Author: Chris Ellis
The 2011 Nike US Open of Surfing, held last weekend in Huntington Beach, was a blowout victory for ten-time world champion Kelly Slater. The event shattered previous attendance records, brought world-class musical artists like Jimmy Eat World, MGMT and Surfer Blood to perform, and featured some of the world’s greatest surfers.
Hundreds of thousands of people converged on Huntington Beach to watch the eight-day sports spectacle, which provided a uniquely Californian stop on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour. The US Open competition marks a critical point in the ASP World Tour schedule as surfers desperately try to get enough points to stay alive in the hunt for the overall surfing World Championship.
While Slater has been known for the past 20 years as the most dominant force in surfing, he had not won the US Open since beating San Clemente native Shane Beschen over 15 years ago. In the final grouping between Slater and Australian Yadin Nicol, Slater took the lead early with an 8.50 point wave and never gave Nicol a chance. By the end of the eight-day marathon event, Slater walked away victorious with the $100,000 grand prize.
Nicol’s second-place finish provided him the opportunity to continue on tour through the rest of the year. “There are still two World Tour events to go,” Nicol said,” so it doesn’t completely change my life just yet,” Nicol said of his second place finish. “It definitely helps the vibe though.”
Young guns Kolohe Andino and Filipe Toledo lit it up in the Junior Men’s competition while Australian Sally Fitzgibbons beat out 16-year-old prodigy Lakey Peterson to win the Pro Women’s competition. This year’s surfing competition was accompanied by Coastal Carnage, a skateboarding competition, which featured prominent skateboarders from around the world. Tony Hawk’s fourth-place finish in the Coastal Carnage skateboarding competition brought another dimension to the beachside festivities.
The waves were stellar coming into the weekend and provided a great finish for this year’s event. As Slater eventually emerged victorious, the 39-year-old champion once again proved that age is not a hindrance to his continued domination of the sport. “This is where I dreamed surfing would be,” said Slater in a press conference following the event.
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