Welcome to another edition of Extreme Exposure, a weekly column bringing you the best photography and news from the world of action and outdoor sports. This week, Kelly Slater pulls a mind-blowing maneuver—and loses—while Hans Florine celebrates 100 ascents in Yosemite.
Judges and referees never like it when they become the story. But that’s exactly what happened in Round 5 at the Hurley Pro this weekend in Southern California. Kelly Slater—43 years old, 11-time champ, legend, made of rubber—took off on a left hand wave (his backside) against Mick Fanning and launched a giant air reverse. Slater didn’t complete the move. But he kind of did. The ageless wonder landed in the white pile of foam, on his board, and popped back to his feet, completing the ride with a carving 360 and a snap. His score for the Jordanesque recovery? A 4.17, not even in the average range. The webosphere went crazy as pundits lambasted the judges online. Even World Surf League commentators had a tough time not arguing over the call.
Technically, Slater didn’t complete the maneuver but the call left many debating if the judging needs to be adjusted to take improvisation into account. To Slater’s credit, he remained silent on social media over the weekend, refusing to join in on the roast.
The Hurley Pro continues early this week with the quarterfinals.
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Fifty-one-year-old California climber Hans Florine completed his 100th climb up the Nose of El Capitan this weekend, arguably the most iconic line in Yosemite National Park. It’s not the Park’s most difficult route but the 32-pitch classic presents plenty of challenges. Twenty-one-year-old Tyler Gordon died after a fall there earlier this year. In 2012, Florine set the speed record up the Nose when he sent it in just under two and a half hours with partner Alex Honnold.
But this time, Florine wasn’t looking to set any records. He was guiding two novice climbers who’d never been on a big wall, one was his biographer, Jayme Moye, and the other adventurer Fiona Thornewill. “I keep joking that they never have to go rock climbing again because this is the best and most beautiful route in the world,” Florine told Climbing magazine. “To see that again, through the eyes of a beginner, is an absolutely amazing thing.”
And You Thought You Had a Rough Week
One of action sports’ most iconic brands, Quiksilver, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week in a move to restructure the company and reinvest in struggling segments that include Roxy and DC shoes. It was a serious blow to a brand that once carried the torch for the action sports market, sponsoring the likes of Slater and paving the way for many of the alternative startup companies now leading the charge in the surf, skate and snow market.
Many reports have outlined the company’s demise, citing management issues and changing tastes in a fickle youth market. But bad investments had to be the biggest factor. In 2005, Quiksilver spent around $320 million to buy Rossignol, making a serious play for the winter sports market. But the move backfired when Quiksilver sold the company three years later for $147 million, less than half the sale price, which left the Orange County, Calif.-based brand with more than a billion dollars in debt. Oaktree and Bank of America will finance the re-organization. “We’re confident we’ll emerge a stronger business, better positioned to grow and prosper into the future,” says Pierre Agnes, Quiksilver’s CEO. The company’s European operations will not be affected by the filing. No word on how the restructuring will affect athlete and event sponsorship.
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In a scary accident last week, big wave surfer and Santa Cruz, Calif., local Shawn Dollar broke his neck in four places and was concussed after colliding with a boulder somewhere along the Big Sur coastline in Central California. Dollar took off on a wave and was caught inside. He told People magazine that he felt the impact and heard the bones break in his neck but still had to fight his way out through the surf to be rescued, as the terrain was extremely steep where the collision occurred. His partners were able to pull him to safety and get him to the hospital.
Fortunately, the breaks in his neck didn’t affect the spinal column, and while Dollar lost feeling in his arms and legs during the incident, he’s expected to make a full recovery without paralysis. “Every day is a gift,” said the father of two.