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Surf Stars Take Sides for Games

August 07, 2004|Dan Arritt

The X Games surfing competition returns to Huntington Beach today, and has attracted several recognizable names.

The West is coached by big-wave specialist Mike Parsons of San Clemente, who guided a team from Orange County to the California Cup title in the inaugural National Surf League series last spring.

The West squad includes Andy Irons of Hawaii, two-time defending World Championship Tour champion and its points leader; Shane Beschen, a former San Clemente resident now living in Hawaii; Tim Curran of Oxnard, Taylor Knox of Carlsbad, Rob Machado of Cardiff and Pat O'Connell of Laguna Beach. Chris Ward, who is in position to become the first surfer from the West Coast to make his debut on the tour since 1998, is also on the team.

More than half of the East Coast lineup is competing on the World Championship Tour, the sport's most competitive level. They are led by former six-time world champion Kelly Slater of Cocoa Beach, Fla., who is No. 2 on the tour. He'll be joined by fellow Floridians C.J. and Damien Hobgood and Shea and Cory Lopez, all tour members; Dean Randazzo, who has split time between the East Coast and San Diego and is a former tour competitor; and Australian Taj Burrow, a wild-card for the East who finished No. 3 on the tour last year. Other East Coast team members include aerial champion Aaron Cormican and upstart Asher Nolan.

East Coast members have had success in Huntington Beach. In addition to winning the inaugural X Games competition last year, Burrow won the U.S. Open of Surfing earlier this month in Huntington Beach and Cory Lopez won the event last year.

Coaching the East Coast is Matt Kechele, one of Slater's first mentors.

The competition begins at 11 a.m.

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