From France: Gabriel Medina est le Gagnante!

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After 17-year-old Gabriel Medina beat 10x ASP world champion Kelly Slater in their quarterfinal, he was approached by commentator Todd Kline for the post-heat interview. Here’s how it went:

Todd Kline: Gabriel Medina, fantastic performance in that heat.

Gabriel Medina: Yeah, thank you. Pretty stoked.

Todd Kline: Pretty stoked?

Gabriel Medina: So happy.

You could set up a fun betting pool or drinking game around how long it takes any Brazilian surfer to say “So happy” after he wins a heat in the webcast interview. Seems like it happens every time. You can forgive the grom, though, for reverting to cliché after a win like that. Imagine being 17 years old, walking up a beach with thousands of people looking at you, having a microphone in front of your mouth and cameras pointed at your eyes and being asked questions in a language you’re just learning. Must be terrifying.

But if it was for Gabriel he didn’t show it. He’s the total package, folks. Incredible natural talent, style, flow, confidence, consistency, heat savvy and boost beyond belief. The power isn’t quite there yet, but, Jesus, he’s 17! When he fills out a little more it’s going to be ridiculous what he can do.

What he did today was take out Kelly, then Taylor Knox in the semi (landing in his words “the best air of my life” for a perfect 10) and then finally fellow rookie Julian Wilson in the final. The final was the first time he was down in a heat all day, and he showed his smarts by suckering Julian into a weak left near the end while Julian had priority. Then in the dying minutes he found what he was looking for: a lined up left. He blasted a fins-out air-reverse on the first section then worked the wave to the inside and stomped a big straight air in the shorebreak. He got the score, the win, and I’m sure he’s having fun right now.

Say what you want about the ASP One World Ratings and the mid-year cut-off, but fact is they’ve brought us Gabriel Medina (and John John Florence) and that, surf fans, is a good thing for the sport. –Jamie Tierney