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Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Updated: August 9, 12:39 PM ET
A second chance to be super

By Casey Butler
ESPN.com

Lakey Peterson took this event when it was a Jr Pro last year and just won the Nike US Open.

The inaugural Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro is set to kick off Thursday morning at Oceanside Pier in California. The comp is part of the 5th Annual Supergirl Jam, which celebrates women's surfing, skate, and snowboarding. A 6-star event, the Supergirl Pro is actually the largest all-women's surf contest in the world and the winner will receive 3,500 points and $8,000.

Lakey Peterson, who won the Supergirl last year when it was a Pro Junior, claimed her first World Tour victory on Sunday at the U.S. Open. That means that at the end of the 2012 ASP Women's World Tour, she's only six places out of a World Title, but many of the Top 17's futures remain uncertain.

"As the only women's qualifying event in North America this year, the Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro will play a big role in deciding the surfers that qualify for the 2013 ASP WCT," says Women's World Tour Manager Jessi Miley-Dyer.

The Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro will not only feature surfers like Malia Manuel, but women's skate and snow athletes as well.

The ASP World Tour Rankings are different than the ASP World Rankings and only the top ten-ranked surfers on the WCT automatically re-qualify for next year. Rebecca Woods was sitting at equal 10th with Paige Hareb on the Tour ranking until the Open. Sliding one rung means that Woods's elite standing for 2013, which would be her ninth year on Tour, depends entirely upon her success with the star series and that other ranking, where she's currently 6th.

Pauline Ado is equal 13th on the Tour and she's eager to compete at Oceanside. "I didn't make the Top 10 in the World Tour this year, so the WQS is like a second chance to qualify in 2013," she says. "A lot of girls are dangerous on the QS, so I don't want to miss any event or any opportunity to get points for the ranking."

"This event is super fun because of the strong sense of 'girl power,'" Coco Ho says, from the safety of WCT 9th. "They do an exceptional job of making this the event message. Being that this a 6-star, it can affect my World ranking (World Tour and QS combined)."

"Doing well in a U.S. event also brings an interesting media exposureI think surfing is bigger here," Ado adds.

Exposure is key in the land of women's surfing, where the Tour schedule and the prizes are typically a few digits short. The surfers have stepped up their game and sponsors like Paul Mitchell, Swatch, and Nike have stepped in to provide arenas for their riveting performances. Events like the Supergirl Jam are proof of a push for change.

Pauline Ado of France didn't finish in the ASP Womens World Tour top 10 but can still qualify for the 2013 tour with a good result at the Supergirl 6-star.

"The fact that there were no ASP Star events for the girls in North America was a real injustice, and we wanted to provide the opportunity to showcase women's surfing to a broader audience in the U.S.," says Rick Bratman, CEO of ASA Entertainment, which manages the event.

Under-21 phenoms Malia Manuel and Leila Hurst (2012 World Junior Champion) joined Peterson on the podium last year and will return this year to face an impressive crew of female competitorsmany of whom are past and present world title contenders.

You can watch the event live on the Supergirl Youtube Channel beginning Thursday. For more information, check out Supergirljam.com.