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Local surfers in U.S. Open

Newport Harbor High alumna is among top shredders competing for titles owned by Orange County champions.

July 28, 2010|By Michael Sciacca, michael.sciacca@latimes.com
  • Workers set up for the 2010 US Open of Surfing on the south side of Huntington Pier Friday, July 23.
Workers set up for the 2010 US Open of Surfing on the south… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

HUNTINGTON BEACH — The glow of the spotlight bathed two local favorites in a warm embrace a year ago. Whose turn will it be to shine center stage this time in Huntington Beach?

Will it be one of the several athletes from neighboring Newport Beach?

The answer begins to reveal itself Saturday, the day the U.S. Open of Surfing gets underway at the Huntington Beach Pier.

The world's largest professional surfing competition, featuring the Men's and Women's Pro and the Men's and Women's Junior Pro, launches nine days of high-powered events through Aug. 8. This year's event comes on the heels of a 2009 extravaganza that drew 500,000 fans and offered record prize money and a competition that played out in incredible surf.

Last year, the event concluded with a double-whammy on its final weekend when a pair of locals, Courtney Conlogue, of Santa Ana and Huntington Beach native Brett Simpson, emerged with the coveted Women's and Men's Pro titles before an enthusiastic crowd that wildly cheered on the winners.

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It marked the first time the two U.S. Open competitions had been won by local athletes.

Simpson and Conlogue are back to defend their titles. Some local talent wants to defeat them.

"I'm ready to go," said Erica Hosseini, 23, a 2005 graduate of Newport Harbor High, who is seeded into the Women's round of 48. "The U.S. Open is such a great event with all the media and the hype, and all the great talent that comes from around the world for this. Hurley does such a great job with it and it brings out the Kelly Slaters, Taj Burrows and Mick Fannings. It's such a great spectator event."

Hosseini said she has been competing at the U.S. Open of Surfing since she was 15. Her best placement was a third-place finish three years ago in the Women's Junior Pro when she was 20, the final year she was eligible age-wise to compete in the Junior Pro.

She'll surf her first heat Monday along with fellow Newport Beach athlete, Kaleigh Gilchrist who also is seeded into the Women's round of 48.

"When you're seeded into the round of 48, you already know that it's a great group of competitors you're going up against," Hosseini said. "It's going to be a great Women's event."

Hosseini also is opening the doors of her home to two other Women's division competitors, Rosy Hodge of South Africa, and Nicola Atherton of Australia. The two, she said, arrive Sunday.

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