HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/USA (Tuesday, July 23, 2012) - The Vans US Open of Surfing, stop No. 6 of 8 on the Women's ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), took to the water today, completing Round 1 action in peaky two-to-four foot (1 metre) waves. Huntington Beach Pier would host a series of mixed results from the ASP Top 17, with both shock upsets and top scores from the event's top seeds.
Silvana Lima (BRA), 28, current ASP No. 14, earned a crucial Round 1 victory at the Vans US Open of Surfing, relegating reigning five-time ASP World Champion and former event winner Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 25, and rookie Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), 19, to Round 2. Lima has struggled to find her rhythm this season following an injury plagued 2012 and is out to turn her year around with a big result this week.
"I feel really good," Lima said. "This is my best Round 1 result and usually I have to surf in Round 2 here in Huntington. I'm happy to skip that round 2. I've had a tough year, but I'm feeling really good and it's nice to have some waves. Hopefully I can keep going."
Pauline Ado (FRA), 22, current ASP World No. 13, was responsible for one of the day's upsets while making a crucial step towards requalifying for the 2014 WCT. The talented regular-footer would take a massive Round 1 victory over defending event champion Lakey Peterson (USA), 19, and dangerous Hawaiian Coco Ho (HAW), 22, advancing directly to Round 3 of competition.
"I started off slow in that heat and the girls were paddling around me," Ado said. "Then I got that good score. I need to get good results the rest of the year. I've lost in the fourth round a lot of times and it's good to be in round three already. Hopefully I can make another heat and get some important points."
Alana Blanchard (HAW), 22, current ASP World No. 10, contributed to the day of upsets, defeating current rankings leader Tyler Wright (AUS), 19, and wildcard Leila Hurst (HAW), 19, in their Round 1 battle.
"Competing here is amazing and I love the support from the fans," Blanchard said. "It makes the event that much more fun. I always want to surf my best and I try not to really think about the crowd. Coming in to this event, I'm just trying not to think about the ratings. I usually do better when I'm having fun with it all."
While several event favorites were relegated to Round 2, half of the event's top seeds dominated their heats, earning the day's high scores.
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 22, 2011 event champion, dominated her heat with committed combinations on both her forehand and backhand, earning the Women's high heat total of 16.70 out of 20.
"Really great coming back to Huntington and US Open week is always a unique experience," Fitzgibbons said. "The heats are spread out, but our weeks are filled in with lots of other things. There are big crowds and it's good fun. I think the more time I've been on tour I just draw from experience and have that confidence even when I'm not competing. I've been training and feel really strong."
Carissa Moore (HAW), 20, 2010 US Open Champion, admittedly felt out of sorts following the long break between events, but still managed to take a commanding Round 1 victory compliments of polished forehand surfing.
"I just got done surfing my first heat here and I didn't feel that good, but it was good to just surf a heat," Moore said. "I haven't surfed a heat since Brazil, so it's been about two months and I'm just happy to have the jersey on again."
Moore, former ASP World Champion and current No. 2, knows an additional crown is well within reach, but is trying to focus on another strong heat at the Vans US Open rather than the title race.
"I'm just taking it heat-by-heat like I always do," Moore said. "If you start overthinking things you'll fall to the pressure so right now I'm trying to figure out Huntington. It's always a little tricky so I'm going to just take it day-by-day. It'd be awesome to win here again. To win in front of this crowd would be awesome, but we'll see what happens."
Courtney Conlogue (USA), 20, current ASP World No. 4 and local favorite, dominated her opening heat, capitalizing on her intimate knowledge of the Huntington Beach Lineup to secure a convincing Round 1 win. The Californian is hunting a big result in the only American Women's WCT event this season and hopes to build momentum as the rounds progress.
"Lot of support here and I love being here in my hometown," Conlogue. "I love sleeping in my own bed and getting my coffee before. It just gives me a lot of confidence. I really want to get a good result here. I've got two fifths and it'd be good to replace that. I'd like to build momentum and not peak too soon and hopefully I can put on a good show for everyone."
While several top seeds stumbled in Women's Round 1, ASP WCT surfers continued to rampage through the early rounds of men's ASP Prime competition with defending event champion Julian Wilson (AUS), 24, leading the charge.
Wilson would ignite the highest scores of the Vans US Open, launching a massive backside air-rotation for a near-perfect 9.83 out of 10. The Australian would combine the score with an additional excellent ride of 8.30, securing the event's high heat-total of 18.03 out of 20.
"That air felt good," Wilson said. "It was one of the ones that you just go for and you don't always have the highest percentage on, but I kind of surprised myself. I was in a position in the heat where I could go for it. It was good to land it and it gives me confidence."
Michel Bourez (PYF), 27, continued his dominance at the Vans US Open today, besting Miguel Pupo (BRA), 21, while eliminating local hero [Brett Simpson] (/athletes/23/brett-simpson)(Huntington Beach), 27, with his patented power game.
"I'm not an air guy and I just stick to my plan," Bourez said. "I knew Miguel (Pupo) would go for big airs and you never know with Brett (Simpson). I think he injured himself, but I hope he's alright."
Tomorrow's Vans US Open of Surfing schedule will be action packed with Women's WCT, Men's Prime and Pro Junior action unfolding at Huntington Beach Pier. Watch the action LIVE via http://www.usopenofsurfing.com/surf/