Lakey Peterson performing big-time at the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA. Photo by ASP; Rowland.

The U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA July 28-August 5, 2012 has become one the mostly highly regarded surfing competitions, mainly for the thousands of spectators that attend and the huge sponsorship from Nike (Hurley and Converse), and festival-like atmosphere. While the competition is great to watch, the event rarely has the waves that are as huge and impressive as the Triple Crown of Surfing on the North Shore of Oahu in December. This event in mid-summer has become the spectacle that ASP surfing competitions are hoping to become, but as happened today in the finals, on peaks up to 3 feet, meaning that surfers who pull aerials (ala skateboard-style) tend to do best.

Not only is there surfing, but also an entire skate park and event series that takes place called the Converse Coastal Carnage, and entire pop-up village of various sponsor booths, and live music every day. This year, the musical line-up launched with Grouplove, and included TV on the Radio, Best Coast, White Arrows, Hindu Pirates, and others on the massive stage built for the event by Nike.

Massive stage and music throughout the U.S. Open of Surfing, creating a festival atmosphere throughout the week.

Interestingly, while this is probably the biggest mainland surfing event for the U.S. the timing clashes with the Outdoor Retailer trade show that happened this past weekend in Salt Lake City, UT, featuring none other than a large portion of surf and stand-up paddle brands.

Conveniently however, the action sports and streetwear trade show Agenda also takes place the week of the U.S. Open of Surfing in Long Beach, CA, which sparks interest for brands, fans, and media to hit-up both events within a similar southern CA region (stay tuned for full story on Agenda).

Lakey Peterson ripping it up in Huntington Beach. Photo by ASP.

The winners this year were Lakey Peterson, who at only 17 years-old, defeated another up and coming teen, 19-year-old Carissa Moore, to clinch the championship in what’s the final 2012 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour season.

The dirty little secret in surfing comes down to the discrepancy of prize money. While both men and women competed on the exact same waves throughout the week, Lakey Peterson brings home a purse of $15,000 compared with Julian Wilson, winner of the men’s division, who’s just won $100,000 (and second place winner Miguel Pupo gets $20,000).

Julian Wilson wins $100,000 and Lakey Peterson wins $15,000. Both competing on the same waves at the Nike U.S. Open of Surfing.

The Nike U.S. Open of Surfing is considered for the men, an “ASP Prime Event” and for the women, an “ASP WCT” event, but all stars aside, the differences in take-home is astonishing, especially when considering that women surfers actually attract more industry income to the sport overall than men when considering the lifestyle aspects of the culture (see also Label Networks’ Spring and Summer Youth Culture Studies).

First up are details from ASP on what went down with the women’s finals, followed by the men’s finals:

Lakey Peterson (USA), 17, defeated Carissa Moore (HAW), 19, to clinch the final event of the 2012 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour season, the Nike US Open of Surfing, in front of a capacity crowd at Huntington Beach.

“I don’t even know what to say – I’m speechless,” Peterson said. “The Final was really slow and I was pretty bummed because I wish we both could have got some really good waves. I’m so stoked and I really wanted to win on a high note.”

Into her first year amongst the women’s elite, Peterson capped off her season on the highest of notes, bettering last year’s Runner-Up finish at the Nike US Open where she competed as a wildcard. “I’ve been staying calm and sticking to my game plan,” Peterson said.

“I haven’t been letting anything else faze me and I’ve been staying focused and going out and surfing and having a really good time. I’ve loved every minute of this event and it’s been great.”

Peterson finished the 2012 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour season in 7th place. The 2012 Nike US Open of Surfing provided a window of redemption for Moore after a relatively lackluster year of results. The 2011 ASP Women’s World Champion came off of last year collecting a slew of wins and Finals appearances, but has struggled to replicate the same form this season. Today’s Runner-Up finish was a step in the right direction for the young Hawaiian and Moore will come back in 2013 re-focused and revitalized.

“It was a good event for me,” Moore said. “Lakey (Peterson) was surfing really well all event and it’s a deserved win. I haven’t have the best year in terms of results so to finish with a Finals berth is a positive place to build on for next year. I’m really looking forward to the break and working hard for next year and this gets me fired up for next year, for sure.”

Moore finishes the 2012 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour season rated No. 3. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 21, last year’s event winner, went down in a controversial and extremely-close Semifinal bout against Moore. Having the young Hawaiian on the ropes early, Fitzgibbons watched as Moore chipped away at her significant lead before clinching the win in the final moments of the heat.

“It’s a tough one,” Fitzgibbons said. “No one wants to lose like that. It was a split (judging) panel and I felt like I surfed to the criteria. I had built myself a good momentum through the event and felt like I was ready for the Finals. We’re athletes. We’re here to win and anything less than that is always going to be a disappointment.”

Despite the today’s frustrating loss, Fitzgibbons has had another incredible year, finishing Runner-Up on the elite ASP Women’s World Championship Tour rankings. “It was a good year for me,” Fitzgibbons said. “Runner-Up is another great finish for me, but the goal is the World Title. As soon as Steph (Gilmore) clinched in France, my mindset went from challenging to preparing for 2013. This event was the first part of 2013 for me mentally. I win would have been better, but I’ll just focus on the things I can do to get myself ready for next year now.”

Malia Manuel (HAW), 18, was a solid performer this week at Huntington Beach, culminating an impressive maiden year amongst the world’s elite with an Equal 3rd place finish and clinching the highly-coveted ASP Women’s Rookie of the Year Award. “It’s my second best result, the Semis, and it’s a really good finish to the year,” Manuel said. “The day before yesterday I knew I just had to make the Quarters to win the Rookie of the Year award and that was my goal. It’s a great award to win especially with the past rookies that have won and it’s such an honor. Especially this year, the other rookies are so progressive and women’s surfing is at its highest point.”

NIKE US OPEN OF SURFING FINAL RESULT: 1 – Lakey Peterson (USA) 10.90 2 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 8.64 FINAL 2012 ASP WOMEN’S WCT RATINGS: 1. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 48,400 pts 2. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 43,400 pts 3. Carissa Moore (HAW) 40,700 pts 4. Tyler Wright (AUS) 36,700 pts 5. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 36,000 pts 6. Malia Manuel (HAW) 34,100 pts 7. Lakey Peterson (USA) 33,700 pts 8. Laura Enever (AUS) 32,800 pts 9. Coco Ho (HAW) 31,850 pts 10. Paige Hareb (NZL) 25,450 pts 11. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 22,000 pts 12. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 21,750 pts 13. Pauline Ado (FRA) 16,200 pts 13. Sage Erickson (USA) 16,200 pts 13. Sarah Mason (NZL) 16,200 pts 16. Silvana Lima (BRA) 13,950 pts 17. Justine Dupont (FRA) 12,750 pts 18. Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 10,500 pts

Julian Wilson with amazing style at the U.S. Open of Surfing and clinching the title. Photo by ASP, C. Bahn.

In the men’s event, Julian Wilson finished at the top with consistently high scores throughout the week, and defeating legendary surfer Kelly Slater, the 11-time ASP Champ.

More details: Julian Wilson (AUS), 23, has emerged victorious at the ASP Prime Nike US Open of Surfing over fellow ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) campaigner Miguel Pupo (BRA), 20, today at Huntington Beach.

Culminating a week-long battle at the iconic venue in dramatic fashion, the Australian and Brazilian put on an incredible show throughout the Final in front of the tens of thousands in attendance and the massive online audience.  Wilson was lethal throughout the entirety of the Nike US Open of Surfing, continuously posting several of the event’s highest scores. The Australian battled hard on the final day, edging out Hawaiian prodigy John John Florence (HAW), 19, and South American phenom Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, with last-second heroics on his way to the Final.   “I’m over the moon,” Wilson said. “I got a really good start and my hat goes off to Miguel (Pupo) he’s deadly. I knew he was going to be hunting those lefts the whole heat and I just tried to apply a bit of pressure on him. He got that 8.93 and was right back in the heat with plenty of time left. There weren’t that many opportunities out there but it came down to the last minute and I had to just pray there wasn’t one behind it.”

A quick start against Pupo in the Final, as well as an impressive finish, ensured the young Australian would end the day atop the podium (collecting the third ASP win of his young career).

Pictured: Julian Wilson (AUS), 23, topped Brazilian Miguel Pupo (BRA), 20, to win the 2012 Nike US Open of Surfing. Photo by IMG/Lallande.

“I felt like I was just building house the whole event,” Wilson said. “I really had to fight for it every heat in the dying minutes and those heats always feel good. I wouldn’t say I peaked in the final but I got a good start and got two good waves.”

Pupo consistently strung together some of the highest scores throughout the entirety of the Nike Lowers Pro including a standout victory over Kelly Slater (USA), 40, in their Semifinals bout, but was unable to overtake Wilson in the Final and finished runner-up.   “I’ve had a great week and I had such amazing heats with Filipe (Toledo) and Kelly (Slater) and I’m learning every heat,” Pupo said. “I beat Kelly, but I knew Julian (Wilson) was going to be a tough one. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good result and I’ve been working hard. It feels good to see the result come and I’ll be working hard for Tahiti.”

Gabriel Medina (BRA), 18, was electric throughout the competition, unloading a barrage of amazing aerials including the only perfect 10-point ride in his Quarterfinals win over countryman Adriano de Souza (BRA), 25. Medina launched an inverted backside, full-rotation air and followed up with a finishing maneuver on the inside for his perfect ride. Although appearing destined for a Finals berth, Medina was toppled by eventual winner Wilson in the Semifinals in the dying moments.

“I just went for that one,” Medina said. “That was a hard one and I couldn’t believe I made that, it was pretty sick. I’m stoked that I got a 10. Adriano is such a good surfer and is really hard to beat and I knew that it was going to be a tough heat, Adriano is such a smart competitor, so I just tried to go big and get my waves.”

Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, FL), 40, reigning 11-time ASP World Champion and last year’s Nike US Open of Surfing winner, quietly navigated his way to the final day of competition. The legendary Floridian topped progressive wizard Dane Reynolds (Ventura, CA), 26, in their morning Quarterfinals affair, but was unable to overtake Pupo’s outstanding effort, finishing Equal 3rd.   “I never really felt like I got it going all week,” Slater said. “Miguel (Pupo) and Medina (Gabriel Medina) have been so consistent, getting 9s every heat and they are tough to beat out there. If you’re going to beat them out there you really need to be on you’re a-game. These are the waves they grew up surfing and this is their bread and butter.”

NIKE US OPEN OF SURFING FINAL 1 – Julian Wilson (AUS) 17.53 2 – Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.76   NIKE US OPEN OF SURFING SEMIFINALS RESULTS: SF 1: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 16.33 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 13.33 SF 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.70 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.37   NIKE US OPEN OF SURFING QUARTERFINALS RESULTS: QF 1: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.57 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 8.83 QF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.00 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 9.84 QF 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 19.20 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.13 QF 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 8.84 def. John John Florence (HAW) 8.17