Pro triathlete Chris Lieto announced today he will accept a walk on spot in the 2013 Billabong Pipeline Masters, the final leg of the Triple Crown of Surfing and final event on the ASP World Tour. Held each December at Banzai Pipeline in Oahu, Hawaii, Pipeline Masters attracts the top 45 surfers from the ASP in addition to 16 surfers granted admission to competition via walk-on spots. Lieto, a resident of Kona and known waterman, began surfing local breaks in 2009 with fellow Big Island resident Shane Dorian and surfing superstar Kelly Slater as a social cross-training activity, and advanced in the sport so rapidly, he’s often mistaken for Slater out in the water.
“Kelly was instrumental in my introduction to high-level surfing, so I’m psyched to accept a walk on spot for Pipeline, an event he’s won six times,” says Lieto, known widely as “The Kelly Slater of Triathlon.” “Kelly has really taken me under his wing, and I in turn have been helping him with his cycling. It’s been a real win-win setup.”
Surfing Pipe, especially big Pipe, requires a physical and mental discipline that Lieto has honed through years of Ironman training. “There are a lot of parallels between big-wave surfing and Ironman racing,” says Lieto. “For one, you’ve gotta let go of the fear of what could happen out there, and instead visualize everything coming together for that perfect ride. The stakes are high in both realms—but the rewards are pretty epic.”
Lieto will ride a Channel Island thruster made by Surftech with a special-edition design paying tribute to his nonprofit, More Than Sport.
“Triathletes are some of the most versatile athletes in the world,” says Lieto, who, like Slater, is 41. “I’m doing Pipeline to prove that, and to help shine a global spotlight on our great sport.”
Triathlete.com will continue to report this story.
UPDATE: While we would love to see Lieto compete in a surfing event sometime, this news story was in fact an April Fools prank.
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