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It was the most unlikely of finals. With a full day of surfing left in the Nike 6.0 Lowers Pro today, and a large cast of big-name, high-flying characters left in contention, who would have ever thought that Gabe Kling and Chris Davidson would come to meet in the final? All week this thing's been an aerial dogfight and here come two seasoned vets who have made careers out of competitive savey and power surfing. As they say: didn't see that one coming.
If you look at his road to the final, Kling had it considerably worse than Davidson. With aspirations of clawing his way back from a series of nagging knee and ankle injuries dating back over a year, today he had to get through Jordy Smith and Andy Irons. Fortunately Smith may or may not have been suffering from a big Friday night and his fire wasn't burning as hot as in days past, while Andy Irons broke his board on one of the opening waves of their semifinal duel and never fully recovered.
|Gabe Kling, in the midst of the biggest win of his career.|
On the other side of the draw, Davidson had to get through Sebastian "Sea Bass" Zietz -- who also may or may not have been suffering from Friday night -- and Adriano De Souza -- who looked to be a shoo in for the final.
And while we're on the subject of unlikely finalists, lets go one further: who would have ever imagined Gabe Kling could win this thing? Apparently even he didn't. "I can't believe it. I just can't believe it," he grinned shortly after being carried up the beach by his Jacksonville brethren. "It's taken me a long time to get my legs back under me and feel like I'm 100 percent, but that makes this all that much sweeter. I feel like I'm back now and more psyched than ever."
Kling wasn't the only comeback story of the event. Had it not been for a broken board in the semis, Andy Irons very easily could have gone on to win this thing. To start off the morning he was matched up against Owen Wright, which was obviously weighing heavily on the former world champ's mind, but in an act of last-second heroics Irons came from behind and knocked Wright out. Back in the competitors area afterwards he was ecstatic. "Controlled anger, that's my new thing," he said, joking around with Kolohe Andino, after Andino had started ribbing him about his "power gouges."
|Chris Davidson finds a little positive affirmation from ...Lost's Matt Biolos.|
Andy would go on to beat CJ Hobgood later in the morning, and as noted, he eventually fell to Kling. But mark my words, should Irons comeback blossom into something worth remembering, it will be that win over Wright and this event where he finally started to click. "This is a good result for me, I've had a lot of fun, and six-foot Lowers with nobody out for four days straight, how could I not have had fun," he said at day's end. This finish at the Lowers Pro was his best result in more than two years.
"I saw Andy break his board, and I was just sitting out the back thinking, 'I don't want to get beat by him on a backup board he's never ridden.' It worked out, and luck's been on my side all week," explained Kling, reflecting on how he slipped past the three-time world champ. "After that the adrenaline just kicked in and I was able to take out Davo."
Without question this is the biggest victory of Kling's career, and the thinking would be he could use this momentum to post a few more results and eventually, as the new ASP ratings system goes into effect in a few months, get himself off the injured reserve list and back onto the world surfing stage. After surviving this contest, that should be a cakewalk.
|Andy Irons, putting his signature on a sweet piece of memorabilia for a stoked grommet.|
6.0 Lowers Pro Final Results:
1- Gabe Kling (USA) 16.50
2- Chris Davidson (AUS) 11.77
6.0 Lowers Pro Semifinals Results:
Heat 1: Chris Davidson (AUS) 14.93 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.53
Heat 2: Gabe Kling (USA) 12.86 def. Andy Irons (HAW) 12.64
6.0 Lowers Pro Quarterfinals Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.27 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 8.44
Heat 2: Chris Davidson (USA) 14.93 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.40
Heat 3: Andy Irons (HAW) 18.57 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.93
Heat 4: Gabe Kling (USA) 16.50 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.77
6.0 Lowers Pro Round of 16 Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.77 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.33
Heat 2: Heitor Alves (BRA) 14.43 def. Nic Muscroft (AUS) 12.00
Heat 3: Chris Davidson (AUS) 13.06 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 7.50
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.90 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.17
Heat 5: Andy Irons (HAW) 13.33 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 12.60
Heat 6: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 13.94 def. John John Florence (HAW) 8.40
Heat 7: Gabe Kling (USA) 12.90 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 10.60
Heat 8: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.67 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.10
Oakley Pro Junior Final Results:
1- Andrew Doheny (USA) 17.10
2- Nat Young (USA) 15.40
3- Dylan Goodale (HAW) 14.17
4- Tyler Newton (HAW) 13.60
Oakley Pro Junior Semifinals Results:
Heat 1: Nat Young (USA) 17.33, Tyler Newton (HAW) 12.33, Evan Thompson (USA) 10.44, Conner Coffin (USA) 10.34
Heat 2: Dylan Goodale (HAW) 16.46, Andrew Doheny (USA) 14.84, Evan Geiselman (USA) 14.83, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 8.53
|The Lowers lineup the morning of the final.|