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News provided by ASP World Tour on 21 February 2006

The first event on the 2006 ASP Women’s World Tour, the Roxy Pro presented by Samsung, is promising to start with a bang, with world champion Chelsea Georgeson drawn against defending event champion Stephanie Gilmore in round one.

The titanic clash between the two Snapper Rocks locals means only one will survive past round three in the season opener. Georgeson is excited by the impending duel but the stylish goofy footer heads into the event feeling buoyant for more reasons than one, namely her recent marriage to surfboard shaper Jason Hedges, with the pair exchanging vows last weekend.

“There have been some big changes for me, but change is always good,” said Georgeson. “I’m just enjoying everything. My life is perfect right now. ‘Jase’ is always with me, supporting me and that’s just the best feeling in the world. I’m so happy. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

“Having him there on the beach, watching and knowing that he is there, is even better for my confidence when I’m competing.”

Both Georgeson and Gilmore excel at performing stylish, high-speed maneuvers, a must-have quality at Snapper Rocks. Twenty-two year-old Georgeson will enter the event the world’s top seeded surfer while 18-year-old Gilmore - who has just commenced her World Qualifying Series (WQS) campaign to try to qualify for the 2007 WCT – has been granted automatic entry as defending Roxy Pro champion.

“Coming up against Steph in the first contest of the year is going to be a really tough start to the season,” Georgeson said. “I am going to do everything I can to try and beat her. I am not going to just give it to her and I know she is not going to just give it to me, but it’s really going to be fun to surf against Steph at our home break. She is an awesome surfer and I love watching her there everyday.”

Local knowledge and style took Gilmore right through from last year’s trials to a main event victory, making her the youngest female to ever win a WCT event at age 17. In front of a home crowd of 10,000 the then high school student defeated Megan Abubo (HAW) to win the 2005 Roxy Pro.

Gilmore has gained valuable competitive experience over the past 12 months and sent out a clear warning with her recent victory in the five-star Roxy Pro WQS event in Australia and a third placing in the Brazil WQS last week.

“I am really excited. I just can’t wait for the contest,” Gilmore said. “Fingers crossed there are waves as good as last year and we can get a few more barrels, that sounds like fun to me.

“The match-up with Chelsea will be hard but I am looking forward to it, we surf together all the time. Chelsea is my favorite female surfer and the best in the world so it’s going to be pretty interesting, but I can’t wait. Hopefully we will go wave for wave – get barrelled, stuff like that.”

Another competitor who cannot be underestimated is 2004 world champion Sofia Mulanovich (PER) who led for the majority of the 2005 WCT before Georgeson charged home in Hawaii. The pair dominated last year’s tour winning seven of the nine WCT events - Georgeson with four victories and Mulanovich three.

Georgeson knows that Mulanovich will be coming back hungrier than ever in the Roxy Pro but says that their rivalry is good for their long-standing friendship.

“My relationship with Sofia is just as good as what it was before – really strong, we are best friends and we have been since we were about 15 years old. I think both of us winning world titles just makes us stronger competitors and closer if anything,” Georgeson said. “Sofia is going to be amped this year. First contest of the year - coming off second last year – it’s a bit daunting when I think how fired up she will be. She will want it (the world title) back for sure.”

The world’s top-rated 17 female surfers will all be out to kick-start their competitive year with a bang. Former six-times world champion Layne Beachley (AUS) is returning from injury and will be one to watch as will ASP world junior champion and WCT newcomer Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS).

The women’s WCT will be staged in conjunction with the Quiksilver Pro presented by Samsung. The Quiksilver Pro Trials will be held on Monday 27 February and the final of the Quiksilver Core Store Surf Challenge will be held on either 28 February or 1 March. and will host the live webcast of the entire event. Interviews, replays, special guests and Roxy’s daily "Live at 5" wrap up are all highlights of the webcast.

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