As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games nears, the shortlist of surfers in line to compete in the sport’s big debut is taking shape – and so far, two Orange County surfers have secured spots to compete in the historic event that will bring surfing to millions of viewers.
Igarashi, who has dual citizenship and will be surfing for the host country, is no stranger to the podium. The two-time winner of the U.S. Open of Surfing — at his home break in Huntington in 2017 and 2018 — began as a tyke taking tiny waves in Newport Beach and at the Huntington Beach Pier.
Had he not joined Japan’s roster, Igarashi likely wouldn’t have qualified for this Olympic Games, with stiff competition among United States athletes clamoring for the team’s two allotted spots for men.
Unlike typical surf contests, the mainland and Hawaii are combined for the upcoming Olympics, making it even harder to secure entry considering stand-out surfers such as John John Florence and Kelly Slater are in the running.
But one U.S. surfer who has made the team is Andino, it was announced Friday, Oct. 18.
Both Andino and Igarashi must still meet eligibility requirements of the International Surfing Association, the International Olympic Committee, and the respective national Olympic committees.
With the World Surf Tour events still in fierce competition mode — and the World Tour rankings one of the paths toward qualification — it’s unclear who will nab the second men’s spot. The final spots on Team USA’s two-man, two-woman Olympic team will be determined at the end of the WSL season in December – following the women’s Maui Pro event and the men’s Hawaii Pipe Masters event.
Andino is currently ranked fifth in the world on the World Tour and is the highest-ranked surfer from the United States.
The WSL CT is the pathway for 18 countries to qualify surfers for the Olympics. The remaining 22 surfers from countries that don’t participate in the WSL are determined through the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games and the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima.
USA Surfing CEO Greg Cruse called Andino “Captain America.” Andino is a second-generation surfer, following in his father Dino’s footsteps as one of the world’s best surfers competing on the World Tour.
The younger Andino, 25, has won seven USA Surfing Championships and shattered records with nine National Scholastic Surfing Association championships a decade ago as an amateur. He joined the ranks of the world’s best in 2012.
Behind Andino in the rankings are Florence and fellow Hawaiian Seth Moniz, followed by 11-time World Champion Slater, who all have a chance to qualify for the Olympics.