Gilmore blunts Californian curse
STEPHANIE Gilmore's new policy of surfing every heat "like it's for a world title" is already paying off with the Australian in top form on the opening day of the US Open of surfing at Huntington Beach.
Gilmore opened her campaign in California early Saturday by dispatching event champion Sage Erickson into the elimination second round where the American suffered a second defeat to Australian Nikki Van Dijk.
The six-time world champion, who has yet to win a world tour event at Huntington, says she has bought a fresh approach into the tournament.
"I have to stay on top of things and treat every event like it's a world title," Gilmore said.
"This year I've also started fresh, not gone into it with a premeditated idea, not thinking that I have a hoodoo here.
"You always say you won't do that but I think everyone holds onto their past places a bit."
Gilmore was last year beaten by a wildcard in the second round - a defeat which played a major part in her world title loss to Tyler Wright.
However, 12 months on, she downed the defending event champion and dangerous wildcard Kirra Pinkerton in her opening heat.
While Gilmore started the event strongly, it took other Australians a while to find their groove in California.
Sally Fitzgibbons recovered from her loss at the hands of teenager Caroline Marks to beat fellow Aussie Bronte Macaulay 12.84 to 4.90 in their second round bout.
This win followed on from Van Dijk beating Erickson 12.44 to 9.73 in the elimination second round.