The final day of the Billabong Rio Pro was a dramatic cap to an otherwise uneventful contest plagued by lay days and overshadowed by a massive Teahupoo swell. Passions were running high on the final day with three of the eight quarterfinalists claiming home-field advantage (Adriano de Souza, Gabriel Medina, and Filipe Toledo). That passion came to a boiling point in the semi-finals when de Souza squared off against Medina in a heat that quickly became a microcosm of youth versus experience, flair versus strategy. A last second backside air reverse by Medina had everyone wondering who won well after the buzzer sounded. Ultimately, Medina’s wave came up just .14 points shy of the 7.94 that he needed to win.
The semi-final between Medina and de Souza nearly didn’t happen, as Medina found himself in a priority debacle in his quarterfinal with Ace Buchan. With the priority disc falsely showing Buchan with priority, he took off on a solid left only to be burned by Medina. Both surfers gave animated expressions of confusion and disgust; thinking the other was in the wrong. The heat went on with no call, indicating that Medina had priority and Buchan didn’t interfere with the scoring potential. After the heat, an intense back stage discussion revealed that a re-surf was possible because Medina officially had priority but the disc showed that Buchan did. In the end, there would be no re-surf and Medina was given the official heat win.
Coming from the other side of the draw, an in-form Jordy Smith took down Filipe Toledo, Mick Fanning, and eventually Adriano de Souza in the final. Smith’s aerial variations and combinations of maneuvers left a better impression on the judges than the single-maneuver waves, and air reverses that ran rampant throughout the day. Smith leaves Brazil $100,000 richer and with his first World Tour win outside of South Africa.
The World Tour is only three events into the year, but things are starting to take shape. De Souza and Smith have jumped into the first and second spots, respectively. Fanning, Slater, and Burrow round out the top 5, each of them dropping down in the ratings after Brazil. Notably missing from the top 5 is 2012 ASP World Champ Joel Parkinson. Parkinson now has two Round 3 finishes in a row, which doesn’t bode well for his second world title campaign. Also, Filipe Toledo and Sebastian Zietz’ quarterfinal finishes have tightened up the Rookie of the Year race, which Nat Young has lead since his runner-up finish at Bells. The next stop on the World Tour is the Volcom Fiji Pro in two weeks.
BILLABONG RIO PRO FINAL RESULTS:
1st – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.80
2nd – Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.34
BILLABONG RIO PRO SEMIFINALS RESULTS:
SF 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.64 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.50
SF 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.83 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 8.26
BILLABONG RIO PRO QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.33 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 12.30
QF 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.43 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.93
QF 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.50 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.37
QF 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.76 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.07
ASP WCT TOP 5 SURFERS (Following Billabong Rio Pro);
1. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 18,500 pts
2. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18,250 pts
3. Mick Fanning (AUS) 18,200 pts
4. Kelly Slater (USA) 16,950 pts
5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 15,700 pts