ASP WORLD TITLE NOW PARKO’S TO LOSE?
By Col Bernasconi | 24 October 2012
Can he? The world title has eluded him thus far but 2012 is now looking like the year for Joel Parkinson. Pics: ASP/Rowland/Cestari
Eight 2012 ASP World Championship Tour events deep and perennial title bridesmaid Joel Parkinson is holding down a sizable lead of 5500 points [unadjusted] over nearest rival Kelly Slater going into the O'Neill Cold Water Classic, Santa Cruz. Mick Fanning's next up in third (a mere 200 points behind Kelly), and then the last title hope sitting in fourth is the quiet threat, John John Florence, 2350 points behind Fanning on 44,350. The pain of Joel's four world title runner up finishes seem to have been cleansed from his soul as he ambles through heat after heat, country after country, event after event banking world title winning results. Still his impressive results of three seconds, three thirds, a fifth and one ninth (his obvious throw away result), hides one glaring omission; an event victory. "That's what it's all about," two time World Champion Tom Carroll told Tracksmag.com today. "Your first step is always to win the event, win each heat, you step up to win... being world champion is the pinnacle of our system – but if he's going to win a title doing it with an event win would be the icing on the cake."
*For top four adjusted ratings where Kelly leads see bottom page
He's tried and tried, and come so close, but Parko's yet to grab an elite WCT event win in 2012. PIc: ASP/Cestari
If Parko does win without an event win it will be an anomaly. Not since the creation of the IPS (later to become ASP) and the subsequent declaring of Australian Peter Townend as the first World Surfing Champion, has a surfer won the title without an actual event win. [In 2001 CJ Hobgood also won the title without an event win but that was a shortened calendar year due to 9/11].
Whether Parko wins one of the remaining two events or not, it's irrefutable that he has been the most consistent performer of 2012. Winning this world title without an event win would be a sticking point; but to win the war is the desired outcome, not the fire fights. After Peniche he seemed buoyed by his continued progress towards the ultimate goal. "An equal 3rd is good." He said. "I'm really enjoying myself. If you had told me six weeks ago that between Trestles and now, I'd have two second places and a third, I would have probably taken it ... so bring on Santa Cruz."
Kelly Slater's untimely (and uncharacteristic) early exit in the Rip Curl Pro helped Parko's cause no end. Pic: ASP/Kirstin
The O'Neill Cold Water Classic is this year's curve ball event. The points on offer here are the most prized ask for all four title contenders as it's a journey into the unknown. We all know John John and Kelly have Pipeline on a string, but who's going to excel in Northern California? For Parko and Mick, Santa Cruz is make or break for them to be in with a red hot shot at Pipe.
The possible fly in the ointment. We watch in awe as John Florence threatens the hierarchy. Pic: ASP/Cestari
Although it's run as a World Qualifying since it's exclusion from the top tier, rarely has the ASP top 10 made the seven-hour drive from Surf City LA to the right hand point break; till now that is. Every heat, every contest director's call, every wave, every board change, will be of the utmost importance. Not only for these four of course; but also all surfer's fighting for top 22 survival.
A comical moment between two mates and fierce rivals; Parko and Mick, playing nice. Pic: ASP/Cestari
Like all ASP WCT events, 10,000 points are on offer and the rippable, but often backwash laden and tide affected right is as important to a world title chase as a Bells, Chopes or Trestles. What board do you ride? Do you go booties? Will they move north to Ocean Beach if it's small? For Slater, as much as Fanning and John John, at least a final finish or better is almost a must to hunt down Parko, who, for the race to be a super tight one in Hawaii needs to lose early. "There's only one way to go at Santa Cruz for me [hinting towards a win]", Kelly said post his shock third round loss in atrocious conditions at the Rip Curl Pro Peniche to Raoni Monteiro. "I've surfed there once and I got last in my first heat, it was in 1994 I think. We'll see what happens."
"Parko winning would be cool, I'd be very happy. It'd bring a big smile to my face and a warm fuzzy feeling." Tom Carroll Pic: ASP/Fiji
Smart money is on Parko to prevail, but stranger things have happened. It's a logjam for second right now and if Parko can keep his ship sure and steady, he'll be hard to run down. You won't see a World Champion crowned at Santa Cruz – but you'll have a good idea as to who will hit Pipe with a wet sail and a hand on the cup.
– Col B
ASP WCT TOP 5 (After Rip Curl Pro Portugal):
1. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 52,700 pts
2. Kelly Slater (USA) 47,200 pts
3. Mick Fanning (AUS) 47,000 pts
4. John John Florence (HAW) 44,350 pts
5. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 37,650 pts
ASP WCT TOP 4 (adjusted with two throw aways):
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 44950 - needs to better a 13th place to improve
2. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 43500 - needs to better a third to improve
3. Mick Fanning (AUS) 43500 - needs to better a ninth to improve
4. John John Florence (HAW) 38600 - needs to better a fifth to improve
FROM THE ASP
For the 2012 ASP World Title to be decided at the O’Neill Cold Water Classic, three events must occur:
1 – Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, must win the event*,
If any one of the those three scenarios fails to eventuate, the 2012 ASP World Title will be decided at the final event of the year at Pipeline.WANT MORE: Early in the year Tracksmag.com talked with Parko about coming second (four times), being the best surfer never to win a world title and much more weird stuff... Read full interview HERE
Tracksmag.com also went out on a limb claiming Mick Fanning would (probably) win the 2012 world title HERE