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US Open of Surfing Teen Lakey Peterson takes junior championship; Sally Fitzgibbons wins title

US Open of Surfing winner Sally FitzgibonsThe future of women’s surfing is bright.

On my way back from the BlogHer’11 conference in San Diego, it made sense to stop by Huntington Beach to catch some of the U.S. Open of Surfing. I got there just in time to see 16-year-old Santa Barbara native Lakey Peterson advance to the adult women’s competition where she scored third-highest overall. The last stop of the women’s world tour is always fun and this year was no exception.

On Friday, the teen scored runs of 8.5 and 7.57 to  take the junior women’s title.  Peterson posted the first big score of the 30-minute session when she slashed down her second wave for a 8.5. While she struggled to secure a second good run, 2008 champion Malia Manuel took the lead with a couple of average runs that gave her a three-point lead. After numerous failed attempts, Peterson was able to execute a board grab with some hang time on her final wave. It took more than five minutes of deliberation, but the judges rewarded her with a 7.57 — good enough to launch her into first for the win.

As a follow-up, Peterson squared off against 2011 world champion Carissa Moore for a spot in the women’s final this morning. In one of the tightest contests of the weekend, she knocked out Moore by seven-hundredths of a point to continue her dream weekend.

In the other semi-final,  Sally Fitzgibbons, the world’s No. 2-ranked surfer behind Moore, eliminated Coco Ho by three-hundredths of a point to advance to the final. Ho finished fourth in the junior final Saturday. None of the four semifinalists were separated by more than half a point.

The 30-minute women’s final took place minutes ago under blue skies and in front of a huge crowd that lined the pier and the beach. Fitz owned the final with 14.23 points to Peterson’s 12.40. Carried from the surf on the shoulders of friends and fans, she continued her winning streak by accepting the championship trophy.

Another glorious day in Surf City.

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