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A press conference to kick off the 2009 Billabong ISA World Surfing Games took place yesterday in Costa Rica. Competition begins tomorrow at Playa Hermosa. Photo courtesy International Surfing Association.

Let the Games begin

A press conference to kick off the 2009 Billabong ISA World Surfing Games took place yesterday in Costa Rica. Competition begins tomorrow at Playa Hermosa. Photo courtesy International Surfing Association.

A press conference to kick off the 2009 Billabong ISA World Surfing Games took place yesterday in Costa Rica. Competition begins tomorrow at Playa Hermosa. Photo courtesy International Surfing Association.

It’s becoming known as the Olympics of the Surfing.

The International Surfing Association (ISA) welcomed more than 34 nations to the eighth edition of the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games at a press conference in Costa Rica on Thursday.

“This is one of the only opportunities to see the best competitors from each country surfing for their flags and the pride of being members in their national surfing teams” said ISA President Fernando Aguerre.

Opening Ceremonies for the Games, including the Parade of Nations, took place Friday. Competition gets underway tomorrow at Playa Hermosa, a long beach on the Pacific Coast that features some of the most consistent breaks in the world.

“This is the first time a World Surfing Games has been held in Central America,” said Aguerre. “We have been all over the globe, but never here. Being in Costa Rica is amazing.”

Among the surfing notables at Thursday’s press conference included Australia’s Mick Campbell, an ASP pro ranked No. 13 in the world and ISA gold medalist in 1998, and California’s Courtney Conlogue, an ISA silver medalist and winner of last week’s U.S. Open of Surfing.

The host nation will be pinning its hopes on prodigy Carlos Muñoz, who recently won the Open, Junior and Under 16 division in the National Surfing Tour. In women’s competition, Peru’s Sofia Mulanovich, the 2004 ISA and ASP World Champion, will be the surfer to beat.

“Winning the ISA gold medal in Ecuador five years ago gave me a really strong push and confidence to be able to later win the ASP World Tour, in that same year,” she said.

Although Canada has participated in the past, including last year’s Games in Portugal, it does not have any competitors at this year’s event.

The ISA World Surfing Games features shortboard, longboard and bodyboard divisions. It also features an overall team division. which Australia has won the last three times.

To watch the event live via webcast, click here

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