Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 |
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Round one may have gone to Tati, but rounds two and three went to Courtney Conlogue as she avenged her loss in Sunday’s Supergirl Pro final by knocking out both of Kauai’s wahine during Thursday’s US Open of Surfing. Not only did Conlogue’s two wins move her into the semifinals, she’ll leave Huntington Beach with the gold jersey after Oahu’s Carissa Moore lost her quarterfinal matchup.
Tatiana Weston-Webb had started the week in style by securing the Supergirl Pro championship, which vaulted her to the top of the Qualifying Series rankings. But her bid to top Conlogue twice in a row came up short. Tati held a slim lead for much of the heat before Conlogue picked up a pair of scores, getting her biggest on just a one-turn wave. Everything rolling through was small and Weston-Webb wasn’t able to regain the advantage before the horn.
It will be an equal ninth for Weston-Webb and she should remain right around her current seventh place standing when this event concludes. Tati has reached the fourth round in all six events this year, but she’ll have to wait until September at Lower Trestles for her next chance to move up the CT rankings.
Malia Manuel will be moving up the ladder, but she was Conlogue’s second victim Thursday. After winning both her rounds one and three heats, Manuel made it to the quarterfinals for the fourth time this year. She was one of the favorites, given her previous success at Huntington, but she just came up against the wrong competitor. Conlogue put up a pair of excellent scores and even started throwing some aerial maneuvers into the mix, though she didn’t complete any. Manuel made a run at it but just didn’t have enough to work with. Her 15.20 total was the second highest of the round, but not enough to best Conlogue’s 16.43.
The equal fifth will move Manuel up from ninth on the season and she’ll jump in front of both Weston-Webb and the injured Stephanie Gilmore.
It wasn’t a great day for the whole Hawaii crew. Alessa Quizon and Coco Ho lost the day’s first two heats, followed by Tati’s elimination. The biggest upset was then Moore going down in the quarters to Bianca Buitendag. That opened the door for Conlogue to move into the season lead, which she grabbed in the win over Manuel.
It’s now back-to-back ninths for Moore after a start that seemed to have her destined for world title number three. She’ll go into the home stretch now having to catch up.
Moore is the only surfer to reach three straight finals this year, but that could all change very soon and it’s an unlikely candidate who could join her in that accomplishment. Buitendag made the final at both previous stops in Rio and Fiji and she now enters the semifinals against Johanne Defay. Buitendag’s surge pushed her up to sixth coming into Huntington and she’ll move all the way up into the top four with this result.
Conlogue will take on Sally Fitzgibbons in the second semifinal. Fitzgibbons, despite an up-and-down season, has a chance to close the gap on both Conlogue and Moore if she’s able to take home the US Open crown. She’s coming off a win in Fiji and could get within just a couple thousand points of second place with back-to-back wins.
The winner of the Conlogue-Fitzgibbons matchup will be the heavy favorite to take the crown, but Buitendag’s emergence may not be a fluke. If she’s ready to throw her hat into the ring as a true world title threat, a win at Huntington Beach would be a fitting place to make such a statement.
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