NORTH NARRABEEN, Australia (Wednesday, January 7, 2009) Kai Barger (HAW), 19, has won the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships, defeating fellow Finalist Jadson Andre (BRA), 20, to claim the ASP World Junior Title.
"I'm as high as a satellite baby!" Barger said. "Out of all the incredible surfers in this event, like Dusty (Payne) and Granger (Larsen) and Julian (Wilson), I probably had the least amount of confidence, but I guess this goes to show that every dog has his day and today's mine!"
While Andre opened up the Final with two strong scores, Barger quickly rallied, grabbing a 6.67 before usurping the Brazilian with an explosive 8.67 for a series of forehand blasts on the Narrabeen lefthanders. The Hawaiian's 15.34 out of a possible 20 would prove too much for Andre to overtake and would see Barger crowned the newest ASP World Junior Champion.
"To be honest, I can't remember much of the Final with all the cameras and everything," Barger said. "It's a blur. I had so much fun. I'm tripping out right now. I never thought this would happen to me."
Barger now joins one of the most prestigious clubs in professional surfing with his ASP World Junior Title. Past champions include Dream Tour stalwarts such as Joel Parkinson (AUS), 27, Jordy Smith (ZAF), 20, Adriano de Souza (BRA), 21, and fellow Hawaiian's Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 23, and three-time ASP World Champion Andy Irons (HAW), 30.
"To be part of such a crazy group of surfers feels amazing," Barger said. "I really don't have the words to express how it feels. It's crazy, and to be given the preferred seed on the 'QS is going to help so much."
In addition to the prestigious ASP World Junior Title, Barger is also awarded preferred seeding into all ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) events in 2009 – a great advantage in the qualification quest for the elite ASP World Tour.
Andre, the No. 1 seed in the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships, put in an incredible performance at North Narrabeen today, including his acquisition of the event's only perfect 10, but was unable to overtake Barger in the Final.
"I'm really happy with this result," Andre said. "Second is amazing, but I would have loved to of won. For like 10 minutes, no waves came and I couldn't get the score. I hope to have a great year on the ASP WQS and qualify for the Dream Tour."
Tanner Gudauskas (USA), 20, equal 3rd place finisher, put in sensational performances on his forehand today, scalping Alejo Muniz (BRA), 18, and a red-hot Tamaroa McComb (PYF), 16, before falling to Andre and the Brazilian's perfect 10 in the Semifinal. Tying last year's equal 3rd place finish, Gudauskas puts the icing on his esteemed ASP Pro Junior career and will join his brothers on the ASP WQS in his quest for ASP Dream Tour qualification.
"I'm doing the ASP WQS this year again with my brothers," Gudauskas said. "It's a great start to the year even though I didn't better the 3rd I got last year. It's my last year as a junior is it's into the big ocean for me now."
Marc Lacomare (FRA), 18, carried the ASP European flag as far as possible today, taking down Jayke Sharp (AUS), 20, and Maxime Huscenot (REU), 16, before falling to Barger in the Semifinals. Despite failing to reach the Final, Lacomare's equal 3rd place finish at Narrabeen still earned him the preferred seeding into several ASP WQS events in 2009.
"I'm going to stay in Australia for one month and do a few Pro Juniors in Queensland and then maybe some ASP WQS here as well," Lacomare said. "I may be able to get the wildcard because I think Jadson (Andre) and Tanner (Gudauskas) may not need it so it is handed down to me. So I'm not exactly sure what is going on for me this year."
Both Barger and Pauline Ado (FRA), 16, who claimed the ASP World Junior Women's Title yesterday, will be honored at this year's ASP Banquet in February alongside the likes of nine-time ASP World Tour Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 36, two-time ASP Women's World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 20, amongst others.
Highlights from today's Billabong ASP World Junior Championships will be available via www.billabongpro.com with Heats on Demand available in the VIDEO section.