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What Competitive Waterskiing Is About

Tournament Waterskiing is similar to Alpine snow skiing in that it has different disciplines requiring special skills in each to achieve success; they are:

Slalom | Tricks | Jump
SlalomSlalom

An event that requires the skier to employ incredible strength and stamina, cat-like reflexes and an unsatiable appetite for speed in order to succeed. The waterski slalom course consists of six buoys, set in an asymmetric S-shaped pattern with 3 buoys on each side. Unlike Alpine snow skiing, the waterski slalom courses' dimensions are exactly the same whatever the venue. With the tow-boat being driven exactly through the middle of the course, the skier endeavours to round all six buoys to constitute a clear pass. After each clear pass, the boat speed is raised in increments of 2 Mph. When a clear pass has been achieved at the maximum speed of 36Mph for Men and 34Mph for Women, the rope is shortened down in length.

This continues after each clear pass, thus making the task of achieving the required width to round each buoy more difficult. Any failure to round the buoys or a fall ends the competitors' set, with the amount of buoys (or fractions thereof) totalled up to produce the skiers' score. Skiers in the highest divisions ski with incredibly short ropes, with the top competitors skiing on ropes that don't even reach out to the width of the buoy from the boat path. Here, the skier has to use the length of his/her body and his/her skill to effectively make up the deficit. Eventually though, the skier has to fail (or fall).

Equipment

Single Ski



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Single Ski
Urethane core construction encapsulated in fibreglass, with graphite, kevlar, carbon fibre and/or aluminium honeycomb used to provide internal stiffness and integrity
63"-68" average length with pronounced curve along the entire length, tapered at both ends
Angled or rounded side bevels

Fin of approximately 2.5" depth, constructed of aluminium. Minor adjustments to the fin's lateral and/or horizontal position can be made to change the ski's characteristics. A small wing can be attached to the fin at various angles to effect the ski in the same way

AttachmentSki Attachment

» Aluminium plate screwed down on to the ski, with either a neoprene/rubber boot or Hard Shell boot (based on a In-Line Skate boot) for front foot mounting. Single neoprene/rubber loop for back foot or same as front foot mounting

Protection

» Padded flotation vest or life jacket for high-speed impacts

OthersGloves

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Specially lined gloves for additional grip and hand protection
Rubber-coated handle, with a wood and/or aluminium internal construction
60' Low-stretch polyethylene rope, constructed of 12 strands with between 60 and 80 filaments per strand. Additional pieces of rope are spliced into the main line for easy rope shortening at the predetermined lengths

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Tricks Tricks

Requiring the balance of a feline coupled with the explosive motion power of a dragster. Performing under the immense pressure of instant failure. The tricks discipline in a its simplest description.

The most gymnastic of the three tournament disciplines, the skiers each have two 20 second runs in which to perform as many turns or "tricks" as possible. Each trick has a predetermined point value, defined in terms of difficulty. Thus, a more difficult trick earns more points. Each trick is carefully watched over by a panel of five judges, whose task it is to make sure that each trick is performed correctly in accordance to the rules and to then mark down on a score sheet.

A correctly performed trick scores its full points - an incorrectly performed trick scores zero.

After the skier has performed his two runs, the judges hand over their score sheets to a calculator, who awards the points for each trick performed based on a majority of 3 judges or more. Adding up all the correctly performed tricks produces the skiers' score and the one with best total is declared the winner.

The tricks themselves vary, from a simple turn to the side (the side-slide) right up to the more difficult somersaults (or "flips"). The top skiers have the ability to combine two, three or even more somersaults of various rotations in one 20 second pass, spending almost as much time in the air as on top of the water. The other run is traditionally used to perform tricks with the rope attached to the foot that's not riding on the ski (toe-tricks)!


Equipment

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Trick skiSingle or Pair, with higher skilled skiers exclusively using a single ski
Urethane core construction encapsulated in fibreglass, with graphite and/or aluminium
honeycomb used to provide internal stiffness and integrity
36"- 48" average length, with weight and skill determining individual ski sizing. Width is a maximum of 30% of the ski length by regulation
Sharp, acute bevels
Comparatively flat curvature, with relatively square tip and tail
Flat underside, with no fin/s 6

Attachment

» Aluminium plate screwed down on to the ski, with either a neoprene/rubber boot or Hard Shell boot (based on a In-Line Skate boot) for front foot mounting. For single skis, the back foot is positioned in a single neoprene/rubber loop, angled (approx. 45 degrees) away from the biggest toe of the front foot mounting

Others

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Low-stretch polyethylene rope, with it's length of the skier's own choosing (47 feet on average)
Rubber-coated handle, with a wood and/or aluminium internal construction. This incorporates a leather/neoprene loop, enabling foot attachment for toe-hold tricks
Quick-release mechanism, enabling the detachment of the rope from the boat in the event of an injury-threatening fall
Low-stretch polyethylene rope, with it's length of the skier's own choosing (47 feet on average)
Rubber-coated handle, with a wood and/or aluminium internal construction. This incorporates a leather/neoprene loop, enabling foot attachment for toe-hold tricks
Quick-release mechanism, enabling the detachment of the rope from the boat in the event of an injury-threatening fall

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JumpJump

The least complex of the three events to understand - and the most dangerous to perform. An event that demands strength, an appetite for speed and not least a large amount of bravery from the skiing athletes.

Quite simply, the skier has three attempts at the jump ramp to fly as long a distance as possible and ski away from the ramp. Should a skier fall at any time during the attempt or refuse to ride over the ramp, the attempt is scored as zero and the skier only has the remaining attempts out the three allocated left to register a score.

Skiers have a choice of three ramp heights (5' , 5'6" & 6') and several boat speeds (up to a maximum of 35Mph). However, the boat's speed is sometimes not enough to generate any significant distance off the ramp, which necessitates the need for the skier to take a pendulum style approach to the ramp. This can result in speeds of over 60 mph being generating by the athlete before impacting the ramp.

To take full advantage of this increased speed, the skier has to gain altitude by straightening the legs on the ramp. The timing of this technique's implementation is critical - the ski jumper spends less than 0.02 of a second on the ramp's slick surface!

In a stark contradiction to it's similar event in snow skiing, Women can compete in water ski jumping. They have had to be content with jumping at a ramp height of 5 ft, but when the 1997 season commences, they will have a additional choice of jumping at the new maximum height of 5'6", increasing the incline angle and adding to their already tremendous potential to fly far. However, their choice of maximum boat speed will remain at 31 mph.

For safety reasons, skiers are compelled to wear a crash helmet and wetsuit body-armour before taking part in this sometimes hazardous event.

On the same grounds, skiers under the age of 12 are restricted from competing in this event.

Distances are measured using an incredibly accurate triangulation system - a sharp contrast to the primitive method used in snow ski jumping or ski flying. Using a fast computer, the distances are usually known around 20 seconds after the skier has landed his jump and are accurate to within 1".

New technology is taking this method of measuring distances into the next millennium, with a computer-based video camera system delivering speed and accuracy of results few could have imagined in the past. Measurements are extremely accurate and known in approximately 4 seconds - even field athletic events would have a hard task to match that speed of delivery!

The distances achieved can be incredible: the womens' world record has been measured at over 150' (the women's record currently stands at 159') whilst distances of over 200' are not uncommon amongst the world's elite male competitors (the men's record stands at 221').


Equipment

Skis





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Skis - Pair
Aluminium core construction encapsulated in fibreglass, with graphite, carbon fibre and/or kevlar used to provide internal stiffness and integrity
68"-87" average length, with weight and skill determining individual ski sizing. Average width is approximately 10% of the overall length
Sharp, right-angled bevels
Fins of 0.5" depth, constructed of fibreglass, hard plastic or aluminium
Almost flat curvature for 80% of the length, with a sharp curve present at remaining tip portion of the ski. Most skis tend to be wider at the tip

Attachment

» Aluminium plate screwed down on to the ski, with a neoprene/rubber boot for foot mounting

Protection

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Crash helmet, constructed of fibreglass, hard plastic or carbon fibre with a four-point chin strap
Body-Armour wetsuit, with chest, back and butt protection
Knee braces

Other

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Specially lined gloves for additional grip and hand protection
Rubber-coated handle, with a wood and/or aluminium internal construction. 75' Low-stretch polyethylene rope, constructed of 12 strands with between 60 and 80 filaments per strand
The Arm Sling, designed to pin the right elbow to the body thus transferring the strain of the boat's pull safely from the shoulders to the waist
Aerodynamic speed-suit, worn over the wetsuit to reduce drag in flight

National, Continental and World performance records in this discipline and the others within Tournament Waterskiing are well established - unlike Snow skiing where their differing competitive venues make the consistency required to set recognised performance records impossible.

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Overall
Put simply, the overall category combines the totals from each discipline to produce the best
all-round skier.

The overall scoring is based on a proportion of the skiers' score in each discipline over the winner's times 1000. So, the winner collects 1000 points, whilst a skier who scored half as much as the winner is awarded 500 points.

The overall combine points from each discipline are added together to produce a total overall score, and the skier with the best overall score is the overall winner. Perfect scores of 3000 overall points are quite common amongst the lower divisions, but rare in the top divisions as the skills involved in each of the three disciplines are more specialised, with fewer skiers taking part in all three disciplines.

In major international tournaments, the overall scoring is based on the skier's score being proportioned to a set standard score, which is normally around the world record performance for each discipline. This encourages a world-class overall athlete to aim higher in each event to achieve top overall honours.