San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

C.R. Fares Well in Surfing Games; U.S. Wins

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Itwas a week to remember for the Costa Rican National Surfing Team.

Throughoutthe first eight days of the month at the International Surfing Association (ISA)World Surfing Games at Playa Hermosa on the central Pacific, the Ticos wereshowered with support from the home crowd, as they proved to be one of the topsurfing teams in the world.

OnSaturday, Aug. 8, the competition came to a close and as the teams gathered atthe podium for the awards ceremony, the Ticos held their heads high, proud oftheir seventh-place finish. The United States team won the overallchampionship.

“Seventhis a good result,” said surfer Lisbeth Vindas. “We would like to have finished higher,but the competition here was very strong and, overall, we had a great tournament.”

Thelast competing Tico surfer, Jason Torres, was eliminated Friday, Aug. 7, finishingas the seventh best Open surfer in the ISA games. With only 16 surfersremaining in the Open competition that day, Torres entered with the hope thathe could best his fifth-place finish in 2008. In the first heat of the day,Torres finished fourth and was demoted to the repercharge competition. He bouncedback, winning his first repercharge heat, much to the delight of the vibrant CostaRican crowd lining the beach.

Butless than two hours later, with only eight surfers left in the Open competition,Torres narrowly finished in third place in his second repercharge heat and waseliminated from the games. Torres started the heat slowly, though halfwaythrough the 20-minute heat, he rode a long, hollow wave inside, and finished aseries of cutbacks with a 360-spin maneuver. Cheers from the Costa Rican fanserupted, and Torres momentarily moved into second place.

Theeuphoria was short-lived, however. French surfer Jeremy Flores and South Africansurfer Brandon Jackson followed with impressive rides of their own and, when their20-minute heats ended, Torres was in third place with a score of 12.94, just0.8 of a point behind Jackson’s 13.74. Had Torres finished second, he wouldhave advanced to the finals on Saturday.

Floreswent on to win the Open championship on Saturday. During the competition, Floresand Torres were pitted against one another on four occasions. Torres beatFlores on three occasions before Friday’s heat.

“That’sjust how the competition goes,” Torres said. “The tournament is about survival.

You can beatsomebody one day and they beat you the next. Flores is a great surfer and I amhappy he continued on and wonthe tournament.”

Torreswas the final member of the Costa Rican team to be eliminated. Earlier in the day,Carlos Muñoz, a 16-year old who advanced through three repercharge rounds toreach the final 16 of the Open, lost in the first heat of the day. Muñoz’ runthrough the tournament was one of the most dramatic and exciting of thecompetition, highlighted by his two Wednesday repercharge heats when he overcameinterference penalties to win.

“Iam disappointed I didn’t get the waves I was hoping for (on Friday),” saidMuñoz. “But I am happy with how I did and know that I can compete with the bestin the world. I am already thinking about next year and setting my goals tofinish better.”

TheUnited States team, after winning the overall championship, ascended the podiumSaturday, Aug. 8, to celebrate and sing the national anthem. France finished insecond place, the defending champion Australian team finished third and Hawaiitook fourth. U.S. surfer Courtney Conlogue won the women’s Open championshipand French surfer Antoine Delpero won the longboard competition.

Althoughno official attendance numbers were available, thousands of fans came to PlayaHermosa for the finals on Saturday, by far the biggest crowd turnout of theweek.

Overall,the competition, which drew teams from 36 countries, was a huge success for CostaRica and the world of surfing.

“CostaRica is a wonderful surfing country,” said Ian Cairns, surfing legend and coachof the U.S. team. “The fans were fantastic all week long and supportive ofevery team. The beach is beautiful, and there were overhead waves all week. Youcouldn’t have asked for much more from a surfing event. This was a world-classtournament.”

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