Fitzgibbons defeats Atherton in Pro-Teen Series Final
Sally Fitzgibbons : photo Steve Robertson
Billabong Pro-Teen 2006
ASP Australasia Pro Junior
7 - 12 February 2006
YOUNG GUN UPSTAGES CLASS FIELD TO WIN
Sally Fitzgibbons Defeats Nicola Atherton in Billabong Pro-Teen Series Final
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 18 February, 2006 : - - (Wollongong, Bulli Beach) Saturday 18th February: Emerging super star Sally Fitzgibbons dominated the Billabong Pro-Teen Series event at Wollongong, winning in sensational form over Bronte’s Nicola Atherton. It was the second Pro-Junior win for the 15-year-old, who jumped 15 spots on the ASP Australasian Junior Series ratings to now be in fifteenth position.
Surfing with confidence beyond her year, Fitzgibbons locked in two mid range scores, early to lead for the entire 20 minute final. The young gun put it beyond doubt in the last ten minutes, posting two high 8.0 rides to leave her opponent requiring a near perfect 9.90 ride for victory.
“I’m completely stoked, it’s a great victory close to home,” said Fitzgibbons. “It was pretty tough, Nicola is a great competitor, it was good to get those few early high scores under my belt and just improve from there.”
“My plan was to surf my own heat and find a few of those bomb lefts, I was lucky to get that one which started left and then reformed back right which was my best score.”
At such a young age Fitzgibbons threw a spanner in the works for the girls chasing the ratings points today, as she will opt to go back to school rather than follow the Billabong Pro-Teen Series across to Raglan in mid March, but enjoyed the prize money none the less.
“The thousand dollars will go straight into my bank to save for next year so I can travel. I’m going to go back to school now, so I won’t go to the next event at Raglan, but I’m going to go to Newcastle and do a couple of the last ones on the circuit.”
Atherton, who has yet to win an event in 2006, was gunning for first position after eliminating ratings leader Airini Mason (Tugun) in the Semi Finals, hoping to make up some points on the break-away leader. The 20-year-old, who finished second to Jessi Miley-Dyer at the world junior championships in January, struggled in the final to find anything with significant scoring potential, managing only a combined score of 8.85.
“I couldn’t quite get into rhythm there,” said Atherton. “Sally got a really good set, held priority and was really in tune with what was happening. She’s a little ripper, it was a disappointing not to come away with the win, but I suppose I’ll just have to look for it at the next event.”
Sally Fitzgibbons : photo Steve Robertson
“All the locals get behind this contest, there is always a big group of people laughing and cheering, it’s just a shame we couldn’t have it on the point (Sandon) because it is such a fantastic wave.”
Despite being the in-form surfer of the event and posting a perfect ten point ride in her opening heat, the event high wave score, Atherton has struggled to climb the final hurdle of winning a final on this years series. Making no secret of the fact that her goal is to be ASP Australasian Junior Champion at the end of 2006, the powerful natural footer has a great deal of work ahead of her, still just under 2000 points behind Mason in second position.
“I’m still quite far behind and if I have any aspirations of winning the series I’m going to have to lift my game and go out and win pretty much every event from here on in,” said Atherton. “Airini is going to be hard to stop and then you have got girls like Sally around as well, it’s a really tough series. I actually find it harder competing against Airini than I do Steph Gilmore or Jessi (Miley Dyer), she is a seriously good competitor.”
Finishing in equal third position today, totally 1095 points and $350 was Mason and Boomerang Beach surfer Jesse Hickson. Holding priority in the dying stages of her Semi Final heat, the ocean didn’t co-operate with ratings leader Mason, who required a 7.10 to move into first and defeat Atherton. The resulting points were still beneficial for Mason, the 15-year-old on target to win the series.
“I’m happy with third,” said Mason. “Nicola surfed well and I couldn’t find a wave at the end, but it’s all good.”
The Billabong Pro-Teen men’s division continued today through to the final 12 surfers. Surfers to progress from the early heats but will surf again today included Michael Levitt (Palm Beach), Byron Bartlett (Manyana), Hideyoshi Tanaka (Jpn), Nick Riley (Harbord), David Delroy-Carr (Cottesloe) and Dion Atkinson (Seaford). Eliminated from today’s fourth round were top seeds Laurie Towner (Angourie) and Wade Goodall (Caloundra).
The Billabong Pro-Teen Wollongong is the second of the five event Pro-Teen Series which comprises the ASP Australasian Junior Circuit and offers the series winner a prestigious wildcard slot into the trials of the Billabong Pro World Championship Tour event in Tahiti. (May 4th-16th) The Pro-Teen series also offers 60,000 dollars in prize money and is effectively the back bone of the Australasian Junior Surfing Circuit.
The Billabong Pro-Teen Series for 2006 is supported by Panasonic, Vodafone, Coca-Cola, UV Triplegard, Clearasil, Kustom, Von Zipper, Tracks and Palmers Surf.
# 1 : Billabong Pro Teen event #2 kicks off at Wollongong
# 2 : Wilson blows up at Billabong Pro-Teen Wollongong
# 3 : Towner makes move on ratings lead at Pro-Teen Qld
# 4 : Coming soon
Billabong Pro Teen Series Dates and Locations
Feb 7-12 Billabong Pro-Teen Series Gold Coast
Feb 15-19 Billabong Pro-Teen Series Wollongong
Mar 16-19 Billabong Pro-Teen Series Raglan NZ
Mar 29-Apr 2 Wild Surf Co/Billabong Pro-Teen Series Newcastle
Sep 27-Oct 1 Billabong Pro-teen Bells Beach
Junior Contests - Surfersvillage