Although soccer is clearly Costa Rica’s premier sport, surfing had a better year in 2009.
The major highlight of the year came in August when Costa Rica hosted the biggest international sporting event in its history – the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games in Playa Hermosa and Jacó, on the central Pacific coast.
Competitors came from 36 nations, and thousands of fans descended on the dark sand beaches to watch the best of the best ride the powerful Playa Hermosa waves.
“The response of the fans of the surfing world and the Costa Rican people is marvelous,” said Tourism Minister Carlos Benavides on the first day of the competition.
“We are very pleased with the all the people from around the world who are here and we are happy to see them enjoying the beautiful beaches, great people and great surfing we offer in Costa Rica.”
The thousands of fans who lined the beaches each day during the week-long event also enjoyed the success of the home team.
The Tico team proved they were among the world’s elite, finishing 7th overall after hovering around the top five spot all week.
The team was led by Costa Rican surfing sensation Jason Torres, who finished 7th overall. Torres battled his way into the semifinals of the Men’s Open competition and actually beat the eventual champion Jeremy Flores from France in three previous heats. Aside from his strong finish at the World Surfing Games, Torres also won the Central American championship for the second year in a row in October and he came in second at the Pan American games in Brazil in November.
But Torres wasn’t the only star in the group.
Other bright young surfers – such as Carlos Muñoz, Gilbert Brown, Jair Pérez, Luis Vindas, Nataly Bernold and Lizbeth Vindas – all made names for themselves in the surfing world throughout the year.
In addition to their success at the World Surfing Games, the Tico team members capped the year with a second-place finish at the Pan American games in November, proving the Tico team is one of the elite teams in the Americas.
With great waves, good talent and growing popularity among the nation’s youth, Costa Rican surfing can look forward to a brilliant future.