The events at the dangerous reef break on O’ahu’s North Shore marked the return of the World Surf League tour after a year when travel restrictions caused by COVID-19 prevented any action on the circuit. However, they were not without complications. The shark attack on a 56-year-old surfer at Maui’s Honolulu Bay earlier this month forced organisers to relocate the women’s event.
The Pipeline Masters then had to be suspended when the WSL’s chief executive and other officials tested positive for COVID-19. The relocation of the women’s event saw Australian, Tyler Wright, claiming the victory.
“It feels pretty unreal right now. it’s been a hell of a week, a hell of a couple of weeks for both the surfers and WSL and we got this opportunity through tragedy, you know, it was devastating what happened in Maui but I also want to say thank you to WSL for giving us the opportunity to surf out the pipe, to make history and I definitely don’t take this for granted.”
— World Surf League (@wsl) December 21, 2020
The usual suspect in the men’s event, John John Florence, did not disappoint.
“Yes, winning the pipe masters. it’s been a dream since I was a little kid. I’ve grown up watching these events and I’ve made a couple of finals and I’ve just never quite got it and to win out here, I’m super stoked. I don’t know what else to say.”
Photo: Brady Lawrence pic.twitter.com/coBuesHHyj
— World Surf League (@wsl) December 22, 2020
In football news, Cristiano Ronaldo received the 2020 Golden Foot award in Monaco in recognition of his lifetime achievement in the sport. The award is given annually to an active player over the age of 28 after an online vote by fans.
It can only be won once by a player. Ronaldo’s greatest rival, Lionel Messi, has yet to win the award. The Portugal and Juventus forward has won five Champions League titles and four Club World Cups during his time at Manchester United and Real Madrid.
The five-time Ballon D’or winner also has seven domestic league titles while also winning the European Championships and Nations League tournaments with his national side, Portugal. He received the award from Monaco’s Prince Albert, and said it was a great honour.
“It’s a great honour. it’s something that I expected to win one day. you know, this award it’s, if you see the history of this award, the legends that received this award, they are very important. So I’m glad to receive this award, it’s the first one in my museum and I’m so happy.”
Soccer forward Cristiano Ronaldo received the 2020 Golden Foot Award in Monaco pic.twitter.com/3H96NDlf5t
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 22, 2020
In skiing, Canadian Reece Howden won the World Cup event at Val Thorens and sits atop the overall standings going into 2021. Howden narrowly beat Swiss skier, Ryan Regez, by one-tenth of a second to clinch the World Cup event, leaving him in first place with 225 points on the overall leaderboard.
“Well, obviously I’m super excited. I definitely wasn’t expecting to leave here over Christmas with the (leader’s) bib, but you know I’m super proud and I’m excited to get back after it after Christmas but I’m ecstatic at how these last couple of races went and just excited to get after some more.”
.@Alpine_Canada is ⛷ out of 2020 with two more ski cross medals 🙌🎉
— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) December 21, 2020
In the women’s category, Austrian Katrin Ofner finally won her first World Cup event after more than 120 starts. The Austrian couldn’t hide her joy at the finish line after all her competitors had their race hampered by crashes.
“I have more than 120 world cup starts, so it was the first win that came after a really long time. To be on the top of the podium and.. yeah, thanks to all who supported my long wait, I know it wasn’t always easy, but it was totally worth it. I’m really happy now.”
Ofner had led from the start and was set for a tight finish with Frenchwoman, Jade Grillet Aubert before the pair clipped skis and Aubert fell forward, ending her contention.
WHAT???🤯 Now you could not have asked for a better final show on the women’s side today in @Val_Tho
Rewatch the big final to find out what we mean, while we are seeking to lower our blood pressure! 🤯
Katrin Ofner 🇦🇹 wins ahead of Daniela Maier🇩🇪 and @bigairmar 🇨🇦#fisfreestyle pic.twitter.com/x2DHaMQw7k
— FISfreestyle (@FISfreestyle) December 21, 2020