The ASP 2012 Throne Watch: Who are the contenders?

COOLANGATTA, Queensland/AUS (Monday, January 2, 2012) – 2011 has come and gone, delivering nothing short of one of the most exciting and talked about seasons the tour has ever witnessed. We saw bombing conditions at Teahupo’o and Pipeline, rippable surf in New York and San Francisco, and landmark swells at Bells and Supertubos. We saw the ascension of Kelly Slater (USA), 39, to the annals of sport history with an unprecedented 11th ASP World Title. We saw the announcement of a new guard of challengers including Owen Wright (AUS), 21, Michel Bourez (PYF), 26, Josh Kerr (AUS), 27, Julian Wilson (AUS), 23, and Alejo Muniz (BRA), 21. We saw the continued adaptation and high-performance of perennial threats such as Joel Parkinson (AUS), 30, Taj Burrow (AUS), 33, Adriano de Souza (BRA), 24, and Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23. We saw the preternatural performances of rotation kids Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, Miguel Pupo (BRA), 20, and John John Florence (HAW), 19. 2012 is now upon us and 2012 is a question mark. Will we see the end of the Slater era? Will the world’s greatest surfer continue to outperform the next generation of talent? And if not, who will challenge for the throne? What follows is a breakdown of the 2011 ASP World Title Top 10…Watch the Throne…

TAJ BURROW (AUS): Burrow was once quoted as rhetorically pondering his affection with the ASP World Tour as “how do you get off this ride?”. And “ride” may very well sum up the 33-year-old’s 13-year tenure challenging for the title. Burrow is one of those rare individuals who has been considered an ASP World Title threat since his rookie year, but the ageless natural-footer from West Oz has only gotten as close as Runner-Up twice (’99, ’07). From the start of 2011, the remainder of the Top 34 fixed their gaze on Burrow as he was “surfing better than he ever has” (to quote virtually every surfer on tour). While Taj continued to amaze surf fans around the world last year, he didn’t reach the podium until the ASP Prime event at Haleiwa. These days, to win the title, consistency isn’t always enough. One needs podium finishes at the elite level to break the spirits of his/her fellow challengers. Taj is more than capable of this and we may just see it in 2012.

MICHEL BOUREZ (PYF): Ever since ‘The Spartan’ rampaged through the qualifying series in 2008, the world has been expecting big things from the powerful Tahitian. After finding his feet throughout his rookie and sophomore years, Michel Bourez was a picture of consistency in 2011, finishing Equal 9th in the first five events of the season. After a midyear slump, Bourez punctuated the remainder of the year with back-to-back Quarterfinal finishes in Europe and an Equal 3rd at Pipeline. Owner of one of the most powerful turns in the business, Michel is especially lethal at the reef passes (oh hello Tavarua!). Bourez has finished 21st, 11th and now 6th in his tenure amongst the world’s elite and if he can get off to a speedier start in 2012, we may see the Spartan challenge for the throne.

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