A future rivalry between JJF and Medina is the most valuable commodity this sport owns, and they appear to be utterly clueless about that while they search for feel-good schmaltz…
I got to admit, I don’t really get it: The Medina hate; but it’s a real thing and after a relatively subdued year where his surfing seemed to shut down the haters it’s back in full force.
On the second-last edition of The Grit, Chas and podcaster David Lee Scales laid down the parameters of the case against Medina post Priority-Gate. I’m paraphrasing but the gist of the word salad ran something like : Egregious, little bitch, entitled dick, such a dick, “bad” bad guy, an affront to the beauty of surfing….etc etc. Lee Scales was so incensed he posited a hypothetical Brazilian surf fan and could not imagine being in their position where they had to defend Medina.
Andy Irons was the last true bad guy, a guy who elevated the middle period of Slater’s career, when he was in his prime to the status of a hallowed ground never seen before or since. Mythologising since his death largely overlooks the villain role Irons took on with such gusto, but it’s brilliantly captured in Jack McCoy’s 2005 Blue Horizon. According to Derek Hynd who worked on the film with McCoy, the final edit was substantially weaker with most of Iron’s incendiary commentary cut out at Billabongs’ request, which he saw as a death blow to Iron’s competitive aggression.
I should like a swing at that.
Medina is what this so often lame and limp-dicked* sport needs, and has always needed and so rarely gets. A bad guy, a dark prince, a villain.
Andy Irons was the last true bad guy, a guy who elevated the middle period of Slater’s career, when he was in his prime to the status of a hallowed ground never seen before or since. Mythologising since his death largely overlooks the villain role Irons took on with such gusto, but it’s brilliantly captured in Jack McCoy’s 2004 Blue Horizon. According to Derek Hynd who worked on the film with McCoy, the final edit was substantially weaker with most of Iron’s incendiary commentary cut out at Billabongs’ request, which he saw as a death blow to Iron’s competitive aggression.
Hopefully, there will no such emasculation of Medina’s aggro.
Signs are good.
The refusal to bow down after the priority fuck-up with Ibelli is encouraging. “Nothing is more deceitful,” said Mr Darcy in Jane Eyre’s Pride and Prejudice, “than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast”.
I think we can agree Ground Zero for the substantive issues of intense dislike for Gabby began in 2012, a year after he came on Tour when, as an eighteen-year-old he, lost a final to Julian Wilson that most thought he had won. Including of course, Gabby and a large family entourage headed up by stepfather Charlie Medina. Charlie threw some plastic chairs around, Gabe burst into tears and walked off the stage leaving Jules to douse himself in champagne. The western surf media tutt tutted and the die was cast.
Who ain’t had a little cry when things didn’t turn out rosy? I ran over our pet parrot and when telling the kids sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I’ve got family who sometimes get a little out of hand, some Sicilian Uncles who like a drink and get slap happy from time to time.
Why should we hold that against the kid? Isn’t that toxic masculinity?
The Australian audience took a much stronger dislike to Medina in 2014 when he defeated Parko in a golden late afternoon light Final at Snapper. Parko went deep behind the rock and got tubed, without much else, while Gabby sat down the line and throttled the section into Little Marley with repeated power stabs.
Time has been kinder to Gabe than Parko if one reviews the footage, but the Australian audience felt he wasn’t doing it right and was somehow disrespecting the Snapper rocks local.
It was later that year, August to be precise, when I fell in love with the Medina approach. Quarter-finals at Chopes. Perfect six-to-ten-foot surf and he paddled Andino almost around the Island. Then paddled back to the line-up, then back deep again.
Andino sensed the aggressive tactic could not go unanswered and followed him like a puppy.
“We want to see surfing,” said Occy, behind the wooden desk with Ronnie and Strider.
Then Gabe calmly delivered. Ride after ride. How could you get a better bad guy than that? Andino still hasn’t recovered.
A bad guy who delivers on the surfing. Nobody catches more waves than Medina in a heat. He can put his best numbers up anywhere. First two waves, middle two, first and last, or right on the buzzer.
No one has improved skill set more in the last five years than Medina.
He took his backside tuberiding from competent to other-worldly, making Backdoor his bitch in a way no other goofyfooter has managed, effectively eliminating an insane competitive advantage to naturalfooters at the year end decider.
He pushes the limit on contesting a wave, and sportsmanship sure, but he is never stingy on delivering action.
UFC commentator Chael Sonnen said he was “huge on sportsmanship when coaching kids” but that in pro athletics, he was referencing UFC fights but the comparison with pro surfers is apt,“It’s different. There doesn’t have to be this childish aspect to it. You can have emotion. It is personal”.
Gabby makes it personal. Or at least seem personal.
Far as the skill set goes, and the “beauty of surfing” there is something raw, brutal and unconstrained in Medina’s surfing. From Pipe last year, Chopes, Bells, J-Bay, even Surf Ranch, it’s close to total dominance. Only one guy in the roster who can match it, on its own terms and he’s been sitting out with a busted knee since Brazil.
The prospect of future rivalry between JJF and Medina is the most valuable commodity this sport owns, and they appear to be utterly clueless about that while they search for feel good schmaltz that no-one gives a fuck about.
A “bad” bad guy? As in he doesn’t play the role well?
2015 Snapper round three against Glen Hall. World Title defence gets derailed by a Medina interference.
Medina in the presser threatens Micro.
“He tells me to fuck off and I’ll ……”
Pete Mel pulls the mike away.
I think he said, “Fuck him up”.
He ain’t the “bad” bad guy.
It’s the WSL that has done their level best to neuter the guy.
Come Pipe, I’m hoping, praying, that guy, my guy, comes strolling down that soft Hawaiian sand like a prize rooster and demolishes all comers, including the haters.
*Euphemism for sexual apparatus of all genders.