Olympics-Surfer Moore braced for Teahupo’o swansong

By Thomson Reuters Apr 25, 2024 | 1:54 PM

By Rory Carroll

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Olympic champion Carissa Moore hopes Teahupo’o, the infamous Tahitian break where this year’s Paris Games will hold its surfing competition, does not live up to its reputation in what is expected to be her final competition.

The 31-year-old American became the first woman to win a gold medal in surfing at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and in January announced her plans to retire after the 2024 Games.

“I’m really hoping that it’s not too big because it can be rather terrifying,” Moore said at a Team USA Olympic summit.

“I’m hoping it’s three to four foot, sunny, glassy, no wind.”

That is, however, unlikely.

Teahupo’o produces some of the world’s heaviest waves and Moore has said that her first time surfing there was like being thrown into the deep end of the pool and having no idea how to swim.

“It’s so much more intense and scary and nothing like you ever imagined,” she told Olympic.com.

“I was really scared, didn’t get barrelled that first trip, but it was really cool.”

A tropical storm generated unexpectedly huge waves when surfing made its Olympic debut in Tokyo and to avoid the worst conditions, organisers switched the date of the final.

Moore, however, still dominated.

“Japan was my worst nightmare. It was so knarly,” she said at the summit.

“Everyone was excited because it was predicted for the waves to be really small in Tokyo but we ended up getting these massive, messy typhoon (conditions).”

If Paris is her swansong, Moore’s legacy as one of the greatest of all time is secure.

The amiable Hawaiian won the first of her five world titles when she was 18 and has inspired countless others by speaking openly about her struggles with mental health.

In 2018, she started her foundation Moore Aloha, which is focused on helping women and girls connect in meaningful ways.

“I was really struggling personally and professionally at the time when I started it and my dad was the one who encouraged me to lean into giving back,” Moore said.

“Being of service to others was the way to find my way back to my heart and to myself.

“Using surfing and mentorship and aloha – those are the things that have really played positively in my life, so I want to help other girls and women navigate those waves of mental health and wellness.”

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in New York, editing by Ed Osmond)