HUNTINGTON BEACH, California/USA (Saturday, July 28, 2012) – The 2012 Nike US Open of Surfing kicked off today with Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 4-Star Nike US Open of Surfing Pro Junior and saw an elite list of international up-and-comers battle through the early rounds to decide the division’s Quarterfinalists.
The Nike US Open of Surfing represents the fifth of seven events on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series and its ASP 4-Star status plays a vital role is surfers’ qualification campaigns for the ASP World Junior Tour.
Felipe Toledo (BRA), 17, defending Nike US Open of Surfing Pro Junior Champion, made a seamless return to competition today and put on two standout performances to advance to the Quarterfinals. Toledo was responsible for the day’s highest scores compliments of his aerial repertoire, netting a 9.40 single-wave score en route to the highest heat total of 17.90 out of 20.
“It was pretty hard, but sometimes these waves are like Brazil and I’ve been training a lot in these conditions,” Toledo said. “My home break is like this and I just went out there and tried to do some airs.”
Toledo established himself on a global stage with his victory at last year’s event and feels more confident entering the Nike US Open of Surfing with a year of experience under his belt.
“I feel more relaxed coming in to the event this year because last year was my first year with my new sponsor,” Toledo said. “It’s really nice to come back here again and I’m going to try my best to win.”
Keanu Asing (Ewa Beach, HI), 19, current frontrunner on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series, opened his Nike US Open Pro Junior campaign in dominant fashion with wins in both his Round 1 and Round 2 heats.
“It was really tough with no swell in the water and it was a struggle, but it went my way,” Asing said. “I just stuck to my game and I got lucky. I have a good board under my feet and I’m happy I was able to put together two good heats.”
The powerful Hawaiian is out to carry his early round success through to the latter rounds of competition and admits that his victories today have built his confidence for the remainder of the event.
“It’s a big relief to get those first two out of the way,” Asing said. “Those first few rounds are always a struggle for me to get rid of my nerves. To take the confidence from a good opening day is huge.”
Kanoa Igarashi (Huntington Beach, CA), 14, Nike US Open Pro Junior wildcard, advanced through two heats today, finishing second in Round 1 before a standout Round 2 heat win where he topped Santa Barbara talent Conner Coffin (Santa Barbara, CA), 18, who advanced in second, and former ASP World Junior Champion Maxime Huscenot (FRA), 20, to earn a berth in the Quarterfinals.
“I’m really happy to make two heats today,” Igarashi said. “Conner (Coffin) is one of my favorite surfers and this is the first time I’ve ever gone up against him and I’m just stoked to get the win.”
Igarashi, who won his maiden ASP event this spring at the ASP 1-Star in Florida, is building momentum on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series and hopes that he can deliver a top performance in Huntington Beach to build a seed for 2013.
“It’s great to get the wildcard in to this event,” Igarashi said. “I had that win in Florida and getting a wildcard in to this, I think I’ll have a pretty good seed next year and I’m psyched that I got in.”
While the ASP Men’s Pro Junior competition was responsible for today’s schedule, the Women’s Nike US Open Pro Junior, ASP Women’s World Championship Tour, and Men’s ASP Prime event have yet to kick off. Men’s competition is slated to begin on Monday.
The Nike US Open of Surfing runs from July 28 through August 5, 2012 and is webcast LIVE starting Monday at www.usopenofsurfing.com
For more ASP details log on to www.aspworldtour.com or www.aspnorthamerica.org
While the action in the water is guaranteed to provide plenty of entertainment, the Nike US Open of Surfing, owned and operated by IMG, a global leader in sports and entertainment, is part of a major action sports festival that includes skateboarding, music, art and more.