Huntington Beach, USA – September 24th 2022
There couldn’t have been a more dramatic finish to this year’s ISA World Surfing Games (WSG). Olympic hopes rested on the shoulders of many different surfers representing different nations still in contention for a guaranteed slot for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Team USA took hits to their men’s team with both remaining surfers, Kolohe Andino and Nat Young, eliminated prior to the Final. Gabriela Bryan and Zoe McDougall also had great showings in the women’s draw, but USA’s only remaining surfer was Kirra Pinkerton, who needed to win in order to claim the Olympic slot for an American woman.
The incredible power of Pinkerton’s backhand is what gave her the title of 2018 WSL World Junior Champion and it was precisely what took her to her biggest victory yet, a WSG gold medal.
The veteran experience of Pauline Ado (FRA) and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), who have each won multiple prior ISA WSG medals, seemed unstoppable through prior repechage heats, and Ado held the lead for much of the Final. But Pinkerton finished strong, with a phenomenal performance that had massive Olympic implications. Kirra could barely find words to describe how excited she was.
“I’m incredibly happy right now. I don’t even know what to say, this whole week has been really cool,” she said. “Every heat has been almost impossible. The fact that it all came together at the end, I’m just in complete awe right now.”
Pinkerton also took Team USA to the top of the podium in the overall teams rankings, the first time USA have won the teams gold medal since 2009.