New Faces Poised to Shake Up Establishment at Roxy Pro Gold Coast
COOLANGATTA, Australia- The 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour season is just days from commencing with the Roxy Pro Gold Coast presented by LG Mobile scheduled from February 28 through March 11, 2009.
Event No. 1 of 8 on the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour season, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast will see the return of such high-profile athletes as reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 21, defending Roxy Pro Champion Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 25, among others, but the new faces this season have been generating a bit of buzz themselves.
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 18, 2008 ASP WQS No. 1 finisher, made history last season, wrapping up her Dream Tour qualification well before the halfway mark. Now a full-fledged ASP Women’s World Tour campaigner, Fitzgibbons enters into the Roxy Pro Gold Coast as the No. 1 rookie.
“I’m really excited to be competing in my first competition as a full-time ASP Women’s World Tour member,” Fitzgibbons said. “I’ve had a bit of experience as a wildcard at this level, but I’ve narrowly missed out as a trialist at Snapper the last couple of times so to be in the main event. Snapper Rocks is one of my favorite waves and to have the opportunity to surf it with just one other person will be incredible.”
Despite unprecedented success at the ASP WQS level, Fitzgibbons remains guarded about her transitional efforts to the elite level of competition, but the prodigious natural-footer is sure to make an impression in the coming weeks.
“The main difference between the WQS and the ASP Women’s World Tour is probably going to be the venues,” Fitzgibbons said. “We get to surf such great locations on tour and the events take really good care of us. It will definitely be an interesting year with Layne (Beachley) off tour and Steph (Gilmore) looking to grab her third consecutive ASP Women’s World Title. With have five new rookies on this season and that will be exciting to see them shake things up.”
Firzgibbons will face Silvana Lima (BRA), 24, and Megan Abubo (HAW), 31, in Round 1 of competition when the Roxy Pro Gold Coast commences.
Chelsea Hedges (AUS), 25, former ASP Women’s World Champion, has returned this season as the ASP wildcard, following a one-year sabbatical where she had daughter Meika. Hedges was awarded the ASP Wildcard for 2009 and will begin her comeback on the ASP Women’s World Tour at home on the Gold Coast for the Roxy Pro.
“I’m just excited to be back in competition and to get to surf a heat again,” Hedges said. “It’s so nice to come back here at home at start the season off at Snapper Rocks. Since having Meika, I’ve had to rebuild my core strength and I have been training quite regularly at CHEK with Jan Carton and I’ve been surfing a lot. I feel about as ready as I’ll ever be.”
Since stepping away from the ASP Women’s World Tour in 2007, Hedges has been absent for some major transitions on the Dream Tour: the acquisition of a second consecutive ASP Women’s World Title by Stephanie Gilmore, the semi-retirement of former seven-time ASP Women’s World Champion Layne Beachley (AUS), 36, etc.
“It’s amazing how much the tour seems to have changed in just one year,” Hedges said. “It was really exciting to watch online last year and see some of the new girls really pushing the sport. Sally (Fitzgibbons) will be really one to watch and Steph (Gilmore) is always the girl to beat. I feel very fortunate that I’ll be on tour this season with all the new girls and I’m excited to push my surfing and try a few new maneuvers.”
Hedges will face defending Roxy Pro Gold Coast Champion Sofia Mulanovich (PER), 25, and 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour rookie Coco Ho (HAW), 18, in Round 1 when competition commences.
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Samantha Cornish (AUS), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat 2: Amee Donohoe (AUS), Jacqueline Silva (BRA), Alana Blanchard (HAW)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Rosanne Hodge (ZAF), TBA
Heat 4: Silvana Lima (BRA), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Megan Abubo (HAW)
Heat 5: Sofia Mulanovich (PER), Chelsea Hedges (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 6: Melanie Bartels (HAW), Rebecca Woods (AUS), Bruna Schmitz (BRA)