To say that Keanu Asing has had a rough season would be putting it mildly. Lots of young athletes run into what is known as the “sophomore slump” and Asing’s second year on the Championship Tour could probably be categorized as such.
But with three contests remaining, Asing could be turning things around. He’s one heat win away from reaching his first career quarterfinal in what has been a very good Quiksilver Pro France for Hawaii’s contingent of surfers.
Some luck has come his way, but Asing has taken an opening-round win and a head-to-head victory over Ace Buchan into round five for just the second time this year. He’ll match up with Stu Kennedy for a chance to earn a spot among the final eight when action resumes.
His opening heat wasn’t much of a showcase and the contest was put on hold after the wave-starved outing against Kelly Slater and Kanoa Igarashi. Asing got the win on just an 8.00 total, but it’s a win he certainly shouldn’t apologize for. Six times in eight contests this season, Asing has been knocked out in round two. So getting that win to jump directly into round three was a welcome surprise against the 11-time world champ.
Coming into the event ranked 33rd on the CT ladder, Asing has a lot of work to do in order to jump back into a qualifying position. He has three results to make up a 7,000-point deficit for that final spot and 11 surfers to leap frog in the process. But a finals day appearance would be a good place to start and he still has Oahu to come home to for the season-ending Pipe Masters.
Asing appeared to be all but eliminated, yet he now has new life.
Things started to become a little uneasy for Sebastian Zietz after he dropped to 16th for the season after Trestles. But that downward trajectory may have righted itself as he is also into round five action. Zietz had a tight win over Adam Melling in round two, then put up a huge performance to knock off Miguel Pupo in round three. Next he’ll be tested by Kolohe Andino as each is looking to recapture some of their early-season magic.
Since winning the Margaret River Pro, Zietz’s spot on next year’s world tour has seemed all but assured. He’s had a few down events, but he’s already counting a pair of throwaways in his total, so replacing those will give him a nice boost back in the right direction. Seabass has only made one quarterfinal this year, but it did lead to a victory, so he’s very dangerous when he gets momentum in an event’s late stages.
World No. 1 John John Florence seems to have just one competitor left to vanquish. After the top three of Florence, Gabriel Medina and Matt Wilkinson let a few others get back in the running at Trestles — namely Jordy Smith, Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson — everyone but Medina has somewhat relinquished that chance. Smith, Slater and Parko all successively fell in round two; Wilko lasted one more heat before losing in round three.
But Medina already has a spot in the quarterfinals secured. Florence can’t say the same and will needs to get past defending world champ Adriano de Souza to do so.
It’s a huge heat in the world title chase. A de Souza victory would propel Medina to within no more than 3,000 points of Florence, and even a chance to grab the yellow jersey right now with an event victory. But if John John is at least able to keep pace with Medina, he’ll maintain control of his own destiny with just two events remaining.
Asing, Zietz and Florence have performed well in France to this point. Putting on the finishing touches has major implications for all three.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.