This Is Izzi
To put it simply, Izzi Gomez glows. Everything about her: her eyes, her smile, her hair, her tan…even her voice glows. It’s in the tone, bubbling with the unmistakable vitality of youth, yet delivered, between giggles, with a confidence that belies her 14 years. Like when she talks about her win at the 2013 Huntington Beach stop of the Standup World Tour. She’ll tell you how fun and inspirational it was to compete against the world’s best, some of the girls over twice her age. But when asked to comment on what it was like to win her first big event after riding a SUP for only a year, she’ll just shrug, like, “Yeah. And?” She’s 14 and knows she has it all going on. Better yet, she’s 14 and appreciates that she’s got it all going on. As if, unlike so many of her peers that can hardly see past next Friday night, Izzi Gomez emanates delight in her future like a hot light. Watching her surf, listening to her speak—just looking at her—the message is clear: She’s only just started her ride and it’s going to be a great one.
Just ask her.
Photos by Greg Panas
I’m really competitive. After I won the world tour event in Abu Dhabi I went to Candice Appleby’s junior pro event and I got second place. And I was so disappointed with myself, I got so down. It’s not like I feel pressure from other people or sponsors, or anything. I put it on myself. I just want to win so bad that when I don’t, I get really disappointed.
ON HOME SCHOOLING
I’m home schooled these days because I just have so much going on and I’m traveling so much. I keep all my work books in my backpack so I can do my homework wherever I am. Like on the plane. That’s a good place to get that stuff out of the way. Because I can’t really concentrate on the school work when I’m at a contest or on a surf trip. I go into full beast mode then.
ON HER FAVORITE
Racing is my favorite part of SUP next to surfing. But I guess that makes surfing my favorite. Each helps the other, I think. Racing and training for strength and endurance makes you a better surfer, and surfing helps you learn turning and balance, especially in races that go in and out of the waves. But yeah, surfing is my favorite.
ON HER MOVE
My strongest maneuver is my frontside cutback where I transfer the paddle. I started surfing on conventional shortboards so I already had the movement down, the way you rotate your shoulders. That really helped when I started riding a standup board. Photo: Tom Servais
ON SETTING THE HOOK
I started SUP when I was 12. I really didn’t care that much about it before but then I saw my brother (Giorgio) just killing it and I thought, “OK, if I work at it I bet I could get pretty good.” Getting on a smaller board really made the difference. Then when I won the Huntington Beach event a year later I thought, “This is fun!”
Going to the Huntington Beach event and watching other girls like Candice Appleby and Emmy Merrill and Iballa Moreno just killing it. I’d never seen anything like it. Just seeing them do a good turn really motivated me. And they were competitive, they really wanted to win. It’s really inspiring to surf with people who are better or on your own level. But they were also the sweetest people I’ve ever met.
ON THE ROAD
I’ve been so lucky to travel as much as I do. I mean there’s the pro tour and I’ve been to Nicaragua with Kai Lenny, some photo shoots with Starboard, and places like Tahiti. Not many kids get to do what I’m doing. I think my favorite was Tahiti. The people and culture are so cool, and I just loved the clear water.
I want to pursue music more. I started recording music at 10 or 11. I had a really good voice coach, I wrote a few songs and collaborated with my mom. But lately I haven’t had access to a recording studio so I’m just playing as much as I can, anywhere I can. It’s great to have, especially being a surfer.
No. No. I’m too focused on getting my career started. I’m going to put that off as long as possible.
I’m not an intimidating person. I mean, I’m just a little girl, I don’t really scare anyone. Maybe competitively I’m intimidating, but not when I’m just out surfing. Most the other guys have respect for me, I guess, because I’m a girl on an standup, which they don’t see all the time, and I know what I’m doing. Some guys try to stare me down, give me dirty looks but you know I have a lot of respect for the other surfers and I think as the sport gets more progressive the attitude of the other surfers is changing.
ON A 10-YEAR PLAN
In ten years I want to be doing the pro tour and have won 10 SUP world titles. Then I’d also like to make the ASP world tour in shortboarding. But whatever I’m doing, having fun doing it.
My parents got divorced when I was too young to remember. Obviously my (18-year-old) brother Giorgio new what was going on. I got to see my dad on weekends or whatever, but as I got older, it did make an impact on my life. I feel like kids with fathers around are just more firm. My mom has done an amazing jobs raising us. My brother’s one of the most important people in my life. Since my dad was never around he was a big brother and a father figure. Everything he does I want to do. He’s taught me everything and had a big impact in my life and the choices I make I couldn’t ask for better brother.
My grandfather was a father figure too. He grew up surfing. My grandparents own a surf shop on Florida’s west coast, West Coast Surf Shop, and they’re the whole reason I surf. My mom grew up in that culture and that’s how it became such a big part of our lives.-