Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Difficult to ignore the presence of Kelly Slater in the 2012 ASP World Title series

One of the biggest attractions in the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Title series is Kelly Slater. The iconic American surfer has been dominating the waves for nearly two decades now, collecting 11 ASP World Title in the process along with a large number of victories. There is hardly any surfer who claims to be as good or as successful as the Florida-based surfer, putting him in a class of his own and a man to beat at every competition.

After winning the World Championship Title in 2011, Slater remained mum about his plans regarding the 2012 ASP World Tour. However, he did confirm his plans on competing at Snapper Rocks where the first stop of the elite tour, Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, in Queensland, Australia. This was enough to get the surfing fans over-excited about the season opener.

Arriving at the renowned Australian surf break, Slater found himself pitted against America’s Kolohe Andino and Australia’s Garrett Parkes in the first round of the competition. Both his rivals were quite young and equally inexperienced, but to undermine their talent was something that just did not sound fair considering their achievements in the recent years. Andino in particular was being considered as one of the best surfer to emerge from California in nearly two decades.

Living up to his repute, Slater took less than six minutes to post a massive score on the score-board and therefore made Andino and Parkes succumb to him, sending the two young guns into the relegation round. The three-to-four foot waves on offer at the primary event site seemed to be responding to him rather than him adjust his style to adapt to them.

There was hardly anyone who expected anything less than an ideal start by Slater and the American surfer surely did justice to the expectations and hype that surrounded him.

Heading into the third round, the legendary surfer came face-to-face with the Hawaiian surfer Fredrick Patacchia. His latest opponent was without any doubt in a solid form, something that was made evident by his performance in the first round where he managed to get the better of Australia’s Taj Burrow, creating the very first upset of the competition.

However, the Hawaiian was unable to stand his ground as a raging Slater took him down in the man-on-man heat through a display of exceptional skills and genuine class. The Florida-based surfer may not be invincible, but there are very few surfers who manage to hold him off. Much to the dismay of Patacchia, he was unable to tame Slater during the heat and consequently ended up conceding an easy win to his rival.

Slater continued to dominate the waves during the fourth round of the competition, this time adding French Polynesia’s Michel Bourez and Brazil’s Heitor Alves to his list of victims before making his way into the Quarter-finals.

Squaring off with Slater in the Quarter-finals was Australia’s Josh Kerr. The American surfer had gotten the better of the Australian during their four encounters in the 2011 ASP World Tour. However, Kerr did allow the stats from last year intimidate him and instead decided to take the world’s best surfer head on. The positive attitude allowed him to defy all odds and overcome Slater to clinch top honours, bringing the domination of Slater in the 2012 ASP World Tour’s opening event to an end.

Slater was therefore forced to settle for an equal third-place finish after the conclusion of Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.

The 40-year-old ASP World Champion seemed to be planning on deciding about competing in the full 2012 ASP World tour season after Snapper Rocks. Reaching the Quarters-finals was nothing short of an impressive run, though it was difficult to tell if it was enough to convince Slater to return for the second stop of the 2012 ASP World Tour, Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, which is scheduled to kick-off from April 3.

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