Kelly Slater (Photo by Jason Childs/Getty Images)
Eleven-Time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater is the new ASP World No. 1 following the Billabong Rio Pro, marking the first lead switch since Gabriel Medina took poll position at Snapper Rocks. While there have been whispers that Slater has gotten off to a slow start in 2014 due to his absence from the podium after four events, the iconic Floridian has proven to be the most consistent among the Top 34.
The last time Slater missed a final throughout the first four stops on tour was 2007, but most recent champions Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson were also dangerously quiet throughout the first half of the season while claiming their respective crowns.
With a slight edge over current No. 2 Taj Burrow, Slater will carry his momentum from a start of two Quarterfinals and two Semifinals to the upcoming Fiji Pro, an event that has seen the icon assert unmatched dominance throughout his career.
The defending Fiji Pro champion’s assertiveness in the lineups of Cloudbreak and Restaurants has been astonishing. Slater has swept the event since its return to the Dream Tour schedule, collecting victories both in 2012 and 2013. A look back at his career proves Slater’s prowess in the Fijian lineup has been equally impressive, with the veteran claiming two additional wins at the venue in 2005 and 2008 (both years he went on to win World Titles).
With Slater entering the Fiji Pro as a heavy favorite, Cloudbreak will provide an excellent opportunity to extend his lead on the rankings in a hunt for an unprecedented 12th ASP World Title.
Slater will face off against Rookie Mitch Crews and an event wildcard in Round 1 of the Fiji Pro.