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Sport: 'Dance party:' American Carissa Moore wins gold medal in surfing's Olympic debut

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CHIBA, Japan – Carissa Moore, the American surfer who won the Olympic gold medal in the women’s competition Tuesday, followed a unique, new ritual between heats at the Tokyo Games.

“I took a shower, listened to some music, called home, talked to my husband, had a little dance party,’’ she said.

Excuse us? A dance party?

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Moore walked off before elaborating. But her husband, Luke Untermann, offered details.

Before the quarterfinals, he said, Moore called Untermann on Facetime with a request. The couple lives in Hawaii.

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“She said, ‘Hey, can we do a little dance party to get my mind off (the competition)?’ “ he said. “I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. Let’s do it.'

“We both just listen to the same song and we kind of dance together. Usually when we have dance party, we’re together, we dance together. We’re kind of jamming along.’’

Moore was dancing off the shore of Tsurigasaka Surfing Beach after winning the first Olympic gold medal awarded for women’s surfing. But don’t be fooled.

Although she is a four-time world champion and the top-ranked women’s surfer in the world, she felt less than confident choppy surf on a windy day creating unfavorable conditions on the third and final day of surfing’s Olympic debut.

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Carissa Moore standing next to a body of water: Carissa Moore celebrates winning the gold medal after her final match against Bianca Buitendag. © Ryan Pierse, Getty Images Carissa Moore celebrates winning the gold medal after her final match against Bianca Buitendag.

“Yeah, I don’t think that little self-doubt voice ever goes away,’’ Moore said. “It’s just learning how to tell her to, ‘Hey, just be quiet for a little bit. I got this.’ ”

Indeed she did, defeating South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag. But despite all of her success, Moore, 28, has fought self doubt during her career.

It plagued her most between 2016 and 2018, when she failed to win a world title and lost her dominance on the World Surf League Tour.

“Everybody has their own things that they go through and little challenges and there’s been ups and downs throughout it all,’’ she said. “I’m grateful for them because they’ve shaped me into the person I am today.’’

It was a long day for Moore, who who beat Silvana Lima of Brazil in the quarterfinals and then fended off Amuro Tsuzuki of Japan in the semifinals to earn her a spot in the gold medal match. In the final, she put together two strong scoring rides for a 14.93 while Buitendag scored 8.46.

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By the time she had the gold medal draped around her neck, self-doubt had given way to serenity.

“The ocean has changed my life, and I can’t imagine my life without it,’’ she said. “I’ll be surfing until I’m in the ground. Riding a wave makes you feel free. It makes you feel present. It makes you feel more in love with yourself, the ocean, the environment and I think it just connects people and brings us together and simplifies things.”

There is a good chance Moore and Untermann would celebrate the gold medal with another dance party considering for the moment they are more than 6,000 miles apart.

“Bad Habits” by Ed Sheeran has been their recent dance song, said Untermann.

“I think the first time I laid eyes on her, she was dancing,’’ he said. “She has some moves. She’s a pretty good dancer.’’

Not a bad surfer either.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Dance party:' American Carissa Moore wins gold medal in surfing's Olympic debut

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