OC Surfers Earn Gold Medals, Additional Olympic Spots for Teams USA, Japan – Orange County Register
Two local surfers have won gold at the ISA World Surfing Games, significant wins that will earn their countries additional spots at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Huntington Beach’s Kanoa Igarashi, surfer for Japan, and San Clemente’s Kirra Pinkerton, for Team USA, took first place after eight days of competition at the International Surfing Association’s event in Huntington Beach, which concluded on Saturday, September 24th.
While most teams have two male and two female surfers, their victories this weekend will give the United States and Japan a huge advantage when the surfing event takes place in Tahiti’s famous Teahupoo in two years’ time.
Pinkerton’s win earns the USA women’s team an extra spot, while Igarashi gets an extra male surfer for Japan. Last year, Igarashi won silver at the 2020 Olympics, the sport’s debut at the Games.
Pinkerton’s gold medal was the country’s first at an ISA World Surfing Games since 2009. Australia took home the silver medal, Portugal bronze and France earned copper.
The big event, which attracted about 250 surfers from around the world, began on September 16th with a parade down Main Street and a “Sands of the Nation” ceremony, which was created back when the event was held on the same day in 1996 place took place. The World Surfing Games have not been held in Surf City since 2006.
The competition drew not only surfers from wave-rich regions, but also athletes from countries like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine, showing how far the reach of surfing is growing. Some athletes traveled at their own expense to compete, raised funds at home, or received sponsorship from their countries to make the pilgrimage.
At the Huntington Beach Contest, Kolohe Andino from San Clemente and Nat Young from Santa Cruz, two of the elite surfers who represented the USA in the event, were knocked out before the finals.
The team’s other women, Gabriela Bryan and Zoe McDougall, made it far in the event, but when the finals began it was up to Pinkerton to secure victory for the team to earn an additional Olympic spot for the American.
“I’m incredibly happy right now. I don’t even know what to say, this whole week has been really cool,” Pinkerton said in an interview with ISA officials. “Every run was almost impossible. The fact that everything fits together in the end really impresses me.”
Pinkerton also took Team USA to the top of the podium in the team standings, the first time the Americans have won the team’s gold medal since 2009.
Igarashi, who has won two US Open of Surfing events at the same surf spot, used his local knowledge and both power surfing and aerial moves to win.
“It was definitely something very special,” Igarashi said. “Obviously a one-on-one win is great, but knowing that I’ve secured the spot for Japan in the upcoming Olympics, wow, that’s such a special feeling. Whether I’m leaving or one of my teammates is leaving, just knowing that someone will be there to represent me, that means a lot.”
Huntington Beach officials are hoping International Olympic Committee members in the city appreciated the event on the local sands with hopes it gave them a taste of what an event in Surf City could be like when the Games take place in 2028 approaching in Los Angeles.
ISA President Fernando Aguerre said: “The Olympic wave is rolling really strong after a historic event in Huntington Beach.”
Final Placements for Olympic Qualification
United States of America
United States of America
Open women’s department
Silver – Pauline Ado
Bronze – Sally Fitzgibbons
Open men’s section
Gold – Kanoa Igarashi
Silver – Rio Waida
Overall ranking of teams
Gold – United States
Silver – Australia
Bronze – Portugal
Aloha Cup Final Results
Gold – France
Silver – United States
Bronze – Argentina
More information: isasurf.org
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/09/26/o-c-surfers-earn-gold-medals-extra-olympic-spots-for-teams-usa-japan/ OC Surfers Earn Gold Medals, Additional Olympic Spots for Teams USA, Japan – Orange County Register