Women's surfing is used to fierce world title races, but the one we're seeing in 2019 is truly unprecedented. With one contest left in this roller coaster of a season, three women have a chance to win the world title. All three have a shot at making the 2020 Olympics, where surfing will be making its debut. And all three are American — which, for the Olympics, makes things complicated.
Currently, Carissa Moore sits in first, with Lakey Peterson in second and 17-year-old Caroline Marks, in just her second year on the tour, following in third. Scenarios have been mapped out and analyzed. Each of the surfers has a chance at both the world title and the Olympics depending on the results of one last competition, the Lululemon Maui Pro. But here's the wrinkle: the US only has two Olympic spots to hand out.
Here's how it works. Throughout the season, surfers are awarded points based on their performance in 10 Championship Tour contests. The world title goes to the surfer with the most points at the end of the year. This year, placement in the Championship Tour also counts for Olympic qualification: the top eight women will secure a place in Tokyo should their country have an open spot.
Basically, no matter how it shakes out, the US will bring the top two women's surfers in the world to the 2020 Olympics. It's great news for Team USA, but for the athletes battling for those spots, it makes this final competition one of the biggest of their lives. POPSUGAR sat down with Carissa, Lakey, and Caroline to see how they're handling the pressure, excitement, and fierce competition before they hit the waves one last time in 2019. (To watch the contest yourself, check out the World Surf League's live stream; the surfers will be paddling out in the next two weeks, depending on the wave forecast.)