As one of the most anticipated rookies of 2016, surf fans and pro surfers alike couldn't wait to see the electrifying Jack Freestone perform on a world stage with the planet's top athelets.
Freestone joined the Championship Tour at a point in his blossoming career where he was all over billboards, magazine spreads and major surf-flick parts. The Jack of all trades was finally in the Big Show.
Unluckily for Jack, though, shortly after the Gold Coast event he tweaked his knee. The injury required minor surgery and weeks of rehab. The most detrimental part, however, was the time spent out of the water to heal in the midst of the CT season. Fans were beginning to wonder if they'd ever get to see him perform again during the 2016 season.
But in an amazingly quick and effective recovery, Jack bounced back big time. At the Oi Rio Pro, the shy kid from Tweed Heads looked lively and nimble, advancing through the field in Barra da Tijuca's tricky beachbreak, (past the entire Top 10, too) like he was having a carefree sesh at his D'bah home break.
Then came Jack's highly contentious Semifinal with crowd (and country) favorite, Gabriel Medina. Not surprisingly, the 2014 World Champion had been annihilating the competition all week, revving up the throngs of Brazilian spectators in the process. In Medina's Semifinal with Freestone, when Gabriel stood up, you could feel the crowd's energy almost propelling him.
But after stomping a huge backside full-rotation crowd-stunner, Medina just couldn't find a back up score while Freestone found two solid 8's on Barra's bowly righthanders. Stepping up to the plate in his hardest heat of the season yet (and coming off an injury), Freestone advanced, literally hushing the crowd on the beach at Rio de Janeiro.
While Jack finished runner-up to John John Florence in the Final (pretty much John's title-campaign kickstarter), the result definitely proved that the young rookie featured all over Billabong's ads could perform with the world's best.
The runner-up finish quelled anyone's doubts about Jack not returning with the same form and flash after missing a couple events to injury. On the contrary, it seemed as if his form was in top shape.
"I am over the moon," Freestone said, with his confidence restored.