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Stephanie Gilmore, reigning world surfing champion, prevails at season-opening Roxy Pro

March 7, 2009 |  7:59 pm

Stephanie Gilmore carves a top turn en route to winning the season-opening Roxy Pro Gold Coast at Snapper Rocks in Australia.

Parity has not existed on the Assn. of Surfing Professionals' World Tour since Kelly Slater burst onto the scene in the early 1990s.

Now an even playing field appears to also have vanished from the ASP Women's World Tour, thanks to a blond-haired dynasty-in-the-making known as Stephanie Gilmore.

The Australian power surfer may never match Slater's nine world titles, but she's well on her way to claiming a third title in as many years after winning the season-opening Roxy Pro Gold Coast at Snapper Rocks, Australia.

Gilmore, 21, prevailed in the final against Hawaii's Melanie Bartels in two- to three-foot waves, and registered the day's high single-wave score of a 9.57 to open the heat, after a long series of fin releases and power turns.

The victory was Gilmore's fourth in a row dating to last season, and with an eight-contest schedule likely to shrink because of a shortage of event sponsors, her lead may be more commanding than appears.

"It's a new start for me," Gilmore said. "To win on your home turf, in front of all these people, it's unbelievable."

It's entirely believable. Gilmore, like Slater, will be favored at every contest she's competing in this season.

--Pete Thomas

Photo: Stephanie Gilmore carves a top turn en route to winning the season-opening Roxy Pro Gold Coast at Snapper Rocks in Australia. Credit: Kelly Cestari/ASP

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