Medina Wins at Lowers

The young Brazilian makes a statement in the Trestles ramps

| posted on May 05, 2012

Gabriel Medina, living up the the hype in the Lowers lefts. Photo: Ellis

All week long the entire 96-man field in the Nike Lowers Pro put on a display of performance surfing rarely seen in competition. While the waves themselves take center stage at many competitions, Lowers truly puts a surfer’s repertoire on display.

When it came down to the semifinals, it seemed like it would all come down to Gabriel Medina and John Florence. Both had been standouts all week and seemed destined to meet in the final. But on the final day John was clearly not surfing as effortlessly as he had in the days prior, falling on a number of waves that could have easily got him the scores needed to advance into the finals. He was eventually defeated by a surging Glenn Hall in the Semis.

Gabriel Medina, on the other hand, kept his string of incredible performances rolling when he faced Adrian Buchan in his semifinal. In a strong statement heat, Medina battled with Buchan for the first wave without priority. Gaining position, catching a bomb left, Gabriel dismantled every section en route to the event’s only perfect 10. Ace was left with no answer to the variety of airs, carves and tail blow maneuvers. After posting a 9.80 later in the heat, Gabriel brought his total to an incredible 19.8 out of 20.

When you look at Gabriel’s body of work over the last five days at Lowers, you have what has to be one of the highest heat score averages for a non-tuberiding event. The only heat that was even remotely challenging for Gabriel was when Brett Simpson had him beaten. Needing an excellent score with no time on the clock Medina locked in the score with an aerial maneuver on a bowled-out left. The maneuver was one of those telling moments when you realize Gabriel will simply not let himself be denied the win and is capable of anything.

What did I take away from Gabriel’s blazing form at Lowers? If there were more lefts like this on tour, Kelly’s 12th world title wouldn’t even be a possibility. But the way the tour is set up, this year will be very hard to stop Kelly, and in the coming years, Gabriel will have a difficult task matching John John and Kolohe’s frontside aerials and tail blows on his backside at many locations. That’s not to say that it can’t be done, but as we’ve seen from the freakishly talented goofyfooter Owen Wright, it isn’t as easy to get the results or scores on your backside as it is for the regular footers.

The level of performance continues to rise every year, at every event. This evolution requires constant changes to a surfer’s strategy and the Judge’s scale. At Lowers it became apparent early on that the judges expected you to give them the best of both worlds—equal parts power and progression. Getting the heat winners correct day after day was great to see. And after two or three years of mixed signals from the judging booth, the surfers and the fans can finally look forward to a legitimate title charge from surfing’s new guard.

  • Daniel

    Thanks for this short but very insightful and well written article.

  • Eddy

    I kind of disagree when you said that GM will have difficulty to score in Rights of consequence
    He beat Dane only with waves ridden on his right.
    Also he recently had a trip to Fiji with Bruno Santos, Rip Curl team mate to be aware of the wave and its particularities.

    If he wins in Brazil, fore sure he will be a treat in any situation.
    We have to wait and see Fiji to set the pace for Medina…but he is a freak…no doubt about it.

  • Vince

    I do believe that Gabriel deserved to win, but does anyone agree that air reverses on every single wave at the exact same time gets old? Change it up already! I dont blame him for doing it repeatedly as the judges rewarded him every time, but come on, using the same formula every single time seems like taking advantage of the system. Perhaps scoring high initially but docking points if the same thing is done again and again? Thoughts?

  • Luis Carvalho

    Hey Vince. You are right and I guess Medina knows it too. I would say that´s why he is trying to mix the airs. 360s, no-rotation, normal grab, slobgrab, etc. He even did a superman. The thing is that the technical details of those airs are hard for the regular viewers to differentiate.
    An thinking about the repetition, he is supposed to go big on the most critical part of the wave. I understand that Dane Reynolds got a 9.80 doing a cutback on the first section but I would say he is the only one that can get a big score by doing this.
    The good thing is that Medina is also an amazing tuberider, both on lefts and rights, and his backhand attack will only grow stronger.
    Don´t be afraid, you won´t get bored at all 😉

  • Elias

    Medina just have to do well on the rights, and apply his domination wherever theres a left.

  • charlie

    if gabriel is the future of progressive surfing i would rather eat oatmeal

    programmed to say the least

    pro surfing is doomed if this is the future

    dane boogie boarding is far better then this corporate jock



    Thanks for putting forward a view that captures such broad perspective. It is enlightening to see an elegant critique of the ASP system whilst sticking to the point of complimenting such a young talent (Medina).


    I understand your view, however this is a competitive environment and in this circumstance its survival of the fittest! Whilst the formula may be repetitive, no other competitor was able to produce a consistently similar performance with the same move(s)…. Do you agree? Taking advantage of the system would be dropping in behind the peak, just so you could cause the opponent an interference (see Kelly in Puerto Rico 2010) .

  • Bushy

    Deserved winner but was dissapointed in Dane Reynold’s attitude. Seems scared to show that he is trying to win a heat just in case he loses. He gave up with more than half the quarter remaining because he was comboed. Surfer of his ability could still have won that heat or at the very least given it a full go.

  • Marcelo

    same air-revs all the time are lame, thats why we don’t like Jadson, but this medina kid is mixing every possible kind of air or turn being on his backside or front. Unbelieveble stuf there, scary I gotta say…

    Shea, you are the man, always a very wel writen article.

  • James B

    Hey, VINCE, Gabriel comboed Dane Reinolds only surfing the rights, don´t you remember?

    And as Luis Carvalho said, Medina isn´t puting air reverses on every single waves. Only in Trestles Medina launched at least 6 diferents types of airs.

    So, let´s change the speech, Vince??

  • Tom

    Dane is still better. Gabriel turns are way to flicky and if he didn’t weigh like 100lbs his airs would be non-exsistent. I can think of at least 10 guys his age with a better all-round game than him with around 5 of them being Brazilian,he’s unbareably overscored.

    Dane is also infinitely cooler.

  • Ringo

    Tom, I feel sorry for you. Denying this kid at this point?

  • Michael

    Medina is capable of some pretty sick carves, and I don’t doubt he’ll only get stronger as time progresses, but if you look at the waves he has ridden in contests, and compare all the airs that have given him scores of 8 or more, I guarantee you that almost every single one of them has an air reverse in it that looks almost the same as every other one he does. Look at the variety in John John or Dane (when he’s on) contest repertoire… much more complex and impressive in my opinion. Let’s see him do a turn like the one Dane did in Puerto Rico… then I’ll be sold.

  • peterpumpkineater

    gabriels surfing is so programmed its completely boring

    no emotion and completely soulless

    if this is the future of surfing i prefer tennis

    i would rather watch dane reynolds boogie board than this kook

    the asp is surely doomed if this is the kind of surfing we have to watch in the future

    gabriel is 10 times more boring than barton lynch or damien hardman

  • Antony

    GM backside is fantastic too.

    I can only see 4 or 5 guys with his level on this kind of manouvering waves: JJF, W. Right, K.S, J.Parkinson…on also good days Josh kerr and Julian wilson…

    He beat Dane on his backside… He beat him twice! Dane is a media freak. Is great on a “one manouver per wave for the video”, and make cool poses on videos, but competing is a joke. And can only excell in beachbreaks! Good for him he got out.

  • Michael

    Medina rocked it! Kids no joke. Dane comboed! Buchan! Kid’s scary!!! I think the sad story was the OC choke on the Occy-Gudaskas heat! Mid face flicks being scored over rail to rail hacks with three committed turns nestles into a walled up short wave with no shoulder…sad day! Don’t give it all up, ASP. Power surf turns don’t happen mid face…and no lame reverse at the end, with the much mockable claim, I might add, makes up for it. I guess since Gudaskas isn’t Brazilian, it’s ok to do now?!? Face it, that kid got BEEEEEET by a 45 year old!!!!! Ha ha! If we could get Sunny to stop punching guys, Taylor, Slates, Occy, and Sunny in your grill through this wonderful transition in surfing would be great to watch in the mix. Good sports folks….I love pro surfing again!

  • Vince

    True perhaps i was not looking at the complexity of the grabs. And for sure that air revo against simpo was insane and deserved a higher score in my opinion. But in most of his heats where he got 19+ I was annoyed that i could literally predict his next maneuver. Concerning that heat against Dane, just about anyone could have beaten him with that performance. That guy is just to hit or miss.
    That is a good point Vector, that nobody else can attempt to match this formula which speaks to his abilities. Interesting what the future holds for this kid as he made Dane, Ace, and Hall look like groms.

  • bob deweese

    please, medina bored me to death danes surfing was so much more pleasing to the eye. are we really going to go back to the chop hops of the 80s,please, please , no ,we have come to far to go back to that crap.

  • Egon Jensen

    I am so over A$P. No matter how hard and radical those airs are, surfing should in my opinion still be about style and using the wave to the fullest.

    Just pumping madly down the line to do a big air is not what surfing is about.

  • Guswer

    Dane?! This guy is a joke! Oh, but he is soooo cool… And not to mention his “beautiful” style…

  • Mik

    Amazing amount of denial going down by some losers in this blog. First off, Medina doesn’t flick, and he doesn’t weigh 100 lbs. He’s 6’0″. just like Andy Irons was, and he is lean like Andy was when he was the same age. So shut up on that. Also, when Kelly does a massive air reverse, it is mind-blowing… So why isn’t Gabriels?? Because he is from Brazil???? The cultural/racial bias is embarrassing. If Occy had done that maneuver we’d be blown out. What is truly impressive about Gabriel is he makes that maneuver 90% of the time, as Mike Parsons observed, and both he and Kolohe expressed their respect for Medina’s talent. Which means that the rest of the tour better start pushing their air-game, because Medina, Taj, Kelly, Florence, Andino are the only guys in that realm, and all of them can throw power carves too. Kelly doesn’t have the broad range of maneuvers as the others, but what he does have is the ability to go big in any situation, so I disagree with Shea on that point. Kelly can beat anyone because he has amazing talent and concentration. Dane is too easily rattled, which is OK. He recognized that, and it isn’t a flaw. It’s just who he is. If he wanted to, I think he could develop that trait, but that’s up to him. I’ve seen enough footage to know that his air to full raging pocket carve power is comparable to Andy and Bruce Irons, but not yet comparable to their unique ability to go radical in the heaviest part of heavy waves. Medina also has to prove that. Kelly, Taj and Florence are already in that realm.

  • Mik

    CORRECTION: Kelly doesn’t have the broad range of AERIAL maneuvers as the others, but what he does have is the ability to go big in any situation, so I disagree with Shea on that point.

    BTW: Great result by Corey, Shea…. He is on his way back on the WCT. He is another complete talent, and can easily be included in the group who can do it all.
    Very talented family!!!

  • Mottad2

    The kid it is the one… People can’t stop watching him… The ones that like and the ones that don’t like, can’t stop watching him… Thats the point!

  • GoLeft

    Simpo: Best surfer in the event. Medina deserved the win in that heat, as he was blazing, but the ASP needs to start scoring Simpson like he should be scored. Speed, power, style, and air game. Event after event he is underscored, but puts together the variety, and all around balance that half the guys on tour aren’t even close to. He’s not my favorite surfer, but give this guy his due. Wake up ASP judges.

  • ricklespickles

    I used to really think medina was a overhyped knock off, but i must say that the kid really is a freak, but not as freaky as jj florence tho. Medina went absolutely bonkers at lowers, it really was something to watch. Dane is cooked, also for everyone who thinks dane is some kerouac do you know how much he gets paid?? dane is the ultimate surf hipster, that does surf at the next level tho, trend trend trend

  • Fishboard Twin

    It sucks that the tour has so many high performances rights.
    The lefts are basically barrels. That way we can not see the frontside of guys like Owen and Medina.

    ASP bring more high performance lefts for the tour! !!!!!

  • Ben

    Two things: One, as usual, Shea comes somewhat short of giving Slater his due. Slater, with his superior talent and ability to adapt, would outsurf the rest in lefts. Unlike anybody else on tour, he has no weaknesses and is equally likely to win at virtually any venue. Two, Mik, did you just compare Gabriel’s power to AI? Not to take anything from the very impressive Medina, who is clearly a fvckin shredder, but AI’s power is in a much, much different level. Watch trilogy again and ask yourself if anybody on tour has turned with that much juice since AI has been gone (RIP).

  • http://Surfer Kimbo

    This was surely an oppurtunity for the much hyped new USA surfers to show the world they are ready to step up after Kelly , but all were washed aside, can you please explain whats happening there Shea .

  • Lucas

    cant believe u guys… medina´s manouvers are boring??? u guys for real?? when kelly does crazy airs everybody says that is amazing, but when the 18 years old boy does lots of them in a row its boring??? serious???

    what can we say about that air 360 full rotation that kelly made at bell´s?? that was boring?? deserves a 5 point ride? that was insane, like medina was insane the whole event.

    lot of jealous about the kid surfing… so sad. fell really sorry for you folks!

  • Lucas

    if medina tricks are boring, what can we say about occy??? he does the same tricks and botton turns over 30 years!!! is it boring? i think is amazing, but maybe lots of you guys think is boring as medina´s airs

  • Fiusk

    Hey gringos,

    Don’t be affraid… Gabriel is becoming the next freak of the freaks. You like to see Dane ridding sucking waves doing cutbacks as my grandfather does but don’t like to see Gabriel destroying rumps doing all manuevers you could imagine. What a JOKE! That’s not a “soul surfing” session, that’s competition and Gabriel knows it perfectly.
    What are you gonna say when he cook Kelly, Parko and Mick on right’s tubes? He was overscored? He was just lucky?
    Please, stop telling bullshits and being stupid and start looking the future and also the moment, because Gabriel can do what all the kids as he can.

  • local





  • MOON

    Hey Shea,
    Slater has won events on his backside in waves like Lowers, so there will always be a strong possiblilty for another world title.
    However, if there were more rights on the tour like lowers…Medina wouldn’t be on tour!!!
    He’s backside is avergage at best for a WCT surfer! He was gifted those scores on his backside at Lowers…you can’t tell me he surfed it any different than your local pro!

    I like Medina, but lots of World title promises for a kid who can’t surf backside better than the average pro!

  • jeff

    I think this idea that people are being racist against Medina because he is Brazilian is erroneous I think most of us that have traveled the world and experienced Brazilian arrogance first hand at some of the major surf spots would expect this kind of reaction towards Brazilian surfers. I think it’s pretty ridiculous for the Brazos to now scream foul and not feel responsibility for their own behavior.

    Perhaps, if they arrived to a surf spot with a more humble attitude and traveled with less people they would be well received.

    You make your bed, you lie in it.

  • goodonya

    Dane was shamed in this event. I was there and he was out of the water and off the beach in a hurry. After getting absolutely smoked twice, hopefully this will be a wake up call to the golden boy that his limited legacy is going to be threatened by Medina’s rising sun…

  • Ringo

    Jeff, You are so stupid that I feel like crying. What the “Brazilian arrogance” has to do with Medina ? “Oh, he’s a fucking brazilian, so I won’t recognize his talent”.
    Please, do us a favor and go find a street to sweep.

  • Marcelo

    I am brazilian and I HATE Brazilians, what a arrogant atitude indeed. Anyway, Gabe is a nice kid, nothing to do with ADS.

  • whamo

    Sure, the Brazilians are ripping the small and medium sized surf, but they need to put up in the big surf to claim being the world’s best surfers. They’re the new Australians. It seems like “We’re Tops Now” all over again, only with the Brazil contingent. instead of the Bronzed Assholes. The pink/green wetsuit reminds me of the pink surfboards of PT. Medina is the best trickster to ever surf, though, and it was an amazing display of surfing.

  • jeff

    Look no further than some of the comments by the Brazzos below to prove my point.

  • Vector

    I respect you opinion and however in my many surf trips I have had my fare share of arrogance from multiple nationalities (not just Brazos). I suspect that the sensitivity that the Brazos have towards comments made about Medina (and others) is the outcome of a long road of relentless derogatory remarks made by foreign journalist, commentators, spectators and peers. How would you react after so many years of being treated like a second class citizen (very unfairly at times) for all competitive surfing history and than all of a sudden you see 7 of your nayionals ripping in the big league. What further compounds this problem is that whilst journalists, commentators and peers have displayed a sincere recognition of level of Brazo surfing today, the foreign spectator(not all) is still trying to deny this. Look, I’m not remotely suggesting that there should be a sensorship on people’s opinion or that a inflammatory response is the only antidote for shortsighted comment. But all of bile bing thrown around in this forum simply detracts from real story, and that is the Brazos are on the rise and Medina is a freak.

    PS.: please don’t insinuate that this forum is most reprensentitve pool to conclude how a nationality behaves.

  • Arjones

    +1 on Vector’s comment. I’m a Brazilian surfer and traveler. Always traveling by my self or with my wife. I could be on your side in the line up and you would barely notice me (and I can do my thing on a surfboard)… And I also had my fare share of bad behavior from aussies (laud and aggressive when drunk) and american (who think they own the world)… But I would never think those people are representative in terms of what a regular american or aussie is. They are just selfish and under educated persons, nothing more. And there are selfish, under educated persons all over the world no matter their nationality.

  • Bruno

    These people saying that Medina´s surfing is boring and repetitive are out of their minds… it makes me laugh, seriously, if it were Andino or Geilseman would you say the same? his backside average???!!! c,mon guys what other surfer on the wt does airs that high as first move off the drop without ever losing any speed and flow? only JJF maybe… anyway did you watch the same comp as I did? I´d say there´s bigotry masked on all those comments.

  • http://Surf slatcher

    Most brazos I have met are pretty cool and the arrogance annoying in the water is typically the aussies….that being said, those gabriel airs were big but the style is so weak and most brazos have the same weak style. Boring…I would rather watch dane do a man-turn than gabriel squatty ugly style same air over and over

  • pathetic journalism

    I like the fact that my comments about ace buchan, jeremy flores, and glenn hall were never published. The simpletons at Surfer are afraid of negative feedback. Pathetic. These guys never deserved a shot..

  • cam neale

    Hey boys why don’t you go for a surf and chill

  • joao

    Marcelo: Porque você não procura uma haste australiana ou americana e enfia bem no meio do teu rabo seu filho de uma puta.

    Vem aqui e diz que é brasileiro e fica chingando a si próprio? É uma atitude bastante estúpida essa sua, por isso concluo que deves ser um retardado querendo aparecer.

    Não se esquece, a haste tem que estar bem dura, e aproveita ela e também enfia na sua boca pra ver se isso fecha ela logo.

  • mario

    I dont know who that fuck he is, and I dont know where that fuck he comes from, but what I know is that this so call “Marcelo” is definitely not from Brazil.
    I really suggest you start to put yourself together before say shit about brazzos.
    Get off your fucking mask and show us who you really are asshoule


    It’s funny reading a million negative comments about Gabriel Medina because as a kid who lives smack-dab in the middle of the surf-industry shitfest that is Southern California I can tell all you idiots with 100 percent certainty that if Gabriel Medina was a blonde regular foot from Orange County 100 percent of the negative commenters would be posting their wet dreams about Gabe Miller, hottest grom alive….


  • jbinsb

    You find Medina boring? It’s because he does so many things so well so often. Dane’s great, but contest surfing is a different animal. Ask Kelly. He can’t do some of the things some younger guys can, but his wave selection and competitive fire and consistency get him through. Medina is only 18. Give him time. Guaranteed he’ll win at Chopes in the not-distant future. He’s strong, he’s powerful, he’s athletic and light on his feet. I do prefer JJF’s style, but that’s personal preference. Yeah, it can be boring when Medina does a bunch of medium-high air reverses in a row, but he’s also pretty damn good on his rail, and the guy who said his backside is mediocre or crappy or whatever wasn’t watching the same heats I was. As for the guys making general statements about people from one country or another, get a life and get real. You sound like Rush Limbaugh.

  • Eddie Silva

    You can’t go wrong with a Shea’s article. You may disagree at times, but it’s always a good article!

    I still think Dane is better than Medina, but he usually only shines in freesurfing.
    Medina vs John John vs Andino could be one of the best rivalries ever on the WT.

    Hope Medina can step up on his tuberiding skills though… or JJF is gonna eat him alive.