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Huntington Beach native Kanoa Igarashi nabs silver medal in Olympic surfing

Kanoa Igarashi of Huntington Beach, shown at the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro event on June 20, took silver at the Olympic Games.
Kanoa Igarashi of Huntington Beach, shown surfing at the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro event on June 20, took silver at the inaugural Olympic Games surfing event.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Kanoa Igarashi of Huntington Beach came close to making history once again.

Igarashi had to settle for a scintillating run through the draw at the inaugural Olympic men’s surfing competition.

Igarashi, surfing for Japan, won a silver medal Wednesday at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach outside of Tokyo. He fell to Italo Ferreira of Brazil, 15.14 to 6.60, in the 35-minute gold-medal matchup.

Each surfer’s top two rides were counted.

Ferreira saw his board snap in half during the opening minutes of the heat, but he landed two solid waves. Igarashi rode 14 waves but was unable to get a big enough score to threaten.

Igarashi, 23, is used to the big stage. He won the U.S. Open of Surfing title back-to-back years on his home break, in 2017 and 2018 at the southside of the Huntington Beach Pier.

At his first Olympics, Igarashi also showed a flair for the dramatic. He unleashed a 9.33 ride in the final minutes of his semifinal heat to beat two-time world champion Gabriel Medina of Brazil, 17.00-16.76.

“The ride was probably about seven seconds long, but it felt like 70 minutes long,” Igarashi told the New York Times after the heat. “I felt every single little moment. I felt my heartbeat, I felt my hair in the wind, I felt being in the air. And I had thoughts while I was in the air. It was kind of surreal, but as soon as I landed it I knew it was one of the biggest moments of my career.”

Igarashi also dispatched Kohole Andino of San Clemente, 12.60-11.00, in the quarterfinals.

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