Filipe Toledo wins the WSL Rio Pro
Filipe Toledo wins in Rio
Filipe Toledo won his second contest of the 2015 WSL World Tour season at the Rio Pro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After consistently posting the highest heat scores in every round, Toledo hit his stride in the final, posting a near-perfect 19.87 combined heat score. He opened with a 10-point ride for a massive 360 air reverse, then followed that up with a 9.87. Toledo now sits in second place in the ratings and has a very real shot at being a contender for the world title by season's end.
Just a small crowd
Estimates put the beach attendance on the day of the finals at around 20,000 people. "The first thing I did was cry, because ... look at the crowd," Toledo told WSL commentator Rosy Hodge from the back of a Jet Ski. "I've never seen such a blessed week. Such blessed friends and family. I need to be grateful for everything God has done in my life."
Two for two
It was statement-making maneuvers like this that gave Courtney Conlogue her second WSL victory in as many events. Winning back-to-back contests, she's now less than 3,000 points behind ratings leader Carissa Moore. As the 2015 WSL World Tour season approaches the halfway mark it's looking like the race for the women's world title will be between Conlogue and Moore.
World Title contender
Conlogue was absolutely over the moon about her result in Rio. "My mom and my auntie are here with me, and we are blessed beyond measure at the moment," she said afterwards.
Mom gives an inspiring word before Toledo paddles out for the final. For Toledo, family means the world.
Buitendag makes Top Ten
South Africa's Bianca Buitendag dispatched world champ Carissa Moore in the semifinals, making the first final of her 2015 campaign. Conlogue's onslaught in the final proved to be too much to overcome, but the result does move her up into the WSL Top 10.
Kelly Slater was one of a number of big names that were upset in the early rounds, getting knocked out in Round 2. But the 11-time world champ is still fully engaged as the tour heads to Fiji, South Africa, Tahiti and Trestles.
Rookie vs. the Champ
Uncorking this alley-oop for an eight-point score, this is the wave of Hawaiian rookie Keanu Asing's that relegated defending world champ, and hometown hero, Gabriel Medina to an unsettling Round 3 loss.
Down, but for how long?
He didn't do a lot of it last year, but this year Gabriel Medina's quickly learning that losing sucks. He now sits at an uncharacteristic 19th in the rankings.
Ferreira shines for home crowd
Brazilian rookie Italo Ferreira got caught up in the patriotic fervor and locked in his best showing of the '15 season, finishing the comp with a third place result. In Round 5 he beat a very in-form John John Florence in one of the biggest upsets of the event.
Fitzgibbons still shines
Though she fell to Buitendag in Round 4, Sally Fitzgibbons did have her moments. It wasn't but a few years ago that an air like this was a rarity on the women's tour, but thanks to surfers like Fitzgibbons the performance bar has been dramatically elevated.
The early rounds of the Rio Pro saw some heavy top-to-bottom conditions, which suited John John Florence just fine. While most guys were taking beatings and getting pinned to the sandbar, Florence was making waves like this look effortless.
Durbidge's big finish
Aussie journeyman Bede Durbidge was an unlikely pick to make the final in Brazil, but with a whole crop of younger, more progressive surfers nipping at his heels, he was able to put a solid run together for his best finish the year.
Wilko's training is working
Matty Wilkinson made an impressive charge into the semifinals. His Australian countryman Durbidge ultimately ended up giving him his walking papers, but the time and energy Wilko's been putting into preparing for contests appears to be paying off.
Christie stops De Souza
Hats off to New Zealand's Ricardo Christie, who did the impossible and crushed No. 1 ranked Adriano De Souza on his home turf. De Souza has seemed nearly impossible to beat this year, and most thought he'd probably cruise to the finals in Brazil. Unfortunately Christie was there, and this heat win is not one he's going to forget anytime soon.
Coco Ho takes it to the bank
Coco Ho makes a nice backhand bank off the top en route to a respectable quarterfinal finish.
It wasn't all big airs for Toledo. When he chose to keep his board on the wave face his aggressive turns were dynamic and rewarded with high scores from the judges. The kid's got style for days.