Eleven-time champ opens up on Olympic podcast. “The way to fill that hole in my heart was just to win.”
Remember back in July 2018 when Parko announced his retirement at J-Bay, and Slater immediately plonked his own end date announcement (end of 2019) down on top like it was a game of Snap?
T’was much outrage at the time. Kelly controlling the narrative, smothering yet another moment to make it his own.
The evil king’s magic mirror etc.
(Kelly said he was so inspired by Joel’s announcement he wanted to follow suit.)
Recriminations aside, it now is the end of 2019.
And Slater’s still back and forth on his retirement like a yo yo.
Will he or won’t he? The question has dominated two of his three decades in the biz.
Maybe it’s a case of Kelly’s infamous mind games. But at this late stage in his career whose head is he getting in to, other than his own?
Or could it be genuine indecision? The bizarre Sound Waves episode still looms large in our rear view. What was left of his veneer was peeled back way too far for comfort.
The Olympic podcast may provide some answers.
This semi-regular offering has again smashed through the WSL’s wall of positive noise like a doped up Ruski. The unaffected, spartan illumination of its subject matter is of a class E-Lo and his saccharine sweet offerings could only dream.
It’s the ‘Enough Rope’ style of interviewing: if you give the subject enough rope they’ll hang themselves.
Kelly’s certainly not turned into a spectacle as he was in Sound Waves, intentionally or otherwise.
Like with Owen Wright before him, Kiwi journo Ash Tulloch gives Kelly space to breathe. And we get to dig a little deeper into what drives the goat.
But are we just looking at another mirror? Another patented Kelly smoke show?
Make your own judgement, here.
(A quick aside on Dave Prodan’s new WSL podcast. Dave comes across as a nice guy with core credentials. The intent is there. But the interviews still play out like extended post heats. No new stones are unturned. The decision not to grill Toledo on his big-wave game, despite multiple opportunities, was telling. There’s a way to go yet.)
On his early career (Kelly speaks about his poor upbringing, and negative influences in his early life on tour): “The way to fill that hole in my heart was just to win.”
On being Kelly Slater:
“I sometimes wake up and feel totally alone in the world. I think it happens to people that have had great success in their life. I feel super alone, and people don’t quite relate to me.”
On his legacy:
“If I’m not happy with what I’ve done (in my career) I have a serious mental issue.”
And, his retirement:
“I had a lot of sadness this year. As you come to the end of a cycle of something in your life, it’s equally exciting and sad. (Competitive surfing) has been such a big part of my life. I don’t know when I’m going to retire, I will announce it the day it happens. But I feel like it’s an impending thing.”
“I can’t retire before 30 years as a pro. In fact, when the Olympics start (in August 2020) it will be thirty years for me.”
Kelly the prankster, still playing this game better than anyone else. Even the indecision is calculated.
That competitive drive for success, for relevance, is always there. We know it.
But each apparent contradiction, each second guess, take us closer to his polysemic truth.
It’s a mirror, held up to another mirror.
Just how he likes it.