With just a minute left on the clock, San Clemente’s Kolohe Andino paddled into a wedgy wave and punted to the air, spinning his board around before it touched back down on the water – and slipped out from under his feet on landing.
Andino, the last male remaining on the USA Surfing team, would be out of the running for a podium finish, the end to his Olympic bid after going up against fellow Orange County surfer Kanoa Igarashi.
Igarashi, a well-known Huntington Beach surfer who is competing for host country Japan, earned a 12.60 heat total (out of 20), edging out Andino’s 11.00 score as their quarterfinal heat wrapped up on Monday, July 26, the third and likely final day of competition.
The waves were big and messy at Tsurigasaki beach as the tropical swell filled in, promising an exciting finish as the first-ever Olympic surfers will likely earn medals by the end of the day.
Igarashi and Andino grew up competing against each other in their younger years, both prodigies from a young age who would rise up the ranks to become the world’s best and go up against each other on the World Tour.
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Igarashi, a two-time US Open of Surfing winner who grew up surfing the famed Surf City pier, chose to surf for Japan because he has dual citizenship and wanted to pay homage to his family’s roots. In Japan, he’s a rock star, with a reality show that followed him around in his younger years.
After the heat, the two men met at the shoreline for a high-five hand shake.
Following the men’s quarterfinal heats, the women will hit the water. USA Surfing still has both female surfers in contention, with Caroline Marks, who lives in San Clemente, and Hawaii’s Carissa Moore, both in the hunt for a medal. Marks will go up against Brisa Hennessy, while Moore is matched up against Brazilian Silvana Lima.
Surfing debuted at the Olympics for the first time over the weekend, with both men and women competitors taking to the water in small, messy conditions when the contest got underway.
Sunday’s action saw a match up between Andino and fellow teammate John John Florence, of Hawaii, who also grew up competing against each other as youngsters on the amateur circuit and later as the world’s best surfers as they battled on the World Tour.
Andino was able to win the heat and was looking to be a strong contender for an Olympic medal, before Igarashi stopped his attempt.
Next in the water was Brazilian world champion Gabriel Medina, who took out France’s Michel Bourez, with a total score of 15.33. Bourez tucked into a barrel as the clock ticked down, needing a 8.61 to back up his 9.40 for the lead, but the score judges gave him, a 6.93, was not enough.
Medina’s fellow countryman Italo Ferreira earned a 16.30 to knock out Igarashi’s teammate Hiroto Ohhara, also a US Open of Surfing title winner, who had a 8.0 score and couldn’t earn enough on a last-minute wave to advance.
Medina and Igarashi are matched up to meet in the semi-finals.
Watch it live: nbcolympics.com/surfing
Source: Orange County Register