Coco Ho rebounds to runner-up at Billabong Rio

Coco Ho of Hawai‘i rebounded from an opening-round bump to finish .07 of a point short at the Billabong Women’s Rio Pro Sunday at Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Sally Fitzgibbons of Australia took the title by a score of 14.10 to 14.03 in peaky one-to-three foot waves after exchanging leads several times in the finals before the final horn sounded, according to an Association of Surfing Professionals release.

Fitzgibbons needed a 7-point ride with just minutes left in the heat and bashed a blowing lefthander on her backside to scratch out a 7.93 out of 10 to take the win, her second of the year.

“That was so crazy, and Coco had me on the ropes for sure,” Fitzgibbons said. “I just had my fingers crossed and knew there would be one towards the end. I made a few mistakes and it happens in the finals, but I was able to recover at the end. I’m so excited.”

Ho was relegated to Round 2 following a shaky start, scoring just .27 against Carissa Moore, who finished the meet in equal third with Alessa Quizon.

Facing Sarah Mason of New Zealand, Ho climbed back onto the ladder with a 16.57 showing to Mason’s 10 points in Round 2 and advanced through Round 3, scoring a 15.4 to 15.07 over Stephanie Gilmore of Australia in the round where U.S. contender Lakey Peterson was eliminated.

Kaua‘i’s Malia Manuel, advancing from the opening round, was also taken out in Round 3 by Fitzgibbons, Manuel getting a 10.5 to Fitzgibbons’ 16 advancing score and unable to get past Laura Enever in Round 4.

Ho out-surfed Gilmore 14.93 to 7.23 in the quarterfinals, and bested fellow Hawaiian Quizon in the semifinals, 14.16 to Quizon’s 10.94, to advance against Fitzgibbons in the finals.

Hawai‘i’s Moore and Quizon both finished equal third in the meet after Fitzgibbons advanced 15.47 over Moore’s 15.36 in the semis.

Ho, who was ranked No. 12 on the ASP WCT ratings before the Billabong Rio Pro, jumped to 9th in the world following her runner-up finish.

“This result really opens things up for me,” Ho said. “I’ve been having a really tough year and I’m stoked to get into this final. This is my best result of the year and has been an important event for me. Congratulations to Sally on her win.”

Moore, last year’s Billabong Rio Pro winner and reigning ASP Women’s World Champon, posted big scores in the waning seconds of the heat, was handed the equal third.

“I think we all want to make the finals and it’s disappointing,” she said. “I’ve lost to Sally twice this year and I’ve just to keep trying in the next couple of events.  I think it’s been a bunch of things this year. I think finding the right waves is one thing overall and I need to switch it up and bring something different out.”

Quizon, who found herself against fellow Hawai‘i surfer Ho in the semifinals, put up a good fight but fell during the last-minute exchange to end equal third with Moore.

“This has been an amazing event for me,” Quizon said. “I had nothing to lose and it’s been a great learning experience for me and I’m happy I made it to the semifinals. I could tell that Coco was getting the scores she needed and I was looking for one big socre and I just didn’t find it. Sometimes, it happens that way.”

The next stop on the 2012 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour is the Roxy Pro Biarritz on July 10-14.


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