What is Tournament Water Skiing?
Tournaments consists of three different events – Slalom, Trick and Jump.
Skiers can compete in one or any combination of these events. Typically, a tournament consists of each of the three events over two rounds. Skiers compete against each other in divisions based on age and performance in a preliminary round, and then a final. Scores achieved in each round are added together to determine the overall results. In large events, only the top placed skiers in the preliminary round move into the final.
Skiers that enter in all three events compete for the overall trophy that is an addition of the scores in each of their three events over both the preliminary and final rounds. However, many skiers compete in one event only and they compete to be the champion of that event at the tournament. Typically, a tournament is held over two days with the preliminary round held the first day and the final on the second day.
At these events we typically hold three rounds of slalom and one round of trick and one round of jump. Many skiers choose to just compete in the slalom competitions. A skiers best individual score for the weekend will decide their final placement. Skiers compete within ability levels and start in a mini course competition.
Slalom is considered by many as the event for the purists. This event consists of each skier in turn skiing around a course consisting of an entry gate (2 buoys approximately 2 metres apart) then skiing around 6 turn buoys placed on opposite sides of the course, 11.5 metres from the centre line which the tow boat follows, then leaving the course through an exit gate of the same dimensions as the entry gate. Once the skier has made it successfully through the course, the boat turns around and increases its speed for the skier to try again. Once the skier has successfully passed through the course at the maximum speed that is set for their division, the rope is shortened until the skier misses either a gate or a turn buoy. The skier’s score is based on the number of turn-buoys the skier successfully passes in a skiing position, upside down, sideways or with no ski does not count.
Trick skiing is probably the most difficult of the three events in tournament skiing. The ski used for “tricking” is short and wide with no fins. It relies on the skier’s skill to use the edges of the ski to get the grip on the water to turn, and their balance to ski in a straight line.
Unlike its sister sport of Wakeboarding, every trick has a predetermined number of points allocated and if the skier achieves that maneuverer, then they are awarded the points. Apart from the junior divisions, each skier must submit a list of tricks to the judges before an event. If tricks are done out of order or tricks are that are not on the submitted list, no scores are given to those manoeuvres. One other important difference to Wakeboarding is the tricks themselves. These include all types of spins, turns, and flips that are done behind a slalom ski boat with no added weight and use a standard height ski pole. The skier is given two passes of 20 seconds in each round to perform as many tricks as they can. One pass will consist of tricks that include flips, turns, and spins with jumps. On the other pass, the skier will typically put their foot into a special harness on the rope so the boat can tow them with one foot on the ski and the other connected to the ski line. Skiers perform “toe tricks” which are spins, turns, and jumps. If the skier happens to fall, there is an experienced person in the boat (of the skier’s choice) who holds a release so that the towrope is disconnected from the boat.
Jumping is the most spectacular of the three events. The skier is given three attempts to ski away after skiing over an adjustable height ramp. The excitement that is built as the skier pulls out to the side of the boat before almost stalling on top of the water, and then turning sharply to cross the wake behind the boat generating enormous speeds before hitting the ramp, keeps the spectators on the edge of their seats. Each skier is given three attempts with the longest jump being recorded.