Sunday, March 02, 2008

Peru's Mulanovich takes out Roxy Pro - The Age - 1st March 2008

Peru's Sofia Mulanovich has claimed the first victory of the 2008 surfing season, winning the Roxy Pro on the Gold Coast to get Stephanie Gilmore's world title defence off to a rocky start.

Mulanovich, who finished last at Snapper Rocks just one year ago, surfed a near-faultless final against Australia's Samantha Cornish, including 8.17 and 9.17 rides, to dominate the decider.

Mulanovich ended up almost 10 points ahead of Cornish - an unsatisfying end to a day replete with nail-biting finishes and big name defeats, including pre-competition favourite Gilmore, Layne Beachley and Brazil's Silvana Lima.

Gilmore's slayer came in the unlikely form of the diminutive 15-year-old wildcard Carissa Moore, who proved the talk of the competition after taking down the reigning world champion in a narrow round three victory.

She went on to record the best heat score of the day in the quarter-finals before losing her semi to Cornish, solidifying her spot as one of surfing's biggest rising stars.

But it was Mulanovich who took home the $12,700 winner's cheque at the season-opening event, where her previous best was third place amid a sea of poor results.

Given her previous track record, the 24-year-old was decidedly upbeat about her victory.

"Guys, I never believed I would win here!" a euphoric Mulanovich told reporters shortly after her win.

With the Peruvian flag draped across her shoulders, she chuckled off suggestions she had declared a full-on assault on Gilmore's world crown.

"It's crazy you know," she said.

"I always used to get bad results here, I guess I proved to myself that I can surf this wave and I'm just so happy this year - everything just came perfect for me."

Cornish, a former world No.1, said she was pleased with her result.

"It's definitely a great start to the year," the Crescent Heads surfer said.

"I thoroughly enjoyed myself today, it was just a super magical day - there were dolphins and stingrays and fishermen, you never really get to see that."

Cornish, who was Australia's last chance to retain the event after Chelsea Hedges' victory last year, will now try to go one better at the Rip Curl Pro event at Bell's Beach later this month.

There, Gilmore said she would also be seeking redemption.

"A bit of redemption, yeah, and to get back in the groove of things," she said.

"It's always pretty hard first event - I mean, I thought everybody was a little bit wobbly but obviously not, maybe it's just me."

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