Kanoa Igarashi is euphoric after winning the US Open of Surfing for the second year in a row in Huntington Beach on Sunday, Aug 5, 2018. Now, he’s celebrating securing a spot in the upcoming Olympics, where he’ll be surfing for team Japan. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)
As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games nears, the short list of surfers in line to compete in the sport’s big debut is taking shape — and so far, two Orange County surfers have secured spots to compete in the historic event that will bring surfing to millions of viewers.
Kolohe Andino, of San Clemente, seen at the 2019 Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach earlier this year. Andino has been secured a spot in the upcoming Olympics. (Photo by Michael Fernandez, Contributing Photographer)
Huntington Beach local Kanoa Igarashi and San Clemente’s Kolohe Andino have both earned slots at the Olympics, meaning local surf fans will have familiar athletes to cheer on.
Igarashi, who has dual citizenship and will be surfing for the host country, is no stranger to the podium. The two-time winner of the U.S. Open of Surfing — at his home break in Huntington in 2017 and 2018 — began as a tyke taking tiny waves in Newport Beach and at the Huntington Beach Pier.
A young Kanoa Igarashi was turning heads even as a young tyke surfing Blackies in Newport Beach. Now, he’s secured a spot in the first-ever Olympics. Photo courtesy of Tom Cozad.
Had he not joined Japan’s roster, Igarashi likely wouldn’t have qualified for this Olympic Games, with stiff competition among United States athletes clamoring for the team’s two allotted spots for men.
Unlike typical surf contests, the mainland and Hawaii are combined for the upcoming Olympics, making it even harder to secure entry considering stand-out surfers such as John John Florence and Kelly Slater are in the running.
But one U.S. surfer who has made the team is Andino, it was announced Friday, Oct. 18.
Both Andino and Igarashi must still meet eligibility requirements of the International Surfing Association, the International Olympic Committee and the respective national Olympic committees.
With the World Surf Tour events still in fierce competition mode — and the World Tour rankings one of the paths toward qualification — it’s unclear who will nab the second men’s spot. The final spots on Team USA’s two-man, two-woman Olympic team will be determined at the end of the WSL season in December – following the women’s Maui Pro event and the men’s Hawaii Pipe Masters event.
Andino is currently ranked fifth in the world on the World Tour and is the highest-ranked surfer from the United States.
The WSL CT is the pathway for 18 countries to qualify surfers for the Olympics. The remaining 22 surfers from countries that don’t participate in the WSL are determined through the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games and the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima.
“Surfing is definitely unique and it is almost a lifestyle and an art, but it should be really exciting to compete there,” Andino said of the Olympic Games, in a news release. “I love my country and I always love watching the Olympics, so it will be really rad to be in the Opening Ceremony and to be a part of everything.”
USA Surfing CEO Greg Cruse called Andino “Captain America.” Andino is a second-generation surfer, following in his father Dino’s footsteps as one of the world’s best surfers competing on the World Tour.
The younger Andino, 25, has won seven USA Surfing Championships and shattered records with nine National Scholastic Surfing Association championships a decade ago as an amateur. He joined the ranks of the world’s best in 2012.
Kolohe Andino, 10 years ago was the star of the 2009 NSSA Nationals, accepts a $5,000 check as winner of the premier division, Open Men. He also took national titles in two other divisions, giving him a male record nine national titles at age 15. .He’s now qualified for surfing’s debut in the upcoming Olympic Games. (File photo by Fred Swegles, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Behind Andino in the rankings are Florence and fellow Hawaiian Seth Moniz, followed by 11-time World Champion Slater, who all have a chance to qualify for the Olympics.
For the women’s U.S. spots, current rankings show Hawaii’s Carissa Moore and Santa Barbara’s Lakey Peterson as front-runners, though Florida-born Caroline Marks, who for the past few years has called San Clemente home, and Santa Ana’s Courtney Conlogue, have a chance if those surfers falter.
It also was announced this week that South Africa’s Jordy Smith, who lives in San Clemente, has made the list. Australia’s Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore have been named to represent the women athletes for their country.
For countries not represented on the World Tour, the Lima 2019 Pan American Games in July determined the first qualification slots for Tokyo 2020, with Peru’s Lucca Mesinas and Daniella Rosas earning the nods with their gold medals.
Eight more slots were determined at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games, with Morroco’s Ramzi Boukhiam, Japan’s Shun Murakami, Portugal’s Frederico Morais and New Zealand’s Billy Stairmand earning the slots for the men. Women’s spots were given to New Zealand’s Ella Williams, Israel’s Anat Lelior, Japan’s Shino Matsuda, and South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag.
“The qualification race is heating up as we have already seen many of the world’s top surfers earn their pass to Tokyo,” ISA President Fernando Aguerre said in a news announcement. “We also are proud to highlight the wide geographic reach of surfing and the surfers that have qualified for the Olympics. All continents are represented, which will truly bring all corners of the globe together for the surfing competition at the Games.”
Article written by Laylan Connelly – previously published on OCRegister.com