USA’s Kelly Slater and Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore headline the elite talent that has been confirmed to represent their nations thus far at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games (WSG) presented by Vans September 7-15 in Miyazaki, Japan.
The two stars have a combined 18 World Surf League Championship Tour (WSL CT) Titles, with eleven for Slater and seven for Gilmore, who also is a two-time ISA Junior World Champion.
Each will be supported by a cast of stars in their own right to pursue the Team Gold Medal.
Kolohe Andino, Conner Coffin, Carissa Moore, 2009 WSG Gold Medalist Courtney Conlogue, and 2016 ISA Junior World Champion Caroline Marks will join Slater on a strong Team USA, while past ISA Junior World Champions Julian Wilson and Owen Wright, Ryan Callinan, Nikki Van Dijk, and 2018 Women’s WSG Gold Medalist Sally Fitzgibbons will surf alongside Gilmore on Team Australia.
The opportunity arose for Slater, who ranked fourth among USA surfers on the June 9 selection deadline, after John John Florence was not selected due to injury.
Team France, Brazil, South Africa, and Japan have also confirmed world-renowned talent to compete in Miyazaki.
France has announced three surfers that formed part of their 2017 WSG Team Gold Medal squad, past individual Gold Medalist Jeremy Flores, Johanne Defay and Joan Duru, bolstered by teammates Michel Bourez, Vahine Fierro, and Cannelle Bulard.
Team Brazil features four surfers currently ranked within the top eight on the WSL CT: two ISA Junior World Champions in Filipe Toledo and Gabriel Medina with Italo Ferreira for the Men and ISA Junior World Champion Tatiana Weston-Webb for the Women. Silvana Lima and Tainá Hinckel will round out the squad.
Jordy Smith will headline a powerful Team South Africa, joined by past WSL CT competitors Michael February and Bianca Buitendag.
Lastly, the host nation Japan will be led again by the 2018 Men’s Silver Medalist, Kanoa Igarashi, who propelled his nation to Team Gold a year ago in Tahara, Japan.
Full team rosters will be released following the close of team registration on August 27.
ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:
“Having the world’s top professional surfers represent their countries with pride at the World Surfing Games is a reflection of their commitment to and excitement for being part of the Olympic Movement.
“The ISA offers the world’s best surfers a truly unique opportunity to compete as a national team and I can’t wait to see all of these amazing talents come together to go for the Team Gold.
“With continental qualification slots for Tokyo 2020 at stake and a surf festival planned for the event’s opening weekend, we will get a preview of the lifestyle, performance, and youthful energy that Surfing is set to bring to the Tokyo 2020 Games in less than one year.”
The 2019 WSG is of particular importance due to its status as a qualifier for Surfing’s debut in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The top eligible man and women from Africa, Oceania, Asia, and Europe will earn qualification slots for Tokyo 2020.
Qualification slots will not be confirmed until the close of the 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, which takes priority over the 2019 WSG.
WSL CT surfers will earn their slots according to the 2019 season final rankings. Ten men and eight women will qualify with a maximum of two athletes per gender of each nation.
View the full Olympic qualification process here.
The World Surfing Games is an Olympic-style team event that features three men and three women on each National Team. Athletes compete individually, but earn points towards their overall team total. The team whose individual surfers earn the most points is crowned World Surfing Games Champion.