Monday, August 8, 2011
Kelly Slater's 360s worth $100,000 at surfing's U.S. Open
Kelly Slater turned a couple of big-air 360 reverses into a huge payday Sunday, winning the 2011 Nike U.S. Open of Surfing contest in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Facing Australia's Yadin Nicol in the final, Slater opened up with an 8.50 ride and never trailed, winning 16.27 to 2.57 to collect the $100,000 top prize.
It was the Cocoa Beach surfer's first U.S. Open win since defeating Shane Beschen 15 years ago.
"I guess Yadin wanted me to win because he didn't catch any waves," Slater said. "This gives me confidence."
Heading next to Tahiti on the world circuit, Slater finds himself sixth in the rankings just before the midway point of the season. The 10-time world champion skipped the previous event in South Africa to chase better waves.
The 360s were close to perfect.
"I don't practice them in free-surfing, you can get hurt," he said. "But I stuck a couple of them."
Nicol is on the "bubble" trying to qualify for the world tour.
"I was just really frustrated for him because he was sitting out the back waiting for the big sets and the big sets were close-outs," Slater said. "The small ones, he was just too far outside and I got them. I think what happened is, I got the 8.50 to start and he was just going to be patient. If he got a good one, he would have thrown a big rotator, but it just never came."
In the semifinals, Slater defeated Hawaii's Dusty Payne 17.94 to 14.90, and in the quarterfinals he defeated longtime rival Taj Burrow of Australia 15.50 to 15.27.