Billabong ISA World Surfing Games
Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica
August 8, 2009
It was a fitting end to an event steeped in a mix of camaraderie and tough competition as Team USA took the overall gold medal today over Team France at the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games presented by Monster Energy in Costa Rica. It was the first time that the Americans have won an overall gold medal in since the 1996 World Surfing Games in Huntington Beach, California.
From the opening heats of the Games at Playa Hermosa that began eight days ago, Team USA appeared committed and focused, as they competed against 34 other teams for a spot on the podium. With the final day of competition looming overhead, Team USA stood firm and was able to place five or their eight team members into the three finals, hence becoming the team to beat.
The team was led by Ian Cairns who assumed the position as Coach less than one month ago. "We had good surfers and what we did was to stay very concentrated,” said a low-key Cairns. “This is a long event and it was very important to preserve your energy.”
"I am really very happy” said Cairns of the first American title in more than a decade. “My goal was to come here and win. But also I wanted to establish a different personality for American surfing. I didn't want to make a lot of noise until things were happening. We built the support, the calmness and we focused on being together and concentrating on doing things well. Later, at the final, we went to the beach to wave the flag.”
ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, said about the amazing Billabong ISA World Surfing Games: "This was a great event. The new team format (4 open men, 2 open women and 2 longboarders) proved to be the right decision. The inaugural Billabong ISA World Surfing Games will go down as a historical moment for surfing, with record number of competitors and national teams in attendance. Congratulations to all the nations and see you next year!”
Hot on the USA's heels was the French team, led by ASP World Tour surfer Jeremy Flores. He looked in stellar form throughout the entire contest. France managed to put a one athlete in each of the Open, Women's, and Longboard divisions.
Kick-starting the final day of the contest was the ISA Aloha Cup, run as a tag-team event with five surfers from each team taking turns competing in the hour-long final. The unique format brought the national pride and overall competitiveness that had been simmering to a roaring boil.
Historically, one of the strongest teams in the event and last year's overall event winner, Team Australia, took the lead in the Aloha Cup at the outset of the heat and managed to hold on to it despite a strong rally from the French Team. It was a bittersweet moment for the Aussies as the team was not able to secure the ISA Team World Championship gold medal as it's done many times in the past. The Aloha Cup was the only gold medal for the Australians.
See more at the ISA games website: http://www.billabongpro.com/isa09/index.php