A powerful two-turn backhand combo was enough to provide 2022 WSL Championship Tour (CT) Rookie of the Year Gabriela Bryan (USA) with a 9.00, the highest single wave score of the day. The only women’s CT surfer in the draw to make it past the WSL’s mid-season cut, Bryan showed she has what it takes to back up her 2019 ISA World Junior gold medal won here in Huntington Beach.
Multiple other former ISA World Junior gold medalists also took out strong heat wins in Main Round 2, including Rachel Presti (GER), Vahine Fierro (FRA), Mahina Maeda (JPN), and Tessa Thyssen (FRA).
Though no elimination heats have been surfed yet, all ten of the Tokyo 2020 Olympians in the women’s draw were undoubtedly happy to progress to Main Round 3.
Olympian Anat Lelior feels like a grommet again
When Anat Lelior (ISR) took to the water for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics she didn’t realize she was injured, nor was she aware of how long it would take to arrive back in international competition. However, the 22-year-old is appreciative of the experience.
“Coming back to competition is fun. I feel like a kid again, like a grom,” she said. “I think only good came out of it. I look forward to 2024 and to keep going with my surfing career because I believe I can. Representing Israel all the way. So far, so good.”
Surfing community shows love and support for Ukraine
The six surfers and three officials in Team Ukraine each have a different story of their incredible journey to Huntington Beach, but one theme is common, they are extremely grateful to be present and to be able to speak on behalf of their war-torn nation. In turn, the international surfing community is honored to be able to show their support.
Nina Zavodchykova resides in the small city of Slavutych in northern Ukraine, which was invaded in March. The outpouring of love shown during the Opening Ceremony was overwhelming for her.
“When Ukraine was on the stage at the opening ceremony, suddenly everyone was standing up. It was so loud, everyone was clapping with so much support,” Zavodchykova shared. “It was so powerful I literally cried in gratitude. It’s just incredible.”
ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:
“The international surfing community is huge and covers every part of the globe, but no matter where we might be from, or the color of our skin, or the language we speak, or the religion we follow, we are a family. We are bound together by our passion for the ocean.
“When one member of a family hurts, the other members also feel it. The incredible show of support for Ukraine from every other team is a testament to that, as is the grief we all feel this week after the devastating loss of our brother Kalani David. We carry that spirit with us throughout this week’s competition.
“It was amazing to see the performances from the women going through the roof on just their first day of competition. The rest of the week holds so much more action and excitement with that massive goal of Olympic qualification at stake.”