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Canadian surfer Sanoa Dempfle-Olin secures Olympic spot, Erin Brooks eliminated early at worlds

Sanoa Dempfle-Olin

Canadian surfer Sanoa Dempfle-Olin secures Olympic spot, Erin Brooks eliminated early at worlds

Squad places 9th to meet target; Cody Young might be reserve for Paris Game

Canada’s Sanoa Demple-Olin, pictured competing at the surfing world championships this week in Puerto Rico, posted the single-highest wave score and heat total, surpassing reigning Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion Carissa Moore of Honolulu. (Instagram/csasurfcanada)

It was far from a lost week for Canada at the surfing world championships in Puerto Rico despite falling short of expectations to qualify multiple athletes for the Paris Olympics in July.

The team of three women and three men reached its goal of a top-10 finish, placing ninth after beginning the competition as the 16th seed. Canada was sixth last year, with Erin Brooks capturing a silver medal in El Salvador.

Sanoa Dempfle-Olin officially qualified for the Summer Games with a third-place finish Saturday in repechage 7 after provisionally securing a spot at the Pan Am Games last October in Santiago, Chile. And Dom Domic, executive director for Surf Canada, told CBC Sports he believes Cody Young will be a second reserve for the Games.

“I guess we didn’t optimize everyone’s potential in every heat and came up a little short,” Domic said over the phone from Arecibo.

Dempfle-Olin, 18, posted the single-highest wave score (9.17) and heat total (17.70), surpassing reigning Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion Carissa Moore of Honolulu.

“I believe she had three of the top six wave scores,” said Domic, adding the strong performance should see the Tofino, B.C., resident seeded high for the Olympic competition. “She definitely has the firepower to compete with the best in the world. It’s just [being] consistent heat to heat.

The surprise of the week for the Canadian squad was Brooks, the 16-year-old American Canadian sensation who was hoping to realize her dream of competing at her first Olympics but was eliminated before the weekend. Her family also has a home in Tofino. 

She also missed a chance to clinch an Olympic berth when she couldn’t participate at the Pan Am Games after the International Surfing Association reversed its decision to grant a request from Surfing Canada and Canadian Olympic Committee to allow her to compete as her citizenship application had been filed but not completed.

“It was shocking for everybody here, not just her support team and teammates,” said Domic of Brooks’s early exit from competition in Puerto Rico. “But it’s sports. Mistakes are made and sometimes you don’t have the opportunities to recover.”

Brooks gears up for Challenger Series

Brooks, who officially was granted Canadian citizenship in January, will next compete in the Challenger Series, which begins in April in Australia, site of the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

“She’s still young and hopefully will make the leap to the [World Surf League’s Women’s] Championship Tour next year. There are no other Canadians qualified but Sanoa is working towards that goal and hopefully will be joining [Brooks].”

Young, who turns 25 on Monday, was one wave away from qualifying, according to Domic.

“Your heat total is based on two waves,” he said. “He [Young] had one keeper wave and needed another average wave score. I think it was low five. Unfortunately, you can make a lot of right decisions and still not advance.”

Young was fourth at the Pan Am Games last October and seventh in men’s shortboard a year ago at worlds.

“We’re going to make sure he’s ready [if called up for the Olympics],” Domic said. “With it being a radically dangerous wave in Tahiti [where the surfing event is being held] injuries are not uncommon.”

Tahiti’s Teahupo’o is considered one of the world’s heaviest waves because the South Pacific Ocean dumps abruptly over a razor-sharp, shallow coral reef.

Waves there can grow to more than 25 feet with barrels so big surfers can stand upright and lift their arms in victory. Others have been hospitalized with serious injuries.

“One of the scariest, most dangerous waves in the world,” said ISA broadcaster, surfer and coach Barton Lynch of Australia.

The competition at Teahupo’o marks only the second Olympics to feature surfing, with 48 women and men competing for medals.

Levi Young, Cody’s 19-year-old brother, Wheeler Hasburgh and Sanoa’s sister, Mathea, also represented Canada at worlds this week.

Source: www.cbc.ca

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