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With the completion of the Billabong Pro Rio and Joel Parkinson taking second place to John John Florence, Parkinson is now in the No. 1 spot on ASP World Tour. At 31, he has four runner-up finishes (2002, 2004, 2009, and 2011) but has yet to collect a World Title for himself.
|Joel Parkinson has been in the No. 1 slot before. How is this year different?|
Does all this sound familiar? He went so far as to win the Gold Coast Pro and Bells back in 2009 and be in the No. 1 spot. Then there was the strong start in 2010 before being injured. Keep in mind that he won Bells to take the No. 2 slot going into the springtime last year.
So does Parkinson start strong and then fizzle late? The answer is no, considering he's won three Vans Hawaiian Triple Crowns (which are November-December affairs.) And you can't really say he's a summer slacker considering his record at J-Bay.
So what makes this year any different for Parkinson?
Well for one thing, Volcom put Fiji back on the menu for 2012. And Parkinson has a serious affinity for the place.
"I love Fiji. As a surfer, who wouldn't? Having Fiji back on tour adds a new dimension, just in terms of wave quality. Restaurants and Cloudbreak are two of the best waves on the planet, and having them back on tour has got everyone's tires pumped up," he told ESPN Surfing on Sunday, "I take the family on holidays to Tavarua every year and we spend a few weeks there each time, so even though the contest hasn't run for a few years I've still had plenty of time in the water over there. It's such a beautiful place and I can't wait to get back."
The tube finding, alley-ooping 31-year-old considers Cloudbreak the best left in the world and craves it in helpings of 6 to 8 feet. He believes that with the loss of the Billabong Pro South Africa as a World Tour event, Fiji will return the World Tour's "dream" credibility.
Then there's this other matter of fitness. Parkinson and his mate Mick Fanning are credited with making serious physical training a part of the pro surfing regimen. He's been on that program for years. But this year, Parkinson has thrown a new wrinkle into the workout in preparing for the Molokai 2 Oahu Paddleboard World Championship.
Earlier this month, ESPN Australian correspondent Andrew Shield reported that Parkinson is going the distance with top Aussie competitor and pro surf trainer, Wes Berg. The loss of J-Bay frees him up for the grueling endurance battle.
|Joel Parkinson is very happy to have another serious wave back on the World Tour schedule.|
"It's been something I've wanted to do for a long while now, but I never thought I'd ever get the chance. It's always been on the bucket list but I never thought it'd come together until I'd finished with the tour," Parkinson said. "I'm always watching it every year. We're generally in J-Bay when it's on and I'm always checking it out. I guess Jamie [Mitchell] is the king of it and being a Gold Coast surfer I've always been interested in the race and how he went. It's been in the back of my mind to give it a go one year and experience it."
Shield also made mention of reports that Kelly Slater would be throwing his lats into the ring of the Molokai 2 Oahu, but Slater's camp could neither confirm nor deny. Either way, ramping up to that level of physical commitment is going to change Parkinson's whole level of stamina. And provided it doesn't bring on any stress injuries, it should make his body better able to fend off new athletic ailments.
So it will be an interesting few months to see if Parkinson can hang on. His competitive thirst simply can't be quenched.