BASICS OF SLALOM SKIING
The object of Slalom Skiing is to ski a course of 6 buoys between going through starting and exiting gates. Once run, the speed is increased up to a maximum of 34 or 36 mph and the rope is shortened.
A boat travels straight through a set of 26 buoys. The skier is being pulled by a rope attached to the boat and has to enter the course through the first pair of buoys (entrance buoys), go to the outside of all 6 buoys, and then exit the course through the last pair of buoys (exit buoys). There are predetermined speeds and rope lengths. With each speed and rope length, a credit of 6 buoys is scored. If the skier completes the course without falling or missing any buoys, they receive credit for those 6 buoys and, in addition, will receive credit for all passes that preceded that particular pass that they just completed, even though they did not actually ski them.
At that point, the skier typically will either increase the boat to the next predetermined speed, or if they are already at their maximum allowed speed, they will shorten the rope to the next predetermined length. This is usually done in sequential increments to the next speed or next rope length, but a skier can skip up. This link will take you to the official 2015 AWSA rule book. Start with Rule 10.
Skiing through the course is challenging and exciting. It is easier to measure ones progress in a course than skiing on open water, which is typically referred to as “free skiing.” With some skiers, as the rope is shortened, the handle eventually does not even reach the buoy, so the skier has to stretch their arm and body out to get the ski to the outside of the buoy.
Joining The American Water Ski Association, usawaterski.org, will allow skiers to compete in tournaments to add another exciting element of fun to this sport.