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SURFING: Tyler Wright Wins Vans US Open

SURFING: Tyler Wright Wins Vans US Open

Tyler Wright battled back in her Final clash against five-time ASP Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 26, to collect her first victory of the 2014 season. Gilmore got off to a strong start, but Wright connected strong outside turns with critical snaps on the inside reform, earning an excellent 8.67 followed by a crucial 6.10 under Gilmore’s priority for the win. Wright previously dispatched Malia Manuel (HAW), 20, in the Semifinals and her win at Huntington Beach moves her to No. 3 on the rankings.

“It’s been a long event and really enjoyable for me,” said Tyler Wright. “I wouldn’t be here without my team and they mean the world to me. All the girls have been ripping this entire event and it’s been wonderful to see. I felt really relaxed and comfortable and everything has gone really well for me this week and I loved it.”

Stephanie Gilmore, 2007 event winner, was a standout throughout the entirety of the Vans US Open of Surfing, effortlessly dissecting the challenging Huntington Beach lineup with her signature style. The Australian started strong in the Final, but was unable to match Wright’s scores in the back half of the heat. The runner-up finish marks Gilmore’s third Final appearance of the season, placing her at No. 4 on the rankings.

“When you do your throwaways I guess I’m in a good spot,” said Stephanie Gilmore. “You can’t really calculate too much right now. More than anything, I’m excited for the rest of the year and to be able to surf Trestles, France, Portugal and finish the year off in Honolua Bay.”

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The women’s Final saw World No. 3 Stephanie Gilmore versus World No. 4Tyler Wright, both looking to better their situations in the Title race. After winning the opening Women’s World Championship Tour (WCT) event at theGold Coast, Gilmore has only reached one other Final: She finished second at the Fiji Women’s Pro. This was Wright’s third Final but, coming into Surf City, she had yet to register an event win.

A flat surface provoked a restart from the judges. Gilmore took the first wave of the heat with a smooth cutback into a vertical hack, but her finishing move was incomplete. The mistake kept her opening score to a midrange three-pointer. Wright sat out the back with priority, scouring the horizon for another set for 10 minutes, finding a single-maneuver wave for a 3.27. Gilmore, however, found the better wave of the set, throwing two backhand hacks and a clean forehand finish on the reform for the first significant score of the Final, a 7.33.

Feeling the pressure, Wright moved farther down the line, hunting down bigger opportunities, but the risk wouldn’t pay off. The mid-heat exchange saw Gilmore on the more shapely wave again, improving her situation.

Paddling back to the pier, Wright found a solid break, unleashing her power surfing on the reform for an excellent 8.67. The score proved to be the confidence booster she needed. Without priority, she picked off another slow roller, hunting down the reform for a stylish floater on the finish. The two waves forced the first lead change with 10 minutes remaining.

Gilmore needed a second seven-point ride to replace her bottom score and she would spend the remainder of the clock looking for an opportunity to capitalize on. A mistake on at the two-minute mark and a soft wave under 60 seconds found Wright at the top of the podium for the first time of the 2014 season.

Results: Tyler Wright, 14.77 def. Stephanie Gilmore, 13.16

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Denise J. Saul is the Founder/President of WSEN-Women's Sports & Entertainment Network.

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