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LEMOORE — Lakey Peterson (USA) and Gabriel Medina (BRA) won the World Surf League (WSL) Freshwater Pro presented by Outerknown on Saturday. Peterson and Medina bested their respective fields at the Surf Ranch in Lemoore for the seventh stop on the women’s Championship Tour (CT) and the eighth stop on the men’s CT.

Peterson's and Medina’s wins put the 2019 World Title race in full swing with Peterson vaulting up to No. 2 on the World Rankings and Medina climbing to World No. 1. The 2019 CT will not only decide the prestigious World Title but will also determine who from the world’s elite will qualify to represent their country at surfing’s Olympic debut in Tokyo next year.

“I just can’t believe it, I feel like God was just with me on that one and I gave it everything I had,” Peterson said. “It all just came together today and it’s super special. I want to dedicate this win to everyone who was a part of the climate strike after watching everything on TV yesterday and how much our Earth needs our help right now.”

A heated Final came alive between the remaining Top 4 women and event standout Johanne Defay (FRA) shined bright right away with another near-perfect score of a 9.00 (out of a possible 10) on the righthander. In the end, it came down to Peterson and Defay as the last two women standing and fireworks ensued on the bonus waves to determine the 2019 winner. The Santa Barbara, California native brought her clutch form from overtaking Courtney Conlogue (USA) to earn her spot into the Final and did so once more with an incredible air-reverse, earning a 9.33 when needing an excellent score, on her final attempt to capture the win.

“That one was just so clutch," continued Peterson. "The year’s been so up and down with so many different emotions. Obviously, for the World Title, this was huge to win it and with Caroline (Marks) and Carissa (Moore) right there for the Olympics, there’s a lot going on. I’m just so thankful.”

Defay’s runner-up finish marks her best result of the season. Defay moved up one spot to No. 9 on the Jeep Leaderboard and is in a great position to represent France at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Frenchwoman’s composure throughout the event was unbreakable, even heading into the Final alongside Peterson, over eventual fourth-place finisher Caroline Marks (USA) and three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW), who exited in third place.

"I knew Lakey (Peterson) would put on such a show and she deserved it," said Defay. "Her surfing above the lip was crazy and I'm happy for second place. This is going to be good for my confidence heading to France and this year I've felt like things haven't gone my way with opportunities, which put me down in the rankings. It's going to be difficult, but it will definitely be good so hopefully I can stay in this mood. Surfing is going in such an incredible direction and I'm happy where I'm at.

Medina’s comeback is in full swing with his second win at the Surf Ranch. The Brasilian’s opening runs in the Final eventually secured his second win in three events this season and sent him from World No. 4 to No. 1 to begin a surge toward a third World Title. Medina’s aerial assaults on the lefthander proved insurmountable once again after earning a near-perfect 9.93 to begin his Final and immediately backing it up with an 8.93 on his backhand.

“It feels amazing and it’s been a long three days for me but it’s amazing to get the win against these guys - they are the best in the world,” Medina said. “Those two first waves of the Final felt really good and it’s amazing to beat guys like Juilan (Wilson), Filipe (Toledo), Owen (Wright), and (Griffin) Colapinto, they all surf amazing. Now hopefully I can keep up my results to the end. I’m really happy with my performance here and these are really important points.”

Once more Filipe Toledo (BRA) earned runner-up with another brilliant performance throughout the week that included multiple, near-perfect rides including a 9.63 in the Final. But the 24-year-old sustained an injury on his second runs which plagued Toledo with pain heading into the bonus waves. With a vital homestretch ahead Toledo will prepare as best he can after taking on the world’s best in amazing fashion.

“It was really amazing and nervous moments being on the screen before that Final but it was motivation at the same time,” Toledo said. “I did those last few waves because the crowd was just feeding me energy and I have to thank the WSL staff for doing everything they could to take the pain away. I’m so stoked for Gabriel with an incredible performance, as well as Lakey and Johanne, and also the that whole leaderboard - everyone just came out swinging on the first waves which I was not expecting.”

“Now I’ll relax a little bit, my plan was to do Ericeira but now I don’t think I’ll be able to,” Toledo added about his injury. “I’ll still go and try to put the jersey to see what’s up but then head straight to France to work with doctors there. I’ll get through these three last contests and maybe get that Title.”

The Freshwater Pro marks the WSL’s one-year anniversary of announcing equal prize money across all WSL owned and controlled events. To celebrate, the event hosted two editions of WSL’s Rising Tides program, a women’s roundtable and a celebration of 1982 World Champion Debbie Beacham.

Rising Tides, which is set to expand in 2020, is a global beachside engagement program for girls that kicked off in Australia at the start of this season in an effort to inspire the next generation to take to the surf.

Before the event started, Rising Tides hosted the women’s Freshwater Pro Trials and saw seven of the best up-and-coming American surfers compete at the Surf Ranch to battle for the event wildcard.

Today, as part of Rising Tides, the next generation of young Californian talent were first to take to the water and Sierra Kerr, Kirra Pinkerton, Caity Simmers, Sawyer Lindblad, Samantha Sibley, and Alyssa Spencer had the opportunity to surf the wave while wearing the jersey of their favorite CT surfers.

“When I heard that they were going to pay men and women equally I was so excited,” said Sibley. “As a young girl, it’s just so much more inspiring to see the men and women being on an equal platform. It’s so exciting that we are the only sport that is equal like that and I’m stoked that I chose surfing, and to be a part of the community is awesome.”

To kick off the event, the six female CT event winners so far this season, who are the beneficiaries of equal prize money, gathered together to discuss the impact of the change.

on Friday night, Debbie Beacham, 1982 World Champion, was honored as one of 10 WSL Founder’s and awarded the World Title trophy that she didn’t receive at the time.

Freshwater Pro pres. by Outerknown Men’s Final Results:

1. Gabriel Medina (BRA)

2. Filipe Toledo (BRA)

3. Owen Wright (AUS)

4. Griffin Colapinto (USA)

5. Julian Wilson (AUS)

6. Yago Dora (BRA)

7. Adrian Buchan (AUS)

8. Jordy Smith (ZAF)

Freshwater Pro pres. by Outerknown Womens’ Final Results:

1. Lakey Peterson (USA)

2. Johanne Defay (FRA)

3. Carissa Moore (HAW)

4. Caroline Marks (USA)

The next stop on the 2019 CT is the Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro France, which holds a competitive window from Oct. 3-13, 2019.

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