Americans Will Be Seeking Their First ISA World Juniors Team Gold Medal in Panama, While Hawaiians Will Be Trying For First Team Gold Since 2005
DaKine ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong
April 14 to 22, 2012
Playa Venao, Panama
With the level of talent both Hawaii and USA are bringing to Panama for the DaKine ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong, it’s a near-certainly that this year’s edition of the event will be one of the most memorable to date.
“USA and Hawaii have both played major roles in the history of surfing, so it only makes sense that they would continue to produce generation after generation of good, young surfers,” said Fernando Aguerre, the president of the ISA. “USA’s never won a Team Gold Medal, and it’s been a while since Hawaii won theirs, so we can expect they’ll be coming to Panama extra motivated and determined.”
The two teams (Hawaii is considered its own nation in surf competition) are among the 30 nations who will be traveling to compete at Playa Venao, on the west coast of Panama. In total, more than 300 athletes will take part in the nine-day event that brings together the best under-18 surfers in the world.
For Team Hawaii, which can call the Seven-Mile Miracle on the North Shore of Oahu its practice ground, to not have won a Team Gold Medal since 2005 after a few near misses has been a bit of a shocker. The team finished with the Silver Medal in 2009 and 2010, and the Copper Medal last year in Peru.
In the Under-18 Boys division, the Hawaiians will be led by Koa Smith and Kain Daly, both of whom have had success at prior ISA World Junior events. Smith won the Bronze Medal in 2010 in the Under-16 division, while Daly finished just outside medal contention last year. Accompanying the pair to Panama will be Isaiah Moniz and Kaoli Kahokuloa, who have also had top 20 finishes in ISA World Junior competition in recent years.
Hawaii’s Under-16 Boys is a foursome of highly-touted young shredders: the late Andy Irons once called Ian Gentil his favorite young surfer in the world; surf pundits have gone so far as to consider Kalani David the future Shaun White (X-Games legend snowboarder) of surfing; and the Moniz brothers, Josh and Seth, recently snagged well-publicized back-to-back barrels at big Backdoor Pipeline, and are routinely among the best surfers in any lineup.
The true strength of this Hawaiian team may lie with its female surfers. Tatiana Weston-Webb (5th), Brianna Cope (6th) and Mahina Maeda (9th) all finished in the top 10 in Peru, and will be hoping to land themselves on the podium this year. Dax McGill is a newcomer to ISA competition, but should not be overlooked, as she has proven herself quite the competitor in NSSA contests.
The Americans have team medals in every color but gold at the ISA World Juniors. Team USA will be heading to Panama with a roster heavy with accomplished young athletes ready to make the push for that elusive Team Gold Medal and trophy. In the Under-18 Boys division, the team has four surfers who’ve displayed ample ability to excel in tense contest moments.
Jake Halstead, a former Silver Medalist (Under-16 Boys, 2010) and Colin Moran, an experienced international competitor have their place guaranteed in the Team’s Under 18 division. While Trevor Thornton, Taylor Clark and Cam Richards are vying for the last two spots in the final squad.
Team USA’s Under-16 Boys surfers are a who’s-who of what’s next in surfing. Each of the four young talents has excelled in NSSA and Surfing America Prime competition, with numerous regional and national titles between them, and have even begun appearing and excelling in ASP-rated events.
Kanoa Igarashi shattered the NSSA’s single-season wins record, and has been featured in two TV documentaries in Japan, where he was born. At just 10-years-old Jake Marshall merited a Day in the Life feature on Surfline, and in recent years (he’s now 13) has put together some double-digit winning sprees in amateur competition. Jake Davis (younger brother to Luke) and Griffin Colapinto are also part of a Surfing America generation which is considered as rich and deep as its ever been.
“Being on the USA surf team is rad, its fun to hang around all the best kids, and to get to travel,” Igarashi said. “I got to experience it last year in Peru, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had, so hopefully we do good this year.”
The American girls have two ISA veterans in Quincy Davis and Nikki Viesins. Viesins traveled to and competed in the inaugural ISA China Cup earlier this year, and finished in the top 25 in Peru. When Davis looks at the team rosters from the other countries, she’ll notice just three names that finished above her in Peru, so her mind will be set on medaling in Panama. Frankie Harrer and Emily Ruppert are both ISA newcomers, but both have proven themselves tough competitors in NSSA and Surfing America Prime competition.
The DaKine ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong begins on April 14 with the traditional ISA Opening Ceremony, which includes a Parade of Nations and the Sands of the World Ceremony.
The Opening Ceremony and the competition, which starts on April 15, can be viewed live at www.dakineisawjsc.com/live.
Hawaii Junior National Team
PacSun USA Junior National Team
Nic Hdez (U16 Boys)
John Mel (U16 Boys)
Colt Ward (U16 Boys)
Harley Taich (U18 Girls)