Sophie G. enjoying her two minutes of surf fame.
Sophie G. enjoying her two minutes of surf fame.

Rumor: Ex-World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt seeks to bring U.S. Olympic surfing under ski and snowboard banner while cutting head off former employer!

"Global home of surfing" under siege!

The business of international sport is… weird. I get a peanut gallery view over the various two-steps between major brands like Visa, Coca-Cola, Ford, Bailey Ladders and “governing bodies” ruling over who is, and isn’t, allowed to compete in the Olympics and, let me tell you, clunkiness is generally the vibe.

Clunkiness and a balky four-year shimmy to make good while the world’s eyes are watching.

Now, of course, core participants in our extreme world have always been rightfully dubious about the Olympics. Snowboard legend Terje Haakonsen, who famously boycotted his frozen water dance’s 1998 entry into “The Games” declaring nearly 30 years later:

I can’t believe people are still asking me why I boycotted the Olympics in ’98. Seriously? I’ve answered that question a thousand times.

I decided my opinion about the Olympics before snowboarding was sanctioned. I was asked by MTV Sports to go to the Lillehammer Games in ’94, but I already saw then what bullshit the Olympics were. I don’t regret anything.

The only person that didn’t really understand at the time was my Dad. Of course, he’s from the older generation and had been brought up to see the Olympics as the pinnacle. But for me it’s too much to swallow for one event. Even now, today, all the stuff the IOC demands – from nations, sponsors, athletes – it’s insane.

Most of the stuff is out there and is easy to find out about. Yet people still support it. Why? Because they think it’s what they need to do for money and fast fame. Even if that’s only going to happen to maybe one or two guys every fourth year. And let’s not forget: they stole snowboarding from us.

“They” being skiing.

Which, as it so happens, enters our surfing chat once again.

A hot rumor is suggesting former World Surf League CEO Sophie Goldschmidt, who didn’t get ruthlessly fired for… shenanigans… in Brazil but left her post very quickly is looking to snag the “governing body of surfing” role and slot it amongst her ski and snowboard holdings.

As you should know, Goldschmidt is the “dynamic, global leader with broad and deep proven experience in sports, entertainment, media and technology” currently leading US Ski and Snowboard.

The “snowboard” portion of that hated and hated and hated by core folk.

Like surfing being ruled by SUP.


Some historical backdrop, in any case. U.S. Surfing lost its Olympic charter a handful of months back, all being reverted to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) which does not want it and is looking to hand off.

Goldschmidt, whispers declare, has her hand up wanting to take it. What’s more, she is, allegedly, trying to sort a way where the World Surf League will not be involved in the qualification process whatsoever. As it now happens, the top two World Surf League Championship Tour surfers from each country get an Olympic bid as long as they pretend to surf in International Surfing Association events.

Surfing, in its perpetual puppy dog posture of needing attention, has no Terjes and will likely lap up whatever but how do you feel about ski and snowboard ruling surfing too?

Better than the cursed “global home of surfing?”

Certainly more questions than answers.

Unless you have some of the latter.

Open Thread: Comment Live on Day Four of the Lexus Pipe Pro!

Pip-sized Pipe.

Oahu’s North Shore braces for pandemonium as “Eddie-sized swell” makes way toward Waimea Bay!

Yellow alert.

While the World Surf League is busy actively destroying professional surfing just up the road, one of the world’s most premium events has flipped the light to yellow. Yes, the fabled Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is a possible go in the very near future as an “Eddie-sized swell” is steaming toward Waimea.

Last year, as you certainly recall, the “Super Bowl of Surfing,” which is only contested when waves in the bay tower over 40 ft, was won by Luke Shepardson. The on-duty lifeguard crafted a legend that is still reverberating.

“In building twenty-to-thirty-foot surf, Luke Shepardson, twenty-seven, who started the morning by clocking in to his gig as a North Shore lifeguard, took a few hours off work and by day’s end had beaten the most stacked field in the event’s history,” Derek Rielly wrote at the time. “Apart from defending champ John John Florence, who finished second, Shepardson outsurfed big-wave world champs Makua Rothman and Billy Kemper, both surprise competitors after suffering injuries at the Backdoor Shootout, Kai Lenny, Zeke Lau, Grant Baker, Ross Clarke-Jones and so on.”

A blue collar hero was born.

The North Shore, though, may not be ready for such a quick reprise. The Eddie has only run ten times since its inception in 1984. If we apply our math(s) skills, that is an average of once every four years.


This year’s field is as stacked as last year’s with Jack Robinson, Kelly Slater and the aforementioned Shepardson joining a who’s who of big wave names.

A quick question, though. Do you think The Eddie organizers might be eyeing the “global home of surfing” with the possibility of calling it off if it gets too good?

Let’s hope not.

More as the story develops.

Austin Gibbons injured at Pipeline
The New York surfer Austin Gibbons and, inset, messages from pals.

Life of New York surfer Austin Gibbons found unresponsive at Pipeline on day deemed too big for Lexus Pipe Pro saved by off-duty lifeguards

Lifeguards gave Austin Gibbons “several cycles of CPR before he finally regained a pulse.”

Three days days back, the popular New York surfer Austin Gibbons was rushed to intensive care after being found unconscious on a day deemed too big, and too unsafe for the world’s best surfers competing in the Lexus Pipe Pro.

In a statement, Honolulu Ocean Safety said a 25-year-old surfer had been found unresponsive early Monday evening and just after the lifeguards had split for the day.

“But lifeguards were still in the parking lot and were alerted by beachgoers that they were needed. Surfers helped get the man close to shore and brought him in the sand with lifeguards. Lifeguards began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and after several cycles of CPR, the surfer regained a pulse… Honolulu EMS provided advanced life-saving treatment and transported the man to an area emergency room in critical condition.”

Austin Gibbons’ mom, Christine, flew from New York to Oahu to be by her son’s side, a kid who moved to the North Shore in January to chase his dream of becoming a North Shore lifeguard.

“He had been on a surfboard since he was two years old,” said Christine Gibbons. “Since he could walk.”

Christine said the family had been “overwhelmed” with support from the surfing community.

“I truly believe he is mentally and physically strong enough to fight and that we can get through this,” she said.

It’s been a wild season for injuries at Pipeline, this the sixth serious injury since December.

Also sidelined were, world number four Joao Chianca, Tahitian kingpin Eimeo Czermak, Pipe regular Koa Rothman and Peruvian shredder Joaquin Del Castillo.

Autistic surfer makes jaw-dropping cameo at Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch

“His level of focus in the wave is incredible," says Kelly Slater, "he makes instant natural connections with the water.”

The Maui-born goofy-footer Clay Marzo has made a stunning appearance at the Kelly Slater Surf Ranch in Lemoore, thrilling onlookers which may or may not have included Human Viagra Raimana Van Bastolaer with “double-jointed” turns and layback tuberiding.

Marzo, who is thirty-four, has been described as “a guru born in the barrel” (CJ Hobgood), “one of the best tube riders and all around surfers in the world with an incredibly entertaining and radical approach” (Shane Beschen) and “He knows things I don’t know. He knows things that all the guys I’m surfing with don’t know.” (Kelly Slater, creator of the Surf Ranch.)

Laird Hamilton, also from Maui, calls Marzo “an artist who can’t be pigeon-holed. He’s something all together different that should be cherished.”

Interestingly, it was the surf writer and filmer Jamie Tierney, the director of Marzo’s 2007 signature film Just Add Water, who convinced his mama the then eighteen year old should see a doc.

“My parents are both psychologists,” Tierney said. “I could tell he was more than a typical teenager… Almost everyone has had to deal with something like this. Let’s talk about Asperger’s but not as disease or a disability. Clay Marzo is so good because he has Asperger’s, not in spite of it. His level of focus in the wave is incredible, he makes instant natural connections with the water, something very few people have.”

Eight years ago, Marzo and his mama were stiffed for $400,000 by their crooked bookkeeper, who would serve three years for the crime.

Here, at Surf Ranch, Clay Marzo shows a little of that old magic.