Gabriel Medina (BRA), 17, newcomer to the elite ASP Top 34 after September's rotation, has secured his inaugural ASP World Title victory today, taking out the Quiksilver Pro France over Julian Wilson (AUS), 22, in high-performance three-to-four foot (1 metre) waves at La Graviere.
Stop No. 8 of 11 on the 2011 ASP World Title season, the Quiksilver Pro France culminated today in exciting fashion as the next generation of ASP World Title contenders announced their intentions on the world stage.
Medina, in only second event as an ASP Top 34 member, cut a swathe through the world's best surfers, securing three of the top five highest single-wave scores of the event en route to his emotional win.
“This is the best feeling ever,” Medina said. “I beat some great guys on the way to Final and I'm very stoked now. I want to thank all my friends and family and god for their support. It has been an amazing week for me. Just two years ago, I was here competing in the King of the Groms and I won that event and now I'm here in the main event and I've won it. It doesn't seem real.”
Opening their final clash with a strong 7.83 for a full-rotation forehand aerial, Medina was put on the back foot by an in-form Wilson until the dying moments, when the young Brazilian blasted several high-risk maneuvers on a lengthy lefthander to secure a 9.17 and regain the lead.
“The start of the heat was slow and it was going high tide so it was a challenge,” Medina said. “It was a fun heat. It was a hard hat as well. Julian (Wilson) is an incredible surfer and I know he wanted to win very badly. I knew I needed a big score on that final wave and I had to throw everything I had to get it. I'm very happy right now.”
Wilson built momentum throughout the final day of competition, dispatching of the tour's heavy hitters and posting some impressive scores. The young Australian's Runner-Up finish today marks a career best and is indicative of his recent run of improvements amongst the world's elite (5th and the 3rd previously).
“Everything feels good and I'm very happy to be here on the podium,” Wilson said. “It's been a great event for me and congrats to Gabriel (Medina) for his incredible run here in France. I have so many amazing memories of watching this event as a kid, seeing Andy (Irons) and Kelly (Slater) go for it and to be in it now is a very special feeling. I'm hoping to improve in the coming events and looking forward to Portugal.”
Taylor Knox (USA), 40, posted his best result of the year today, finishing Equal 3rd and bolting from 32 to 21 on the ASP World Title rankings. Knox, who was in searing fashion throughout the event, eventually fell to the high-flying antics of Medina in the Semifinals.
“This is one of the best events I've had for a while but yeah I definitely ran into ‘Medina Airlines' there in the Semifinals,” Knox said. “It's a huge result for me and I felt like my surfing was really coming together. I have some really good boards right now and I'm hoping to keep the momentum up. We're looking at maybe getting some big barrels in Portugal next week so that will be exciting and we have a lot of interesting events to finish the year with.”
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, back in his first event since injury in Tahiti, exhibited an impressive return to form throughout the event, but was unable to overcome Wilson in their Semifinal clash.
“I'm really happy with a 3rd and it's a good result for me,” Smith said. “To be honest, I'm just happy to be back in the water. It feels great to be back and I just couldn't get into the right waves until the end of that Semifinal there. Julian (Wilson) got off to a good start and he's been ripping so I hope he posts a win here.”
Kelly Slater (USA), 39, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 1, was ousted in today's Quarterfinals by an on-fire Medina. The iconic Floridian looked out of sorts in the shifting morning conditions as the young Brazilian dominated on both his forehand and backhand.
“Not much of a performance by me,” Slater said. “I guess he surfed well, I didn't really see much as I was just floating out the back. Unfortunately, I was out of synch the whole time and didn't really have a chance to battle it out with him.”
With the dust settled in the south of France, it has been determined that the 2011 ASP World Title cannot be decided at the next event in Portugal and will go to at least San Francisco.
Check out the Quik Pro France Heat Review to watch every second of the action.
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