Who Will Make Team USA’s First Olympic Surf Team? - Battle among top women and John John Florence comeback add high drama
A tightly packed women’s field and John John Florence’s comeback add high drama to Olympic qualification’s final events
(December 1, 2019) – We will soon know which two American women and one man will join Kolohe Andino to represent Team USA in the 2020 Olympic Games Tokyo – where surfing makes its debut. For women, the final determination will be made at the World Surf League’s (WSL) Maui Pro event, which starts today. Finals are expected tomorrow, Dec. 2. The final qualifying event for men takes place at Oahu’s Banzai Pipeline Dec. 8 – 20. You can watch the action live at www.worldsurfleague.com
American women hold the top three spots in the world rankings, but only the top two can qualify for the Olympics. World No.1 Carissa Moore is seeking her fourth world title. No. 2 Lakey Peterson is seeking her first world title to become the first California world champion. If No. 3 Caroline Marks wins, she would become the youngest world champion. All are frothing for a spot on Team USA’s first Olympic surf team.
“No one could have imagined such an exciting Olympic-qualifying finale,” said USA Surfing CEO Greg Cruse. “America’s women are absolutely ripping. Team USA is the hardest Olympic team in the world to make for women surfers. I want to make a plea to take all three women to the 2020 Olympic Games!”
The scenarios for Olympic qualification include a potential surf off in the event of a tie, which would occur if Carissa Moore finishes 5th, Lakey Peterson finishes 3rd, and Caroline Marks finishes 2nd OR if any two of these three finishes occur.
The three women clinch qualification spots under the following scenarios provided by the WSL and U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee:
Finishes 2nd or better
Finishes 3rd AND Lakey Peterson finishes 3rd or below OR
Finishes 3rd AND Caroline Marks finishes 2nd or below
Finishes 5th-17th AND Lakey Peterson finishes 5th or below OR
Finishes 5th-17th AND Caroline Marks finishes 3rd or below
Finishes 2nd AND Carissa Moore doesn't make it to Finals OR
Finishes 2nd or 3rd AND Caroline Marks doesn't make it to Finals
Finishes 5th AND Caroline Marks finishes 3rd or below
Finishes 9th or below AND Caroline Marks finishes 9th or below
Finishes 2nd AND Lakey Peterson finishes 5th or below
Finishes 3rd or 5th AND Lakey Peterson finishes 9th or below
The final men’s event in December will also provide plenty of drama and excitement. Sidelined for most of the season recovering from ACL surgery, John John Florence is competing in the final Pipe Masters event looking to earn the last spot on Team USA’s Olympic surf team. Despite being out for most of the season, Florence is still ranked No. 8 in the world – just ahead of No. 10 Kelly Slater. Andino clinched the first Olympic qualification position after his performance in Portugal.
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.
Learn more about Team USA’s Olympic surfing hopefuls:
Carissa Moore is a three-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. 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.
Lakey Peterson – Growing up in Santa Barbara, Calif., Lakey played multiple sports and started focusing on surfing when she was 11. She is known for her athletic force, aerial maneuvers and rise through the ranks at a young age. At age 14, Lakey completed the first-ever aerial maneuver in National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) women’s 18 and under competition to win the title. After finishing 2018 ranked second in the world, Lakey is more determined than ever to claim her first World Title and clinch a spot on the 2020 Olympic team.
Caroline Marks – Caroline 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. She 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. 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 – Kolohe 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.
John John Florence – After winning two of the first four events of the season, an ACL injury forced the two-time world champion to the sidelines. His lead was so commanding, he remains in Olympic-qualifying contention after slipping from first to eighth – 3,000 points ahead of the other American men. John John grew up on the North Shore of Oahu, first surfing when he was just two years old. At the age of 13 he 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 John’s surfing is in a league of its own; he effortlessly pulls off freakish airs and maneuvers with athleticism and style. After being sidelined by injury, the surf world is on the edge of their seats waiting to see him back in the water and potentially qualifying for the Olympics.
Kelly Slater – The greatest surfer of all time racked up 11 World Titles, 55 career victories, and holds the distinction of youngest and oldest World Champion in men’s history. Kelly grew up on the East Coast and still has a home in Florida. His surfing continues to inspire and impress. Surfing for Olympic gold would be an athletic feat made for the GOAT.
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.
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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