Haakenson: Surf world moves on after U.S. Open

The U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach wrapped up the season for the women on the Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Tour, withAustralia'sStephanie Gilmore winning the world championship for the fifth time.

Gilmore is quickly becoming the Kelly Slater of the women's tour, those five world titles head and shoulders above her competitors.

Speaking of Slater, the men's World Tour is in the middle of its 10-event season. The fifth contest starts Thursday in Tahiti with the Billabong Pro Teahupoo.

Slater is in second place in the overall points standings, trailing Mick Fanning of Australia in his quest for an unprecedented 12th world championship.

At 40, Slater is showing no signs of slowing down. He won the last ASP World Tour event, the Volcom Fiji Pro in June.

Slater finished Equal third in the U.S. Open, but the Open for the men is not one of the World Tour contests like it is for the women. The draw to the Open for the men is the prize money — $100,000 to the winner.

Slater lost to 20-year-old Miguel Pupo of Brazil in the semifinals.

"I never really felt like I got it going all week," Slater said. "Miguel and (Gabriel) Medina (who finished Equal third) have been so consistent, getting 9s every heat and they are tough to beat out there. If you're going to beat them out there you really need to be on your A-game. These are the waves they grew up surfing and this is their bread and butter."


The U.S. Open was the final event in the women's ASP World Championship Tour, and two Southern California girls made an impact.

Courtney Conlogue, a native of Santa Ana who attended Sage Hill High in Newport Coast, finished fifth in the overall world standings. The 19-year-old has earned $85,600 in 2012, bringing her career earnings to $199,600.

In the seven World Tour contests, Conlogue finished fifth or better six times, including taking the title in the Commonweath Bank Beachley Classic in Australia in April.

She also killed it in other ASP contests, winning two 6 Star events (one in France, one in Australia) and placing third in two other 6 Star events.

In the Open, she lost in the quarterfinals to Hawaii's Malia Manuel and finished in fifth.

The other SoCal girl to make her mark was Santa Barbara's Lakey Peterson, whose U.S. Open title lifted her to seventh place in the final ASP World Tour standings.

The $15,000 prize money for winning the Open raised her 2012 totals to $51,000 and her career earnings to $83,625. At just 17, Peterson has a bright future.

"I don't even know what to say — I'm speechless," Peterson said after winning the Open. "The final was really slow and I was pretty bummed because I wish we both could have got some really good waves. I'm so stoked and I really wanted to win on a high note.

"I've been staying calm and sticking to my gameplan. I haven't been letting anything else faze me and I've been staying focused and going out and surfing and having a really good time. I've loved every minute of this event and it's been great."


The Open wasn't without a bit of controversy, which came in the women's semifinals between Hawaii's Carissa Moore, last year's world champion, and Australia's Sally Fitzgibbons, last year's U.S. Open winner.

Moore won a close contest, scoring the decisive points in the final seconds of the heat, frustrating the competitive Fitzgibbons.

"It's a tough one," Fitzgibbons said. "No one wants to lose like that. It was a split (judging) panel and I felt like I surfed to the criteria. I had built myself a good momentum through the event and felt like I was ready for the finals. We're athletes. We're here to win and anything less than that is always going to be a disappointment."

JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at joe@juvecreative.com.

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