HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/USA (Tuesday, July 31, 2012) – The Nike US Open of Surfing recommenced this morning with the ASP Top 17 battling it out in the final event of the 2012 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour season and a bevy of the world’s best male surfers fighting for ever-important qualification points at one of the season’s biggest ASP Prime events.
Carissa Moore (HAW), 19, former ASP Women?s World Champion (2011) and current ASP Women’s World No. 3, relied on committed power surfing through Huntington?s beachbreaks today to deliver the highest scores of women?s Round 1 competition. The prodigious Hawaiian executed an impressive two-turn combo on a righthander for a 9-point ride, contributing to her 16.83 out of 20 heat total.
?I was just happy to sneak a few waves,? Moore said. ?There wasn?t much in that heat and I?m just stoked that I got those. I always look forward to coming to the US Open and I look forward to this week of craziness. I?m just like surfing in front of all of the people. It?s a great platform to perform.?
Malia Manuel (HAW), 18, current No. 7 on the Women?s ASP WCT, started strong in her opening round campaign to post a victory over local favorite Courtney Conlogue (USA), 19, and Sarah Mason (NZL), 17. Manuel, who is the highest-rated rookie amongst the ASP Top 17, hopes she can carry the momentum from her strong start throughout the remainder of the event to win the prestigious ASP Rookie of the Year Award.
?Getting that Round 1 win is extremely crucial because in Round 2 anything can happen, especially out here,? Manuel said. ?That Round two is do or die and I?m relieved to get 1st heat out of the way, so I?m very happy. The rookie of the year award is on my mind even though I?m trying not to think about it. It?d be amazing especially since women?s surfing has come such a long way. We?ll just see what happens, but it would be an extreme honor.?
Lakey Peterson (USA), 17, 2011 Nike US Open of Surfing Runner-Up, took an impressive come-from-behind victory despite a strong opening performance from compatriotSage Erickson (USA), 21. The progressive natural-footer caught two excellent set waves back-to-back, earning a 15.60 vaulting her to the lead.
?Today’s swell?s inconsistent and been working on strategy this year,” Peterson said. “Staying calm and sticking to my game plan and that?s what I did. Someone was looking over me and sending me those two waves back-to-back. I?ve been working on progressing my surfing and it?s going great.?
Peterson has had strong performances in previous years at the Nike US Open of Surfing, finishing 3rd in 2nd in her appearances and hopes to find her way atop the podium this year.
“I got second last year and third the year before and I?m hoping that progression continues,” Peterson said. “Hopefully I can go one better this year and I?ll do the best that I can.”
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 24, newly-crowned five-time ASP Women?s World Champion, carried her success from France over to Huntington Beach today, clinching her Round 1 heat in commanding form.
?I guess it feels more patriotic because the Olympics are on and I feel like I need to bring home a win for Australia,” Gilmore said. “It?s pretty tough out there, I felt like I was just wiggling to the beach.”
In addition to the Women?s WCT, the ASP Prime Nike US Open of Surfing men?s event also hosted some amazing action today.
Julian Wilson (AUS), 23, current ASP World No. 14, commanded his early morning heat and combined superior wave selection with his progressive ability to post the event?s top scores. Wilson launched a massive frontside full-rotation 360 air to earn a near-perfect 9.87 out of 10 coupled with his previous ride which resulted in an astonishing 18.54 out of 20 heat total.
?When that set came it was at the halfway point of the heat and I was feeling pretty comfortable,? Wilson said. ?It?s nice because it?s such a soft landing out there that you can pretty much do whatever you want. I just went for it and I?m happy that I had a good start out there.?
Miguel Pupo (BRA), 20, was a standout in Round 1 and realigned his strategy for Round 2 and was equally successful. The Brazilian standout took out a heat victory over fellow countrymen Felipe Toledo (BRA), 17, Jordy Smith (ZAF), 24, and Bede Durbidge (AUS), 29, to advance to the Round of 24.
?That was a hard heat with Jordy (Smith), Bede (Durbidge) and Felipe (Toledo) because they?re all standouts,? Pupo said. ?I just tried to change up my game and stay away from everyone and do my own thing.?
Pupo, who has admittedly struggled over the last few months, is relieved to advance to the Round of 24 and hopes his early round success marks a turn in his season.
?Over the last three months, I haven?t made a heat,? Pupo said. ?I had a good start to the year with a win in Brazil and after that I got a ninth, but since then I?ve lost every heat. Hopefully I can get it going here.?
Dane Reynolds (USA), 26, displayed a raw approach in his Round of 48 heat and punted an inverted slob air-reverse with complete control, earning a 9.77 for the single ride to take his heat win with authority. The Ventura native, who is competing as a wildcard in the Nike US Open of Surfing, is taking a casual approach to this year?s event and feels his strategy is paying off.
?I feel like this event is the opposite because in the past I put pressure on myself to surf well,? Reynolds said. ?I couldn?t really keep doing that because the pressure was too much. This event, I have low expectations and I?m trying not to think about the situation I?m in.?
Both Women?s ASP WCT and Men?s ASP Prime action will run again tomorrow beginning at 7:30am local time. For all of the LIVE action log on to www.aspnorthamerica.org