SNAPPER ROCKS, Queensland/Australia (Saturday, March 6, 2010) - Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 22, reigning three-time ASP Women's World Champion and defending event winner, has taken out the 2010 Roxy Pro Gold Coast in punchy two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves at Snapper Rocks over fellow Finalist Melanie Bartels (HAW), 27.
The opening event of the 2010 ASP Women's World Tour season, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast enjoyed an exciting final day of competition, culminating in Gilmore's emphatic win in front of a raucous hometown crowd.
In a déjà vu version of last year's event, the Australian and Hawaiian squared off once again in the Final, with Gilmore taking the win and the dream start to her 2010 campaign for a fourth ASP Women's World Title.
"It's definitely a dream start," Gilmore said. "I didn't really expect to win here. The waves weren't so great. I definitely didn't put in as incredible performance as I would have wanted to, and I'm sure Mel (Bartels) has the same feeling, but at the end of the day, I'm happy to win - that's awesome!"
Today's win marks the 3rd win on the Gold Coast for the young Australian (2005, 2009, 2010), giving the natural-footer the record for most event wins at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast.
"I was definitely really relaxed but kind of nervous at the same time - just a little mixture of feelings," Gilmore said. "As defending event champ and defending world champ, I guess it put some pressure on me to win this event so it feels good to win."
While Gilmore retains her ASP Women's World No. 1 ranking heading into the second event of the year, the collectively raised level of surfing on the ASP Women's World Tour will stand in her way.
"It's really tough," Gilmore said. "They're hungry and I think when you start off the year with not the result you were looking for, you just go into the next event even more focused and more hungry and it's just getting harder and harder from here and then. She (Bartels) was one of the few girls really pushing us towards progressive maneuvers and really using that judging criteria to her advantage, so I'm definitely going to have to surf it up for the next events."
Bartels, who went on a giant-killing rampage throughout the event, is surfing with renewed vigour and purpose and has announced herself as a legitimate threat in 2010.
"I'm very stoked," Bartels said. "I tried to stay focused and did my best but couldn't get there for the Final. My surfing is feeling really good, but I couldn't really find the waves to let me open up there for the Final. I'm still stoked though and happy with my result."
The progressive Hawaiian, who has long been touted as a legitimate ASP Women's World Title contender, has employed a coach for 2010 to help her with her headspace as she battles the best female surfers in the world.
"I've been having trouble mentally," Bartels said. "It's not my surfing that I need help with. It's more mentally so she (Coach Nancy Emerson) is helping me keep positive and surrounding me with positive vibes, and everyone has been supporting me and just believing in me. I'm beginning to believe in myself now, so you will see a different Mel on tour this year."
Coco Ho (HAW), 19, 2009 ASP Women's World Tour Rookie of the Year, put in a solid campaign at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, before going down to Gilmore in this morning's Semifinals. Posting an Equal 3rd in the opening event of the season, Ho has established herself as a major contender in the hunt for the ASP Women's World Title.
"Good start to the year so I'm definitely stoked." Ho said. "To be out at Snapper Rocks with Steph (Gilmore) is really special for me. She's a big inspiration to me and I'm happy with my performance at this event. Looking forward to Bells Beach."
Chelsea Hedges (AUS), 26, former ASP Women's World Champion (2005), saw a sensational return to form throughout the course of the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, but fell short against Bartels in today's Semifinals.
"I'm a bit disappointed with my wave selection out there," Hedges said. "I feel like my surfing is there, but I couldn't find a rhythm out there this morning. It's disappointing for sure, but all you can do is shake it off and look towards the next event."
Highlights from the Roxy Pro Gold Coast will be available via www.roxypro.com.au
The next stop on the 2010 ASP Women's World Tour will be the Rip Curl Women's Pro presented by Ford New Fiesta at Bells Beach from March 30 through April 5, 2010.
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST FINAL RESULTS:
1 - Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 12.40
2 - Melanie Bartels (HAW) 10.35
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.00 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 9.17
SF 2: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 13.00 def. Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 10.30
ASP WOMEN'S WORLD TOUR TOP 5 (After Roxy Pro Gold Coast)
1 - Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
2 - Melanie Bartels (HAW)
3 - Coco Ho (HAW)
3 - Chelsea Hedges (AUS)
5 - Silvana Lima (BRA)
5 - Sofia Mulanovich (PER)
5 - Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
5 - Rebecca Woods (AUS)