USA's Carissa Moore rides dominant run to first-ever women's gold medal in Olympics surfing

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Competing in choppy waters roiled by a looming tropical storm, American Carissa Moore rode a pair of big runs on Tuesday to the first-ever gold medal in women's Olympics surfing.

The Hawaiian defeated South African rival Bianca Buitendag 14.93-8.46 in the final round at Tsurigasaki beach, around 60 miles southeast of Tokyo. Buitendag claimed silver for advancing to the final.  

After emerging from two rounds of heats, each surfer defeated three others in a one-on-one bracket-style tournament to reach Tuesday's final, which was moved up a day because of Tropical Storm Nepartak. 

It was the eighth one-on-one matchup between the the two surfers. Buitendag started the day with a 5-3 edge in previous matchups. But Moore had the edge in high-stakes experience as a four-time WSL Women's World Tour champion.

ICHINOMIYA, JAPAN - JULY 27: Carissa Moore of Team United States celebrates after her win against Amuro Tsuzuki of Team Japan on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach on July 27, 2021 in Ichinomiya, Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
ICHINOMIYA, JAPAN - JULY 27: Carissa Moore of Team United States celebrates after her win against Amuro Tsuzuki of Team Japan on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach on July 27, 2021 in Ichinomiya, Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

How they were scored

Competitors in the finals took the water at the same time and were given 35 minutes to post scores on as many waves as they could catch. Five judges awarded scores ranging from zero to 10. The highest and lowest scores were thrown out, and the remaining three scores were averaged. Each surfer's top two scores were combined for their final score in each round.

Moore took control of the final halfway through the heat with a strong run that earned a 7.33. The run bumped her combined score to 10.73, amping up the pressure on Buitendag, who had failed at that point to crack 1.0 in scoring column. 

Moore puts final away with second big run

With around 11 minutes remaining in the heat, Moore found another big run, posting a 7.60 for a combined score of 14.93 to put the match out of reach. Buitendag's scoring runs in the heat's final minutes weren't enough to close the gap.

Moore was paddling out to catch another wave seemingly unaware of the clock when it hit zero, signaling her victory. When the horn sounded, she put her head in her hands before catching her final wave of the day for another big run that served as a victory lap.

Japan's Tsuzuki Amuro beat American Caroline Mark, 6.80-4.26 earlier Tuesday in the bronze medal match, securing the first of two medals for the host country in surfing's Olympic debut.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Surfing - Men's Shortboard - Semifinal 2 - Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, Tokyo, Japan - July 27, 2021. Italo Ferreira of Brazil in action REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
Ítalo Ferreira caught big air en route to Olympic gold. (REUTERS/Lisi Niesner)

Brazil's Ítalo Ferreira breaks board, wins gold anyway

In the men's final, Brazil's Ítalo Ferreira broke his board on his first ride when he landed violently in the whitewater after catching air. He liked his backup board just fine. Ferreira secured gold with a 15.14-6.60 win over Japan's Kanoa Igarashi, whose silver medal was the second of the day in surfing for the host country. 

Two of Ferreira's countrymen met him in the shallows after he secured victory and carried him onto the beach to celebrate the surfing milestone.

Australia's Owen Wright edged Brazil’s Gabriel Medina, 11.97-11.77 in the bronze medal match earlier Tuesday to secure the first medal ever awarded in Olympic surfing competition.

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