Cold tamahagane steel twisting lightly.
The International Surfing Games, 2022, is officially over and with it a culmination of the highest stakes professional surfing has ever witnessed. For those unaware, the “team” (i.e. nation represented by surfer) that won the contest would be awarded a bonus slot into the 2024 Teahupo’o Olympics, an extra chance to claim gold at “the end of the road.”
As it works, countries with ranked World Surf League surfers get two slots each on both the men’s and women’s sides. The winner of the Surfing Games now has three with the third and that winner, for the men, was Japan in the very handsome form of Huntington Beach born and bred Kanoa Igarashi.
Igarashi took down Indonesia, Australia and Portugal to hoist the extra spot for the Land of the Rising Sun high above his head with one hand. The other was busily stabbing surf icon Kelly Slater right in the back.
For if Igarashi had been surfing for his hometown, that slot would have gone to the mighty United States of America and if it had gone to this land of free, home of brave, Slater, at time of writing, would have been Tahiti bound, gently stroking his childhood dream of standing high on a three-tiered podium as the Star Spangled Banner wafted.
Imagine that pain throbbing between shoulder blades. Cold tamahagane steel twisting lightly.
I suppose Slater could blame Kolohe Andino and Nat Young, who lost in rounds six and seven respectively, but what good would that do?
In better news, the U.S. women’s team won so now Courtney Conlogue can go to the Olympics.