Photo: US Open of Surfing/Lallande
Written by Lauren Taniyama
One thing that can be said about the Nike US Open Junior Pro is that it is just as exciting as the professional contest. The suspense is the same, the scores are the same and the level of surfing is pretty much the same. Basically, any of these young Junior finalist could give the world tour surfers a run for their money in a heat. You cannot underestimate their stamina as well as the endless repertoire that these under twenty year old surfers possess. The finalists that surfed their way through the US Open this year will be staples on the world tour in years to come.
Day 8, August 4th, of the Junior Pro started off with the men’s semifinals and they were pretty much dominated by the victors. The two men that got first place in the two heats, both posted two wave totals in the excellent range. The first heat was a true battle for second with Conner Coffin (USA) posting two amazing scores back to back in the first ten minutes of the heat. The rest of the heat was a dogfight between the last OC local boy in the competition, Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Michael February (ZAF) and Hiroto Ohhara (JPN). Kanoa came in second with a nail bitter ending that left him waiting for his competitor’s score to see if he advanced. Hiroto needing a 5.94 came up short scoring a 4.57 on his wave ridden in the last forty-five seconds.
The second semifinal saw Brazilian phenomenon Filipe Toledo (BRA) post two high scoring waves in the first five minutes of the heat. He then went on to rack up an 8.10 with five minutes remaining. The other guys in the heat, Cooper Chapman (AUS), local Newport kid Taylor Thorne (USA) and Kalani David (HAW), fought hard for second but Cooper Chapman came through in the dying seconds with a 7.33 to bump David out of advancing position. It’s always disappointing when a heat is lost in the last seconds, but at the same time, it is even more proof that the ocean dictates the heats no matter how good any surfer is.
The final had a lot waves ridden and there were great scores posted, including the winner, Conner Coffin (USA) and his 8.17 and 8.93. These two waves were a great example of why Conner might be considered a “man-child”. His power surfing was unparalleled in the US Open Junior line-up. He surfed with composure and it paid off in the amount of $4,500 and 1,000pts for the Junior rankings. Second place went to Kanoa Igarashi (USA) a fourteen year old out of Huntington Beach who stayed super busy during the heat. He boosted four different air reverses and was a great one to watch up against the contrasted style coming from Coffin. Filipe Toledo (BRA) the double threat aerialist was somewhat dormant in the final and had a lot of missed air attempts, which placed him in fourth. Cooper Chapman did not catch many waves but of the waves he did catch, one was a high scoring 7.77. However, he was unable to back it up with any thing substantial and took third place.
The guys in the final for this division are so talented and such great young athletes. The age of these kids makes it even more impressive that they can have the focus and drive to compete at such a high level, while still having a great time doing it. I am sure they can thank their parents for the endless rides to competitions and moral support though their younger years. It is so thrilling to watch them and each of them will continue to turn heads for a long time.