Senior Editor


On Wednesday evening, John John Florence made a familiar announcement – and the surfing world let out a collective groan. The two-time world champ hit send on an Instagram post detailing that, due to another knee injury, he won’t be surfing in El Salvador, and may miss Rio as well. He hasn’t surfed a complete season since his last world title in 2017.

“I learned yesterday that the pain I was feeling in G-Land is due to a torn MCL that happened during the event,” he wrote. “Hard news for me to accept, and it means I have to officially withdraw from the next WSL event in El Salvador, and most likely the Brazil event too. This one really hurts to be honest. But, there will always be unforeseen moments out of our control, just have to try and respond in the best way possible. Thank you for the support and messages the last few days.”

It was punch in the gut for the soon-to-be 30-year-old, to put it mildly. And so agonizing for those who love watching his brand of surfing that has long mixed power and air so eloquently, endearing him to generations of fans.  For his part, when he’s been healthy during the past four campaigns, he’s surfed well.

Like, really well. In 2019, he still managed to qualify for the Olympics after tearing his ACL, holding off Kelly Slater with a fifth at Pipeline despite missing six events. He won Bells in 2019, Pipe in 2021, and after a runner-up finish at Margs, was currently sitting in third and poised to finish in the top five heading into the WSL Finals at Trestles this year. Now it’ll be a tall order to make the tournament at the cobblestone point in San Clemente, given that he’ll lose two events. There is a possibility he could surf Tahiti August 11-21.  MCL tears don’t always require surgery. But would he want to ride pumping Chopes with instability in one of his most important joints?  Doubtful.

Yes, these announcements have become familiar. But never welcomed.


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