Medina, Fanning and Slater: mind games before the showdown

December 11, 2014 | Surfing
Mick Fanning, Gabriel Medina and Kelly Slater: smiling before the battle | Photo: ASP/Kirstin Scholtz

Gabriel Medina, Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater have met up before the start of the 2014 Billabong Pipe Masters to discuss the season so far and speak about their strategies for the title race.

The truth is that title contenders play safe when it comes to revealing tactics for the ultimate showdown. But there's one thing they have common: they all say they're absolutely relaxed.

Gabriel Medina:

"I've had a great year and won three events. That was pretty big for me, and it's been amazing. I've been surfing a lot of big waves; Teahupoo was so amazing and traveling a lot."

"I really don't care about all of the media attention. I try not to focus on that. There have been a lot of things going on, but I don't feel too much pressure and I try not to worry about it. I'm just doing my job - to surf good at every single event and do my best. Competition is like this - you win some, and you lose some. Portugal was like that, but I know you can't always win."

"It's hard to give advice to young people (who want to get into surfing) but I'd say just try to do your job, surf as well as you can and train hard. If you want to reach your goal, you have to do everything you can to reach it and try very hard."

Mick Fanning:

"It's been a great year actually. Any year where you get to win an event is a big one, but to win three has been awesome. Everyone has been going next level this year, so it's been amazing."

"It's very different defending a World Title compared to going for one. When you're going for one you're super hungry and you put everything else on the back burner. Then the following year you have so many more obligations, but you're also working hard to try to improve. Sometimes you put extra pressure on yourself, and sometimes things don't go your way, but I've had fun."

"I think from when I first got on Tour to where I am now I hope I've improved. I think it's just a matter of putting in the time, and I feel like I'm getting better in bigger waves. I still want to get better and I'm still fighting."

Kelly Slater:

"I know what I have to do to win the Title, there's no middle ground this year. I have to win the contest. Hopefully, we get good waves, and it's really exciting. If we can make Gabriel (Medina) lose like he never does, then Mick (Fanning) and I will have a shot, and it will be really exciting. I think we're all hoping for good waves and lots of opportunities."

"It's scary how good Gabriel has been since he got on Tour two and a half years ago and where he won two of his four events, which is a standard that no one has ever set before. He's met all the challenges and surpassed people's expectations. When a guy like that comes along it's scary for his competitors, but it's also motivating for people that want to challenge him."

"I know that for myself and for Mick it's caused us to reassess some things, from equipment to approach to maneuvers. He's won backside on a wave that's dominated by forehand guys and he won on his forehand on a wave dominated by backhand guys, so he's really pushing a standard that we all have to step up to and try to surpass."

"We're going to go into competition, and I'm going to do everything I can to win but I'm not in control of what Gabriel does or what Mick does. Every year, inevitably, you get to the end of the year, and there's something that you wish you did differently, a slip-up that you made along the way."