Tokyo Rising (2020) - full transcript

John John Florence puts his career on the line against Kelly Slater to qualify for surfing's debut in the 2020 Olympics.

[waves crashing]

[John] Your whole
life you're building up

to winning a world
title. [Mysterious music]

And then you win it. And
it's like, this is it.

This is gonna change everything.

You win your world
title, and you're like,

"Wait, [laughs]

everything's still
exactly the same."

You have like a month

and then you're resetting
again, back to zero.

Coming into 2018, I was lost.

Everyone's so supportive
and everyone's around you,

and everyone just wants
you to win, I guess.

Which is good. It's
all positive energy.

But I think unless you really
have that deep sense of like,

knowing what you want
within the sport,

you can get lost pretty easily.

[Announcer] Scores
coming in for Mendes, a 7.17.

Creates a massive upset,
John John Florence

out of the Corona
Bali Protected.

[mysterious music]

[John] After
that loss in Bali,

I wanted to go and be creative,
and surf how I wanna surf.

Like in my mind, I have
a picture in my mind

of how I like to surf.

And sometimes that can
be blurred by the competition,

kind of box that you put it in.

And so when I lost,
I went down the beach

and I was like, "I'm gonna
surf the way I wanna surf."

And I did, and I had a
lot of fun. [Chuckles]

For about two hours.

[Ross] He was visibly
upset. [Suspenseful music]

What excites John,
in my opinion,

is surfing as good as he can.

That's his essence,
underneath it all.

I could sense his
frustration more than normal.

And he was just blasting
huge airs, dangerous sections,

like out in the flats, buckling.

And I even, at one
point, I actually motioned

to him like, "Hey,
calm down," you know?

And sure enough,

a handful of waves later,

huge air, buckled his
knee. [Dramatic music]

Right away, it looked horrible.

[John] I go to
stand up and my knee

was just kind of
locked sideways.

And I just kinda limped
back to my hotel.

- [Ross] We went to the
emergency room there in Denpasar.

Straightaway, right
off the bat in Bali,

we're like, "Oh no,
this doesn't look good."

[ominous music]

[John] When it happened, I was just like,

"What do I do here?

Do I get surgery, or
do I not get surgery?"

You just kinda gotta
go on how you feel.

[Ross] Messing
up your ACL sucks.

It's a horrible injury,
everyone knows it's bad.

You know, it doesn't wanna heal.

As a coach and as a
friend, I felt horrible for him.

'Cause it just wasn't
gonna be a simple answer.

That's got a little
tenderness in it,

but I think when I do this one...

- It sets it off.
- It sets it off.

In the end, he
said "You know what,

it's not completely ruptured.

There's still a chance that
my ACL could reattach itself

to the bone, let's
just go for it."

And that ended up being
his decision, to rehab it,

get as strong as possible,
and take it from there.

I just put my mind into like,

slowly getting back.

And I worked through
a lot of things,

months and months of
training and different things.

It just kinda was like two
steps forward, one step back.

Two steps forward, one step back

for months and
months and months,

all the way up until
the next year on tour.

[ambient music]
[crickets chirping]

Come on, come on,
come on! [Distant speaking]

[ambient music]
[crickets chirping]

[waves crashing]

[Ross] John's got
this pretty long,

rigorous path ahead of him.

He's really good at
putting his nose down

and getting to work, and
that's exactly what he did.

He doesn't just kinda
go for it and wing it.

He tries to set himself
up as well as he can

to accomplish his goals.

Going into that year,
his goal was definitely

to win a World
Title and to get one

of those coveted American
spots in the Olympics.

[News Reporter] One year
from today, the 2020 Olympics

will be holding its
opening ceremony.

Tokyo is the host
of the Summer Games

and there are many
additions to the list of sports

on the schedule: Baseball,
softball, they're back.

Skateboarding is making
its first ever appearance,

as well as surfing.

Every time a new event
is added to the games,

a huge obstacle
for the athletes,

figuring out how
they're gonna qualify.

[Ross] This was something
that was unique to surfing.

Never has this been
in the conversation.

It's always been
about the World Title,

World Title, World Title.

Of course, John wants
to be in the Olympics.

I mean, who wouldn't?

It was a thing. We
had to talk about it,

like "Hey, you think
you're gonna be ready?"

He just seemed like
it was game on.

[John] As I came in in
2019, if I look at the World Title

and I look at the
Olympic qualification,

it just becomes too
much to think about.

You get nervous,
you get anxious,

you don't know
what's gonna happen.

And that's the truth, youdon't
know what's gonna happen.

And so the best thing
you can do is prepare

and show up and do
your best. [Chuckles]

[didgeridoo blares]

[mysterious music]

- [Announcer]
Welcome to the start

of the 2019 WSL Men's
Championship Tour.

[ambient music]

[Announcer] You know
what I love about John,

is that he made sure that
he was 100 percent healed up

before he made his
debut on the tour again.

[Announcer] Well,
as far as we know.

He might not even be.
He might be still recovering.

[mysterious music]

[John] My first heat
back was nerve-wracking.

I took off on my first wave,

and I just did this
little frontside air.

And I was like "Oh,
that felt pretty good."

Like no pain, nothing.

[Announcer] Out the back,

live action, Florence
up and launching!

- Wow!
- Huge reverse

out of the pocket.
[crowd claps and cheers]

♪ I fall so far

♪ I fall so far

[John] Ross and I made a
plan to do all the prep work

at home and then show up
and just be ready for the event.

[Announcer] Look at the power

John John is putting
into that wave.

Every single maneuver.

You can tell he's done a lotof
hard work in the off-season.

[dramatic, resonant music]

[John] I came up against
Filipe in the quarters.

He started off a little
further down the beach

and I started off deeper.

I just lucked into this
perfect barrel, spit

and then came out
and did a little air.

And I think that
just fired me up

for the rest of the heat.
[mystical, ambient music]

[Announcer] The two-time
World Champ has come to play.

Big confidence building
heat for Florence.

Making his return
to competition here

at the Quiksilver Pro.

[John] I'm stoked, I'm in
the semis against Kolohe.

The wind was blowing
into the rights.

All I could see
was air sections.

[swelling music]

[Announcer] And
it is John Florence

who's gonna get things
started here early.

[Announcer] John Florence
now looking for a 4.61.

Looks like Florence
is making his move.

This will be his last shot
at it, five seconds to go!

Loading up, takes to the air,

gets the rotation,
can't ride out.

And John Florence
is out of the event

with a third place finish.

A great return to competition.

[dramatic, ambient music] -
[John] First event back, a third.

[chuckles] I'll take that
any day. I'm feeling good.

There's no pain, I didn't
re-tweak my knee at all.

I was going into the
next event pretty fired up.

[jingling music]

[waves crashing]

[insects chirping]

[distant waves crashing]

[gravel road] - [John]
I can't see anything.

How can you see right now?

This is crazy.

[driver mutters]

- You guys fired up?
- [Kolohe] Oh, what?

Headphones on?

[John] Are we going out?

[Kolohe] Yeah. Whoa.

Well you have your suit
on, so do I. [Chuckles]

[John] I'm ready to go.

Bells has become one of
my favorite legs of the tour

because it's just beautiful, it's powerful.

And it's fun to come in and
just feel totally exhausted

from just battling the ocean.

[driving rock music]

[driving rock music]

[driving rock music]

[thunder rumbles]

[lightning cracks]

Bells can be small
and bad. And it is,

pretty often, when
we show up there.

You never know what
you're gonna get.

There was a couple of
days we were on hold

and they were like, "Yeah,
we think we might run."

And it's, you know, waist high.

It's fun, a fun
little rippable right,

but you're on a
tiny epoxy board.

And then two days later,
it's 10 feet and huge.

And [chuckles] I'm on my six
two, just surviving out there.

[waves crashing]
[suspenseful music]

- [Announcer]
We're here at Bells

and it is absolutely
pumping. [Flags fluttering]

[ambient music]


[Announcer] He's over
there at the other side.

He is at Winkipop, he's
gone over the rock,

and is now getting
picked up at Winkipop reef.

[Ross] John's side of
the draw was stacked.

He had to go through
Owen, Gabe, Jordy,

and Filipe, which
just, I don't know

if you could draw
up a gnarlier stack

of contestants [chuckles] to go against.

When the waves have size,
John is really tough to beat.

If it resembles anything
like his home break,

look out, he's gonna
destroy people.

[upbeat driving music]

[John] I was excited going
into the heat with Gabe.

He just won his
second world title and

Gabriel has a crazy
backhand at waves like Bells.

He had two waves that
he absolutely surfed so well.

I'm fired up. I'm just
like, "Okay, let's do this."

[driving music]

[driving music]

[Announcer] John
Florence is on his way

to potentially his best ever
finish here at Bells Beach.

[John] I was having
a lot of fun competing,

but also just loosening
up a little bit.

I get a lot of energy
off of my friends.

[upbeat music]

[crickets chirping]

[distant talking]

[John] Can you press start
when that heat ends, 5:25?

[Lauryn] Got it.

Big job.

[John] Oh did it go?

[Lauryn] No. Four,
three, two, one.

Oh, you did it one
second too early.

[John] So Finals
day comes around

and after Gabe's heat,
I was just so tired,

I was paddling out against Jordy

and the waves were
absolutely firing.

[driving rock music]

It's definitely nerve-wracking
going up against him,

but when I just get into
that mindset of like,

"How am I gonna surf this heat?"

Then I just felt really
comfortable with what I was doing.

[Announcer] Florence,
there's the big,

crushing layback finishing move

that he's been
loving, here at Bells.

Wave growing in size,
he belts it vertically.

Almost felt like the whole
ocean was breathing.

[John] And then
the Finals, same day.

Again, I'm just so tired.

I'm like, "Okay, I know
Filipe is really tired too."

Waves are pumping.

I just had that same
mindset, I was like,

"I know I just have to
wait for good open waves."

[upbeat rock music]

[Announcer] Last score
for Toledo not enough.

John John Florence

takes the big bell at the
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach,

for the first time
in his career.

[crowd cheers and yells]

What a comeback story.

[crowd cheering and whistling]

[crowd cheers rising]

Your champion for the
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach,

John John Florence!
[bell clangs]

[crowd cheering]

[Ross] Only a few
months before that,

there was questions whether
John should even do the Tour.

For all of a sudden, him
to have a first and a third,

he's leading the ratings
and he's smashing it,

as a coach, I'm psyched.

[John] I'm just so stokedbecause
it was just such a long

road getting to that point,
of going through the injury,

going through all the
questions about the injury.

Should I do surgery,
should I not do surgery?

And then coming out
with a win at Bells

in the second event of the year,

it just feels really good.

[ambient music]

I came out of it with
so much confidence.

I just felt really excited
about competing again.

[bells and percussive music]

[Erik] Does he make
you carry his boards

on Mother's Day all the time? [Chuckles]

What's the deal here?

[Mom] No, I
offered. [Chuckles]

[John] I went into it, back
in the yellow jersey again.

Knee is feeling super
good, at this point.

[bright mellow music]

[Announcer] John John Florence

getting started out the back.

With a couple of clean
front side carves,

big air section, full
rote, perfect landing.

[Ross] Keramas is every
Tour surfer's favorite wave.

John loves that wave,
so his expectations

to get a result there
are always high.

[Announcer] John
John Florence,

taking on Joan Duru, their first

head to head match up here.

Straight up into
this first section.

Super explosive on
the tail of the board.

Rips through a nice
little foam climb there.

Doesn't get the finish.

[Ross] John had a little bit

of a tight heat against Joan,
where it was really 50/50.

[suspenseful, rattling music]

He just gave Joan every
opportunity to win.

[Announcer] Joan Duru
6.17, he jumps up into the lead.

Pressure is on
Florence with a minute.

Can he hold his nerve?

He's got an opportunity
here, swinging

into a medium sized set,
five seconds remaining.

This is his last shot at it.

Drives up into
the first section,

throws the air reverse
[horn sounds] can't ride out.

And that is a huge upset result.

John Florence showed
great form in this heat,

but Luke, it's Joan Duru's day.

[slow, dramatic music]

[Ross] As far as
a teaching moment,

it was kind of a good heat

'cause it was a little
kick in the pants.

Gotta take this serious here,
it's not as easy as I thought.

Coming off a third and a first,

it was just a
little wake up call.

He's heading to West
Oz, still looking

great for qualification
for the Olympics.

So he didn't lose
too much blood.

[John] I kinda get
a second to cool down.

And then, I just know
we're going to West Oz,

which is such an amazing
place in the world,

and one of my favorite
places to go surfing,

in general, competing or not.

It just felt like a
really fresh reset.

You get to West Oz and
the weather's a little bit colder

that time of year.
[birds tweeting]

It's beautiful, the water
is this crystal clear blue.

The waves are big
barrels and there's just a lot

of good energy and
excitement there.

[water splashing]
[mystical music]

[upbeat percussive music]

[ambient music]

[Announcer] Welcome
back to the Margaret River Pro.

The seeding round getting
underway for the men now,

and we're kicking
things off with a bang.

We've got John John Florencethe
current Jeep ratings leader

with the greatest of all time,

the 11-time World
Champ, Kelly Slater.

[Ross] Kelly is like 48
and still wants to be in Tokyo.

[laughs] So you know he's
trying to beat the grommet.

And then John's just
looking at this freak like,

"Whoa, what is this guy
doing in the water?"

It's already, we're
talking about the Olympics

and sort of a little
bit of a rivalry there.

[rock music]

[Announcer] Beautiful
carve to get started.

John John Florence lost
out early at Keramas

in a very close
heat with Joan Duru.

[John] I'm still
battling heats

against Kelly,
who I was watching

when I was like 10 years
old, win World Titles.

It's a funny dynamic.

[Announcer] Love the way,

he just unloaded this rail
turn in John Florence's face.

And these two are motivated,
coming up against one another,

even in this early stage
of the competition.

Slater will have to come
through the elimination round.

The 26 year old Florence stays
alive and powers on through.

[forest and bird sounds]
[shutter clicks]

[John] We know
going into West Oz

There's fun activities
to do, outside of surfing.

And you can get your mind
off surfing and put your focus

into something else, just
having fun with your friends.

- [laughing]
- Pizza for everyone.

- Yeah.
- Dude, we got pizza, bro.

[friends exclaim]

- Good save!

[John] We had a couple
days, just to hang out.

Our whole team's there.

We're just having
fun and enjoying it.

If I don't stay active and
I just sit around all day,

I feel way more
tired the next day.

I think that's
just so important,

to create that kind of
environment around a surf contest.

You're not wasting tons of
energy, but you have a focus.

[Announcer] What a great
Finallined up here at Main Break

today, Florence up
against longtime friend

and fellow American,
Kolohe Andino.

- [calm, bright music]
- [Ross] At this point,

I doubt John is too worried
about qualifying. [Chuckling]

He's probably looking at
Kolohe and Kelly going,

"These guys gotta fight it
out for that second spot."

[Kolohe] Mine and John's
relationship has been friendly

for the last, like
four or five years.

He doesn't really show
me that competitor's side

as much as he might
show other people,

except for when we're in a heat.

[Announcer] I mean
just that drop alone Joe,

just to take off under the lip,

and then he goes into
that first maneuver.

That was nothing, why?

Because watch this turn here.

[slow, dramatic music] -
[Kolohe] The closer I get to him,

the more he shows me
how competitive he is

and how into it he is.

[Announcer] That is the
epitome of speed, power,

and flow, what the
judges are looking for.

[resonant, dramatic
music] - All of a sudden,

Florence really just took over.

[Kolohe] It's a
pretty difficult wave

to surf and not that
many of the guys like it.

I think his mindset
does a lot of the work.

[John] I just never, at
one point, felt stressed

or anxious like, "Oh,
like I need to get a wave."

I was just like, "Okay,"
and then a wave'd come.

And I go, "This is
the one I want."

[Announcer] John
will take priority

and lay down a massive
layback hack off the lip.

There's the carve
to tail release.

[mystical music]- [Ross]
John competes the best.

Not when he's trying to
destroysomeone like the Terminator.

It's more like trying
to outfox his friends.

[Announcer] And there it is.

Your Champion, even
without that last wave.

John John Florence is your
2019Margaret River Pro Champion

for the second time in
hiscareer, in an incredible final.

Let's give a warm welcome
for our two-time World Champ.

Your event winner once
again, at the Margaret River Pro.

John John Florence!
[crowd cheers and whistles]

[Ross] John is
way out in first.

It's one of the best starts

in the history of
competitive surfing.

[John] Two wins and
a third, it's exciting.

We're going to Brazil,
going to stay with Kolohe.

We're first and
second in the world.

We're first and second in
the Olympic qualification.

I'm just feeling good.
[bright, ambient music]

I'm feeling like the
best I've ever felt

in a competition mindset.

[blades whirring]

[bright, expectant music]

[John] We have our own
little beach break peak,

like right in
front of the house.

Me, Kolohe and Gabe were
tryingto run little mock heats.

Kolohe's a really fun
person to be around.

He's so fired up on competing,

and he's got such a
high energy about him.

[Kolohe] I feel like Johntries
to find really bad waves,

so then he could watch
me surf bad waves,

'cause he knows that's
what I surf every day.

Which is cool,
whatever. [Chuckles]

[bouncy, lively music]

[child exclaims]



- [slow, ominous music]
- [Announcer] Welcome

to beautiful Saquarema,
Brazil for the Oi Rio Pro.

[John] I had a lot of
heats where I was kinda

half in, half out

Not really committing to just
surfing a wave competitively,

but also wanting to
do something big.

Still, I was making it
through heats and I was like,

"Okay, just keep rolling
through these heats."

[Announcer] John
John Florence powering

off the bottom, beautiful snap.

Patient, waiting his time.

Oh look at this
section, ohh and a

beautiful speed carve.

[John] There was
a little bit of me

that was feeling this
kind of uneasiness.

The wind is blowing
into the rights.

We're surfing like
a six-foot wedge

that just wedges into
a huge air section.

So in my mind, I'm just
like, "Tone it back.

You just gotta surf this
heat, just gotta surf this heat."

[music builds] - [Announcer]
Here goes John John

on the outside,
dragging the anchor.

He comes through
the section clean.

Will he go for something
big on the end here?

No he pulls into another
big closeout section

But very well executed.

[Ross] I'm just
trying to get him

to think about the basics, so
that he doesn't just ramp up

the whole heat,
and throw it away.

[John] I'm like fightingmyself,
going out in this heat.

"I wanna do a 10 foot backflip,
I wanna do a huge backflip.

Like, I gotta land
a big backflip."

This one big wedge comes
in and I'm taking off on it.

And I'm like, "Oh,
this is a huge ramp."

Then when I got into
the wave I was like,

"Aw, it's not a good ramp. I
just gotta fly out the back."

[ominous music]

[Announcer] Oh, John's
hurt himself here, I think.

[John] I just felt this big
pop. Just the deepest pain.


[Ross] It didn't have
red flags right away

until he came in.

The second he came in
and he had that weird hop,

I was like, "Oh no,
there's his knee."

[John] And I was
just like, "Damn it."

Are you kidding me right now?

"Is this really happening again?"

[sinister music]

Just trying to think in my head,

like "Okay, what do I do here?"

I'm gonna just do
everything I can

that I have here in Brazil.

If I wake up and it feels
good, I'm gonna surf and then,

"if I wake up and it doesn't
feel good, I got a fifth."

I wake up and it feels
absolutely terrible.

Swollen, stiff. I
can barely walk.

I'm just like, "Okay."

[Announcer] We got the update

from John's camp,
Brandon Wasserman.

Contacted us this
morning, saying

that John doesn't feel
confident to surf today.

So he's officially withdrawing

from the quarterfinal
match against Jordy Smith

and he's gonna seek
further treatment.

[Erik] See you on
the other side, Johnny.

[John] We got
an MRI that night

and the doctors like "Oh, you
completely blew your ACL."

[speaking Portuguese]

He thinks it's still
the same, ya know?

[John] It was just bizarre
to be in this situation again,

after having gone through it
the year before, and the year

before being I wasn't having
a very good year on tour.

But then this year, the contrast

of having [chuckles] the
best year ever on tour

that I've ever had, the
best start I've ever had.

The best position I've been
in, the Olympic qualification,

all this stuff, and then it
just being stopped again

by this same
injury, essentially.

[slow, dramatic music]

[Doctor] This hurts,
just doing that?

[John] Yeah, I feel likethat's
more sore than last time.

- Yeah.
- That's sore, there.

Let me see, one,
that's pretty good, 130.

And here's your ACL and
it's just going, it's just off.

It's just blown right through
there. I mean, it should

See how you can see it
come in and attach right there?


You're getting nothing
right through there.

This will be considered
a full reconstruction, right?

- Correct.
- And the recovery time

- of that is...
- Six months, six months.

Okay, 'til you start surfing?

I'm in this position
that's really hard

because I have a
big lead in points.

My decision was either
surgery or brace my knee up

and hope it doesn't
get any more injured

for the rest of the year.

I don't wanna keep
dealing with this injury.

So I just decided
to do the surgery.

[waiting room voices]

- [John] Thank you.
- [Nurse] This is Versed.

This is like a couple
of shots of tequila

without the calories
and the hangover.

[faint conversation]


[slow piano] - [John] When
I decided to do the surgery

I knew I was giving
up the World Title.

I wanna be good
in the long term.

I wanna be able
just to go surfing

and I wanna be able to
do airs into the flats,

and go foiling and all
these things that I love to do.

That was my main thing.

[Nurse] Pretty wild, right?

[Erik] Do you love animal
crackers? [Monitor beeping]

[John] I love animal crackers.

The timeline for 100
percent was 9 to 14 months.

Some guys will
come back at five.

That just gave me that little
bit of hope and I was like,

"Okay, Pipe's right about
for that five month mark."

Knowing I had to give up
the World Title was difficult

in the beginning.
[slow music]

I kinda pivoted all my
mindset onto recovering,

and then the Olympics
is still a possibility for me.

I knew I was gonna
end up in the top 10,

maybe not in the top 5, but
there's a really good chance

that I'd finish
pretty well here.

[Ross] It's about
two guys passing John.

It was an outside chance,
but we knew that Kelly Slater

and Seth Moniz were gonna have

to fight to get past
him, points wise.

[John] The way I've
learned to handle change

really has come from competing.

When you lose,
take what you can,

learn from it, and just
move onto the next thing.

There was a little bit
of excitement for me.

I got back from California and I was like,

"Okay, I'm gonna go
do these other things

that I don't
normally get to do."

[uplifting music]

Took some of that energy
and put it into the land

and we just learned, month
to month, week to week.

Now, we're at a point where
we're growing so much food,

I can't give it
away quick enough.

We have honeybees and
we have four hives now.

The bees are a
complex little system

and I try to learn
as much as I can.

[Beekeeper] So they say
if you move it like 20 feet,

they'll all be lost
and they won't be able

- to find their hive.
- [Lauryn] Really!?

[Beekeeper] Like that's
how specific they are.

[Beekeeper] Yup, exactly.

[John] I hate
working out in the gym.

I like being outdoors.
[music rises]

If I'm gonna go ride
the bike for 40 miles

or I'm gonna go
paddle for 15 miles,

that's my favorite
thing in the world.

I'll do that every single day,

even if I'm tired and
don't wanna do it.

And then, I got to do one
of the most amazing trips

of my life.
[electric guitar]

Powered by the wind and the sun,

we sailed a thousand
miles south,

to the middle of
the Pacific Ocean.

It was one of the
best summers I've had.

[friends exclaiming
and laughing]

The Line Islands is a
special place in the world.


Going there, I was just
blown away at how much life

and how complex the system is.

[bright music]

The variety of different
types of coral,

different types of fish,
the variety of birds;

Everything around there
is incredible to see.

Doing this trip is something
I've dreamed about

for a long time now.

Your whole world shrinks
down to that boat

and that's the main part
of why I love it so much.

For a month down there,
I didn't really care

what was happening on the Tour.

[music changes] - [Ross]
Surprisingly, ya know

Kelly did pretty poor
throughout the year.

He had one or two okay
results, but he didn't pass John.

[John] We still got a
little bit of work to do,

but I was just like, "I
can't give Kelly Slater"

"that opportunity at
Pipeline." [chuckles]

My whole mindset was
like, "I'm gonna train as much

as I can and I'm gonna
prepare myself the best I can."

I wanna see if I can
qualify for the Olympics.

[upbeat percussive music]

[Ross] He got surgery,
only four or five months prior.

He does not have the
green light to just go

take off on a 12
foot wave at Pipe.

[John] I don't know how my
knee is gonna work right now.

I tried to just do a
couple of cutbacks,

[chuckles] make it
look like I'm fine.

In my mind I was like,

there's no way I can
do the Pipe contest.

[Ross] The Olympics
bring so much

to the plate, media
from all over the place.

Like is John surfing Pipe?

Nobody knew, John did not know.

[John] I'm just
gonna keep training

and keep preparing
myself like I'm gonna do it.

It was just amazing

those couple of weeks, how
much better I got how fast.

[funky upbeat music]

[Ross] It's your decision,
it's your body, it's your life.

Why don't we just look
at the waves the day of,

and see if it's something you can handle?

And that's kinda how he took it.

He just wanted to see
what the waves were like,

see how Kelly did, sorta
take it day by day.

[expectant music]

[Kelly] I'm really proud of
John, but I think inevitably,

for both he and I, there's
some level of uncomfortability

because we're going to
beclashing and I used to be a guy

that would look out
for him at Pipeline.

Like make sure he's
staying in a safe place

when he was a
little kid, ya know?

Now, he's the best
guy in the world.

He's just become an
incredible surfer.

I've put in 40 years
to competition.

The Olympics, for me, it
would probably be once

in a lifetime 'cause of my age

and where I'm at in my career.

It just all comes down to
the skill level at the time,

and you just have
to surf your way on.

You have to compete your way on.

[John] Kelly is the
greatest competitive surfer

of all time. By far.

Being a little kid watching him

at the Pipe Masters was
incredible to grow up and see.

He won his first world
title the year I was born.

It was definitely
a bit stressful

because I wanna
make the Olympics,

I know he wants to
make the Olympics.

It just creates tension.

[music builds]

[Ross] Since the
late 80's and 90's,

we've all been hanging
out at the Johnson's house

during the Pipe Masters.
Kelly and all of us.

John John, ya know,
that's also his camp.

Now all of a sudden, you
have just a little bit

of odd friction.

[Kelly] It's hard for people
not to see some kind of

separation between the
contest and friendship.

To me, it's like two guys
are going into the cage

to fight each other, and you
either touch gloves before

or you don't. And I
generally just touch gloves.

[tense, bright music]

- [Beach Announcer]
Check-in for jerseys

John John Florence, Ace
Buchan, Jesse Mendes. Check in

[John] That
morning, I was like,

Okay, it's not very
good for my knee,

I'm just gonna paddle out
and see how I feel out there.

I don't need to catch waves.

[Announcer] Ladies and
gentlemen, John John Florence is

back in competition,
cheer him on. [Cheering]

[John] I paddle out and
I get in the heat and I get

in that mindset and a lot
of that goes out the window.

[Announcer] Here
we go with John John.

- [music building]
- Stalls

A little cylinder there for
JJF and he comes out.

Once he got that first round

out of the way, he was
like, "Okay, let's do this."

[John] It just fired me
up and it slingshotted me

into that competitive mindset.

[crowd cheers]

[Kolohe] I thought he
was just done for the year.

I thought Kelly would
eventually pass him

because you know, Kelly's Kelly.

So I was excited for him.

[Kelly] My strategy at
Pipe this year was just to

try and win the contest.

I felt confident going out.

[music and cheering crowd]

[Announcer] Wide
open, bonus section

and Slater's still
traveling, driving

through an impossible
section, Kelly makes it!

[crowd cheers]

That's what you
call a perfect 10.

[Kelly] That was
about as fired up

as I've ever been
for any wave. Ever.

[Trainer] Five,
four, three, two,

and hold on and stretch,
just hold at the top.

Really flex, engage,
engage, engage.

[Ross] We're
taking it day by day.

It's all about the conditions.

It's all about John's knee.

[Ross] What are you feeling?

- Where's your head space?
- [John] I feel good.

- I feel super good.
- Just as far as competing,

what's your...
Just keep going

if it's small and manageable.

But if it gets to a
point where it's like,

doubled-up and weird Pipe,

you know how it is when
those swells are filling in,

and it's just like,
not even Pipe.

[John] I was like, I just
gotta keep making heats

'cause Kelly's still going.

He's getting tens and
nines and really pushing me.

[music rising]

[Announcer] Florence
now paddling out

to face Zeke Lau in a
crucial round of 32 heat.

[John] I was just so fired up

to be getting barreled at Pipe

I forgot how much I missed it.

[crowd cheering]

[Announcer] John Florence,
locked in an absolute bomb.

He'll find his way through.
Hands behind the back.

He's got the win.

What a performance.

[crowd cheering]
Florence and Slater,

now both on their way
to the quarterfinals.

[John] I thought the last
one was just gonna be such a

good wave. I was just
like, "I have to go."

I was sitting, I was
watchingyou with the two Doctors

And they both went [laughing]

That um, that made
me have to come over.


Right when I saw you
yesterday I was just

Ahh! [Laughing]

[Ross] So now we're
boiled all the way down

to the quarter finals.

It was one of the only
events I can ever recall us

talking about specific
results, and what it meant.

We knew Kelly had to win
the event to pass John

[music builds]

[Announcer] On the
outside, Freestone lines one up.

Late drop into this one,
does well to hang onto it,

- and he's gonna get the finish.
- Wow.

Throws the arms up.

[Ross] Kelly has a reallyclose
heat with Jack Freestone.

[Announcer] Finds a
nice line into this one

The wave holding open.

Kelly driving through this
one, finds his way through.

[Ross] It was gonna be gnarly

for someone to beat
Kelly at the Pipe Masters.

He just would not lose.-
[Announcer] Slater locked in.

[crowd cheering] He's
coming through! He emerges

[Ross] John looks at me,
he'slike, "Are you kidding me?"

Like [chuckles] this
guy is 48 years old

and I'm still trying my
hardest to beat this guy.

We definitely knew that
Kelly was gonna battle

for that spot and be
really tough to beat.

So John draws Gabriel,
his biggest rival on tour.

The waves are big,
it's like 8 to 10 feet.

It's cranking pipe.

[John] I don't really care
about the World Title race.

I'm here to do what
I came here to do

Is qualify for the Olympics
and one of the main reasons

why I'm surfing here
today with my knee

and why I trained so hard
these last couple weeks.

I was fired up and I was
like, "I'd love to beat him,

just coming out of
this injury right now."

I went out there and I had
aplan in my head and I was like,

I'm just gonna get
the good waves.

- [suspenseful music] -
[Announcer] Medina already swinging

against John John
Florence, bottom drops out.

Gabriel Medina gets sucked
back into the pit by Pipeline.

Florence grabbing the rail
now, big section, beats that.

[crowd cheering] More
room to move and he'll get

shut down as well on the exit.

This is just what we expected,

in a heat with two
all-time rivals.

[John] The tactics he was
playing in that heat were just

insane. Ya know,
he's got priority

He didn't have to
commit to the wave, but

he was just where
I wanted to go.

[Announcer] Gabriel
setting up a huge, frontside air

and just slides away.

Florence, scoops into
this thing, slides out that tail

to get the most he can
out of the barrel [cheering]

and there's that local crowd.

[John] He was just on bombs
behind my waves, every time.

He comboed me, it was
pretty unfortunate.

[crowd cheering] -
[Announcer] Here goes Medina

Solid section, wide open!

Ohh, wow.

Gabriel off the lip,
a frontside punt

on one of the best-executed
combinations of the day.

[music falls off]

[Ross] Gabriel smashes him.

I mean, Gabe just
had a dream heat.

[Announcer] At this point,

John's done what he came to do.

Kelly Slater must now
win the Pipe Masters

to overtake Florence's
spot in the Olympics.

[funky, upbeat music]

[John] There's a
really good chance

of Kelly winning at Pipe

He's won it more than
anyone in the world has.

[Announcer] This is gonna
be a monster challenge.

Italo hasn't had a victory
here at the Pipe Masters.

Slater, seven victories

surfing in the event
for the 27th time.

[Ross] John
watched every minute

Ya know, it was pretty intense.

[Announcer] Eyeing something
off of the Backdoor here.

This wave bowling
up quite nicely.

Slater locked in, the wave spits

and he doesn't come
through this one.

Italo now he gets an opportunity

A cupped out Pipe wave
and he gets spat out.

A low-road exit
straight on the rail,

and an opportunity to
attack the lip here as well.

[Ross] Just kinda
watching every minute,

just waiting for Kelly
to do his freakish thing

and get some crazy wave
at backdoor. Something.

[Announcer] Slater
again, eyes on back door,

this wave starting to pitch,
holding open just for a moment

before pinching on the face.

Italo lining up an insider,
this is without priority.

Ducks under it
and still gunning.

And the wave pinches,
but Italo manages to stay

on his feet and find the
exit. [Crowd cheering]

[Ross] The magic
definitely left Kelly.

Italo smashed him.

That was impressive,
because Kelly is not easy

to beat out there.

[Announcer] Such a
big moment for John

After all he's done to give
himself this opportunity.

[crowd cheering and clapping]

[John] 2019 was
an incredible year.

The best start I
ever had in competing

Starting with a third, then
going on to win at Bells

Having kind of a
down moment at Bali,

but kind of learning
a lot from it and then

Just going into West
Oz and winning again.

[crowd cheering]

Feeling really good, stoked
to be competing, everything.

And then, having an
injury that pretty much takes

that whole plan and
throws it out the window.

It just gives me
tons of time to spend

with friends, family, time
that I don't normally have

because I'm on tour.
[calm, bright music]

I get to do all these other
things that I love to do.

Now, I'm so stoked
for the Olympics.

[all cheering]

[Ross] It was such a big,

dramatic, emotional

because he knew that he
was putting his body on the line.

For him to accomplish that
meant everything to John.

It was almost like
he won a World Title,

even though he didn't that year.

[Nathan] Dude, congrats.

[Kelly] I hate John.

Next question, no.

I gotta keep on my toes
here to beat this kid, ya know?

I had my opportunities, I was
pretty much one heat away

from being on the team,
but I made a lot of mistakes

throughout the year, I
didn't have a great year.

So I proved that you gotta
havethe best guys at that time.

[News Reporter] The
2020 Summer Olympics,

now the latest major sports
cancellation caused by

the global COVID-19 pandemic.

We're following
breaking news right now

that the 2020 Tokyo
Olympics will be postponed

until next year.

[Ross] I think this gives
everyone some perspective.

It gives them some time away

to fuel up, get that psych back.

If it's 2021, the tour starts,

it could be the best show ever.

[John] My mindset has just
gone to really taking the time

to find that deep
excitement for what I have

in competitive surfing
and looking forward

to the 2021 Olympics,
I can't wait.

[upbeat music]