Open Season: Kanoa Igarashi

15 year old Kanoa Igarashi, on last year’s US Open pro junior success and this year’s wild card.
Kanoa Igarashi in Hawaii.
Kanoa Igarashi at Waimea © Zak Noyle/Red Bull Content Pool
By Teddy Ward

Last year, in front of thousands of people, Huntington Beach’s Kanoa Igarashi mowed through the competition in the pro junior division at the US Open of Surfing. He nearly took first in the final, landing a healthy frontside air reverse in the meager conditions. The talented young local tells us about his confidence, his ticket into two divisions, and his approach to this year’s US Open. So, last year you got 2nd in the Pro Junior division, almost taking first, tell us about that.

Kanoa Igarashi: Yeah, I mean I was super psyched to make it that far. I felt good out there the whole time and I think I surfed through four heats, so the final was my fifth. I was pretty close to Conner Coffin but I took out Filipe Toledo and Cooper Chapman, which was rad.

And this year, what’s your game plan?

Well, this year’s a little different. I actually got a wildcard into the main event, so I’ll be surfing both divisions. I’ll probably have two different game plans. For the pro junior, I’ll pace myself and surf a little smarter. But for the main event, I’ve got Julian Wilson in my first heat, you know? He’s a WCT competitor, so I can’t hold back. I’ll really just have to go for it, but I’m excited to do that.

Do you feel like you have an advantage being from Huntington Beach?

Oh, for sure. I mean, I feel really comfortable out there -- I surf out there every single day. I definitely know the wave out there and have put in my time.

What’s your favorite thing about the US Open?

I love it. It’s so cool to have that many professional surfers come out and surf your very own home break. Just surfing with guys of that caliber, let alone watching how they surf your break is so cool. Not many people can witness that in their hometown.

The US Open can get pretty wild that week. Do you keep it pretty mellow, or do you go outside and join in on the fun?

I go outside and check it out a little, for sure. It’s great to experience something as big as that, it’s such an amazing event. You gotta take a walk down main street; we have a lot of good restaurants to eat at. This thing comes only once a year, so it’s good to get out there and see the zoo.

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