Laureus Award Nominees

Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore and Aaron Hadlow have been nominated for the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year.

The winners of the 2009 Laureus World Sports Awards will receive their Awards individually at a series of presentations during May and June.

Laureus and its Partners have made the decision that due to the current economic situation it would be inappropriate to stage a full-scale Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony at this time. Accordingly for this year Laureus will forego its usual spring celebration.

Laureus will monitor the economic situation over the next few months and announce in due course the arrangements for the next Laureus World Sports Awards.

Laureus promotes the use of sport as a tool for social change and celebrates sporting excellence.

PROFILE OF THE NOMINEES

Kelly Slater

Born: February 11, 1972 in
Place of Birth:  Florida, USA
Sport: Surfing

At 36, legendary surfing master Kelly Slater notched his most dominant year yet. Claiming his unprecedented ninth world title in 2008, Slater took first in six of the 10 contests he entered. His 8,832 points this year absolutely dwarfed the 6,780 of his nearest competitor. Slater did not even plan to compete in 2008, giving his rivals a sense of confidence that his later change-of-mind quickly dashed.

Stephanie Gilmore

Born: January 29, 1988
Place of Birth:  New South Wales, Australia
Sport: Surfing

Became the first surfer, male or female, to win the Association of Surfing Professionals world title in their rookie season, in 2007, and this year repeated the achievement.  Her luminous 2008 was highlighted by big wins all over the globe: Peru, Hawaii, Brazil, and Australia. And she barely lost ground when she finished third at the Rip Curl Pro Mademoiselle at Hossegor, France. Only 20, Gilmore has the potential to dominate women's surfing for the foreseeable future.

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2009 Rip Curls Bells Beach

Classic conditions with stiff offshore winds and solid surf in the four-to-six foot (1.5 – 2 metre) range once again graced Bells Beach today as the Rip Curl Pro presented by Snickers determined the Quarterfinalists, setting up a potential all-time finish for tomorrow.

Event No. 2 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach completed the final four heats of Round 2 this morning as well as the first three heats of Round 3 in excellent conditions at Bells Beach before relocating to nearby Winkipop to accommodate the increase in swell.

Joel Parkinson (AUS), 27, current ASP World No. 1 and past winner of the Rip Curl Pro (2004), continued this season’s devastating form, eliminating Kai Otton (AUS), 29, in Round 3 with an excellent-scoring 9.00 out of a possible 10 for a deep barrel followed by a series of rail-carves.

“That was a tough heat,” Parkinson said. “Probably one of the toughest I have surfed this year because of the elements. That wind was hard. I had one wave that blew me off the back but there are some good waves out there. My 9.00 was more just a little barrel, it was a really hard wave to surf. You are almost just holding on for dear life because of the wind. I guess I live to fight another day."

With reigning nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 37, out of the event as well as perennial ASP World Title challengers Bede Durbidge (AUS), 25, and Taj Burrow (AUS), 30, Parkinson’s bid for an inaugural crown is looking solid, but the talented natural-footer is wary of the season ahead.

“Everyone has talked it up with the hype of Kelly (Slater), Bede (Durbidge) and Taj (Burrow) being knocked out,” Parkinson said. “This isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon so there is no point getting caught up in it. We are still eight events to go and still eight months to go so there is no point in worrying what is happening at this event. Those guys are going to come out more hungry next time.”

Parkinson will face former ASP World Champion C.J. Hobgood (USA), 29, in Quarterfinal 1 when competition resumes.

As the swell increased, event organizers moved competition to nearby Winkipop where competitors reveled in the steeper, walling righthanders on offer.

Jordy Smith (ZAF), 21, took down giant-ing wildcard Owen Wright (AUS), 19, in one of the most exciting encounters of the day. Wright, who defeated defending event champion Slater in Round 2 of competition, looked in-form once again, but Smith’s forehand mastery proved too much for the young Australian.

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Dusty Payne 

Dusty Payne, the teenage surfer from Hawaii who went within a whisker of winning the 2008 Triple Crown of Surfing in Hawaii, has gone one better by winning the world’s richest single manoeuvre surfing competition.

Payne was today awarded the US$50,000 cash purse as the winner of the Kustom Air Strike, an eight-month global search for the best aerial surfing manoeuvre. Videographer Matt Shuster also collected US$5000 for capturing vision of the massive air reverse, which was filmed during downtime between the Triple Crown events late in 2008.

Ironically, Joel Parkinson, the current world title ratings leader who edged out Payne for the Triple Crown title, headed the judging panel for the Kustom Air Strike.

“Dusty’s aerial was unreal’, said Joel. “It was a big section that he hit and the way he landed he should have broken his legs, but he landed so smoothly and just rode it out.’

“The $50k for one move is really pushing the aerial guys to be more innovative. It’s unbelievable and I can’t wait until next year’s event!”

Payne said the Kustom Air Strike victory allowed him to look into buying an apartment in Western Australia with fellow finalist Jay Davies, a deal they made prior to the winner’s announcement should either of them claim victory.

“This is unbelievable, I’m speechless,” said Dusty at hearing the news at a Bondi restaurant late on Easter Friday night. “I didn’t even realise I was in the running, this is the best Good Friday ever!”

Judging panel member and Kustom general manager, Harry Truscott, said there was vigorous debate over the aerials short-listed for final judging.

“The quality of the entries builds each year and we had a wealth of incredible clips by the time the eight-month competition window closed,” he said.
 
“I think it fair to say each of the judges had a tough time going through the entries and coming in to the final judging the cash could have gone to any of three or four surfers.

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