By Andrea Swayne
The 36th National Scholastic Surfing Association competition season kicked off last weekend, August 25 and 26, with a Southwest Conference Explorer series doubleheader at Huntington Beach Pier.
We caught up with Executive Director Janice Aragon to find out a little bit about what’s new this season, the level of competition and how local surfers looked in their first NSSA competition after the summer break.
Here’s what she had to say:
SC TIMES: Based on the showing on opening weekend, how do you feel about this year’s field of competition? Have you seen the level of surfing rise to new levels over the last few years?
JANICE ARAGON: Every year the talent barometer seems to soar after the long summer break from contests. I observed at this weekend’s opener that kids are getting more and more progressive and taking contest surfing to higher levels. Not only are they doing the standard carves, power hacks and off-the-lips, but they are boosting bigger airs and more technical maneuvers such as throw tail reverses. And the progressive style has trickled down to the youngest of competitors. Even kids in the Super Grom 10 and Under division are doing little airs and developing more progressive styles.
Will you continue to name a “Performer of the Event” for each contest and how do you choose this person?
This weekend it was a tie. Malia Osterkamp (San Clemente) and Nick Marshall (Encinitas) were named Performers of the Event and Surfers of the Week. Performers are chosen based on a combination of outstanding performance, division victories, high scoring heat totals, etc. Basically it is a person who is ripping at the highest degree and who delivers surfing and competitive excellence.
From the field of our local competitors, who do you think will be standouts this season?
From San Clemente, it’s looking like both Griffin and Crosby Colapinto came back from the summer hiatus stronger than ever. Ethan Carlston will be a competitive force this year and Dylan Sonderegger broke through taking his first NSSA victory in the Men’s final in event No. 2. Kade Matson is the hot young grom coming up the NSSA ranks. Former NSSA National Champion and World Longboard Champion Colin McPhillips’ son Kai McPhillips competed in his first NSSA event, placing second in Super Groms. It’s in the blood, so odds are Kai will be one to keep an eye on this season. Malia Osterkamp had a fantastic start winning three divisions and has shown remarkable improvement over the summer break. Dana Point surfers Ethan Mudge (Menehune) and Gavin Cook (Boys) also stood out, making the finals. We haven’t seen all of the South OC kids yet, as many of them compete in the Open Season. I’m sure we will see more area standouts at Open Season opening weekend, September 8 and 9 at Huntington Beach Pier.
Is there anything new in the way of entry fees, rules or contest venues that you would like to announce?
One more event has been added to the Explorer Season schedule for a total of 10 events. The Open Season will continue to feature the top surf locations including HB Pier, Seaside Reef, Newport, Salt Creek, Oceanside and Upper Trestles. We announced the return of the sport of kneeboarding to the Explorer schedule. We will feature the all-ages kneeboard division at selected events. The first one went off at Explorer event No.1 and was very successful, so we are pleased with the addition of this subculture of surfing.
For more information about the NSSA, see www.nssa.org.