You wouldn't peg Courney Conlogue as a fighter. She hails from kick-back Santa Ana, California, in Orange County, and has made a name for herself in a sport whose athletes use the word soul without irony. But at age 4, right around the time she learned to surf, Conlogue gleefully whupped a bunch of 6-year-olds in a taekwondo skills tournament. "I was technically supposed to be older," she says, "but they let me in because I was gnarly."
As a 14-year-old, in 2007, Conlogue won a surfing gold medal as a member of the U.S. team in X Games 13; in 2008, she won five individual competitions, including the Surfing America USA Championships' Girls Under 18 division; and in 2009 she won the biggest competition on the U.S. mainland, the Hurley U.S. Open of Surfing, held at her home break in Huntington Beach.
She trains roughly six hours a day in the water, simulating the 20-minute heats common in competitions. "You only get those 20 minutes to put on a show," she says. "I don't want lack of conditioning to be the thing that hinders me."
"When I was young, we did an annual surf trip down to Mexico to hang out for a week, just camp, fish, and play in the sand. I saw my dad out there surfing and I asked him if he could take me out there and have me stand up on a few waves. He stood me up on my boogie board, and right when we got home, he got me a surfboard."
"From that point on, I was hooked on surfing."
"Surfing is kind of like a bug, and once you get it, you're stuck with it for the rest of your life."
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