Sally Fitzgibbons closes ASP World Title gap after winning the Billabong Rio Pro 2012
Australia’s Sally Fitzgibbons has taken the Billabong Women’s Rio Pro over Hawian Coco Ho by a score of 14.10 to 14.03 in spiky 1-3 foot waves at the primary venue of Barra da Tijuca.
Event No. 5 of 7 on the 2012 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour, the Billabong Pro Rio climaxed in exhilarating fashion with both Fitzgibbons and Ho switching the Final’s lead numerous times before the bell sounded. In need of a 7+ point ride with just seconds left in the heat, Fitzgibbons smashed a blowing lefthander on her backside, notching a 7.93 out of 10 to take the win, her 2nd of the year.
“That was so crazy and Coco had me on the ropes for sure,” Fitzgibbons said. “I just had my fingers crossed and knew there would be one towards the end. I made a few mistakes and it happens in Finals but I was able to recover there at the end. I’m so excited.”
Surf girl, Sally Fitzgibbons, current No. 2 on the ASP Women’s WCT, has importantly narrowed the gap between her and current ASP favourite Stephanie Gilmore but remained modest in regards to her chase for the 2012 ASP World Title.
“This makes the World Title race more interesting, but thinking ahead, it’s still pretty far to go,” Fitzgibbons said. “There are still a couple of events, but to get a win, it’s an amazing result. To win at Bells too, it’s been an awesome year so far.”
Hawian surfer, Coco Ho, who was ranked 12th on the ASP Women’s WCT ratings prior to the Billabong Rio Pro, had yet to boost beyond the quarter finals this year, but her runner up finish to Fitzgibbons hurdles the young Hawaiian to 9th in the world and rejuvenates her confidence.
“This result really opens things up for me,” Ho said. “I’ve been having a really tough year and I’m stoked to get into this Final. This is my best result of the year and this has been an important event for me. Congrats to Sally on her win.”
Carissa Moore, last year’s Billabong Rio Pro winner and reigning ASP Women’s World Champion, was marched out of a heavy pushed battle against Fitzgibbons in their high scoring semifinal. Both rivals posted high scores in the dying seconds of the heat, but it was Fitzgibbons who made the best of the heat, handing Moore and equal 3rd place result.
“I think we all want to make the Final and it’s disappointing,” Moore said. “I’ve lost to Sally twice this year and I’ve just got to keep trying in the next couple of events and that’s it.”
Moore, who was dominating over the course of 2011, but has still to find a win in 2012, still remains centered attaining a good performance to end out this season.
“I think it’s been a bunch of things this year,” Moore said. “I think finding the right waves is one thing overall and I need to switch it up and bring something different out.”
Alessa Quizon, Billabong Rio Pro wildcard, put in an astounding performance at this year’s event, ripping through the world’s greatest female surfers and finding her way into the semi finals. Quizon put up a great fight against fellow Hawaiian surfer Coco Ho, but in the end fell during last minute exchange, ending with a respectable equal 3rd place finish overall.
“This has been an amazing event for me,” Quizon said. “I had nothing to lose and it’s been a great learning experience for me and I’m happy that I made it to the Semifinals. I could tell that Coco was getting the scores that she needed and I was looking for one big score and I just didn’t find it. Sometimes it happens that way.”
The next stop on the 2012 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour is the Roxy Pro Biarritz from July 10th to the 14th
BILLABONG WOMEN’S RIO PRO FINAL RESULT:
1 - Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.10
2 - Coco Ho (HAW) 14.03
BILLABONG WOMEN’S RIO PRO SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Coco Ho (HAW) 14.16 def. Alessa Quizon (HAW) 10.94
SF 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.47 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.36
CURRENT ASP WOMEN’S WCT TOP 5 (After Billabong Rio Pro):
1. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 38,400 pts
2. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 36,900 pts
3. Carissa Moore (HAW) 30,200 pts
4. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 29,600 ptsbr>
5. Tyler Wright (AUS) 28,700 pts