Surfing America’s U.S. Championships at Lower Trestles starts today, and the results will determine who makes the USA Surf Team for the 2012/2013 season. The contest will be webcast live here on surfermag.com through the weekend, showcasing the next generation of American pros in action.
Ryan Simmons and Micah Byrne are seasoned vets in the realm of competitive and professional surfing, and as the new head coaches of the USA Surf Team, they hope to drop a little of that knowledge on the group of highly talented supergroms they’ll be leading in international competition over the course of the next year. The duo set down their clipboards to talk a little strategy with us in the days leading up to the event:
Congratulations on the new gig, and the task of shaping the future surfers of America.
Ryan: We are excited to be working with a great group of kids and the chance to aid them in their progression. Surfing America is the forefront of elite amateur surfing in America, and we’re stoked to be able to continue that tradition.
What’s the aim for this program as a whole?
Ryan: To field the best possible team and have fun training and competing against other countries, in scrimmages and in the ISA World Junior Games. We get to travel and experience surfing in other cultures with the team, broadening their horizons.
What are your goals, as coaches, for this year’s U.S. team, once it’s selected?
Ryan: Some of our goals would be to instill confidence and knowledge into these surfers. To teach them the proper planning, preparation, and execution of the duties of becoming a professional surfer. Also, to have them become better people through the training that we will provide throughout the year. We will be running training camps periodically to work on camaraderie amongst the team, which will enable us to have a better shot at winning a Gold Medal next year at the ISA World Junior Games.
Tell me about the upcoming event at Trestles.
Micah: The U.S. Championships is an amazing event that will be held down at Lowers next week. It’s the cream of the crop from the entire country coming together to show their stuff at SoCal’s premiere surf break. Last year was such an amazing event, with Kolohe dropping a perfect 10 in the final for the win in the U18 division. For us as coaches, we are going to have our eyes on everyone. We want to win this year at the ISA World Games, and we need the best to do that.
What level of surfing should we expect to see down there on a wave like Lowers?
Micah: The best thing about a wave like Lowers is that it has something for everyone. No matter what your strength as a surfer is, there is a part of the wave where you can showcase it to the judges. From power carves to airs, the wave plays to everyone’s surfing style. Every year the kids have been raising the status quo out there, and we expect nothing less this year.
With the ISA using an Olympic-model of competition, and London 2012 coming up, how do you feel about the chances of surfing ever becoming an Olympic sport?
Ryan: I’d like to say the chances are pretty high for surfing to get into the Olympics. How cool would that be for those people around the world to be able to witness competitive surfing on TV during the Summer Olympics? That would blow their minds. I definitely want to see it happen in my lifetime.
When you surf with your team, do you still own that lineup? Does coach get the set wave?
Ryan: Well, as former professional surfers and intense competitors, it’s safe to say that when we want to take a wave from one of our team members, we do. I will leave it at that.