HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/USA (Monday, July 30, 2012) ? The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Prime Nike US Open of Surfing dove in to Round 1 of men?s competition today and saw several of the world?s best surfers put on banner performances amidst a day of heavy upsets.
Miguel Pupo (BRA), 20, led his fellow ASP WCT competitors by staying busy in his opening heat and relied on his refined aerial tactics to earn some of the day?s top scores. The Brazilian goofy footer launched one of the highest single-wave scores including a near-perfect 9.07 en route to the round?s high heat-total of 18.07 out of 20.
?I knew the waves were kind of slow and there was a long wait in between sets so I was getting everything I could,? Pupo said. ?I was looking for the airs because, coming from Brazil, you learn how to get good scores in these types of waves.?
Pupo was admittedly relieved to have a strong start to his Nike US Open campaign after watching several of his fellow ASP WCT campaigners fall in Round 1.
?There are some crazy heats in the first round and I saw Mick (Fanning) and Owen (Wright) go down, so I was kind of nervous,? Pupo said. ?It?s such a difficult wave to surf and in these tough conditions, so I?m happy to make it through.?
Josh Kerr (AUS), 28, was another ASP WCT standout to prevail in a day full of upsets and notched the day?s highest single-wave score of 9.50 out of 10 for an outside aerial and polished inside turn to secure his Round 1 win.
?I really haven?t surfed since Fiji because of my injury and I?m still not feeling that great,? Kerr said. ?I can do whatever I want, but I?m still not feeling 100 percent. It has almost given me motivation and it was good to get a good start out there.?
Kelly Slater (USA), 40, reigning 11-time ASP World Champion and defending Nike US Open of Surfing Champion, wasted little time to assert his dominance in Round 1. The iconic regular-footer led the heat throughout the entirety of the 30 minute bout despite a recent rib injury and was feeling rested after his forced down time.
?I haven?t really surfed for the last few weeks,? Slater said. ?I hurt my ribs really bad after the Tavarua contest and took two weeks off. I did some more rehab, so I?ve just been resting and hoping it heals. I?ve come in fresh with a new board and it seemed to work. I felt like I was connecting with my Florida roots out there.?
Mitch Crews (AUS), 22, was electric in his Nike US Open of Surfing debut and took a convincing Round 1 victory to eliminate current ASP World No. 3 Owen Wright (AUS), 22. Crews felt he had been in a slump as of late and his early victory in Huntington Beach represents a breath of fresh air for his global campaign.
?It was really fun out there,? Crews said. ?I haven?t surfed in small conditions in over a month because it was pumping at home on the Gold Coast and in South Africa so it was weird to go out there and do alright. I got sick in South Africa and I just decided to go home for 10 days and hang out. I?m feeling good now, it?s US Open and I?m stoked that I?m here.?
Evan Geiselman (New Smyrna Beach, FL), 18, who was competing for the first time since breaking his foot just a few months ago, quickly found a rhythm in his morning heat to upset current ASP World No. 1 and two-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, in his opening affair.
?It really couldn?t have worked out any better,? Geiselman said. ?I had a great rhythm and I?ve been working so hard to recover. My goal was to be back in time for this event and my doctors said I had no chance. I was so nervous and so anxious even this morning and I?m usually good with that. All the nerves had built up because it?d been two months since I?ve surfed and I?m really happy with that opening heat.?
Men?s competition will resume tomorrow morning at 7:30am local time. Also surfing tomorrow will be the opener of the Women?s Nike US Open of Surfing. To watch the event LIVE log on to www.usopenofsurfing.com