Category Archives: Commentary

Why Kelly Slater is the Greatest Athlete of Our Time

Ladies and gentlemen it’s time to celebrate the greatest athlete of our time.  38 year old Kelly Slater is on his way to his 10th world title.   Whether he accomplishes this or not, it’s time to cherish this amazing athlete while he is still competing.  Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice and Babe Ruth have not accomplished anything close to Kelly Slater. 

Kelly Slater has won 43 major events and Tiger Woods has won 14 and he led the PGA ratings for 6 years, while Kelly Slater has won a record 9 World Titles.  Michael Jordan won 6 championships, Magic Johnson won 5 and Jerry Rice won 3 Super Bowls.  Even Babe Ruth only won 7 World Series in his lifetime. 

For 20 years Kelly Slater has dominated the sport of surfing and his image has transcended across the globe.  It’s hard to imagine anyone surpassing his legacy in professional sports.

Slater Still Winning Major Events After 20 years

It’s been nearly 20 years since he began his pro career by winning a pro contest in perfect waves at Trestles and this past weekend Slater comes up victorious again. Kelly Slater took first place at the 2010 Hurley Pro at Trestles, beating out Australian Bede Durbidge in near perfect 6-foot waves.  The 2010 Hurley Pro was Slater’s 4th elite tour win at Trestles (2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010), and brought his total number of elite tour victories to 43 and in the process it propelled him to the #1 rating in this year’s ASP World Title Race.  “I don’t know what to say,” he said. “There’s still a long road – 4 more events. I’m trying to soak this in and not look ahead.” Upon receiving the $105,000 first place check he said, “I’d let a hundred thousand people punch me in the face to surf these waves.”

What do the Pros think Separates Slater Apart from the Others?

Former ASP world champ Sunny Garcia, “A strong desire to win and I’m sure that it doesn’t hurt that he surfs pretty good either.  What set him apart from everybody else are his soon to be ten world titles.”  Garcia continued, “Kelly is by far the best surfer ever and as much as I hate saying that it’s the truth.”

According to former professional surfing judge, Dave Schulte, “Slater rides waves with an effortless flow that even makes the pelicans jealous and no one else in surfing history has made it look so easy.  Schulte continued, “Kelly is one of the most intimidating people he ever met and it’s not that he tries to be, he just is!! He is just that cool, Elvis cool.”  The other World Champions did not have the staying power Slater has, they have shown faults and weaknesses that Slater does not show or have in his genetic makeup. He is the complete package of looks, talent, and brains. When interviewed, he has the ability to analyze and breakdown a heat better than anyone and that freaks his competition out. They don’t see what he sees, even when it is right in front of them. The most unique thing about Slater though is that he knows his competitors better than they know him…”

Former WCT pro, MTV personality and current ASP commentator, Peter King said that “Kelly Slater is different because not only is he the champion (9 or 10x now) but because he changed the face of surfing.  King continued, “Kelly completely re-wrote the approach to riding waves. “It has taken 15 years for the surf world to even get close and that is only by about four other surfers.” (Andy, Taj, Dane and Jordy)

Pro surfing legend Brad Gerlach believes that Slater has always been unique with his body.  “Slater surfs with great posture and he’s stayed relatively injury free.  He’s a truly gifted athlete who is intelligent.”  Gerlach continued, “I think he’s into learning so he studies surfing. It will be interesting what he thinks of my book coming out on technique.”

Kelly Slater is the Greatest Athlete of Our Time

The reality is that Slater’s career statistics are unmatched by the other great athletes of our generation.  But what really separates Slater from the other great athletes is that not only has he had the ability to remain at the top of the competition, but his attitude remains stoked.  It is my contention that Slater is the best athlete of modern sports.  After 20 years of professional surfing, Kelly Slater still loves the excitement of winning and the pure joy of surfing like no one ever has…

*** Worthy Videos Highlighting Kelly Slater’s Brilliance ***

1990 Kelly Slater in Black and White -1st Trestles Victory

2010 Slater Wins Hurley Pro at Trestles

Interview with Slater at 2010 Bells Beach in Australia

Slater Surfing Shipstern’s Bluff in Tasmania

2008 Kelly Slater Wins Pipeline Masters

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ASP World Tour Title Race Heating Up

Jordy Smith and Kelly Slater are neck and neck inthe 2010 ASP world title race for surfing.  Taj Burrow, Dane Reynolds, Adriano De Souza and Mick Fanning aren’t far behind.  Even 3-time world champion Andy Irons is back in the hunt after his victory in Tahiti at the Billiabong Pro.  Jordy and Dane represent the newest school, Slater represents the old school, as Fanning and Burrow come in somewhere inbetween.  Some fans wonder if the new judging criteria will play out for Reynolds and Smith, but who could discount the 9-time world champion, Kelly Slater who always seems to be able to pull a rabbit out of his hat when he needs to.  Just ask Andy Irons, Rob Machado if Kelly Slater knows how to come from behind to win world titles.  Regardless of the outcome, this year will likely remember as year when great talent emerged. Will this be a year for a changing of the guards?  Or will the greatest competitive surfer of all-time add another trophy to his mantle?

Kelly Slater Highlights                                                                   

In past years, the Hurley Pro has marked a turning point for ASP title races for Fanning and Slater.   There seems to be some new energy circulating the tour and the second half of the tour promises to be exciting and dramatic. This year’s event appears to be destined for another classic surfing show-down. 

Predictions for 2010 ASP World Title:

1.  Kelly Slater….        Put your money on the 9-time champion who drinks from the fountain of youth.  Unlike anyone before him, Slater takes the “killer instinct to new heights.

2. Jordy Smith…        He seems to thrive with new judging format and certainly could hold one to his current lead.

3. Dane Reynolds…   If he tightens his game face, look out.  2010 may be too soon for Dane, but expect him to become ASP champion soother rather than later.

4. Mick Fanning…      If Fanning wins the Hurley Pro again, all bets may be off as this Aussie understands how to parlay momentum in to championships.  In an odd way he reminds me of Kobe Bryant.

5. Taj Burrow….         Many insiders still believe this is T.B.’s year.  He remains close to Smith and Slater in the ratings and usually does well at Trestles.  If he can place high in Europe, anything is possible.

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Home Court Advantage at Billabong Pro J Bay?

Once again, the Billabong Pro J-Bay proved to be a great arena for the world’s best surfers to display their talents.  Bottom line —great surfers in great waves equates to a great contest.   Watch these 3 heats with Sean Holmes defeating Kelly Slater and Andy Irons and then finally losing to Bede Durbidge in the quarter-finals.

Watch Kelly Slater vs. Sean Holmes in Round 3 of Billabong J-Bay

Sean Holmes, 13.10pts defeats Kelly Slater, 13.06pts

Just when I was applauding the judges for rewards those surfers who were doing the most critical turns in the most critical sections, I saw Kelly Slater surf against Sean Holmes in Round 3. What is saw hear was Slater get underscored as he laid his rail in more critical sections on wave after wave.  Sean Holmes caught better waves, but he surfed very conservative.  Holmes is a great surfer with a smooth style but clearly his injury was holding him back from critical turns in the pocket.

Watch Andy Irons vs. Sean Holmes in Round 4 of Billabong J-Bay

Sean Holmes, 15.60pts defeats Andy Irons, 15.17pts

I saw more beautiful surfing from Sean Holmes in this heat, but he continued to be more conservative.  Any Irons on the other hand laid his board on the rail and pulled some sick snaps.

Watch Bede Durbidge vs. Sean Holmes in Round 4 of Billabong J-Bay

Bede Durbidge,12.17pts defeats Sean Holmes,11.83pts

In this heat, it seemed like the judges got it right.  Watch Holmes first wave in which he scored a 3.67.  The judges would have scored it a 6 in the Slater or Irons heat’s but in this heat they got it right. In retrospect, the judges have over-scored Slater and Irons in heats years ago. Sean Holmes does rip and a little home court advantage should be expected.

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