Medina and Ferreira Post Big Surf Scores as the Storm Rolls

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ICHINOMIYA, Japan — Unstable waves at the inaugural Olympic surfing competition roared ashore Tuesday, swept away by Tropical Storm Nepartak, leading the event organizers to try to squeeze the quarterfinals, semi-finals and medal games into a busy day.

In twos, head-to-head qualifying rounds, many of the world’s best surfers paddled through turbulent and unpredictable water just days after training in small thigh-high waves.

One by one they showed up, either sent home or making their way to Olympic medals for the first time in their sport.

Surprisingly gritty circumstances led to a star-studded semi-final that started with the men: Brazil’s Gabriel Medina against Japanese Kanoa Igarashi, and Brazil’s Italo Ferreira against Owen Wright in the other.

The women would follow: First against Bianca Buitendag, USA’s Caroline Marks, and then four-time world champion Carissa Moore from the USA against Japan’s Amuro Tsuzuki.

The winners would meet to determine the gold and silver medal winners. Losers will compete for bronze.

The decision to go now was made as the storm that swept the east coast of central Japan Monday night swelled towards Tsurigasaki Surf Beach. surfing unique program or lack of a, initially the competition ended no earlier than Wednesday, but the wildest waves were determined to come a day early.

Two of the best surfers in the world, Kolohe Andino Racing for the United States and Japanese-American and Japan, Kanoa Igarashi set off through rain and wind at 7am for a senior quarterfinal. The sloppy storm surfing made some spectacle for the surfers, the harsh conditions and the viewers. Igarashi advanced and destroyed Andino’s medal hopes.

“It was tough, but that’s what makes surfing fun,” Igarashi said.

If there’s any concern about the conditions, Brazilian Gabriel Medina, the world’s best men’s competition surfer of the past few years, has declared that the competition will begin fully in the next heat. He launched a full spin towards the sky, landed softly to the ground, and pounded his chest in celebration. The judges were also impressed, giving them a 9.0, the competition’s highest score up to that point.

After all worry is gone first time surfing at the olympicsThe competition, with questionable waves and limited space, produced a stellar group of semi-finalists for the men. Medina and Igarashi will meet in one, and Brazilian Italo Ferreira and Australian Owen Wright will meet in the other.

The women’s quarterfinals followed the men’s, and four-time world champion Carissa Moore of Hawaii beat Silvana Lima of Brazil.

It was more of a choppy casserole than a series of sets, better to watch than surf. Clean rides were erratic, but the white water made for spectacular views.

“The waves go really fast and then they just pour in,” Moore said. “It’s kind of hard to place your maneuvers in this kind of surf.”

Caroline Marks took the lead with her victory over Costa Rican Brisa Hennessy – a possible gold medal match with Moore was still possible. A few hours later he came out of the water to measure the changing conditions.

Adaptation was crucial; warmed up on one board, then raced on another board. The tide was sinking and the movement was shifting north along the quarter-mile coast. It was rowing a lot and fatigue can be a factor at the end of a long day.

“I’m having a lot of fun,” said Marks. “I’m here because I love to surf, and that’s cool.”

The Olympic field started with only 20 men and 20 women and no more than two from any country. Most of the field was established before the pandemic, so five of the current top 10 men and four of the top 10 women World Surf League standings did not attend.

Most glaringly, this left out Brazilian Filipe Toledo, who finished in the top four in each of the last four seasons. And perhaps the most famous surfer, Kelly Slater, failed to protect one of the two US spots.

Worries about surfing conditions for the Olympics started years ago. Japan’s Pacific Ocean coast has long beaches and good surf, but many compare it to the East Coast of the United States, not to the big turquoise barrel spots in places like Hawaii or Australia. More Jersey Shore than North Shore.

There was even talk of keeping it in a wave pool that would give certainty to the program and the waves. But the organizers were adamant that surfing is more than just riding. It requires studying the ocean by adapting to ever-changing conditions.

When Olympic surfers took a look at Tsurigasaki Beach for the first time last week, they encountered thigh-high surfers just a few strokes from the beach. It was easy to be a skeptic.

But the storm was approaching and came down hard.

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