Australian Stephanie Gilmore beat Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore of Hawaii to win a record-breaking eighth world surfing title at the World Surf League Finals in San Clemente, California.
Gilmore, a 34-year-old who was stunned in the quarterfinals of surfing’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, rebounded to break her tie with retired countrywoman Layne Beachley for the most women’s world titles. Only American Kelly Slater, with 11, has more among men and women.
While Moore had a bye into the title match as the top-ranked surfer this season, the fifth-seeded Gilmore had to defeat the second-through-fourth seeds on Thursday just to get to Moore: Brisa Hennessy of Costa Rica, Tatiana Weston-Webb of Brazil and Johanne Defay of France.
Gilmore then swept the five-time world champ Moore in the best-of-three title series.
“Come from the bottom, come from fifth and win a world title, that’s freakin’ cool,” Gilmore said in an interview while still in the water. “But Carissa is the world champ to me this year. She had the best season ever.
“[Moore] really is the greatest of all time in my opinion.
“I’ve won a lot of titles in different ways, and this, to be honest, was the best win I’ve had. To come all the way from fifth and just grind it out all the way to the final.”
Brazilian Filipe Toledo won the men’s title over countryman and Olympic champion Italo Ferreira. Toledo is the third different Brazilian man to win the world title in the last three seasons.
Most of the 2024 Olympic spots will be determined by next season’s World Surf League standings. A primary storyline will be if the 50-year-old Slater competes over the full season and puts himself in position to earn one of up to three U.S. men’s Olympic spots. Slater was third in U.S. Olympic qualifying for Tokyo, where a maximum of two surfers per gender per nation qualified.
He won the season-opening Pipe Masters in February and finished the season fifth among Americans in the standings.
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