Parko's Run to the Fiji Pro Semifinals
The Fiji Pro has wrapped up and there was a familiar face in the semifinals this year - none other than Billabong's Joel Parkinson. Parko's favorite wave in the world is Cloudbreak and a win at the event has eluded him throughout his career so 2017 was an opportunity to set things right at a place he loves. Parko started slow but got rolling late in the event and made a strong run before ultimately coming up short in the end. Here's a look at how he performed -
Parko drew Billabong teammate Frederico Morais and Brazilian Jadson Andre in Round 1 and finished third in his first heat of the event. A choppy wave saw Parko start with a 1.60 on his first ride before scoring a 7.00 on what ultimately was the highest scored wave of heat. Freddy went on to win the heat and sent Parko into Round 2.
Round 2 saw Parko drawn against the giant killer from Brazil, wildcard Yago Dora. The heat was low scoring but Parko advanced on a two wave total of 10.66, beat Dora by only 0.33. A win is a win, though, and Parko was able to advance out of the elimination round and into Round 3.
Parko's third round opponent was Frenchman and fellow tour veteran, Jeremy Flores. Round 3 proved a turning point for Parko, achieving his highest two wave total of the competition thus far with a 15.30. A standout 7.77 ride on his first wave was a catalyst for a heat that saw him comfortably move past Flores and advance to Round 4.
Back in three man heat format for Round 4, Parko struggled to find a rhythm this round and ultimately finished behind two rookies, Australia's Connor O'Leary and France's Joan Duru. Challenging conditions led to a two wave total of just 10.83 and sent Parko back into the elimination rounds.
Round 5 saw Parko drawn against young Australian Stu Kennedy in a contentious heat that ended with Kennedy wondering aloud whether or not Parko's scoring was boosted because of his status as a World Champ. Parko was able to stave off elimination and advance to the quarterfinals after scoring a 6.90 on his last wave and setting up a match up with close friend Bede Durbidge in the quarters.
Parko's quarterfinal matchup against Bede Durbidge pitted two of the co-founders of Balter Brewing against one another in a heat full of action with both riders going on seven waves each. A 7.00 on his last wave sealed the win for Joel and saw him move one step closer to the podium.
Parko's win over close friend set up a re-match with rookie Connor O'Leary in the second heat of the semifinals. Parko started the scoring with a 6.83 on his first wave but O'Leary rose to the challenge, scoring a 7.40 and 8.00 on his second and third waves. The ocean didn't provide Joel what he need and a second wave score of 1.53 forced Parko to bow out of the event.
Parko now sets his sights on the next event, a stop at J-Bay in South Africa, an event he has won at before. The long right will offer him the opportunity to show off his signature rail and turn game.