And yet, here it goes again. The 2011 season is just days away, kicking off with the Quiksilver Pro on Australia's Gold Coast. The slate is wiped clean, and once again, everyone is a contender.
Okay, enough with the blowing of the smoke. As it goes with the men, there are only a handful of realistic contenders: Jordy, Mick, Parko, Taj and, until he officially announces he's done, Kelly. With as well as he was surfing last year, it doesn't make sense that Kelly Slater will gracefully fade into the retirement abyss. He'll come out firing at Snapper Rocks, and depending on his result, the remainder of the season will be dictated.
Dane Reynolds would be the other realistic contender, but he's withdrawn from the first event, supposedly due to a knee injury. That's not good for the World Tour. No other surfer not named Kelly draws a crowd and webcast viewers quite like Dane. Kelly can't carry the Tour forever. Jordy is said to be the heir apparent, but even Jordy doesn't excite quite like Dane does. My concern is that the deficit from the gate will discourage Dane from seeing the season through. The Tour needs his flair and excitement from contest to contest. They need his weird post-heat interviews and his unorthodox heat strategy (Read: No strategy). Competitive surfing needs its mad scientist.
That said, I'm hoping Joel Parkinson, aka Parko, wins this one. I'm not much of a Mick fan and Taj just doesn't seem as committed as some of his fellow uber-fit Aussies. Parko is one of the smoothest surfers and one of the classiest chaps on Tour. He's had a few bad breaks the past couple seasons, but that time off last season should hopefully have him amped to keep his mind focused for all 10 events.
Here we go.