Olympic Gold Achieved, World Tour Finals Bound: Interview With Surf Legend Carissa Moore

Carissa Moore won an Olympic gold medal surfing in Tokyo last week. This week, she’ll try her hand at waves on the World Tour circuit.

The Corona Open Mexico presented by Quiksilver World Surf League Championship Tour event started yesterday. Not only is it a big WSL event, but it’s the first international competition since the Olympic Games. The event will welcome surfers to Barra de la Cruz in Oaxaca, marking the first time in 15 years that the Championship Tour will be in Mexico.

Olympic gold medalist and reigning WSL Champion Italo Ferreira is currently ranked second for male surfers in the world rankings. And four-time World Champion and Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore is currently ranked first for women.

We sat down with Hawaiian surfer Carissa Moore right before the action to chat about surfing at the Olympics, the World Tour, and so much more.

Carissa Moore Bio

  • Age: 28
  • First WSL tour: age 17
  • Hometown: Hawaii, USA
  • Current world titles: 4
  • Current 2021 world ranking: 1
  • Fun fact: Moore has surfed 412 heats (and hundreds of waves) in her WSL career.

Q&A With World-Renowned USA Surfer Carissa Moore

Carissa Moore surfing wave on a sunny day
Carissa Moore surfing in a World Surf League competition; (photo/WSL)

Interview With GearJunkie

GearJunkie: What was the most special part about representing surfing and the USA for its debut at the Olympics?

Moore: Having the opportunity to surf for something bigger than myself, to represent my country, and to share the sport with so many people that maybe have never watched surfing was super special.

As a Hawaiian, seeing Duke Kahanamoku’s dream come true to have surfing in the Olympics is very special. It’s a big time for surfing to be recognized on this level, and I couldn’t be happier.

Was there a moment when it hit you that you were at the Olympics, that it was a reality?

I loved getting dressed up for the opening ceremony and putting on the whole outfit. It definitely felt really real then. We did not get to go to the actual opening ceremony, but we had a little celebration with our team.

What was your reaction when you won the gold medal in surfing?

I was overcome with emotion when it all happened. The horn blew, I heard people saying, “You won! You’re the Olympic gold medalist,” and I was like, “Wait, what?”

Carissa Moore surfing wave on a sunny day
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With surfing, there’s a certain element of mystery; no wave is the same. How would you describe your perfect wave?

Anything with just a really playful wall that allows for a couple of really nice turns and doesn’t have a lot of risk.

You’ve surfed all around the world. Do you have a favorite place you’ve surfed?

I am currently in Barra de la Cruz, and it is definitely one of my favorite stops on the WSL Championship Tour so far.

How do you mentally prepare yourself for a competition as big as the WSL Tour? Especially a competition following your performance at the Olympics?

A lot of hard work and preparation goes into it at home. Surfing and training on land. I do work with a mental coach, and I have the amazing support of my husband, family, and friends. There are a lot of boxes that need to be checked in order to compete at this level.

Now that the Olympics are over, I’m here in Mexico. Then I’m going straight to Tahiti for the next CT event, and then to the Rip Curl WSL Finals in September, which will be a showdown between five of us for the world title in one day.

How does it feel to be a role model for young women who want to surf?

I don’t even consider myself one, but thank you. I definitely feel fortunate to have the platform and hopefully, I can use it to make a positive impact.

Carissa Moore: Watch Her Surf on Tour

We are all in for a treat — between now and August 19, you can watch Carissa Moore surf live.

carissa moore surfing her big first wave in mexico
Carissa Moore surfing in her first heat of the WSL Tour event in Mexico; (photo/Carissa Moore)

In her first heat of this Championship Tour event on Tuesday, Moore scored an 8.33 and 6.63 on her top two waves, ending with a heat score of 14.96. It also happened to be the highest heat score out of all the female surfers so far.

Moore will advance to the round of 16 surfers and will compete there in Heat 5 against Brazil’s Silvana Lima. Then, depending on scores, she’ll move onto the quarterfinals. Regardless of how well Moore does at this CT event and the WSL Finals later on, her track record proves she’s already a winner.

Watch Carissa Surf at the Corona Open Mexico

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Mary Murphy

Mary Murphy is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and serves as the leader of Lola Digital Media’s DEI Committee.

She has been writing about hiking, running, climbing, camping, skiing, and more for seven years, and has been on staff at GearJunkie since 2019. Prior to that, Mary wrote for 5280 Magazine in Denver while working as an outdoor instructor teaching climbing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking at Avid4Adventure. Based in Denver, Colorado, Murphy is an avid hiker, runner, backpacker, skier, yogi, and pack-paddleboarder.