The conditions were good, and Courtney Conlogue just wanted to have a good start Thursday morning at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing.
Conlogue, the Sage Hill School alumna from Santa Ana, did just that. In the opening moments of her women’s surfing quarterfinal against Pauline Ado of France, Conlogue ripped off a very strong score of 7.67.
It gave her confidence as the quarterfinal, the last of the four contested Thursday on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier, unfolded.
“It was really nice to have a quick start and just to get that rhythm going,” Conlogue said. “After seeing the way the heats were going, I wanted to set a scale and build from there. The waves are still really fun, so I’m just wanting to have a blast out there and catch as many good ones as I can. The conditions are glassy, it’s beautiful out. Yeah, amazing. It’s nice that California is delivering this summer.”
Conlogue also delivered. She easily advanced with a score of 14.87, bettering Ado’s two-wave score of 10.87. The 14.87 was the top mark among all women’s quarterfinalists and it put Conlogue into a good position headed into Saturday’s semifinals, where she will face another Californian, Sage Erickson of Ventura.
Conlogue is ranked No. 4 in the World Surf League Championship Tour women’s standings, and she has a great chance to move up. The top three in the standings – Australians Tyler Wright, Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore – have all been eliminated prior to the semifinals at the U.S. Open.
Conlogue, who won the U.S. Open in 2009 when she still attended Sage Hill, is now 24. She looks forward to her matchup against Erickson, who Conlogue beat last weekend in the final to win the Paul Mitchell Neon Supergirl Pro in Oceanside, a qualifying series event. Defending U.S. Open women’s champion Tatiana Weston-Webb will face fellow Hawaiian Coco Ho in the other semifinal.
“It’s always a fun heat,” Conlogue said of facing Erickson. “Sage and I go way back. She knows a lot about me as a competitor, so I always know I need to bring my ‘A’ game. Nothing less.”
On the men’s side, Huntington Beach’s Kanoa Igarashi was able to advance from a tough heat that also included San Clemente’s Kolohe Andino. Igarashi placed first with 11.84 points, while Ricardo Christie of New Zealand was second with 11.13. Andino, the highest-ranked U.S. surfer on the World Tour at No. 14 in the world, was eliminated.
The key for Igarashi, 19, was a ride of 6.37 that he pulled out with less than 10 minutes remaining in the heat. The wave vaulted him from third place in the heat to first.
“It was so late in the heat, and there wasn’t that much time left,” said Igarashi, who has advanced to the U.S. Open semifinals each of the last two years. “It was a wave that nobody wanted, and I kind of just snuck under it and used my local knowledge to find that one. It worked out. I just surfed as best as I could on the wave. I didn’t want to blow it, of course, because it was such a good opportunity. It ended up working in my favor, and I was stoked.”
Igarashi will compete in Round 4 on Friday. He’s in the first of eight heats, where he will compete against 2015 U.S. Open champion Hiroto Ohhara of Japan and Jeremy Flores of France.
Two-time U.S. Open winner Brett Simpson of Huntington Beach was unable to advance out of Round 2 earlier Thursday. Simpson placed third in his heat with a score of 10.80.
One local competing in the junior men’s quarterfinals was Tyler Gunter of Newport Beach. Gunter surfed well but failed to advance, as his score of 10.40 was third in his heat that was won by Cody Young of Hawaii.
A champion was crowned as well on Thursday, in women’s skateboarding. Brighton Zeuner of Encinitas bested the field in the Vans Park Series final to win with a score of 84.69.
“It’s super-cool,” Zeuner said. “This is one of my favorite events, and to win it is super-cool … I’ve been traveling around the world for all of these events. I’ve just been skating with my friends and going to these contests and I’m so happy.”
Zeuner, 13, had the win clinched before her fourth and final heat in the final. Bryce Wettstein placed second with 83.43 points, and Nora Vasconcellos was third with 82.36 points.
“It was cool,” Zeuner said. “All of the girls were hyped up and it was really fun to watch the new stuff they were bringing in the finals. It was a good atmosphere.”
Zeuner has been doing a lot of winning lately. She became the youngest gold medalist in X Games history a couple of weeks ago. Last August, she won the Vans Park Series world championship in Sweden in the tour’s inaugural year.
She will now start preparing for the 2017 Vans Park Series world championships, which will be held in Shanghai, China in late September.