Team USA's Carissa Moore Just Won the First-Ever Gold Medal In Women's Surfing

The 28-year-old athlete made more than just waves at this summer's Tokyo Games.

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Add surfer Carissa Moore's name to the growing list of American Olympians making history at this summer's Tokyo Games.

Moore won the first-ever Olympic gold medal for women's surfing on Tuesday — as the sport made its long-awaited Olympics debut — with the 28-year-old athlete edging out South Africa's Bianca Buitendag and Japan's Amuro Tsuzuki in the shortboard competition. (FYI, shortboards are boards measuring about 6 feet in length and used for quicker maneuvers versus a 9-foot longboard, which is typically more stable when riding waves and will not be used at the Olympics.)

"I feel super blessed, super fortunate. It's been an incredible experience," said Moore post-victory, according to NPR. "It's been a crazy couple of days, a little bit of a rollercoaster of emotions just trying to figure out the break, find my rhythm, learning how to trust myself without my family here."

Carissa Moore-Surfing - Olympics: Day 4
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Moore earned a score of 14.83 in Tuesday's competition, defeating the second-place Buitendag at 8.46 points and Tsuzuki in third with 6.80 points. The scoring system for surfing is a bit elaborate. Five judges are tasked with analyzing each athlete's performance, and they score each wave on a scale of one to 10 with two decimal places, according to the Olympics' official website. For each wave, the highest and lowest scores are cast aside and the surfer will receive the average of the three remaining scores. The surfer's two highest-scoring waves are ultimately tallied for an overall total, with 20 points being the highest an athlete can receive. The scores are based on five criteria: commitment and degree of difficulty, innovative and progressive maneuvers, variety of maneuvers, a combination of major maneuvers, as well as speed, power, and flow.

In addition to Moore, Brazil's Italo Ferreira nabbed the first-ever men's Olympic gold surfing medal on Tuesday. He defeated Japan's Kanoa Igarashi, who finished second, and Australia's Owen Wright, who placed third.

Moore has been wowing judges on the surfing circuit for much of her life. A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Moore began surfing with her dad at the age of five, made a name for herself on the junior circuit in middle school, and later moved up to the Women's Tour during her senior year in high school. In 2011, when Moore was only 18 years old, she became the youngest surfer to win a world title. She went on to claim world championships in 2013, 2015, and 2019. It was her 2019 win that clinched her spot on the 2020 Olympic team.

Moore attended The Punahou School, a private kindergarten through grade 12 school in Honolulu — and she's not the only alumni representing Team USA. Erik Shoji, who competes on the men's indoor volleyball team, graduated from the same school in 2008. Shelby Baron, a 2012 graduate, will compete in the wheelchair tennis event at the Paralympics in Tokyo next month. (

Among the Punahou School's other famous alum: golfer Michelle Wie and former President Barack Obama. It's safe to say that Moore is in excellent — and accomplished — company.

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