A GAME OF ANGLES. Everyone who has ever thrown up a wall of water with a single ski has dreamed of sweeping around the buoys in a slalom course. But there’s a lot more to competitive slalom skiing than big spray and getting your shoulder close to the water. It’s a game of angles, using leverage to try to win a tug-of-war with a 300 horsepower boat.
RUNNING THE COURSE. The skier must begin by skiing through the entrance gates, and then ski through the exit gates after rounding all six turn buoys. If the skier completes a “perfect pass” – 6 buoys plus gates -- then the speed is advanced to the next higher speed increment, for the next pass through the course.
Skiers choose their own starting speed, from anything as low as 15.5 mph, up to maximum speeds in the thirties, depending on their age division. Once the maximum speed is reached and completed successfully, then the rope is shortened on each subsequent pass. The full rope or “long line” is 75 feet long, and the first short-line loop is at 15’ off, then 22’, 28’, 32’, 35’, 38’, 39.5’, 41’, and 43 feet taken off of the line. This rope shortening continues until the skier is unable to complete a perfect pass.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING.
One little bobble, a mistake that happens in a fraction of a second, can spell disaster and the end of the skier’s round. One look at the faces at the starting dock will confirm that slalom is the most intense event in a traditional 3-event water ski tournament. But for all its physical challenges, most slalom skiers will agree that mental toughness and concentration is the key to advancing to new personal bests.
After a perfect pass is made, the skier is credited for every buoy skied, as well as any slower, easier speeds and rope lengths that he chose to skip.
Grab a seat between the 3rd and 4th buoys and enjoy the action!