“Filipe’s deal is un-spinnable. I feel crushed by what I saw. He isn’t ready for prime time at Teahupoo"
A byzantine selection process for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games has been slammed as “absurdist” and branded a “colossal failure” after Filipe Toledo, whose fraught relationship with Teahupoo ain’t no secret, was selected for Team Brazil over Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira.
In an ironic twist, it was against Ferreira in 2015 where Toledo suffered the ignominy of becoming one of only two surfers in pro surfing history to paddle in from a heat without a wave being caught.
“Fail-wise, it was just beyond epic,” the surfing historian Matt Warshaw told BeachGrit. “And so very public… Filipe’s deal is un-spinnable. He isn’t ready for prime time at Teahupoo… I’m his biggest north-of-50 fan, and I feel sort of crushed by what I saw.”
Seven years later, Toledo almost reprised “his brave act of cowardice” in a heat against middle-aged veterans Kelly Slater, fifty, and Nathan Hedge, forty-three.
Toledo, with reputation for not enjoying the Teahupo’o battle, would certainly spear naysayers in the throat by dropping in to infamy, no? Apparently no.
Slater and Hedge traded waves, big and perfect, one after the other after the other with Toledo holding priority well out the back, refusing to paddle, one after the other after the other.
Slater, barreled, unable to contain smile.
Hedge, barreled, unable to contain smile or beat, smartly, boss.
Toledo, un-barreled, holding priority for fifteen-odd minutes while Slater and Hedge swapped beneath him.
In the dying seconds, the King of Saquarema swung on a baby tube then punched board in channel.
Again, this year, Toledo “bobbed, holding priority, while (wildcard Mihimana) Braye paddled, dropped, became barreled and was spat into applause. There he took off on a small closeout just to hand that priority over and not be forced into actually trying. There he lost 15.50 to 5.73. It was a shameful display and would be semi-forgiven if Toledo finally, and for the first time, admitted that Teahupo’o terrifies him.”
Now here’s the twist.
Thanks to the Olympic selection process where the top ten-rated CT surfers of 2023 are granted automatic passage to the event with each country permitted a max of four surfers (two men, two gals) unless their country wins the ISA Games in which case they get a couple more, something Brazil probs ain’t gonna do, Filipe and Joao Chianca are gonna be Team Brazil.
Australia, Jack Robinson, Ethan Ewing.
USA, John John Florence, Griff Colapinto.
“The masters of this are Jack Robinson, Gabriel Medina and John Florence. Teahupo’o is their element, and their mastery is unmatched. The contrast between these three men and the one (Filipe Toledo) sitting atop the rankings is jarring. For the layperson or those new to pro surfing fandom, it would be hard to explain.”
Hope does loom for Medina, at least, on the horizon. Literally. A six-foot plus swell may appear next year and the lil man whose Teahupoo campaigns rival your ol pal DR’s (five trips, zero tubes) will be happy to sit it out and gift his card to Medina.
Or will the chance of Olympic gold awaken the famous Lion beneath the tattoo?
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