Winning the WSL World Junior Championships puts a spotlight on a young surfer and can raise the expectations of what they’ll achieve when they hit the senior ranks. Some young champs have receded into the world surfing background in the years following their win, while others continue to garner attention with their exploits on the water. Here is a look at the Junior champions of the past 10 years and how they’ve done since then.
2007 – Pablo Paulino
2007 was the second time Pablo Paulino won the title of ASP World Junior Champion, entering the event as a wildcard and emerging victorious in the last of four rounds. He competed in QS events till 2011, then disappeared to return briefly in 2014. Since then he appears to have vanished off the QS grid.
2008 – Kai Barger
Kai Barger needs no introduction to most surf fans. He had already made a name for himself in the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA). After becoming World Junior Champ it seemed a no-brainer he’d pass the QS and land on the CT. Life had other things in store, however. After competing for some time in the QS, injuries required down time at home in Maui, where he plans to continue the freesurf route when he gets his health back.
2009 – Maxime Huscenot
France’s Huscenot has been competing in the QS since 2009 and saw his best season on the QS in 2015 (25th rank and best European on the QS). Huscenot is currently rank 52nd in the Career QS Ranks and is in the 2017 Ichinomiya Chiba Open.
2010 and 2012 – Jack Freestone
Freestone remembers his first Junior World Champion title as being “kind of a fluke”. The second had him stoked to be in the same class as fellow Australian Joel Parkinson. His surfing has come a long way since then, with Jack currently competing on the WCT, set to go up against John John Florence in Fiji this June. To date, the Aussie is 22nd on the Career CT Ranks, and if there are doubts as to his ability, his various short surf films should put them to rest.
2011 – Caio Ibelli
Brazil’s Caio Ibelli became a household name when he took the 2016 Roookie of the Year title. He also finished ahead of the pack on the final Qualifying Series (QS) rankings in 2015, placing him in the 2016 Championship Tour with 9 other Brazilians. Peers took notice of his consistent performance, and he surprised by taking down John John Florence not once but twice in the Australian leg of the CT.
2013 – Gabriel Medina
Who hasn’t heard of Gabe Medina? At only 23, he has already made surfing history a number of times: first Brazilian male surfer to win on the Gold Coast (also first goofy to win it since 2004); first Brazilian ASP World Champion; first Brazilian to win the Hawaiian Triple Crown of Surfing title; first surfer ever to land a “Backflip” in competition. At a current 10th in the Career CT Ranks, you can bet we’ll be seeing a lot more from Medina.
2014 – Vasco Ribeiro
Vasco Ribeiro was the first Portuguese ever to win the Junior World Championship. After competing in the event for some time, to win on his home turf was something special. Since then, he has been chasing his goal to be on the WCT. In 2015 he finshed third at the Moche Rip Curl Pro, taking down Adriano De Souza and Michel Bourez on the way to the semi finals. He is currently competing in the Ichinomiya Chiba Open in Japan.
2015 – Lucas Silveira
A Junior Champ and QS surfer, with some big wave surfing on his resume as well, Lucas Silveira is doing OK. Since his win in 2015, Silveira has been busy on the Qualifying Series, chasing that goal of all surfers on the QS, to make the WCT.
2016 – Ethan Ewing
Australia’s Ethan Ewing won his Junior Champion title at the tender age of 17, and made 2nd on the Career QS ranks in the same year. In March of 2017 he started on the CT circuit, and while he hasn’t made any stunning victories, he’s managed to stay on, finishing 25th in the last CT event. He’s looking forward this June to competing in the Outerknown Fiji Pro, going against Owen Wright and Jeremy Flores in the first round.
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