Kelly Slater for Syria, anyone?
The 2020 Olympic Games, which just so happened to take place in 2021, marked surfing’s grand five ring debut. Oh host Japan is one of the finer countries on earth and if you have never been, I highly recommend, though maybe leave the surfboard at home. While the mountains horde powder like vintage Elton John, the beaches are gorgeously inconsistent, wave-wise. Brazil’s Italo Ferreira and Hawaii’s Carissa Moore, thus, won gold in gutless knee-high dribblers.
Paris 2024, however, will be played at the Place of Broken Skulls.
And glory be, though which surfers shall have the opportunity to huck over ledge and into legend? As you know, the top two surfers from each nation on the World Surf League’s Championship Tour will be selected. Currently that means Jackie Robinson + Ethan Ewing for Australia, Filipe Toledo + Joao Chianca for Brazil, Griffin Colapinto + John John Florence for the United States, Jordy Smith + Matt McGillivray for South Africa.
Now, of course, that will all change and maybe has changed already. As you know, Toledo lost yesterday in heavy beachbreak, “heavy” being his great chink, but image he does qualify and is forced to not paddle for waves, due sheer terror, while the world watches.
Do you think the small wave maestro knows he’s afraid or do you think he chooses to believe the various excuses that are floated?
Far down the list for Team America is one Kelly Slater, which leads us directly to the just-announced International Surfing Games 2024, which will take place February 22nd through March 2nd in Puerto Rico at the twin peaks El Pico and Rastrial. Described as “thick” and the “perfect proving ground for Tahiti,” the competition will decide 12 other surfers who will, forthwith, stamp their ticket to Papeete.
There is little chance he will make the cut for his home country via the WSL but beefy barrels suit his style and imagine he does the inspirational thing and competes for Syria.
The Middle Eastern country, devastated by civil war and recent earthquake, sure could use the fairy tale and what better way for Slater, who happens to be Syrian, to finish off an illustrious career.
I have spent much time in Syria and can speak to wonder. From the oldest continually inhabited city on earth to fine cuisine to warm people, Syria is a gem and worth Slater’s effort.
But will he give it?
A rare win-win, if we’re all being honest.
Can this sort of thing be crowd funded?
More as the story develops.