“Don’t count me out. I was there. I never let go.” said Jeremy Flores atop the podium on the sand in front of Pipeline.
“I know it was the John John Medina show today,” Flores continued, “But I appreciate the support.”
And so went Jeremy Flores’ remarks after stealing the Billabong Pipe Masters title from the newly crowned champion and North Shore’s golden child, John John Florence.
With just seventeen seconds remanining in the final, Flores stroked into a peak at Backdoor. He needed to find an 8.27, which given the deteriorating conditions at Pipeline was, to put it generously, improbable. Flores stood up, disappeared for the duration of the wave, exited the barrel with his hands behind his back, grinned at the judges’ tower. Then gave a fist pump. Then a salute. Then another fist pump. Flores was fired up.
Would it be enough?
A few minutes of deliberation later, the result came in: 8.33.
Cue more fist pumps from Flores. And they were well deserved. Just a few heats earlier, he requalified for the 2018 Tour. Such is the glory of the final event of the 2018 World Tour. A competitor goes from absolute uncertainty as to his salary and schedule for the year ahead to something like a minimum of $110,000 (in prize money alone) and another Pipe Master title.
“Winning the Pipeline masters against John John Florence in perfect Backdoor in the last seconds? That’s the best way to win,” said Flores in his post-heat interview. “I can’t think of any better way to win…That was definitely my goal to win this event. This is crazy. I’m so happy.”
And while the final WSL ceremony of the year meandered through sponsor thank-yous and a celebration of California’s first-ever Triple Crown Champion (which is hard to believe), Griffin Colapinto, the newly minted two-time world champ John John Florence put things into perspective:
“I think we’re all here because of our love of the ocean,” said Florence. “And thank you, mom. I wouldn’t be here without you.”
True that. Thanks to the ocean. And thanks to moms. None of us would be here without our moms. See you next year.