For Kanoa Igarashi the US Open of Surfing Just Means More

For Kanoa Igarashi the US Open of Surfing Just Means More


For Kanoa Igarashi the US Open of Surfing Just Means More

Winning the US Open of Surfing is a career builder or changer. Winning the US Open of Surfing twice is a legacy changer. Winner the US Open back to back is rare. Winning the US Open of Surfing in your hometown is priceless.

Kanoa Igarashi has done all of the above this weekend, as he successfully defended his US Open of Surfing title in dramatic fashion.

For Igarashi, the US Open of Surfing is a collision of worlds for him. While he is from Huntington Beach,m two minutes away from the contest area, Igarahi surfs for the country of Japan, the host country of the 2020 Summer Olympics where he hopes to be surfing.

To remain focused on a title defense is difficult, but to have the hometown and a country far away cheering for you provides Igarashi all the support he needs to be focused.

“I am one of the most of the most blessed athletes in the water,” said Igarashi. “To have the support from the hometown Huntington Beach, and even the greater state of California and to also have the support of Japan is a blessing. I want to make both countries proud. At the end of the day, I represent the surf community as a whole. We are one. We may come from different places but we are one community and we have fans everywhere. Fans of surfing. Fans cross country boundaries and find the love and passion in surfing and make the community whole. I try my best every time I surf and I want to make the surfing community proud. I am having the time of my life.”

For an athlete, to win in their own hometown in front of friends and family, in a high profile contest is a unique experience. An experience that Igarashi doubled down on this past weekend with his win.

“In some ways I am still digesting last year,” said Igarashi. “That win was such a pinnacle moment in my career, and one so early in my career. It was not about the win, the money or the points. It was about doing in my city. The US Open was the first contest I ever watched in person as a kid. I grew up two minutes away from this beach. This contest means more than anything to me. To have this personal connection to this event makes winning it once special but to win it twice, even more so. I still have the photo from last year of my friends waiting right at the edge of the water to celebrate my win with me, hanging up in my room. It is a reminder to me about what is most important in surfing. It is about friends and family.”

Competing in a hometown can also come with risk. The mental pressure to perform and to be the best to showcase ones athletic achievements in front of friends and family can be overwhelming. For Igarashi, it’s just surfing and the business task at hand.

“There are so many good things that are happening in my life all around me, and I love it,” said Igarashi. “But, the moment that jersey is put on, it’s game time. In that moment, the only thing that matters to me is being in the water and surfing. It is hard to say whether it happened naturally over time or whether there was some instance of training that helped to bring that ability to shut out the distractions, no matter how good or bad the distraction is. It is just me, my board and the ocean.”


Recognized as the largest professional sports competition and action sports festival in the world, the Vans US Open of Surfing is currently sanctioned and operated by the World Surf League and a stop on the Champions Tour for the Women and the Qualifying Series for the Men. Besides being a top surf competition, the US Open of Surfing is a festival of action sports and family celebration of surfing. A variety of hands-on events and creative workshops for attendees, including customization workshops, movie premieres, vendor exhibitions and giveaways, live music, art exhibitions and skateboarding and BMX contests including the Van’s Pro Cup.

Igarashi, understands this event better than anyone else aside from the fact he grew up in Huntington. Igarashi competes in both the Qualifying Series and the Champions Tour.

“This event is the biggest action sports event in America,” said Igarashi. “The fans come from everywhere and are on the beach all day and all night and make for one of the best crowds and experiences you will ever surf in front of. This is a novelty event. While the points and the money are nice, surfers come to this event for the experience. There is so much history on this beach. I am so honored to be a small part of that history.”

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