Carissa Moore and Caroline Marks, the world’s top two female surfers, will make up the first U.S. Olympic women’s surfing team. Lakey Peterson, who entered this week’s season finale ranked No. 2, will not be competing in Tokyo.
Moore and Marks prevailed in one of the most competitive Olympic qualifying races across all sports and all nations. The U.S. has the top three female surfers in the World Surf League rankings, but a maximum of two surfers per gender per nation can compete at the Tokyo Games.
Peterson was eliminated from Olympic contention after she lost in the round of 16 — and Marks advanced to the quarterfinals — at the Championship Tour finale in Maui on Sunday.
“That was a rough blow, for sure, but that’s the way it goes,” Peterson said. “Great job to Carissa and Caroline. They’ve had incredible years.”
Moore, Marks and Peterson each won two of the first nine events this season to take up the top three spots going into Maui. Moore and Marks are vying for the world title at the contest, which continues Monday.
Moore, a three-time world champion, and Marks, a 17-year-old in her second full season on the Championship Tour, are gold-medal contenders for surfing’s Olympic debut next year.
Moore, a Hawaiian, was ticketed for stardom as a preteen. In 2011 at 18, she became the youngest world champion in history. Two years ago, the Floridian Marks became the youngest surfer ever to qualify for the Championship Tour.
Peterson, whose mom is a former Guinness World Record holder and grandfather the McDonald’s Egg McMuffin creator, finished last season ranked No. 2 in the world.
But, crucially, she was beaten by two-time world champion Tyler Wright of Australia in the round of 16 on Sunday. Wright is competing for the first time since a 17-month contest break due to illness.
“I pretty much wanted to cry,” Wright said of crushing Peterson’s world title and Olympic qualification hopes. “I’m so sorry. I was banking on that she would catch another wave and convert.”
There is one more men’s spot available on the U.S. Olympic surfing team. It will likely be filled by either 11-time world champion Kelly Slater or 2016 and 2017 World champion John John Florence, decided at the Billabong Pipe Masters later this month.
Kolohe Andino was the first U.S. surfer to qualify for Tokyo.
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