver medal in the AS-3 (Upright)
Dani Burt, San Diego, Calif. – bronze medal in the AS-2 (Stand/kneel)
“The skill, athleticism and stoke of Team USA’s adaptive surfing athletes are next level,” Cruse said. “I encourage everyone to get to know these athletes – their stories, discipline, training and nutrition and approaches to surfing and life. You will be inspired beyond measure.”
Cruse praised Team USA co-captains Dani Burt and Christiaan “Otter” Bailey, adaptive team coach Sean Brody and head coach Joey Buran for leading the team to victory. “There were changes in conditions, equipment and heat strategy that required adjustments and quick thinking. We also had some athletes competing for the very first time. This team’s leadership was so strong. I can’t thank them enough,” Cruse said.
Team USA’s Sarah Bettencourt earned the highest wave score and heat total with a 9.27 lip smash that contributed to a 17.27 heat total.
It was 15-year old Liv Stone’s first-time competing. Stone was born with congenital limb deficiency, plays soccer, is on her high school’s rifle team and dreams of becoming a Paralympic surfer. "Surfing is my world, my passion, and I couldn’t imagine my life without being in the water. When I am out surfing in the ocean, there’s a feeling I get like nothing I’ve ever felt, and that fills me with the utmost joy," Stone said in an Instagram post.
Gold medalist Alana Nichols inspired the crowds on the beach with her surfing and those who follow her with her wisdom. Encouraging her Instagram followers to lend support to victims of the California fires, Nichols said: “We are the most human version of ourselves when we are knocked down hard by life and humbled in such an extreme way. When you have to wake up the next day and look at the devastation laid out in front of you with disbelief and then ultimately summon the strength to start picking up the pieces to start building and molding an entirely new life.... a “new normal” as some of my friends would say.”
A record-breaking 120 competitors from 24 nations competed for world titles in La Jolla.
WASC classifies athletes into six groups based on the type and level of impairment. Each classification feature san open gender division and a women’s division.
AS-1: Surfers who ride waves in a standing position (lower level impairment)
AS-2: Surfers who ride waves in a standing or kneeling position (higher level impairment)
AS-3: Surfers who ride waves in a seated position
AS-4: Surfers who ride waves in a prone position
AS-5: Surfers who ride waves in any non-standing position and need assistance to paddle into waves and while in the water.
AS-VI: Surfers who have a visual impairment.
Team USA members in each division include:
Olivia Stone, Manheim, Penn.
Lexi Youngberg, Hermosa Beach, Calif.
Carter Hess, Jacksonville, Fla.
Ryan Gambrell, San Diego, Calif.
Dani Burt, San Diego, Calif.
Thomas Wilson, Rocky Mount, N.C.
Sarah Bettencourt, San Diego, Calif.
Jeff Munson, Corona Del Mar, Calif.
Alana Nichols, San Diego, Calif.
Christiaan Bailey, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Quinn Waitley, San Diego, Calif.
Jesse Billauer, Los Angeles, Calif.
Barbie Pacheco, Valley Mills, Tex.
Josh Loya, La Mesa, Calif.
Contact: Becky Fleischauer, 302-588-0671, 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 Committee (USOC). 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.