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Gearing up for U.S. Open

Laguna Beach surfers Arthur and Viszolay will participate in world's largest professional surfing competition in different ways.

July 29, 2010|By Mike Sciacca, michael.sciacca@latimes.com
  • Laguna's Eli Viszolay, left, and Ryah Arthur, look forward to surfing in the US Open of Surfing which starts this weekend in Huntington Beach.
Laguna's Eli Viszolay, left, and Ryah Arthur, look… (Don Leach, Coastline…)

Ryah Arthur and Eli Viszolay are heading into the U.S. Open of Surfing in different ways.

The Laguna Beach athletes will be a part of the world's largest professional surfing competition, which begins its nine-day run at the Huntington Beach Pier on Saturday. Arthur, 22, will go as a competitor; Viszolay, 18, as a contributor.

The summertime classic is North America's only combined Assn. of Surfing Professionals Men's Prime and Women's six-star event.

"No other surf contest compares to competing in the U.S. Open," Arthur said. "The way the venue is set up, with all the fans, and the pier, makes it the most classic and intense surf event in the world. You have to be surfing your absolute best in every heat to put on a good show and make sure that you advance.

"I am honored to be a part of the event this year."

Arthur, a 2006 graduate of Laguna Beach High, will be competing at the U.S. Open for third time and is surfing in the first round of the U.S. Open Men's trials. His first heat is Sunday.

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Two years ago, Arthur made it through two heats before being eliminated. Starting Sunday, he said he's "looking to improve on that, by a lot."

He'll be in a U.S. Open Men's field that features a star-studded bunch, including defending champion Brett Simpson of Huntington Beach, Australians Taj Burrow and Mick Fanning, Andy Irons (Hawaii), C.J. Hobgood (Florida) and Rob Machado (Cardiff), as well as Dane Reynolds (Ventura), Patrick Gudauskas (San Clemente) and Jordy Smith of South Africa.

Smith, ranked No. 1 in the world, last week won the Billabong Pro Men's title at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.

Machado (2006, 2001, 1995), Irons (2006, 1998), Hobgood (2007) and Burrows (2004) have all won the U.S. Open Men's title.

Arthur has won local contests, but not a "big" ASP event yet, saying he's "looking for that to happen this year." In the past four months, he's competed at the six-star O'Neill Cold Water Classic in Scotland, France for the Vendee Pro and was in Brazil for a pair of six-star events.

Viszolay was all set to compete next week in the $10,000 grade-two U.S. Open Men's Junior Pro (he was seeded into the round of 64) but had to cancel when he was hired for a job on the East Coast. He won't be in Huntington for the start of the U.S. Open, but he'll still be out in the water in a different state, and in a whole other capacity in the coming days.

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