In news that we’ve heard rumblings about for weeks, Carissa Moore, a five-time world champion and defending Olympic gold medalist is officially stepping away from the World Surf League’s Championship Tour (she doesn’t want to use the word “retire”). She will surf in the upcoming Pipeline event, then that’ll be it before defending her gold medal win at the Olympics slated to be held in Tahiti in July as part of the Paris Games. Moore released a love letter to surfing on her Instagram page, above, and spoke with the New York Times via telephone. She has questioned her run on the CT before, but this time, she’s ready to step away.
“All those wins, the competitive part that’s so much of my identity, I’m taking that away, and I’m facing myself this year,” she told the outlet. “And that’s scary. Like, who am I? Am I going to be OK? Will I be able to love myself and think that I’m worthy without this?”
The piece addressed the fact that Moore is ready to start a family with her husband, and that she’s also ready to find herself outside the realm of professional surfing. The piece did briefly mention the possibility of returning to competition after having children. But it also danced around one poignant fact that many surfing fans have debated all year.
Moore has five titles, as previously mentioned, but the last two years, because of a change in format by the WSL, she surfed in the “WSL Finals” at Lower Trestles, the five-surfer end-of-season tournament. She led the points battle in both of those campaigns ahead of the Finals, a feat that would have won her two more world titles in the traditional season. She was upset both years, first by Steph Gilmore, then Caroline Marks last September.
“I would have loved to have won a world title and then dropped the mic and walked away,” she said. “I would have loved the fairy tale ending.” That’s as close as the classy Moore came to acknowledging the disappointment. I reached out directly, asking if the format switch had any impact on her decision to step away but have yet to hear back. Knowing Moore, she probably won’t comment. It might remain a surfing mystery.
Still, Carissa Moore walks away from competitive surfing this year as one of the most decorated, and gifted, ever. She’s spent 14 years on tour, has finished outside the top three in the world just once, has a successful foundation to run in Moore Aloha, and something in the surfing crystal ball tells me this isn’t the end. She’s just too damn good of a surfer. And she’s been a helluva lot of fun to cover.
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