Taj 1st / Jordy 2nd / Dane 3rd is a result that speaks volumes. It doesn’t just speak volumes, actually — it screams them. The result screams things like, “Where was Joel?!” and “Kelly who?!” and “Mick better learn to do airs!”
With regard to the new, progressive performance standard: We’d love to say we told ya so. But that’s unbecoming of a respectable publication and, in fact, doesn’t reflect the bigger picture. The Quiksilver Pro was fraught with signs of the ASP’s future, yes, but we need to wade through much froth and hyperbole to ascertain what the contest actually revealed. It might be less than you think.
To be sure, Dane and Jordy are the best surfers breathing today — better than 9x Slater, 2x Mick, and even event winner Taj — if the waves are 2- to 6-foot, wedgy, crumbly righthanders. Those were the conditions forced upon Quiksilver organizers this year, so the D&J Explosion was partially written in the swell charts. Had it been heaving, 10-foot Kirra like in 2009, tail-throws would have mattered for f—k. So don’t sell the farm.
Also note that Mick can so do airs — he can do really good ones. He doesn’t, though, because he’s too smart. He wants to win, and airs aren’t the best bet for winning, so he holds back. Dane DOES go for airs and hucks all the time because he, too, is smart: His first priority isn’t winning, but rather putting on a show and crafting a rep for prog. Mastery — so going for broke is the right strategy for him. And make no mistake, it is a strategy.
Happy Gilmore could drive the ball 400 yards, so everyone loved to watch and cheer for him. But Happy Gilmore couldn’t putt, so he never won tournaments. Dane is a lot like Happy Gilmore; the difference is that Dane will probably never learn to putt, because he thinks putting is lame. Mick and Joel are Shooter McGavin. You have to watch the movie.
Taj won the final by doing well-timed Taj-hacks on set waves. It’s not a performance worth revisiting via Heats on Demand, but it is a performance worth $50thou. and the ratings lead. So Taj got what he was after, which wasn’t necessarily the Most Exciting Surfer award. The ASP clearly isn’t as “gay for Dane” and Modern Collective-style surfing as we’re accused of being (guilts!), and Taj knew it, so he surfed to the criteria and won. Shea Lopez gives a good explanation of the result here.
The changing of the guard won’t necessarily mean a changing of the world title racers, unless the new guard decides world titles are must have — in which case they may have to surf more like the old guard anyway, in order to win heats. In some cases, they’re still just not good enough. The veteran Andy Irons surfed slow at Snapper and lost early, but he’s a Teahupo’o favorite regardless of weight, fitness or sobriety. Dane isn’t; Jordy super isn’t. They and Dusty and Owen will keep making highlight reels all year, but that won’t mean the older (late 20’s) generation is done for. Yet.