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Italo Ferreira wins his first world surfing championship at Billabong Pipe Masters

  • KELLY CESTARII / WSL VIA GETTY IMAGES / DEC. 10
                                Italo Ferreira of Brazil won the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters and clinched the world championship today.

    KELLY CESTARII / WSL VIA GETTY IMAGES / DEC. 10

    Italo Ferreira of Brazil won the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters and clinched the world championship today.

  • ED SLOANE / WSL VIA GETTY IMAGES
                                John John Florence qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics today.

    ED SLOANE / WSL VIA GETTY IMAGES

    John John Florence qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics today.

  • COURTESY SLOANE VIA WSL / DEC. 9
                                John John Florence made it into the quarterfinals of the Billabong Pipe Masters today.

    COURTESY SLOANE VIA WSL / DEC. 9

    John John Florence made it into the quarterfinals of the Billabong Pipe Masters today.

  • ED SLOANE/WSL VIA GETTY IMAGES / DEC. 11
                                Kelly Slater catches a wave during the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters today.

    ED SLOANE/WSL VIA GETTY IMAGES / DEC. 11

    Kelly Slater catches a wave during the 2019 Billabong Pipe Masters today.

Italo Ferreira locked down his first world surfing championship today by beating fellow Brazilian Gabriel Medina 15.56 to 12.94 in the Billabong Pipe Masters final in front of thousands of fans at Ehukai Beach.

Ferreira began the day one spot ahead of Medina at the top of the World Surf League year-long rankings. Earlier, they both advanced to the event final by winning quarterfinal and semifinal heats.

“I believe in myself,” Ferreira said. “Gabriel is a tough competitor. This is my moment.”

Medina was going for a third world title and a second Pipe Masters crown. He ended the year with a No. 2 ranking.

For Ferreira, it was his first Pipe Masters championship as well.

With 22 seconds left in the final, Medina needed a 7.80 wave to pass Ferreira and caught a left-hander at Pipe, but it didn’t barrel, so he tried — and failed — on a sick backflip attempt.

John John Florence qualifies for Olympics

Haleiwa’s John John Florence qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics today at the Billabong Pipe Masters.

Even though Florence lost 17.63 to 12.33 in his quarterfinal heat to Brazil’s Gabriel Medina, he finished the season with enough points to gain the honor of being on the U.S. team as surfing makes its debut at the Summer Games next year.

Kelly Slater also had his sights set on the Olympics, but fell short in a 14.77 to 2.57 semifinal loss to Brazil’s Italo Ferreira.

Florence joins Kolohe Andino of San Clemente, Calif., on the two-man U.S. Olympic team.

A bit earlier in the day, Slater wrapped up the Vans Triple Crown title for being the best overall surfer in the three season-ending events for the third time in his career.

In the upcoming Pipe Masters final, Ferreira — ranked No. 1 in the World Surf League season-long rankings — will face the winner of the other semifinal, either No. 2 Medina or Griffin Colapinto of San Clemente Calif.

If Medina loses in the semifinals, Ferreira will earn his first world championship. If Medina makes the final, it will go down to him and Ferreira for the biggest prize of 2019.

Kelly Slater wins Vans Triple Crown championship

Kelly Slater is 47 years old but is nowhere near slowing down.

Slater captured the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing championship for the first time in 21 years today at a mega busy day at the Billabong Pipe Masters at Ehukai Beach.

Slater clinched the Triple Crown trophy for the third time in his career today in front of thousands of fans at Ehukai Beach, when Tahiti’s Michel Bourez, the only other surfer still in the chase for that crown, lost in his quarterfinal heat to Griffin Colapinto of San Clemente, Calif.

Slater also won Triple Crowns in 1995 and 1998. He also has 11 world championships.

A bit earlier, Slater defeated Australia’s Jack Freestone 12.94 to 9.26 in the quarterfinals.

The Triple Crown title goes to the best surfer among the three North Shore season-ending events. Slater made the semifinals of the first leg, the Hawaiian Pro, and made the fourth round in the second leg, the Vans World Cup.

Slater is in the water now (1:53 p.m.) in the semifinals against world No. 1 Italo Ferreira of Brazil.

In the other semifinal, No. 2 Gabriel Medina of Brazil meets Griffin Colapinto of San Clemente, Calif.

In his quarterfinal heat, Medina got past Haleiwa’s John John Florence 17.63 to 12.33.

Three major prizes are still up for grabs:

>> The world title, which is going down to Ferreira and Medina.

>> An Olympic spot for the U.S. team at the Tokyo 2020 games. Florence will get that spot unless Slater wins the Pipe Masters, a contest he’s won seven times in his career.

>> The coveted Billabong Pipe Masters (the World Surf League’s season-ending contest).

Gabriel Medina defeats John John Florence in Pipe Masters quarterfinal

Gabriel Medina knocked out John John Florence in the quarterfinals of the Billabong Pipe Masters, 17.63 to 12.33, today in front of thousands of fans at Ehukai Beach.

But both are still in their respective longer-term chases.

Brazil’s Medina, a two-time world champion, is still going for his third world crown that will be decided this afternoon as the season-ending competition wraps up in the up-to 15-foot wave faces. Medina ranked No. 2 in the world, is trying to get past his countryman, Italo Ferreira, in the season-long points race. Ferreira sits at No. 1, and he also surfed into the semifinals past another Brazilian, Yago Dora, 15.66 to 13.50.

In the hunt for the final U.S. spot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Florence (another two-time world champion who hails from Haleiwa) is still just a bit ahead of 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, the 11-time world champion from Cocoa Beach, Fla.

The 47-year-old Slater can nail down that Olympic spot by winning the Pipe Masters. If he doesn’t, Florence gets the honor of going to Tokyo.

Slater faces Ferreira in the semifinals. Slater also moved into the lead for the Vans Triple Crown title. He’s won that twice previously.

In the last quarterfinal heat, Michel Bourez of Tahiti and Griffin Colapinto of San Clemente, Calif., go at it. Bourez is also still in the race for the Triple Crown. The Bourez vs. Colapinto winner takes on Medina in the semifinals.

EARLIER COVERAGE:

A stellar lineup of surfers made it into the quarterfinals of the Billabong Pipe Masters and in front of a throng of onlookers at Ehukai Beach.

Making it into the final eight with wave faces that are reaching up to 15 feet are:

>> Brazil’s Italo Ferreira (No. 1 in Word Surf League rankings)

>> Brazil’s Gabriel Medina (No. 2, two-time world champion)

>> Haleiwa’s John John Florence (No. 8, two-time world champion)

>> Eleven-time world champion Kelly Slater of Cocoa Beach, Fla. (No. 10)

>> Australia’s Jack Freestone (No. 14)

>> Tahiti’s Michel Bourez (No. 15)

>> San Clemente, Calif., surfer Griffin Colapinto (No. 20)

>> Brazil’s Yago Dora (No. 22 )

Many, many things are at stake at the WSL championship tour’s season-ending event and all will be determined this afternoon.

>> Ferreira and Medina are in a fight for the 2019 world title, which is determined by season-long points. Andino, who entered the day with a chance was bounced from world title contention with a fourth-round loss.

>> Florence and Slater are also in a points war, with the winner joining Andino on the two-man U.S. team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

>> The Vans Triple Crown title is up for grabs with at least four surfers still in the chase as the day winds down and one of them is the 47-year-old Slater. The others are Australia’s Ethan Ewing (who made the final of the first two season ending Triple Crown events), Freestone and Bourez.

In addition, Hawaii’s Seth Moniz, who lost to Slater in the fourth round, was named WSL Rookie of the Year. He had an outside shot at the Olympics going into the day, but came up short.

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