Fresh faces and returning champions deliver on the first day of competition
Pismo Beach provided stunning conditions for day one of competition at the 2022 Pismo Beach ISA World Para Surfing Championship Hosted by AmpSurf (WPSC). The clean 3-4 foot surf on offer allowed for high scores and huge performances from returning champions and fresh faces alike.
Round 1 was completed in four classifications for men (Kneel, Prone 1, Stand 1 & 2) and two for women (Stand 1 & 2), along with the Open Sit classification. The majority of classifications in the WPSC use a round robin format, where each surfer competes twice before the top surfers move onto single elimination rounds.
Former gold medalists Felipe Kizu Lima (BRA), Roberto Pino (BRA), and Jimena Ruiz (CRC) each took top honors in their respective classifications, looking strong in their individual quests to return to the top of the podium.
First-time participants also put on some great performances, most notably Ibon Oregui (ESP), who set the Men’s Kneel classification ablaze with the highest single wave score of the day, a 9.33.
“I practiced triathlon and iron man for most of my life, the last twenty years,” Oregui said. “I had an accident when I was running. A car crashed into me two years ago and I lost my leg.”
“Surfing is part of my life always. I wasn’t a very good surfer, but I love surfing and being in the water with family and friends. This is a good opportunity to continue with my life and doing the things that I love.”
2021 Men’s Prone 1 silver medalist Casey Proud (HAW) opened his heat by ripping through a series of strong turns that earned him an 8.00, before quickly backing it up with an 8.17 for a huge air drop floater on a massive set. His 16.17 heat total proved to be the highest of the day.
The strongest competition looks to be between USA teammates Liv Stone and Faith Lennox in Women’s Stand 1. The pair went one and two in 2020 and appear destined to do so again, claiming near equal heat totals today.
As an adopted local to Southern California, Stone, who is defending back-to-back gold medals, is especially excited about the possibility of competing in the Paralympic Games in Los Angeles in 2028.
“It would be so huge for me if surfing was in the Paralympics,” Stone said. “It will be in our backyard in LA 2028.
“We’ve just been fighting so hard, all Team USA, all the countries have been rallying together and pushing really hard for it to be in the Paralympics because this is such an elite event. It would be so cool for the Paralympics to see this and how incredible each and every one of our athletes are.”
ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:
“Seeing fresh faces challenging these established champions is both exciting and rewarding. This shows that the para surfing movement continues to grow and develop around the world.
I’m so happy to see the stoke amongst the teams and athletes, young and old. Their commitment and determination are super strong and just reminds us that anything is possible in life!
Seeing the diversity, performance and growth of the sport, I have no doubt that Para Surfing would add enormous value to the LA 2028 Paralympic Games.”