Cory Lopez 

This is the stage of a surfing contest where the battle turns bloody and the chips are down. Forced into the repercharge heats, where ‘sudden death' elimination made every wave a “do or die” affair, unlikely countries fought their way to the next round with surprise results today at the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games fueled by Monster Energy.

Landlocked Germany's Thomas Lange, along with tiny nation surfers like Salvadorian Porferio Miranda, Italy's Federico Pilurzu, Costa Rican Luis Vindas, and Brian Sanford from the Dominican Republic pulled out all the stops to keep their World Games hopes alive.

“I was in last place until the final five minutes,” said Ecuadorian Dominic Barona, who won her heat against Brazil and Argentina. “Then I got one of the really rare perfect ones where I got 3 big moves and a 7 point score. That took me to first place from last!”

Underdogs like Mexico's Angelo Lozano, Panamanian Gary Saavedra, Japan's Kai Ojima, Argentine's Leandro Ursena and Lucas Santamaria, Puerto Rican Brian Toth, all won their heats and moved straight through to the next round.

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Hank Gaskell

With a building swell, and a huge crowd that was even bigger than yesterday, the pressure to perform was ratcheted up a notch today at the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games fueled by Monster Energy.

South Africa, which looked dominant 24 hours ago, struggled to stay in the top echelon. Australia, the reigning champs had only one win with several team members sent to the repercharge heats. France, who shared a perfect record of all six heat wins yesterday with the Americans, had to step up their game to continue their run at the title. While still maintaining a formidable record of 4 wins and a 2nd today, French ASP contender Mickey Picon was sent to the repercharge and Jeremy Flores was pushed into a 2nd place result by red hot local Costa Rican Jason Torres. Flores squeaked through to advance on a last minute deep tube ride that was as lucky as it was amazing.

Hawaii's Joel Centeio got the first legitimate barrel ride of the day early in the first heat of the morning, and Hawaii's stellar team is looking strong. But when Venezuela, Austria, Brazil, Hawaii, Argentina, New Zealand and Puerto Rico all post wins today, nobody is feeling indominatable. Even the USA, who continued their march up the ladder remaining five for six, was quiet. “We are not making any claims here,” said a subdued Ian Cairns. ‘We can celebrate if we get to the finals.”

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Carlos Muñoz

If you think Colombia, Switzerland, Ecuador, Germany and Austria aren't surfing nations, think again. On the opening day of the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games, each of these countries advanced, sometimes besting the big surfing nations in the process.

With thousands of spectators packing the thin line of fine black sand, Paul Grey from Germany won his heat against powerhouse surf nation of Brazil, Carlos Goncalves of Ecuador advanced over Tahiti and tiny landlocked Switzerland took a 2nd to move into Round Two. “We are so happy to be here,” said Tino Staheli, a Swiss team member. “The international level of surfing just keeps going up and up and up. Sometimes it is a bit intimidating!”

Ecuador, not exactly a top rated favorite in the event, had 3 major wins, taking advantage of the 3 to 4 foot changeable beachbreak waves.

"We have been training hard and I believe that was key to our wins today,” said Carlos Goncalves. Added winner Israel Barona, “I was lucky to find the best waves and do the things well in them. The competitors were good, but my wave ion was the major factor.”

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