A Glimpse At The Future?
It’s an unspoken rule of writing that you should build a piece to a crescendo at the end. Unfortunately for your assigned scribe the apex of the Fronton Pro in terms of action went down where we begin, Semi final number 1 of the open men’s.
Open Men’s Semi 1: If you only watch one heat of competition boogin’ this year, make it this one. PLC, Tristin, Moz, and a local dude named Nestor Perez. Three world champs, and probably the most dominant riders for the last 5 years at 8ft Fronton. Yes ma’am….
After a slow opening 5 minutes, the action kicked into gear when Amaury used an inside bowl to fling a fins free invert garnering a 6.17. Seconds later the home town hero Nestor found his best scoring wave of the heat with a solid barrel on the right followed by an air of the inside coping, good enough for a 7.17. Pierre followed suite with a barrel to incomplete Invert, a low 4.
Tristin then got busy, locking in a 5.43 for a decent barrel before finding a huge ramp on an insider under everyone’s priority. Rocketing into the bowl he blasted a tail high air reverse, and was rewarded with an 8.23
Commentator Mumbles didn’t even have time to drop his voice down from the excitement of Tristins’s wave as the camera panned to PLC driving through a thick spitting left, leaving the South African call guy squealing like a Hyena as Pierre exited with a fire hose of spit. 7.57 thanks very much.
The Frenchman followed this up with a similarly heavy right to rack up a 7.90 and take the heat lead. The judges were obviously scoring heavy barrel riding higher than technical manoeuvers.
Through all this Moz stayed patient, playing the waiting game,but wasn’t able to find a second scoring wave. Pride’s dynamic duo in Pierre and Tristin moving on into the final.
Semi 2: After all of the action of the first Semi, the second featuring Dailos Rodriguez, Miguel Rodriguez, Kevin Orihuela and Armide Soliveres was a little underwhelming.
The two Rodriguez’s got busy with Dailos taking the best score of the heat for a deep backdoor to invert, 8.5, and Miguel flipping out of a bowl and following it up with a roll enough to put him into second with a low 7.
Kevin Orihuela looked good on his first wave, a medium size right backdoor to pop rev, but a crucial priority era halfway through the heat cruelled his chances, while Armide struggled to get many scoring opportunities.
In the end the two Rodriguez’s (or Rodrigui?) moved on to take on the two former world champs in the Final of the open men’s.
Junior Final: The final of the juniors also served to crown a junior World Champion. Luis Tausia, the under 14s and Under 18’s champ from Spain vs Joel Rodrigues who put in a mighty effort after sponsor NMD gifting him a wildcard entry.
Luis opens his scoring with a draining right for a 5, getting the better of Joel’s 4 for quick in and out on the left. It’s rinse and repeat on Luis’s second wave, for a 4.83 back up score. His third is even better and ultimately a title winner as he gets shacked and spat out for a 7.17, putting him in a commanding position halfway through the heat.
Joel tries to claw back the lead with an inside pit to invert to notch a 4.4, but its not enough. Luis wins on the strength of the old competitive adage of being on the biggest and best waves.
What needs to be acknowledged is that for all the junior competitors to have been taking on a wave as heavy as 8ft Fronton is incredibly impressive.
Final: It seems s nervous start for the two world champs in PLC and Tristin as they both go incomplete on their first waves. The local Dailos and the Peruvian Miguel both complete mid size right pits to rolls to go into first and second early in the heat.
A set exchange sees Tristin choose a dog of a wave with priority, while the two Rodriguez’s each pack mid size spitters behind him further locking in their leads over the World Champs.
Just like in his Semi, Tristin then goes to work at the end of the priority line, locking in a decent barrel to move into second place in front of Miguel.
PLC opens his campaign with solid spitting right for a 5.8 before backing it up with a lofty invert off a close out to bank a 7. Dailos stays in touch with a second scoring pit in the 5 range.
PLC then whips an air forward off a solid 6ft section and squeezes in a little inside cover up for an 8.5 and takes a solid lead.
Dualis stays busy, seeking out a little inside pit, but behind him Roberts flys out of a barrel upside down with a flying flip, followed by a second flip on the inside section for the highest score of the heat, an 8.9 which boosts him into second place.
At this point a bird bobbing in the line up decides it might be a good idea to go over the falls on a solid 6ft slab, gets blasted out of the wash, shakes it off, tries to fly away but end up coping another wave on the head finally before making it to safety.
In the last minutes of the heat PLC used his priority to block Tristin on a potential scoring right and as the seconds tick down Pierre takes the win, 9 years since his last victory at Fronton in a world tour event.
We’ll finish with a little spice. The performance level displayed by the top guys, particularly in the first Semi equals, if not exceeds what was produced by Australian riders in the golden age of Oz booging 10-15 years ago. The best of today can more than mix it with the legends of yore. If you’re not tuning in to watch these top riders in quality waves you’re missing out.
The secret, as its always been, is quality riders need to be allowed to perform in quality waves. While the beachies on offer at the Sintra Pro was a tough watch, conversely 8ft Fronton was a joy. The challenge for the IBC beholden to tourism bodies for support is to ensure they put on events in conditions that the top riders can excel in, rather than just where they can find funding.