20 May 2013
South Africa’s Jordy Smith captured the Billabong Rio Pro on Sunday, edging out home favourite Adriano De Souza in the final by a score of 17.80 to 16.34 in clean two-to-four foot (one-metre) waves at Barra Da Tijuca.
The third of 10 stops on the ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), the Billabong Rio Pro used the entire event waiting period, culminating in a high-performance showdown from the ASP’s top 34 amidst a bevy of barrels and ramps.
Smith showed an incredible variety of technical airs and turns in the final, launching a massive straight frontside air for a 9.33 and a stalefish air-reverse for an 8.50 to top De Souza for the win.
Third ASP WCT win
The Billabong Rio Pro victory marks the third career ASP WCT event win for the 25-year-old and his first away from South Africa.
“This win feels unbelievable,” Smith said afterwards. “It’s another dream come true.
“I knew I could win a World Tour event, but I had to prove to myself that I could do it away from South Africa.
“Thanks to the crowd and Adriano. He’s been ripping the whole event. Thanks to all of my friends and family for all of the amazing support.”
Smith’s run to the final was nothing short of amazing as the South African powerhouse defeated dangerous rookie Filipe Toledo (Brazil) and two-time ASP world champion Mick Fanning (Australia) en route to the final.
Smith attributed his success to his ability to adapt to both his competitors and the ever-changing conditions of Barra Da Tijuca.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” he said. “I was really nervous in the first heat against Filipe. Luckily I got through that one and when I came up against Mick I waited for better waves.
‘I got a couple of scores’
“When the swell dropped against Adriano and he took to the sky, I knew I was going to have to do the same, but luckily I got a couple of scores.”
Smith now sits at number two on the ASP WCT Rankings.
De Souza, the 2011 Billabong Rio Pro winner, went on a rampage to advance to his second career Billabong Rio Pro Final, eliminating 11-time ASP world champion Kelly Slater (USA) and goofy-footer Gabriel Medina (Brazil), but was unable to top Smith’s devastating form in the final.
‘Congrats to Jordy’
“I did my best out there and thanks to the crowd for being behind me 100 percent,” De Souza said. “Congrats to Jordy. He beat me in the final from start to finish. I’m so happy to be here representing Brazil. Jordy was the best out there today and congrats to him.”
De Souza’s win at Bells Beach combined with his runner-up effort in Rio vaulted the hard-working Brazilian to the number one position over former rankings’ leader Kelly Slater, highlighting his chances of becoming the first-ever Brazilian ASP world champion.
Gabriel Medina was in top form on the final day of competition, earning a perfect 10-point ride for a lengthy barrel-to-air combination in the quarterfinals. The high-flying Brazilian was equally dangerous in his semi-finals showdown with his fellow countryman De Souza, scoring a stout 17.50 out of 20 heat total, but it was not quite enough to see him through to the final and he had to settle for a share of third.
Mick Fanning matched his Billabong Rio Pro result from 2012 with a semi-finals finish. He looked deadly in his quarterfinals victory over ASP WCT rookie Sebastian Zietz, but was unable to find a rhythm against Smith in their semi-finals clash.
“It would have been good to go one better, but the semis is good,” Fanning said.
“This whole week was so tricky and it was one where you had your heart in your mouth whole time. I think I went out there and over-thought it. I got way too excited watching Jordy, Filipe, Adriano and Medina and tried airs and embarrassed myself.
“The waves I had at the start didn’t really allow turns so I thought I’d go for airs and find waves that allowed turns at the end and it didn’t work out. Congrats to Jordy. He’s been surfing great this whole event.”
Highlights from the Billabong Rio Pro are available at http://wctbrasil.com/rio13
The next stop on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) will be the Volcom Fiji Pro from 2 to 14 June.
ASP WCT TOP 5 SURFERS
(Following Billabong Rio Pro)
- Adriano de Souza (Bra) 18 500 pts
- Jordy Smith (RSA) 18 250 pts
- Mick Fanning (Aus) 18 200 pts
- Kelly Slater (USA) 16 950 pts
- Taj Burrow (Aus) 15 700 pts
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