Extreme Sports: Water Skiing
Water skiing is a sport where an individual is pulled behind a boat or a cable ski installation on a body of water, skimming the surface.
Water Skiing History
Water skiing began in 1922 when Ralph Samuelson used two boards as skis and a clothesline as a tow rope on Lake Pepin in Lake City, Minnesota. The sport remained a little-known activity for several years. Samuelson took stunts on the road, performing shows from Michigan to Florida. In 1966 the American Water Ski Association formally acknowledged Samuelson as the first on record. Samuelson was also the first ski racer, first to go over a jump ramp, first to slalom ski, and the first to put on a water ski show. He experimented with different positions on the skis for several days until July 2, 1922. Finally, Ralph discovered that leaning backwards in the water with ski tips up and poking out of the water at the tip led to successful water skiing. He was towed by his brother Ben and they reached a speed of 20 miles per hour. Samuelson also achieved the first ski jump on July 8, 1925. He used a greased 4’ by 16’ ramp. This made him the first ever water ski jumper. He then showed his new found sport to the United States for 15 years. He did this by shows and by teaching lessons. Then Samuelson went even farther and hooked up behind a WWI flying boat with 200 horsepower. He reached a speed of 80 miles per hour. That made him the first speed skier. Samuelson’s first equipment consisted of barrel staves for skis. He then tried snow skis and finally made his own design out of lumber he had bought. They were the first skis fashioned specially for water skiing. Samuelson made his bindings from strips of leather and the ski rope was a long window sash. The first patent for water skis was by Fred Waller. They were called Dolphin Akwa-Skees. Samuelson never patented any of his skiing equipment.
Water Skiing Technique
Water skiing usually begins with a deep water start, with the skier crouching down in the water. When the skier is ready, the driver accelerates the boat to pull the skier out of the water. A third person must be present in addition to the driver and the skier. The third person’s job is to watch the skier and inform the driver if the skier falls. Communication between the skier and the people on the boat is done with hand signals. Speeds vary from 14 mph-36 mph for slalom water skiing; up to approximately 45 mph for barefoot skiing, and approaching 120 mph in water ski racing. The length of the rope will also vary widely dependent on sport discipline and skill level.
By Evil Erin
Water Skiing Types
Show water skiing
Show water skiing is a type of water skiing where skiers try to perform tricks somewhat similar to those of gymnasts while being pulled along by the boat. There are several different types of events that show skiing involves such as pyramids, ski doubles, jump, straps and swivel skiing. Show skiing is normally performed in water ski shows, with elaborate costumes and announcers. Water Ski Show teams may compete regionally or nationally. In the USA, each team member must be a member of USA Water Ski to compete. Show skiing has been around for over 60 years. The first show organized occurred in 1928.
In the context of water skiing, slalom means to use only one ski. A special slalom ski is used which has two plates, a front boot and either a toe plate, open binding, or another binding (similar to the front binding) behind the main one. The bindings are oriented so that both feet point forward, with one behind the other. Slalom skiing dramatically increases the speed, up to 58 kilometers per hour, and agility of the water skier.
Different water skiing techniques of tournament slalom skiing:
Trick Water skiing
Trick water skiing is based on using a smaller, oval-shaped waterski that is smooth on the bottom in order for it to be able to turn over the surface of the water. This ski gives the skier a lot more freedom to perform tricks. Trick skiers can use either one or two skis.
Tournament trick water skiing
In trick skiing tournaments, skiers complete either one or two 20-second runs during which they perform a series of their chosen tricks. The tricks are assessed and scored by judges, and the skier with the most points wins the tournament. The tricks are scored based on the difficulty of the trick and the way it is executed. They are also scored based on if they use one or two skis.
Water Ski Jump
The ski jump is performed on two long skis and skiers are towed behind a boat at fixed speed, using a ramp. This technique is used in competition skiing. In this category the skier must ski up and over a wooden ramp. The ramp can be a height of 5 or 6 feet tall. The speed of the boat varies but the maximum speed is 58 kilometers per hour. Professional ski jumpers can travel up to 250 feet (76 m) and hit the ramp at speeds up to 70 mph.
Water Ski racing
Ski racing in Australia
Water ski racing consists of a number of water skiers who race around a set course.
A team consists of a boat driver, an observer and one to two skiers, depending on the race. The driver will tow the skier behind a powerboat, varying the speed as different conditions are encountered, according to the driver’s knowledge of the skier, the observer’s ability to read the skier and the signals which the skier gives to the driver.
Barefoot Water Skiing
It is recommended to use a barefoot waterskiing suit instead of a lifejacket because the lifejacket can be bulky at high speeds. Barefoot skiers usually start out on a wakeboard and then drop the wakeboard once they get up. More advanced skiers use padded shorts instead of a wakeboard. Barefoot skiing requires faster speeds than regular skiing. Beginning barefoot skiers may start out using shoe skis rather than just starting without anything on their feet.
Water Skiing Safety Measures
There are many safety measures involved in water skiing because it is a dangerous sport. There should be a 200 foot wide skiing space and the water should be at least five or six feet deep. It is a good recommendation to know how to swim if you are going to ski, but even if you can swim you should wear a life jacket for safety. There are three important people when skiing: the skier, the boat driver, and the observer.
World Water Skiing Record
The most skiers towed behind one boat is 114 by the Horsehead Water Ski Club in Strahan, Tasmania, Australia on 28 March 2010. Water skiing are popular extreme sports!