Melanie Bartels Wins MVP and Gold with Ballard in X Games
On the fourth of July, Team USA was too much for Team World at Zicatela Beach, Puerto Escondido in the inaugural Women’s Surfing X-Games. Led by O’Neill Team riders Rochelle Ballard and MVP Melanie Bartels, Team USA won one of the tightest games in X-Games history – 55 to 52.
Competing in the Game format with three periods, the USA surfing in the top half and World surfing in the bottom half, the girls were introduced to a new format that rewarded team work and coordination in the lineup rather than the tactics and hassling seen in regular competition.
Loaded with the talents of Stephanie Gilmore, Sofia Mulanovich, Chelsea Hedges, Claire Bevilacqua in the Team World starting line-up it appeared Team USA would have to get the breaks to take home the first ever Women’s X-Games in Surfing. But it was Team USA that embraced the Game format and the hollow waves of Puerto Escondido to appropriately claim gold on their nation’s Independence Day.