Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 21, has taken out the Billabong Women’s Rio Pro over Coco Ho (HAW), 21, by a score of 14.10 to 14.03 in peaky one-to-three foot (.5 metre) waves at the primary venue of Barra da Tijuca.
Event No. 5 of 7 on the 2012 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour, the Billabong Pro Rio culminated in a thrilling fashion this afternoon with both Fitzgibbons and Ho exchanging the Final’s lead multiple times before the hooter sounded..
In need of a high 7-point ride with just minutes remaining in the heat, Fitzgibbons bashed a blowing lefthander on her backside, notching a 7.93 out of 10 to take the elite win, her second of the year.
“That was so crazy and Coco (Ho) had me on the ropes for sure,” Fitzgibbons said. “I just had my fingers crossed and knew there would be one towards the end. I made a few mistakes and it happens in Finals but I was able to recover there at the end. I’m so excited.”
Fitzgibbons, current No. 2 on the ASP Women’s WCT, has significantly narrowed the gap between her and current ASP frontrunner Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 24, but remained humble in regards to her chase for the 2012 ASP World Title.
“This makes the World Title race more interesting, but thinking ahead, it’s still pretty far to go,” Fitzgibbons said. “There are still a couple of events, but to get a win, it’s an amazing result. To win at Bells too, it’s been an awesome year so far.”
Ho, who was ranked 12th on the ASP Women’s WCT ratings before the Billabong Rio Pro, had yet to advance beyond the Quarterfinals this year, but her Runner-Up finish to Fitzgibbons vaults the young Hawaiian to 9th in the world and restores her confidence to appropriate levels.
“This result really opens things up for me,” Ho said. “I’ve been having a really tough year and I’m stoked to get into this Final. This is my best result of the year and this has been an important event for me. Congrats to Sally on her win.”
Carissa Moore (HAW), 19, last year’s Billabong Rio Pro winner and reigning ASP Women’s World Champion, was edged out of a hard-fought battle against Fitzgibbons in their high-scoring Semifinal affair. Both competitors posted big-scores in the dying seconds of the heat, but it was Fitzgibbons who earned the best of the exchange, handing Moore and equal 3rd place result.
“I think we all want to make the Final and it’s disappointing,” Moore said. “I’ve lost to Sally (Fitzgibbons)twice this year and I’ve just got to keep trying in the next couple of events and that’s it.”
Moore, who was dominant over the course of 2011, has yet to find a win this year, but remains focused on attaining a strong performance to end out the season..
“I think it’s been a bunch of things this year,” Moore said. “I think finding the right waves is one thing overall and I need to switch it up and bring something different out.”
BILLABONG WOMEN’S RIO PRO FINAL RESULT:
1 - Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.10
2 - Coco Ho (HAW) 14.03
BILLABONG WOMEN’S RIO PRO SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Coco Ho (HAW) 14.16 def. Alessa Quizon (HAW) 10.94
SF 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.47 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.36