This season, California's Sage Erickson has been a new woman, competitively speaking. After a few strong results in Australia, her hot streak began in earnest in July when she finished runner-up to Courtney Conlogue at the Paul Mitchell Neon Supergirl Pro, a Qualifying Series contest in Oceanside, California. But that was just a warm-up for what would come next. The very next week, Erickson carried that momentum to the top of the podium at the Vans US Open of Surfing Championship Tour event, her first-ever elite-level win.
Erickson's momentum, however, is peaking at an inopportune time for Conlogue, who arrived at the Cascais Women's Pro this week as World No. 2 and anxious to break away on the Jeep Leaderboard. This is Conlogue's third year running in which she has been within tasting distance of the World Title -- a testament to her consistency, but also a heavy burden. Instead of keeping pace with the rankings frontrunner -- Australian Sally Fitzgibbons -- she landed in the do-or-die Round Four against Erickson, a woman with a newfound confidence and poise under pressure. While Conlogue's performance was plagued with mistakes, Erickson's was focused and forceful.
Conlogue will have a week to brush it off and refocus on the next CT event in France. Erickson, however, may just cap off the week with another trophy for her mantle. And quite possibly a chance to make a run at a World Title of her own.