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European Champ Pauline Ado opens up

Pauline Ado © ASP / Cestari

Team Updates

Straight From The Pros: Pauline Ado on how not thinking is a good thing

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 8 October, 2012 : - - Pauline Ado (FRA) 21, was crowned the 2012 ASP Europe Women's Champion after placing runner-up in the recent SATA Airlines Azores Pro to punctuate her season and requalify for next year's Women's World Championship Tour. Ado, who had a difficult campaign amongst the Top 17, was however very consistent on the Star events and secured her 5th position on the World Rankings with her result in Azores and four quarter-finals counting.

Coming to the Quiksilver Pro France this week to support her fellow European competitors, we had a nice chat with Pauline and asked her about her season and much more ! Get to know better our only European ambassador on the Women's WCT next year with this in-depth interview..

Hey Pauline, congratulations on your European Title, how do you feel ?
- The Title is just icing on the cake for me, coming to the Azores I was 100% focused on the objective to requalify and I had the same state of mind on all the previous European events, so I have to admit I didn't think too much about the Title but it's a great bonus and I fully appreciate it.

Tell me how did your second season on the CT go ?
- It wasn't a super season for me, I had a catastrophic start to the year, probably due to my lack of attention on certain details and I hope I can start better next year. I managed to get a little better towards the back half of the season on the Star events and it worked out.

What do you mean 'details' ?
- I think maybe it was the way I apprehended events early this year, I lost in Snapper and just lost confidence in myself which in retrospect wasn't justified cause I realised I could have made some of those heats if I didn't think too much about it and focused on my surfing. It's frustrating when I look back on it, so I'll try to bear this in mind when I compete again next year.

Do you work specificly on mental preparation ?
- I have somebody that I talk to regularly, and it feels good to have a neutral opinion sometimes, cause there's always your entourage but there always is a bias in my favor, so it's good to hear from someone else and focus on the important stuff.

So when do you think was the turning point in your season ?
- Well, I've been pretty consistent in the Star events, it's just that I haven't been able to get through the quarters all-year, but out of nine events I think I had like 5 or 6 quarters.. In the break time between Oceanside and Pantin I felt really confident, I had good sensations and my mind was in the right place, but then there was these two quarters again in Pantin and
Estoril and I really started to doubt again. It was a tough time with many questions raised but I stuck to my gameplan and it finally worked out in the Azores.

Your season is over now, what's next ?
- I've been in Hossegor chilling and watching the Quik Pro and I have a few days off now. Soon I'm going on a surf trip with some of the girls to Iceland so this should be interesting, it's a new experience and with no pressure, after that trip I'll be back to work on my preparation for next year ! I'd like to try and go to Hawaii for a bit this winter, it's always a very good experience to surf there, and then well we'll be almost in february already and Australia is just around the corner !

Speaking of Hawaii, would you like to compete there ?
- Yes I do regret there's no comp there for the girls, it's the mecca and where it all began for surfing.. On the World Tour we're supposed to surf all kinds of waves, and at the moment there's a lot of beachies and nothing can really compare to Hawaii. I'm not exactly comfortable there surfing, specially when it gets big, but everytime I go there I try to push my limits and set new challenges to surf difficult waves, and I know if we had a comp there I'd just have to go and handle it !

On the current tour, which places do you affectionate the most ?
- I really like the athmosphere at Snapper, and obviously Biarritz is one of my favourites too.. Other than that we don't have incredible waves at the moment, so I'm hoping we'll gradually get more World Class waves.. It's hard because there's only 4-5 days of waiting period on the girls events, and it's sometimes not enough to score the good conditions in some places.

So you've been on Tour for two years, and touring the Star events before that, how has your surf evolved since you started competing ?
- I think I improved a lot on my aggressivity and competitive side, I know I'm still missing some at times but it's true that when I started I had like a smooth kind of surfing and the judges like to see more punch ! I also think that with the experience I manage to step back a little more and that allows me to focus on what needs to be done to win.

How and with whom do you train ?
- I talk a lot with Patrick Flores our national coach, I don't see him very often but he has a very critical eye and he's known me for a long time so it's good to have his support for all the French surfers.

Talking about throwbacks, when did you start surfing and competing ?
- I started surfing when I was 8 years old, and I think my first contests where probably when I was 9 or so, all the groms comps..

Did you know right away that's what you wanted to do for a living ?
- Actually not at all, I didn't really like competing because I didn't take many waves in heats, it was a lot of constraints, we used to surf bad waves all the time and when you're young you just want to have fun ! But then one day I won, I think when I was 10, and I just suddenly changed my mind I was like 'this is not that bad after all' ! The only thing is I couldn't handle podiums, I just couldn't get up there and talk in front of people it was horrible.. I think I started thinking about doing this for a living when I was a teenager and started qualifying for the national teams, I watched the girls at the international level and it really boosted me.

So you're 13 and you decide to be a pro surfer, how do you manage school and everything ?
- In school I used to have a normal education, I just was away very often and I was constantly harrassing my teachers to get the lessons in advance and all so it went alright. I was pretty serious actually, cause that was sort of a deal with my parents like if I did well I could go to comps but if I didn't I'd have to stay home.. Then I went to the 'Pôle France' (national training facility) for two years, and in my last year of high-school I had to be homeschooled cause I was competing too often to stay in school. It wasn't easy but I managed to get my exams !

Now you're a full-time professional athlete, but do you already think about what you could do when your competing career ends ?
- Not really actually, you know surfing has been in my life so early that I never really questioned what I would like to do later.. In our life on-tour we meet a lot of different people and see different jobs all the time, it's really interesting and I start to realize what could fit me and what couldn't. I know that when I feel my career is about to end I'll have to anticipate, I'm not sure if I'll go back to studying or just find a classic 9-to-5 job right away..

But will you be able to ever stop surfing ?
- Aha I don't think so, I'll still be in the water often !

Back to the Tour, unfortunately Justine didn't requalify and last week Alizé missed her opportunity for just one spot.. What do yout think of the level here in Europe and France in particular ?
- I think it's the best it's ever been in France, I'm talking about France because most of the girls at the moment are here, even though we start to see Spain and Portugal surfers pushing through.. I feel like there's always been one or two girls, but right now we really have a strong group of 6-7 surfers who all have results throughout the World, and it wouldn't been surprising to see them qualify at some point. It's been amazing to push each other all the time, and I hope we get to do it on Tour soon ! I know we're still behind the major countries like Australia and Hawaii but I think it's more a matter of culture if you like.. In those countries, you're a surfer cause your dad and mom are surfers, your brothers and sisters surf and it changes everything. Here in France it's a lot different, I know that when I started my parents didn't know anything about it, so I had to go look somewhere else for advice and stuff, they just couldn't help me with this.. You know the level is so high in those countries, I think it emulates the girls to push themselves harder.. Waves are different too, but I think we have a great potential here, the real difference is the weather, in winter here, it's pretty tough ! I'm fortunate though cause growing up it was a time when brands always sent their surfers everywhere in the world and it really helped me..

And out of the places you've surfed, which do you prefer and where would you perform best ?
- The best waves I had were in Indo for sure and Mentawaiis.. My ideal wave is a righthander, with an easy barrel. But you know the level is so high on tour, that the result doesn't depend just on the conditions, and anyway that's not something you can control so basically you have to make the most of what's on offer at a comp..

Well, thank's a lot for your time and all those insights.. Anything else you want to add ?
- Thank's, yeah I just want to thank all the people supporting me, including my family off course and all my sponsors: Rip Curl, Swatch, Vans, Oakley, FCS, Gorilla and RT Surfboards !!

Source: ASP Europe

Author: Nicolas Leroy

Tags: Pauline Ado, ASP Europe, Women's European Champion

Team: Surfersvillage


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