Courtney Conlogue, nick named ‘Lil Tiger’, was born on August 25, 1992 in Santa Ana, California. Courtney’s father would take the family on annual trip to Mexico where Courtney learned to surf at the age of 4. After returning home, her father, Richard, took her to the Rip Curl outlet in Santa Ana and gave her $150 to buy a proper surfboard. Conlogue surveyed the dozens of options and selected a small neon red and green board. Her reasoning? She liked the colors.
She was tough from the get-go. Courtney had beaten 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.” By the time she was six, Conlogue was making the half-hour drive with her family every weekend to Lower Trestles in Southern California. Where most groms chose to stay near the shore and ride the smaller waves this Californian surfer girl followed her father straight out into the middle of the lineup on the outside to surf the bigger waves.
In 2004 when Courtney was only 11, Peter Townend the 1976 world surfing champion, selected her for the USA Junior Surf Team. This made her the youngest athlete ever to make the team. Townend told Courtney that to stand out against the older, more experienced competitors, she needed to catch the biggest waves, for which judges often award higher scores. “There were naysayers who used to say she didn’t have the natural talent of some of her peer group like Sally Fitzgibbons and Carissa Moore,” Townend says. “But she has always had the desire.” The fearless Courtney went on to achieve an 11th place result at the 2005 ISA World Junior Surfing Championships. Courtney continued to climb the amateur ranks and she stood out for more than her powerful carving style. In 2007 as a 14 year old Courtney won a surfing gold medal as a member of the U.S. team in X Games 13. In 2008, she won 5 individual surfing competitions, including the Surfing America USA . She was only 17 when 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, California. “She’s an amazing talent,” says big-wave rider Greg Long. “She’s already one of the most formidable opponents in women’s surfing.”
Besides being a world class surfer, Courtney competed all 4 years on her high school track team in a variety of events, from 4×100 relays to shot put. When her team needed a pole vaulter, Conlogue volunteered. She still holds top-10 marks in several disciplines. She also earned academic honors every semester at her school.
(Photos can be purchased at: Best Photos Online )
Swatch Womens Pro 2017 – Trestles, CA
Her 2014 Ankle Injury
In 2014 Courtney injured her ankle at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in Australia during a freesurf session, and missed three elite contests during recovery. Courtney states “I was having one of my best sessions of the whole year. There was only me, Steph Gilmore and a few other people and conditions were perfect. Perfect barrels. I was having a magical moment and in a split second the foamball just exploded from the toeside rail and twisted my ankle, but it rolled the other way. Under water, I instantly had extreme pain in my shin and knew something wasn’t right. I went in to recovery mode straight away, still thinking I could maybe surf in the event, because I didn’t know what had happened. I think the adrenaline kicked in and I didn’t really feel the pain at first because I wanted to do well in Bells so badly. The next day, I had the biggest limp. I strapped it, but the pain was pretty extreme.” Since Courtney had to withdrawal from the Rio Pro, Hawaiian Tatiana Weston-Webb would take Courtney’s place in the contest.
Sitting still for Courtney is not an easy thing to do. So she took a good look at her injury and what she could learn from it. “You can look at any aspect, positive or negative, as an opportunity or as a burden. I was like – I’m going to take this as an opportunity to observe maybe something I’ve missed or take up new aspects of passions that got a little dusty because I was so busy with my surfing. I took up my art again and then ended up designing (a year later) the first women’s high performance wetsuit for Billabong. Then ended up designing a skateboard for Carver” says Courtney.
When asked what qualities she has to make her a champion, she states “Probably strength and the “never die” attitude. I think there’s moments where you definitely could have just threw the towel in and I didn’t. It’s like a stubbornness with the athlete. You’re just like, nope. I’m not giving up. I’m packing down.”
During her recover Courtney stated that at times it’s good to have to slow down and reboot. So she spent a lot of time swimming, painting, gardening and writing in her journal. To get back in the water, she took up prone paddling, sometimes covering 10 miles a day.
Conlogue’s Training Philosophy
Courtney takes her surfing seriously. She trains roughly six hours a day in the water and does weight training at the gym. Regarding what a pro level surfer must do to stay in the elite class of surfing, Mark Richards – Courtney’s coach, states about training, “Modern-day surfing is becoming extremely dynamic and progressive, almost to the point to where surfers are pushing the limits of what the human body can handle and on a daily basis. So it’s inevitable the increase in injuries comes along with that. The best formula for maintaining elite performance is finding a good balance between your training and surfing: having your body best prepared to deal with the day-to-day stress surfing athletes are going to deal with.”
“And preventing sun damage is something no needs to always try mastering.”
On Learning to Love Her Body
“I like that I’ve made my body for a purpose. For me, there was a long time when I was a little self-conscious because I was an athlete. I was in track and field at the time and I was super bulky and built up — just thinking to myself that I don’t look like your basic model. I had huge thighs because I was weight training and doing all of these dead lifts with resistance and squats. I had Apolo Ohno thighs! … maybe not as big as his, but I felt like they were that big when I was little. I didn’t look like what I thought you needed to look like for surfing.”
“But I learned to embrace who I am and what I look like as an athlete, to be strong about who I am and feel good about what I am. Being a strong woman and being a strong athlete in the water is a good thing. I think I’ve put a lot of time into everything being pretty proportioned out. My arms aren’t bulky, but they’re so strong, and they’re able to get me through the thick and thin of big swells.”
Words of Wisdom about Competing
“The biggest wave is not necessarily the best wave. Sometimes you have to make a decision or judgment about whether the medium ones are better quality. There are a lot of different skills that surfing requires. It’s not only mental, it’s instinctual and physical. The instinctual bit is with Mother Nature, and you have 30 minutes when you’re in the jersey to catch two great waves and put on a show that gets you through the heat.”
“I’m going to just focus on what I’m doing and things will come and just take the reins on my career and really control the outcome as much as I can and control my brand. It’s been positive because I’ve stuck to who I’ve always been my whole career and it’s not always the easy route just because I believe in strength and beauty and dreams and being a sports woman and a water woman. It’s paying off. One of the things I’m really passionate about is backing myself and being who I am and not changing for anyone else.”
Words of Wisdom about Life
“There’s a lot of uncertainty in not knowing. Creating that instinctual confidence about where the ocean is moving, getting in the rhythm of it – it’s an art. You’re always trying to fine tune that skill. You can’t predict the ocean but you can try to feel where it’s going. I think with that your mind becomes a really strong aspect.”
Travel, surf, eat, train, sleep. Repeat.
WSL 2016 Rank: 2
2016 3rd Maui Women’s Pro – Hawaii
2016 3rd Roxy Pro – France
2016 1st Cascais Women’s Pro – Portugal
2016 3rd Oi Rio Women’s Pro – Brazil
2016 2nd Women’s Drug Aware Margaret River Pro – Australia
2016 1st Rip Curl Women’s Pro – Australia
2016 2nd Roxy Pro Gold Coast – Australia
2015 Ranked 2nd WSL
2015 1st Cascais Women’s Pro – Portugal
2015 3rd Vans US Open of Surfing – California
2015 1st Oi Rio Women’s Pro – Brazil
2015 1st Women’s Drug Aware Margaret River Pro – Australia
2015 3rd Rip Curl Women’s Pro – Australia
2014 Ranked 9th WSL
2014 3rd Target Maui Pro – Hawaii
2014 2nd Roxy Pro – France
2013 Ranked 4th WSL
2013 2nd Van’s US Open – California
2013 1st TSB Bank Surf Festival – New Zealand
2013 3rd Rip Curl Women’s Pro – Australia
2012 Ranked 5th WSL
2012 1st Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic – Australia
2011 Ranked 8th WSL
Surfboard Shaper: Tim Stamps
Courtney Conlogue’s Sponsors
Rockstar Energy Drink | Billabong | Swatch | Verizon Wireless | Kaenon | Dakine | FCS | Toyota of Huntington Beach | Sexwax | Tim Stamps Surfboards