Medina joined the 2010/11 tour amidst its mid-year rotation. This change-out in the middle of the ASP schedule has been a bone of contention for anyone currently on tour (e.g. Bobby Martinez) who has had a few bad results, since it essentially trades out for new blood from the World Qualifying Series events. But the addition of Gabriel Medina at this crucial moment may be evidence that the new tour format works. The whole goal of the top-32 concept was to keep fresh blood pumping on tour throughout the year, and there is no fresher blood than of this teen age goofyfoot.
But while "giant killer,""wunderkid," and "the future" are all terms gushed by the surf press every year, Medina might be the real deal. In 2009, Medina took out Brazilian veteran Neco Padaratz to win the ASP WQS 6-Star Maresias Surf International. Ripping in front of his home town crowd and pitting his barrage of aerial spins against Padaratz's more traditional approach, Medina became the youngest surfer ever (at 15 years old) to win a WQS event. This was a special win for Medina, since he had been surfing these very same waves since he was 9 years old. Progressing at light speed, he began competing in pro events at 14. The mid-year transition made it possible for Medina to jump right over the WQS and onto the WCT. In the past, this process took all year in a long series of small events held in less-than-stellar locations, but Medina showed early promise and was thus promoted to the head of the class just 6 events into the World Tour.
Within months he was competing against (and beating) established surfers like Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson. He won his debut event in Hossegor, France at the Quiksilver Pro in solid beachbreak conditions with an onslaught of radical new school maneuvers. Although his surfing isn't always pretty, it's always radical. It seems that Medina has only one speed: Full on. Throughout the event, his fins were out, his board was above the lip, or his rails were buried. Much more than is expected from a 17 year-old in his first tour event.
Pipeline Masters. And that may have been the most telling of all his results. There was no room for slobs and stalefish and aerial reverses. At Pipe, you make the drop and pull in, and that's how you make the quarter finals. Heading into his second year on tour still a teenager, there is little doubt Gabriel Media is the harbinger of things to come. Most are reticent to pin "the next Slater" on his back, but he will be a major player in the future of professional surfing.