It's the first day of fall, so it's time to give a last, 2010 tribute to the boys of summer and one of surfing's greatest, Kelly Slater. After Slater marked 20 years on the pro tour over the weekend with a win at the place where he started it all, Trestles at the northern edge of San Diego County, surf journalist Chris Mauro asks if “K.S.” is the greatest athlete of all time.
It's not as outlandish a question as you might imagine after reading Slater's vitae, via Mauro:
Find me somebody who, let's say, holds the record for being the youngest and oldest world champion. Whose career win percentage over two decades was near 80% and climbing. Who 20 years after his debut win as a pro, recaptured a lead in the race for yet another world title, maybe a 10th? Somebody who's owned the top slot in their sport's All-Star voting 15 times, and year-after-year humbles a fresh set of young rookies — even those less than half his age — who are allegedly coming to dethrone him. Yep, those are just a few of Slater's stats.
Let us add that Slater has racked up his accomplishments in a sport that has constantly evolving standards of what constitutes state-of-the-art athleticism — in constantly changing conditions: There's no 100-meter dash here, just judges, ever changing waves, and younger, stronger competitors. In other words, Slater has chased a moving target and continued to dance on water.
As summer fades, we look forward to Slater's winter attempt at world championship number 10.