Gabriel Medina: flying well-known skies

A few surprises marked the first day of waves of the Billabong Rio Pro 2014, at the powerful beachbreak of Barra Da Tijuca.

Tiago Pires sent Adriano de Souza and Sebastian Zietz to Round 2, with the first substantial ride of a 6.33 for two solid turns.

Crowd favorite Gabriel Medina wasted little time to open his Billabong Rio Pro campaign, etching a pair of 6-point rides to start. Fellow countryman Raoni Monteiro answered back, notching a strong 7.50 of his own while Adrian Buchan picked off a few small rides.

Medina built momentum, blending his polished technical approach and his aerial game on both his forehand and backhand, strengthening his lead lead over the pack. Medina held on to the win, advancing directly to Round 3.

"It's really important to me to have a contest here in Brazil because the crowds are amazing and I have my family and friends here," says Gabriel Medina. "It feels really good to be back home after the Australian leg and for Brazil, this contest is huge. I'm trying to do my best and I don't feel the pressure."

11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater established an early lead over rookie Mitch Crews and wildcard Peterson Crisanto, with a 4.43 and 3.67 on his forehand.

Crews quickly battled back, making a critical barrel on his forehand for a 7.57. The Australian quickly backed up his efforts on another righthander, lofting a clean frontside air for a 5.50, placing both Crisanto and Slater in need of excellent scores.

Slater and Crisanto would hunt the lineup, but were unable to find the waves needed to surpass Crews for the win.

The battle between John John Florence, C.J. Hobgood and Matt Wilkinson got off to a slow start with all three competitors logging small scores throughout the first half of the heat.

Wilko stomped a committed forehand punt, overtaking Florence for the lead. While the Australian was on his way to his first Round 1 win of the season, a flurry unfolded in the dying minutes.

Florence capitalized on a last-second barrel and executed perfectly, posting a 6.33, overtaking Wilkinson for the lead. Hobgood was on the following wave, but the goofy-footers 5.17 fell shy of the score needed.

Florence relegated Wilkinson and Hobgood to Round 2 compliments of his last-ditch efforts.

Billabong Rio Pro 2014 | Round 1 Results:

Heat 1: Tiago Pires (PRT) 9.70, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.60, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 6.40
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.53, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 10.17, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 8.87
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 9.60, Brett Simpson (USA) 7.83, Adam Melling (AUS) 7.24
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.67, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.20, Glenn Hall (IRL) 8.67
Heat 5: Mitch Crews (AUS) 13.07, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 8.53, Kelly Slater (USA) 8.64
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.10, David do Carmo (BRA) 10.30, Mick Fanning (AUS) 10.07
Heat 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) 14.33, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.20, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 10.76
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.67, Fred Pattachia (HAW) 12.50, Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.60
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 18.30, Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.93, Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 10.47
Heat 10: Nat Young (USA) 11.86, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 11.67, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 9.94
Heat 11: Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.13, Owen Wright (AUS) 11.60, Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.03
Heat 12: John John Florence (HAW) 6.33, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.53, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.80