After Slater’s early round of 16 exit from the 2023 WSL Tahiti Pro, questions swirled about the 11-time world champ’s future. One of those looming questions was if he still had a chance to qualify for Paris 2024.
We reported that Kelly Slater still had a “sliver” of hope to become an Olympian if the USA men’s squad was able to finish first at the 2024 World Surfing Games, therefore earning a third slot for a male. However, after learning that the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has already determined how this hypothetical slot would be filled, it turns out that it would actually require a near miracle for Slater.
The reason is that Hawaii’s Baron Mamiya, and two other American surfers, stand in Slater’s way.
The sixth page of a pdf document published back in April in the surfing section of the USA National Olympic Committee’s website features a predetermined selection process to fill that potential third slot.
The document states that if any U.S. surfer advanced to the semis of the 2023 WSL Tahiti Pro, the slot would be theirs.
The key section reads as follows:
Following Team USA‘s confirmation of quota(s) by name, the additional NOC quota(s) [third slot(s)] per gender, will be filled as follows, in hierarchical order:
- The athlete, per gender, who reaches the semifinals at the 2023 WSL Championship Tour – Tahiti Pro, August 11-20, 2023, will be named to the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team.
- If two or more athletes, per gender, reach the semifinals, then the athlete who places the highest at this event will be named to the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team.
In light of this criteria, the first surfer in line for a third male U.S. slot would be Baron Mamiya, given that he made the semis at the Tahiti Pro.
So if Mamiya is healthy and eligible for Paris 2024, the slot would be his. But what happens if Mamiya is injured or, for some reason, ineligible?
Given that no other American surfer made the semis, the replacement criteria would revert to the overall 2023 WSL Championship Tour rankings. Next in line are Ian Gentil at 14th, Seth Moniz at 22nd, and then Slater at 23rd.
What’s the probability that Mamiya, Gentil, and Moniz are all unavailable for Paris 2024? Close to zero. That all but squashes any future conversations about Slater’s chances to qualify for the Olympics.
The selection criteria created in partnership between USA Surfing and the USOPC seems to have flown under the radar. It appears no official announcement was made on USA Surfing’s website or social media.
Team Brazil recently announced their parallel selection criteria on Instagram, which would award a third Brazilian male slot to Gabriel Medina.