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Vans US Open of Surfing: Tyler and Toledo take to new heights

On Sunday, August 3, 2014, Tyler Wright bested five-time world champion, Stephanie Gilmore in the Women’s Finals of the Vans US Open of Surfing. Wright and Gilmore had a seesaw or rather, “sea-saw” battle. Wright secured a high 8.67 leaving Gilmore wanting for a 7.45. Tyler was able to make the connection and catch the reform, which has proved crucial at Huntington Beach and resulted in her high heat total. The restart made it difficult for the talented Steph Gilmore to piece the heat together. Tyler took a victory lap, claiming her win while surfing to shore. She was greeted with an immense crowd of supporters who chaired her up the beach.

Vans US Open of Surfing winners, Tyler Wright and Filipe Toledo
Julie Leiendecker

When asked about the all-Aussie final, winner, Tyler Wright relinquished praise for her fellow competitor: “Me and Steph have had some great matchups. Well, she’s got five world titles, and she’s in the running for this world title as well. Ya know, that really speaks for itself. It definitely amazes me that she knows so much, and she’s such a good surfer… always an inspiration to me.”

Stephanie Gilmore responded with an equal amount of praise for Tyler Wright, claiming that Tyler is “one of the most naturally talented surfers,” and that she pushes everyone to avoid “that safety surfing game.” Steph smiled and humbly reflected: “You could win 200 world titles. But at the end of the day, you still may not be the best surfer on the day. That’s really why I think I keep coming back for more.”

When asked how it feels to win the 2014 Vans US Open of Surfing Women’s Final, Tyler Wright’s passion for surfing ignited:

It’s pretty cool. It’s kind of weird at the moment. All I really see is what I have been doing over the last few weeks and the last few months. All I want to do is go out there and catch waves and do my best to push it as far as I can be pushed. I think that means a lot more to me than the actual result itself. It’s just the way I surf in my heats, and I surfed the way I wanted to."

After winning, Wright is excited to be venturing home to see her mom and her labradoodle puppy, Mortimer. She spoke warmly of her two-year-old pup, who she named after a similar one from the television show NCIS. After the all-Aussie final, an all-Brazilian final ensued. Filipe Toledo’s high-flying aerials overarched fellow competitor, Willian “Kung Fu Panda” Cardoso. Toledo, surfing a 5’8” board, had a nice opening wave. However, his second wave was an onslaught of maneuvers. He went airborne and making it look easy, went into a slide, catching the connection on the outside. This earned him a solid 8.73. Cardoso answered back with powerful turns, speed, and re-entry. Toledo’s last wave was a couple of big turns and a full rotation. After his huge air, he looked back checking on his buddy. He then proceeded to land backwards, spinning around. Fin drifts, aerials, and style were pulled out of Toledo’s tool belt. Toledo put on a good show coming close to the shore for the massive, Brazilian fan base. As a result, the fans met him in the water, lofting him up similarly to the height of his ever-impressive aerials.

The Brazilians seem to be excelling at an alarming rate. Alejo Muniz won the 2013 Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s Final and now his comrade joins him in the winner’s circle. Filipe Toledo commented: “[…] I talked to him before the final and he said just keep going and do your good work, because you are surfing good and you could win. I was like yeah, I feel excited and confident. I think the Brazilian storm, Willian, all these guys on the QS are ripping and doing a really good job. I hope to see this guy [referring to Willian Cardoso] and all of my friends next year on the world tour.”

Filipe Toledo accomplished all of this with an injured ankle. He remarked: “In the beginning of the week, my ankle was at 40%.” Filipe Toledo is now $100,000 richer, and his success has come quickly. In 2011, he obtained his first sponsor, Nike. Later, he would compete in his first US Open of Surfing and win the Pro Junior. Now, with a hurt ankle, he is soaring to new heights rather than letting his soreness overcome him.

Over at the Vans Pro Bowl, BMX riders were also soaring to new heights and dealing with injuries. Tom Dugan blasted to the 13' mark to win high air award. While winner Gary Young overcame an injury from last year to take the title this year, Dennis Enarson unfortunately suffered an injury in practice and was unable to compete. It came as no surprise when Chase Hawk from Austin, Texas, returned again to the podium, safeguarding second place. Hawk is a fitting last name for this X-Games champion. He has an unmatched style coupled with huge airs and fast manuals. Putting on airs is not just an expression for Tyler Wright, Filipe Toledo, and the BMX placeholders. It is a vertical reality.

2014 Vans US Open of Surfing Results

Vans US Open of Surfing Women’s Final Results:
Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.77 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.16

Vans US Open of Surfing Women’s Semifinal Results:
Semifinal 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 13.17 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 8.70
Semifinal 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.10 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.03

Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s Final Results:
Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.56 def. Willian Cardoso (BRA) 12.80

Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s Semifinal Results:
Semifinal 1: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 15.66 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 8.57
Semifinal 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.53 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 13.60

Vans US Open of Surfing Men’s Quarterfinal Results:
Quarterfinal 1: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 14.67 def. Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 14.37
Quarterfinal 2: Adam Melling (AUS) 15.60 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 11.67
Quarterfinal 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.93 def. Matt Banting (AUS) 12.33
Quarterfinal 4: Brett Simpson (USA) 13.83 def. Garrett Parkes (AUS) 11.43

2014 Van Doren Invitational BMX Bowl Results:
1. Gary Young
2. Chase Hawk
3. Jason Watts

Vans US Open of Surfing highlights are available here.