Let's put it like this: The final day of women's action at the U.S. Open is going to be gnarly Saturday. With the quarterfinals taking place in the mid-tide, mid-day hour, the quarterfinals got under way Friday. Lakey Peterson, who won the U.S. Open Pro Junior last year, dominated the round. Exploding for a near-perfect heat 19.76 heat score -- the highest of the entire event -- the Ventura, Calif., surfer eliminated Sage Erickson (who beat Stephanie Gilmore on Thursday).
"I just found the right waves and made the most of them," Peterson said afterward. Humility is a funny thing.
As one would expect, Sally Fitzgibbons and Carissa Moore blew through their heats. They find themselves on the same side of the draw, so they'll meet in the second semifinal.
"We're friends, of course, and there's a lot of respect, but when we're in the water we both want to win," said Fitzgibbons.
The upset of the round came when Malia Manuel beat Orange County's most prolific female surfer, Courtney Conlogue. In 2008, Manuel won the Open at the tender age of 14, so she's no stranger to the wave. But Conlogue is also a defending champ and knows the wave better than just about anybody.
"That was a close heat," Manuel said in her post-heat interview. "I was kind of nervous and felt like I was surfing not myself. The conditions were kind of bumpy, there were lulls and big sets that walled so there were tough decisions on which ones to ride. Courtney is such an amazing athlete and it's her home break. It was a close heat and I'm glad that I got the nod in the end."
The men surfed the round of 24 the first half of the day, and if ever there was a case for progressive surfing, winning at Huntington Beach is it. And when it comes to the topic of progressive surfing, the conversation begins and ends with Dane Reynolds.
Going for a warmup surf on the northside of the pier about an hour before his heat, Reynolds seemed to have something to prove. He's been sneaking out of the hotel a lot and getting little sessions in here and there, then when it comes to his heats, he goes bigger and harder than anybody.
Put it this way, Kelly Slater got a nine on a wave for two committed, powerful backhand snaps under the hook. Reynolds got an eight for two tail drifting, much riskier backside turns.
"He should have got a 12 for those two turns if Kelly got a nine," grumbled ESPN photographer Jason Kenworthy.
Didn't seem like Reynolds gave it much nevermind. In his funny gate, he, his girlfriend, Courtney, and their yellow lab walked back to the hotel. To quote Bill Murray in "Caddyshack," "It's no big deal."
My possible dark horse champ Tanner Gudauskas lost to local fixture Timmy Reyes, who was raised in a trailer park not far from the pier.
"I've spent my life surfing out here, and to have all those people on the pier and the beach supporting you, it gives you all kinds of energy," Reyes said.
And proving that the youth movement is in full swing, perhaps inspired by the premiere of Kai Neville's new film "New Suburbia" Thursday night on Fifth Street, the Hot 100 generation stepped it up. Hawaii's Granger Larsen and Keanu Asing, and Santa Cruz's Nat Young all rolled through.
With every passing heat Young's chances of qualifying for the 2013 ASP World Tour continue to increase.
"I'm just trying to take it one heat at a time," he said.
Last week in Nicaragua, ISA Masters commentator and Santa Cruz legend Adam Replogle told a different story. "The whole town is behind him. Santa Cruz loves Nat, it would mean so much for everybody if he could qualify."
We're down to the final weekend, and a lot of heavy hitters are still hanging tough.
"I watched Gabriel Medina's heat yesterday, I've been watching Dane too," Julian Wilson, who also has to figure as a definite contender, said at the end of the day. "What it's going to come down to is sticking your airs. The surf should be pretty good, and big airs are going to be what it takes to win this thing."
WOMEN'S NIKE US OPEN OF SURFING QUARTERFINALS RESULTS:
QF 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 13.20 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.93
QF 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) 19.76 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 13.76
QF 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.60 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 10.80
QF 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.10 def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 8.60
MEN'S NIKE US OPEN OF SURFING ROUND OF 24 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Tim Reyes (USA) 14.33 def. Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 11.16
Heat 2: Kai Otton (AUS) 13.00 def. Jay Thompson (AUS) 12.93
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.37 def. Stu Kennedy (AUS) 9.93
Heat 4: Dane Reynolds (USA) 13.94 def. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 7.36
Heat 5: Granger Larsen (HAW) 14.76 def. Alex Ribero (BRA)11.84
Heat 6: Nat Young (USA) 13.17 def. Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 11.04
Heat 7: Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.04 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 12.80
Heat 8: Brett Simpson (USA) 13.73 def. Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 10.67