Representing France as the 2012 ASP Europe Women’s Champion, Pauline Ado at 21-years-old is now celebrating an excellent season. After placing runner-up in the recent SATA Airlines Azores Pro, Ado has qualified for the 2013 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour and secured her 5th position on the World Rankings.
Pauline took time to speak with ASP as she attended the Quiksilver Pro France to support her fellow European competitors.
Hey Pauline, congratulations on your European Title, how do you feel ?
– The Title is just icing on the cake for me; coming to the Azores I was 100% focused on the objective to requalify and I had the same state of mind on all the previous European events, so I have to admit I didn’t think too much about the Title but it’s a great bonus and I fully appreciate it.
Tell me how did your second season on the CT go ?
– It wasn’t a super season for me. I had a catastrophic start to the year, probably due to my lack of attention on certain details and I hope I can start better next year. I managed to get a little better towards the back half of the season on the Star events and it worked out.
What do you mean ‘details’ ?
– I think maybe it was the way I apprehended events early this year. I lost in Snapper and just lost confidence in myself which in retrospect wasn’t justified because I realized I could have made some of those heats if I didn’t think too much about it and focused on my surfing. It’s frustrating when I look back on it, so I’ll try to bear this in mind when I compete again next year.
Do you work specificly on mental preparation ?
– I have somebody that I talk to regularly, and it feels good to have a neutral opinion sometimes; there’s always your entourage but always also a bias in my favor, so it’s good to hear from someone else and focus on the important stuff.
So when do you think was the turning point in your season ?
– I’ve been pretty consistent in the Star events, it’s just that I haven’t been able to get through the quarters all-year, but out of 9 events I think I had 5 or 6 quarters… In the break time between Oceanside and Pantin, I felt really confident… my mind was in the right place, but then there was these two quarters again in Pantin and Estoril and I really started to doubt again. It was a tough time with many questions raised but I stuck to my gameplan and it finally worked out in the Azores.
Your season is over now; what’s next ?
– I’ve been in Hossegor chilling and watching the Quik Pro and I have a few days off now. Soon I’m going on a surf trip with some of the girls to Iceland so this should be interesting. It’s a new experience and with no pressure. After that trip, I’ll be back to work on my preparation for next year! I’d like to try and go to Hawaii for a bit this winter – it’s always a very good experience to surf there. Then we’ll be in February already… Australia is just around the corner!
Speaking of Hawaii, would you like to compete there ?
– Yes! I do regret there’s no comp there for the girls. It’s the mecca and where it all began for surfing… On the World Tour, we’re supposed to surf all kinds of waves, and at the moment there’s a lot of beachies, and nothing can really compare to Hawaii. I’m not exactly comfortable surfing there, especially when it gets big, but everytime I go there I try to push my limits and set new challenges to surf difficult waves. I know if we had a comp there I’d just have to go and handle it !
On the current tour, which places do you affectionate the most?
– I really like the athmosphere at Snapper, and obviously Biarritz is one of my favorites, too… Other than that, we don’t have incredible waves at the moment, so I’m hoping we’ll gradually get more world class waves… It’s hard because there’s only 4-5 days of waiting period on the girls events, and it’s sometimes not enough to score the good conditions in some places.
So you’ve been on Tour for two years, and touring the Star events before that. How has your surf evolved since you started competing ?
– I think I improved a lot on my aggressivity and competitive side. I know I’m still missing some at times, but it’s true that when I started I had like a smooth kind of surfing and the judges like to see more punch. I also think that with the experience ,I manage to step back a little more and that allows me to focus on what needs to be done to win.
How and with whom do you train ?
– I talk a lot with Patrick Flores, our national coach (for France). I don’t see him very often, but he has a very critical eye and he’s known me for a long time so it’s good to have his support for all the French surfers.
When did you start surfing and competing ?
– I started surfing when I was 8 years old, and I think my first contests were probably when I was 9 or so, all the groms comps…
Did you know right away that’s what you wanted to do for a living ?
– Actually, not at all. I didn’t really like competing because I didn’t take many waves in heats. It was a lot of constraints. We used to surf bad waves all the time, and when you’re young, you just want to have fun, but then one day I won I think when I was 10, and I just suddenly changed my mind. I was like ‘this is not that bad after all’! The only thing is I couldn’t handle podiums, I just couldn’t get up there and talk in front of people – it was horrible… I think I started thinking about doing this for a living when I was a teenager and started qualifying for the national teams. I watched the girls at the international level and it really boosted me.
So you’re 13 and you decide to be a pro surfer; how do you manage school and everything ?
– In school, I used to have a normal education… I was constantly harrassing my teachers to get the lessons in advance so it went alright. I was pretty serious actually, because that was sort of a deal with my parents. If I did wel,l I could go to comps, but if I didn’t I’d have to stay home.. Then I went to the ‘Pôle France’ (national training facility) for two years, and in my last year of high school I had to be homeschooled, because I was competing too often to stay in school. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to get my exams.
Back to the Tour, unfortunately Justine didn’t requalify and last week Alizé missed her opportunity for just one spot… What do yout think of the level here in Europe, France in particular ?
I think it’s the best it’s ever been in France. Most of the girls at the moment are here, even though we start to see Spanish and Portuguese surfers pushing through… I feel like there’s always been one or two girls, but right now we really have a strong group of 6-7 surfers who all have results throughout the world, and it wouldn’t have been surprising to see them qualify at some point. It’s been amazing to push eachother all the time, and I hope we get to do it on Tour soon!
I know we’re still behind the major countries like Australia and Hawaii, but I think it’s more a matter of culture… In those countries, you’re a surfer because your dad and mom are surfers, your brothers and sisters surf and it changes everything. Here in France, it’s a lot different. When I started surfing, my parents didn’t know anything about it so I had to go look somewhere else for advice…
You know the level is so high in those countries, the girls to push themselves harder… Waves are different, too, but I think we have a great potential here, the real difference is the weather. Winter here is pretty tough! I’m fortunate though, because growing up was a time when brands always sent their surfers everywhere in the world and it really helped me.
And out of the places you’ve surfed, which do you prefer and where do you perform best ?
– The best waves I had were in Indo for sure and Mentawaiis… My ideal wave is a righthander, with an easy barrel. But the level is so high on Tour, that the result doesn’t depend just on the conditions, and that’s not something you can control so basically you have to make the most of what’s on offer at a comp.
Congrats to Pauline Ado, the 2012 ASP European Champion!
Pauline thank her family and friends, fans and sponsors for the support: Rip Curl, Swatch, Vans, Oakley, FCS, Gorilla and RT Surfboards .