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Kanoa, with the air that took down Medina and nearly started a riot. Photo: Pablo Jimenez/ISA


The Inertia

It’s no secret that the Brazilian fanbase is passionate about its surfers. And why wouldn’t they be? No revelation here but surfers hailing from Brazil have dominated professional surfing over the last five years with no indication that will change. Italo Ferreira has a world title and a gold medal. Gabriel Medina owns a pair of world titles. Filipe Toledo is working on his first.

That passion was supremely evident yesterday after silver medalist Kanoa Igarashi – who has plenty of passion himself – defeated Medina in the semifinals. Brazilian fans went wild on Twitter and social media, angry that their man had been underscored. Or Igarashi had been over-scored. It wasn’t exactly clear.

To quickly recap, Medina jumped out to a big lead early in the heat, posting two scores in the eight range, pinning home-country favorite Igarashi in a corner. Medina was hot the whole event, shrugging his shoulders after each smoothly landed air as he advanced through the contest. “I had to dig deep in my bag,” Kanoa told me. “He had a stranglehold on the heat. Any heat where your opponent has 16 points in the first ten minutes, you’re definitely in a sticky situation.”

Igarashi’s bag is not shallow. And he pulled one of his best tricks of the contest out of it when he landed a super-clean, full-rotation reverse for a 9.33, backing it up with a 7.67 and the win. Medina’s followers were incensed, tweeting at the ISA, at Kanoa, at The Inertia, everywhere they could to defend the gold-medal favorite who’d just lost.

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A level-headed member of the mainstream Brazilian press had seen the fervor online and interviewed me, part of the “surf media” covering the event, asking me what I thought (as if my opinion mattered). I told him something to the affect that I had a ton of respect for Medina and his ability and the Brazilian fans but in this case, Kanoa had simply landed a better air and deserved the win. I also told him that the previous day, Julian Wilson had grumbled that the Brazilians were being over-scored. The river runs in all directions and he seemed to agree.

Well, Kanoa flamed the fire today when he tweeted this in Portuguese (below): “Chora chora q tou feliz! Hehehehe” or “Cry cry I’m happy! hehehehe!”

Doh! The tweet has garnered 11,000 comments, most of them not pleasant. I won’t recap them all because it’s freakin’ exhausting. You can check them for yourself here. One thing’s for certain: Kanoa’s bag of tricks included pissing off an entire nation of surf fans with a simple tap of his iPhone.

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