The tide has quickly turned for Tatiana Weston-Webb.
The Championship Tour’s most dramatic riser of 2016 started 2017 without a significant result. Coming off a career-best fourth place ranking, Weston-Webb struggled to regain that momentum through the first four events of the season. But it was only a matter of time until things began to even out and that time appears to have arrived.
Weston-Webb has rebounded in prime fashion with a pair of runner-up finishes to put her right back into the highly congested and hotly contested portion of the women’s rankings.
Coming in as the defending champion, she reached the final of Sunday’s US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, Calif. She came up one victory shy of a repeat performance, dropping the final heat to Sage Erickson.
After accumulating 11,750 points through four contests, Weston-Webb has added 16,000 in just the past two and moved into eighth place for the season. There are also just four wahine to reach two finals this year — Weston-Webb, Tyler Wright, Courtney Conlogue and Stephanie Gilmore.
One name you might expect to be in that group under normal circumstances is Carissa Moore. But this has been anything but a normal season for the three-time world champion. Moore could not turn around her 2017 at the US Open, losing to Erickson in round four.
It’s been a somewhat inexplicable stretch for Moore, who has not advanced beyond the quarterfinals once this season. To put that in perspective, Moore had reached the semifinals in 14 of 20 contests over the past two years. She was almost always into the final four with a great chance to earn contest wins at every stop along the way.
Having not made the semifinals in all six events this year, Moore now finds herself in ninth place for the season. It’s unfamiliar territory for one of the tour’s most successful and consistent surfers of all-time.
The prospect of possibly needing to re-qualify for the CT through the Qualifying Series has always seemed a ludicrous proposition for Moore, but it’s no longer out of the question. She only managed a 17th place result at the Supergirl Pro, so she’d still need a lot more points to move up the QS ranks.
Moore is a three-time world champ and Weston-Webb is almost certainly a future world champ. Their locations in the rankings this season are an anomaly, but that’s now been the case much longer than anyone would have anticipated.
Weston-Webb has corrected her course and now seems to be as in form as any woman on tour. She has some of her best contests still ahead of her with the European leg still to come. There is every reason to believe she’ll move far beyond that re-qualification danger zone.
Moore has yet to make the same turnaround, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t capable of doing it. However, each contest has felt like the one that would be her opportunity to get back on the podium and it hasn’t happened. Just four events remain, but her struggles still seem like an anomaly and not the new normal.
Weston-Webb is back to showing her overall abilities and it won’t be surprising if she continues to go deep in events and move up close to the top five once again. Moore has time to do the same, but she’s no longer chasing a world championship. Amazingly, she’s just chasing her spot for 2018.
David Simon can be reached at email@example.com.