Adaptive Water Skiing

Water skiing has been adapted so that physically disabled athletes can participate and compete. Tournaments offer slalom, tricks and jumping events for vision impaired individuals (blind or partially sighted), multiplegics (paraplegics and quadriplegics), leg amputees (above and below knee), arm amputees and athletes with both arm and leg disabilities.
The skiers in the latter three categories compete with the same water ski equipment used by able-bodied athletes and have the option of using a prosthesis and athletes with both arm and leg disabilities.


In the slalom event the skier must go around six buoys that are staggered the length of a 259-metre-long course while the boat runs down the middle of the course. Each time the skier successfully completes the course, the boat speed is increased by 3kmp/h until reaching the maximum speed of 55kmp/h for women and 58kmp/h for men. After reaching the maximum speed, the skier’s rope length of 18.25m is shortened by pre-determined increments after each successful pass. The skier continues until he or she falls or does not go around a buoy.


The trick event has been described as the most technical of the three events. Standing beginners perform this event on two short skis, and intermediate to elite athletes (standing or seated) perform on one short flat-bottomed ski that allows the skier to turn sideways to the boat or ski facing away from the boat. Combinations of these moves can be linked together to perform a variety of tricks with multiple turns both on the surface behind the boat or in the air using the wake as a take-off point. An athlete attempts to perform as many tricks as he or she can during two 20-second passes. Each trick has an assigned point value and an athlete may perform each trick only once. The athlete who earns the most points wins the event. Tricks can be performed either with an athlete’s foot slipped into a strap attached to the handle, called toehold tricks, or with the handle held in the athlete’s hands.