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In an interview with NBC Sports, Slater said he’d rather see Olympic surfing happen in one of his pools than in the ocean. Photo: Continuance/Vimeo


The Inertia

Over the weekend, the Robert Redford-produced documentary film tracing the rise of the Momentum Generation (called, “Momentum Generation”) premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Many of its cast members turned up to walk the red carpet including Rob Machado, Benji Weatherly, Shane Dorian, Taylor Knox, Taylor Steele, and apparently a fashionably late Kelly Slater.

At the premiere, Slater spoke to NBC Sports about the film, and also sounded off about his ambitions regarding surfing’s debut in the upcoming Olympic Games.

“I’m 50-50,” he said when asked if he’d compete in the Olympics himself. “If I make the team, I’ll compete.”

Perhaps more interestingly, though, as the date for the first-ever national team-oriented event in WSL history (the Founders’ Cup) looms, Slater revealed his hope for the artificial technology he’s stamped his name on.

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According to NBC, “Slater said he hopes that Olympic surfing organizers would adopt his company’s wave-pool technology for the Games rather than holding it on the Pacific Coast.” It could be the way it’s written, but that statement alone seems to leave a door open that according to official reports was shut long ago.

That is to say, last we spoke with International Surfing Association President Fernando Aguerre, who has been an integral player in Olympic inclusion, Aguerre was adamant that the International Olympic Committee wanted surfing in 2020 to take place in the ocean. “It was that there was no facility that has hosted world championships, no facility that is a proven viable business model, and the IOC was not going to allow the building of a $30 million wave pool in Tokyo only to discover it’s too expensive to operate,” said Aguerre in 2016 of the IOC’s decision.

Could a successful exhibition event – *cough*, Founders’ Cup – change their minds? Time will tell.

The final piece of Slater’s red carpet interview worth mentioning is the small bit of criticism he proffered regarding the qualification system the IOC formalized in March. The system was designed to walk a fine line between allowing the world’s best surfers and offering the greatest diversity of represented nations. According to Slater, it may need some fine-tuning to accommodate more of the top athletes from the top surfing nations in the world.

“They’re going to have to change that a little bit, I think,” he said. “It’s hard to look past Brazil, Australia and America for talent in surfing.”