Friday, November 7, 2014
Updated: Friday, November 7, 2014
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) has had plenty to smile about this year on the World Championship Tour (WCT).
Fitzgibbons looked shaky at the women's opening event, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, but was able to defeat Keely Andrew (AUS) in Round 2 to avoid the early elimination.
With some didgeridoo sounds on the shore, Fitzgibbons seemed to find her rhythm as she powered her way into the Quarterfinals.
But during the Quarters she struggled against Lakey Peterson (USA) and left the Gold Coast with an equal-fifth finish.
Fitzgibbons stormed into the next event, the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, earning the competition's first nine-point ride in Round 2.
Fitzgibbons powered her way to the Margaret River Semifinals but was eliminated there by fellow Title contender Tyler Wright (AUS).
Fitzgibbons entered the Rip Curl Women's Pro Bells Beach with renewed focus and drive.
She went on a rampage in Round 3 at Bells, putting up two nine-point rides for an event-high heat total of 18.37.
At Bells, Fitzgibbons' hot streak took her to the Semifinals -- her second in a row. She was defeated there, however, by Carissa Moore (HAW), who went on to win the event.
Fitzgibbons kept up her momentum, earning her fifth nine-point ride of the season in the Final of the Rio Women's Pro.
She went on to earn her first event win of the 2014 season in Rio.
Fitzgibbons, relishing the moment with her trophy in Rio.
After the contest in Brazil, she and the rest of the Top 17 competed in the Fiji Women's Pro. It was the first women's elite Tour event there in history.
Fitzgibbons was undaunted by the heavy waves at Cloudbreak and Restaurants, working her way into the later rounds of the event.
In her Semifinal against Malia Manuel (HAW), Fitzgibbons scored a 9.07 and won the matchup.
Fitzgibbons became the champion of the first-ever women's event at the remote reef break.
Before Fiji, only the reigning World Champion, Carissa Moore (HAW) had back-to-back wins in 2014. Fitzgibbons' title made her the second surfer to do so in the first half of the season.
She followed up her success in Fiji with an equal-third finish at the women's next event, the Vans US Open of Surfing, in July 2014.
Fitzgibbons continued to do well at the new locations on Tour. In September, she made the Semifinals at the inaugural Swatch Women's Pro Trestles.
Fitzgibbons at Trestles, warming up for her Final against fellow Aussie and Title contender, Stephanie Gilmore.
Fitzgibbons, getting ready for a heat in Hossegor, at the Roxy Pro France. She would wear the yellow jersey throughout the European leg of the 2014 season.
In France, Fitzgibbons missed the Semifinals for just the second time this season. She was eliminated in the Quarters there by Tyler Wright.
At the next event, the Cascais Women's Pro in Portugal, Fitzgibbons dominated her preliminary heats and was able to skip the early elimination rounds.
Throughout the contest, she had an excellent score (an 8.00 or above) in each of her heats -- except the Final.
Fitzgibbons finished runner-up in Portugal, losing in the Final to rival Stephanie Gilmore (AUS). She heads into the season's final event as No. 2 in the rankings.
Fitzgibbons will have to turn over the yellow jersey to the new No. 1, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), before the Target Maui Pro. But she remains in close contention for the World Title.