Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms
Photo: Steve Sherman/@tsherms

World’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater breaks silence, floods social media with congratulations, heartfelt praise, for Olympic medalists: “I’m very happy for and proud of you!”

Not a dry eye in the house!

Surfing’s grand Olympic debut is now very much in the rearview, the thrill being replaced by various mundanities of regular life. New masking guidelines, bipartisan infrastructure deals, Bennifer, etc.

For a handful of days, though, everyone was captivated, interested, needing to know various and sundry details about Igarashi Kanoa, Carissa Marks and the rest of our bold history makers.

Everyone but the world’s greatest surfer Kelly Slater.

The 11x champion had kept up a distinct and notable silence about the Olympics, and her surfers, until just moments ago when the floodgates of his heart appeared to open and there gushed forth a series of personal and warm congratulations to each of the six medal winners.

Carissa Moore, he wrote, was “destined for greatness.” Italo Ferreira’s performance “no surprise” as the Brazilian “has got the mojo.” Kanoa Igarashi was Slater’s “dark horse pick to win” and he doubts the Japanese-by-way-of-Huntington-Beach boy will ever have to pay for steak or sushi again. He was “so happy” for Bianca Buitendag, could “feel” Owen Wright’s bronze and  called Amuro Tsuzuki the “under the radar surf story of the year.”

Beautiful and poetic, only pausing to share a picture of “the world’s darkest and lightest men.”

Do you think true?

Like, officially the darkest and lightest as designated by an independent review board using the very latest in dark/light observing technologies?

Poignant, in any case.

World Surf League cements position as “silly goose” of sport governing bodies, congratulates “Carissa Marks” for winning Olympic gold!

Oh, ELo!

In further proof that CEO Erik Logan may be the only employee remaining, the World Surf League posted a congratulations to Olympic debut gold medalists Italo Ferriera from Brazil and Carissa Marks from country unknown yesterday afternoon.

The portmanteau, built from Carissa Moore and Caroline Marks, was yet another goofy-grinned head slapper and cemented the WSL’s position as “silly goose” of sport governing bodies.

And that is all I have to say about that.

While world celebrates surfing’s grand Olympic debut, Kelly Slater maintains strict silence; Focuses on younger self holding trophies, name-dropping famous friends!

A masterclass in shade.

The world reacted as one, yesterday, following surfing’s grand Olympic debut. Much social media praise for historic first golds for well-deserving Italo Ferriera and Carissa Moore. Many “congratulations” and “bravos” and “very cools” from surfboard shapers, surf-adjacent celebrities, surf-enthusiastic politicians.

Zero mention, however, from the world’s greatest surfer, and first Team USA Olympic alternate, Kelly Slater.

The 11x World Champion instead decided to focus his Instagram stories, in order, on:

-A picture of himself riding a twin fin

-A picture of Surf Ranch with the comment “I get happy when… my friends kids get pitted at Surf Ranch.”

-A picture of a shooting range target man.

-A thank you from Thomas Victor Carroll (from Surf Ranch).

-Name dropping Oscar De La Hoya and Vitor Belfort.

-A picture of himself as a younger boy holding surf trophies.

-A picture from a golf course.

-A video of what appears to be a submarine chasing dolphins.

-A video of himself riding a twin fin appropriately titled “twin fin action.”

Slater, who months ago said he was born in Florida but considers himself to come from earth, is known for complicated mind games and it must be assumed that he is gearing up for the back half of the World Surf League’s Championship Tour.

Currently 22nd on the leaderboard, favorite events Teahupo’o and Barra de la Cruz are just over the horizon. Quarterfinal finishes in both could very easily vault Slater into the final 5, especially with John John Florence considering withdrawing, thereby punching a ticket to Lower Trestles.

Imagine the shade a 12th World Title would throw on Tokyo.

On Italo and ‘Riss.


More, certainly, as the story develops.

Frederico (pictured) mean and handsome. Courtesy World Surf League
Frederico (pictured) mean and handsome. Courtesy World Surf League

Portugal’s Frederico Morais hammered as “selfish” and “mean” by Olympic alternate for keeping positive Covid test hush hush until last moment: “It’s mind-blowing how unfair it is!”

Bad blood.

And the curtain has now closed on surfing’s grand Olympic debut. Italo Ferreira and Carissa Moore beaming from the top of the podium, Kanoa Igarashi beating Kolohe Andino for the wild battle of personal brands, Gabriel Medina glowering in the shadows and Angelo Bonomelli stewing livid on his couch.

The Italian surfer was first alternate and a spot magically opened up when Portugal’s Frederico Morais, currently the most handsome man on tour, tested positive for the dreaded Covid-19 except that result was kept hidden for much time not allowing for Bonomelli to less than 24 hours make it to Japan.

Italy knew the time was too short and didn’t make an attempt to send him. Second alternate Carlos Munoz of Costa Rica gave it a shot but was too late and that heat was run a man down.

“I just think (it’s) not fair for me to blow a lifetime opportunity. There is some negligence,” the 30-year-old told the Associated Press, adding “It’s mind-blowing how unfair it is,” for good measure.

Morias, for his part, did not give a darn, saying, “I worked two years to earn my spot. On my side the transparency was total, I was trying everything to the last minute, I was running against the time and once I understood there was no more chance for me to go I pulled out. More than transparency, it was my dream that got ruined because I did earn my spot fair and square.”

The International Surfing Association, which maybe should have seen this hooha coming and could have also delayed the start of the event by a day, also did not give a darn saying, “It is truly unfortunate Carlos was unable to arrive in Tokyo in time for his first heats, but his NOC took the decision to accept the reallocated slot and send him to Tokyo fully aware of the risk to the participation their athlete.”

A real lack of darns marring surfing’s grand debut, all things considered.

With the surf a turgid morass of rippy river-like waves in the final, Italo did not make the same mistake of burning too many opportunities with non-makes. On a day when everyone went right, he found a series of lefts with a coping to grind off and put on a skate-style surf clinic, then punched hard vertical holes in righthand closeouts like a brownwater Bells shorey to put the result out of reach of Kanoa. | Photo: ISA/Ben Reed

Surfing goes to the Olympics, finals day analysis: “Played as straight-up elite sport surfing came out smelling like roses, thanks to the superstar power of Italo, Moore, Medina!”

The no-names added a frisson of David v Goliath excitement, largely illusory, but that could mean more at Teahupoo in three years time.

Olympics, done.

Did ya dig?

Bona fide Olympic Sport?

Whatever that means.

I think, with caveats, yes.

Played as straight-up elite sport it came out smelling like roses, thanks to the superstar power of Italo, Moore, Medina, primarily. As a sideshow to the sideshow of WSL Pro surfing it works. The no-names added a frisson of David v Goliath excitement, largely illusory, but that could mean more at Teahupoo in three years time.

Absorbing Final Day with Carrisa and Italo dominating one-sided finals to no one’s surprise and the only serious rival to Italo, Gabe Medina, self-combusting in a Bronze Medal match against Owen Wright after losing a razor-thin semi to Kanoa.

Julian Wilson complained bitterly about being low-balled for a clutch air against Medina in his round three loss and it seemed judges laid down some retributive justice: high-balling Owen and low-balling Gabe for what seemed a clear, heat-winning wave.

Medina spent the play-off launching and falling huge airs – all of which would have won the heat – counting an 8.5 total after seven attempts and a third of the heat done.

Owen’s high score of a 6.4 for two lateral turns and a bog standard close-out reo seemed a massive score, compared to what had gone before and what was scoring. Judges had made a point of penalising safety surfing which made that confluence of scores baffling after three days of incredibly fine judging which sent a super defined message to competitors and the public about what was Olympic-level surfing.

No matter, O-dawg looked great on the podium in green, gold and bronze. Classic scenes, Fernando in tears handing out medals, Owen towering over Italo. Carissa looking sensational in a white USA track suit with a stars and stripes face mask.

Carissa Moore, gold around neck, great Ralph Lauren-designed tracksuit. Photo: ISA/Ben Reed

They got the right guy and the right gal for Gold, as they usually do in the end. Italo dropped bangers all day. Big, lofted rotations into the flats, huge closeout hits, he went to turns in the Final against Kanoa when the implications of Medina’s failed air strategy became clear to him.

That was a brilliant display of composure, especially after knee buckling closeouts hit left his magic Timmy Patterson in two pieces on the first wave of the Final.

An absorbing Finals Day probably peaked around the Medina/Bourez and Italo/Ohhara Quarters.

There was some debate over an under-scored tube-ride from Bourez but Medina had gone huge and there was just no answering back. Except from Italo in the next heat, who went huger. The two Brazilian boys were cock a hoop, as relaxed as lovesick teenagers in a sunlit field of daisies.

Nothing earthly could seem to stop them.

Medina took the same scorched earth form into the semi with Kanoa. Bam, bam, there were two big scores on the board in the first three minutes, the first before Kanoa had even paddled out the back. He was smiling, laughing, goofing off in his claims.

A human being in love with the moment, to quote his Insta.

Coach King was on the beach laughing, whooping it up.

Six minutes to go, Medina in full control. Absolute full control, hands Kanoa a shitty little wave under priority. You could smell that old Medina arrogance, that I love and others love to hate, from an ocean away. Kanoa zig-zags against the grain and a ramp presents itself.

Launches a full rotation, so slick and perfect.

Judges had to pay the high eight score needed with a nine. Gabe on track for Gold and now so rattled he could not regain composure for the Bronze medal matchup. I think a preview for Trestles if someone can take a heat off him in the Finals.

In the second semi, Italo tried to blow Owen out of the water, knowing Wright would safety surf and refrain from the air. Huge attempts in brown water explosions followed, one after the other. By my calculations, Italo missed three or four ten-point rides by a beesdick.

Staggeringly, Owen did not respond in kind. His strategy was to rely on Italo not making any of them, which incredibly, almost worked. It was only a bit of sharp face work that gave a Italo a very narrow winning margin.

Question for Australia’s surfing brains in the High Performance Center, who accompanied the team to Tokyo.

How could you not have a surfer prepared to go to the air in closeout beachbreak with an air wind against the best aerialists in the world? It was almost a miracle they snuck a Bronze medal through with that commitment to mediocrity.

With the surf a turgid morass of rippy river-like waves in the final, Italo did not make the same mistake of burning too many opportunities with non-makes. On a day when everyone went right, he found a series of lefts with a coping to grind off and put on a skate-style surf clinic, then punched hard vertical holes in righthand closeouts like a brownwater Bells shorey to put the result out of reach of Kanoa.

Moore was equally dominant against Bianca Buitendag. Which was probably for the greater good of the Sport.

A Gold for Buitendag would mean a non-Tour surfer is better than the current world number one. No awkward questions though in a sport that almost fell over itself in a frenzy of self-congratulating after the Olympic cherry was finally popped.

Caz Marks got completely lost in her semi with Bianca then more lost in her Bronze medal match with Amuro Tsuzuki, which put Japan on the Podium for Guys and Gals.

No doubt many happy moments in Tokyo bars tonight.

Despite years of taxpayer funded focus on the Olympics, Australia could not get a woman on the podium. Our Sal, as Aussies know and love Sally Fitzgibbon could not get the job done, after Gilmore flubbed her heat.

We finish with a single Bronze.

Wilson, Done.

Wright, at thirty-one an outside chance to qualify for Teahupoo.

Gilmore and Fitzgibbon almost certainly not likely to make the next Olympics.

Kanoa, twenty-three and surfing for Japan is almost certain to be an enduring Olympian, at least for Tahiti and Los Angeles.

That is all ahead of us in surfing’s new glittering path to the future.

For now, Italo is our first Olympic Gold Medallist.

Can we live with that?

I think yes. Very much so.

Did you bet the house on it, as advised?