He lives in San Clemente so why not?
Unless you have been living under a rock, you may have heard that surfing will be included in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Japan in 2020.
With limited 20 spots available for both men and women, there have been some big moves made to jockey for Olympic positioning. Kanoa Igarashi hails from Japan now and his decision to fly the Rising Sun had some interesting dynamics associated with it when his recent CT victory went to Japan, thusly depriving California of its first CT victory in over ten years, even though the trophy for the Corona Bali Protected is likely sitting in a home somewhere in Huntington Beach.
Similarly, Tatiana Weston-Webb has also opted to eschew US affiliation and is instead aligning herself with Brazil to guarantee her Olympic seat as la surfista Braziliana numero um, much to Silviana Lima’s chagrin.
Two of the most interesting Olympic discussions circle around Brazil and the United States men’s teams. Wait, no, the discussion is a god damn snooze fest. I know pretty much next to nothing about surfing in Japan other than that Shida, the venue of choice for the Tokyo games, is well known for shitty and fickle waves. The practice event was run in one-to-two-foot onshore slop with the fog socked in, which makes it pretty evident to me that the Brazilian and US teams, based on the current roster, will be top contenders for the men’s podium spots.
With JJF questionable post-injury, US is looking like Kolohe and Kelly on the draw with Connor Coffin in the alternate seat for men’s seats.
Brazil is currently looking like Gabriel and Filipe on the draw and Italo on deck.
A trifle dull, no?
Please allow me to suggest a twist, an indecent proposal, that will invigorate.
With all the surf-related expatriating that’s already happening, Filipe is now well situated to mix things up big time. His current residency in San Clemente, when paired with his blacked-out Indian motorcycle riding, low-fade slick back rocking, full-sleeve/hand tattoo having, black skinny-jean/black tee wearing antics firmly solidify him, at least physically and culturally, as an Orange County resident and, ipso facto, a good candidate for expatriation to the US and making the Olympics potentially interesting.
Let’s say Filipe did flip to team USA, what does that look like?
Filipe claiming USA as the “man in the yellow jersey” would push Brother into the second spot, push Kelly into the alternate, and would bump Mr. Coffin off the Olympic bubble. For Brazil, a Filipe expatriation would have the effect of lifting Gabs up into the one spot, pulling up Italo into the number two spot, and would put David Silva in the alternate spot.
Bumping Kelly from and elevating Italo into the Olympics is something I would LOVE to see. For almost the entirety of my brief 32 years on this blue marble, Kelly has been winning events in all types of conditions but his surfing has always proven especially deft and dangerous in small waves.
I would rather watch a newer crop of hungry guys fight for W’s than to watch an 11-time World Champion and one of the most winningest athletes on earth casually three-to-the-beach his way to any sort of victory, let alone Olympic Gold, on a phallus-shaped board of his own namesake to check some competitive box that only lives in the brain of Kelly Slater.
Being that 2020 is our first go around as surfers with Olympic validation as “athletes”, wouldn’t it be great if it was exciting?
Wouldn’t it be great if, when someone asks you who you think will win Tokyo 2020, you could respond with “I don’t know!” rather than “Kelly”?
Kelly, by his own admission, is just “having fun” on tour and it seems transparent that his lackadaisical approach is merely to keep him high enough in the WSL and ISA rankings to get Olympiad qualified for the US team.
Italo, on the other hand, has scrapped and fought every step of the way for Olympic qualification. Most recently, in what I initially thought to be a Rinsed Magazine parody headline, Italo showed up to the ISA Games in Miyazaki after a host of Kafka-esque mishaps, late to his heat with nine minutes remaining and already in a combination situation, only to fight his way out of a corner to a first-place finish on a board he borrowed from Filipe, all while wearing denim shorts.
That event alone tends to demonstrate that Italo has the fight and spirit of an Olympian while, on the other hand, Kelly is approaching Olympic qualification with the same level of entitlement that Kim Kardashian is approaching admission to the California Bar, that is to say, avoiding the hard work and instead relying on undeniable affability and name recognition, rather than hard work, to open the doors.
In that sense, a Filipe declaration of US alignment for the 2020 Tokyo Games could be a move of extreme Brazilian patriotism to oust the entitled Slater, and instead, forfeit his position to allow for his very deserving Brazilian statemen Italo to enter the games in a meaningful way.
What say you, Filipe? Viva Estados Unidos? Viva revolução!