Gabriel Medina Momentarily Interrupts the John John Show.
Gabriel Medina’s record in France, already in the ridiculous zone, can now be placed firmly in the freak zone. It was here in 2009 that he won his first CT event (in his second one ever surfed), and he has now made the final five times in the last seven years, winning three of them. Only Mick Fanning has won more, but he managed his four wins over a 15-year period. Gabriel is just 24.
Today his victory came down to his semi with John John. With six of the top eighth surfers all gone by the quarterfinal stage, it was obvious that who ever won their semifinal would win the Quik Pro France. After a slow start, the two ripped in one of the better 20 minutes of surfing seen this year.
Medina mixed traditional power and flow on his backhand with a Gorkin flip, that he landed with only his front foot on the rail. With no precedent and the wow factor coming from the cat like recovery rather than the move itself, the judges could have gone anywhere with the score. They went high and few can argue. Florence responded with highly technical surfing and competitive smarts, but didn’t catch the waves he required to manufacture the high score he needed. In that form I’d reckon only a red hot Medina could have matched him. Over the last three days, those two were miles ahead of the rest of the field.
With everyone else choking though, it’s still a solid result, giving Florence the No. 1 spot on the Jeep Leaderboard and in my eyes makes him an unbackable favourite for the World Title. He’s making fewer mistakes than the rest, and if Pipe is pumping should be unstoppable. Medina’s win, the eighth surfer to claim a victory out nine events this year, pushed him up to third and gave him a mathematical chance at the title. He’ll need Jordy and John John to suffer an early round loss at either Portugal and Pipe, but if they do, he’ll be lurking, just as he has been lurking around those righthand beachbreak pockets all week.
For the Aussies, it was a huge missed opportunity. It was left to Fanning and Parkinson to show Wilko, Wright and Wilson what can be done if you surf to your strengths. Wheels weren’t being reinvented by the two veterans, if anything they both just made them rounder, but a quarterfinal finish would have been huge for any of those three in contention. Wilko was the unluckiest and all three’s preparation and attitude were spot on, but in France any hopes of an Australian world title faded. I frankly can’t see where the next one will come from. It might be a decade wait at least.
One positive is that there is no respite, with Portugal starting in a week’s time. These three days in France were fairly straight forward, and I can’t see that happening in Portugal. It will be stop start and erratic. Strange things can happen there. Last year Florence wrapped up the title at Supertubes. He can’t do that this time around, but he sure can get a whole lot closer.