Filipe Toledo knows what it takes to win the Vans US Open. His explosive brand of surfing earned him the title here in 2014. He looked well on his way to repeating in 2015, but lost by less than a point in the Semifinal.
That loss seems to be fueling him this year. Toledo has marched confidently into the Quarters, and the conditions at sloppy Huntington play right into his wheelhouse. He has the whole making-something-of-nothing thing locked, but if there's one thing we know about this event is there are no guarantees.
At this point the Vans US Open is a CT event. Six of the final eight surfers remaining are on the elite tour, while Aussie phenom Ethan Ewing and Brazilian Bino Lopes are the last QS stars standing.
Toledo will face a very motivated Michel Bourez in the last Quarterfinal. Both are expectant fathers, and Bourez already knows it's never too early to start saving for diapers and college funds. By the time they hit the water they'll know the next obstacle: Kanoa Igarashi or Bino Lopes.
On that side of the board the stats alone predict a Toledo vs. Igarashi Semifinal clash. But any predictions of that Semifinal are well within the margin of error when you consider Igarashi's home-field advantage.
The Quarters will begin with an all-Australian battle, with Ethan Ewing trying to keep his improbable tear going over CT rookie Ryan Callinan. Frankly, Callinan needs the win more. He's been getting beat up on the CT and is nowhere near making the grade right now on the QS, so he needs points.
Ewing, meanwhile, is going to make a giant leap up the QS ladder with this performance. It's his second-straight Quarterfinal berth in a QS10,000. And the 17-year-old from North Stradbroke (also home of Bede Durbidge) says he has no real intention of competing on the CT next year because he doesn't feel like his mature enough...oddly enough, that level of self-awareness almost proves he is ready.
But the winner of that battle will face the winner of the Adriano vs. Seabass match, which is sure to be exciting. Both have been performing at the top of their game this week, and honestly, while we're on the subject of self awareness, it's worth noting that De Souza and Zietz share the same incredibly grateful attitude for the stage they've been given. Odds are pretty darn good they're going to make a show of it.