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How Waterskiing Works


Ski Jumping, Racing and Show Skiing
Ryan Dodd of Canada competes in the Mens Jump Final during the Moomba Masters Waterski Championships  in Melbourne, Australia.
Ryan Dodd of Canada competes in the Mens Jump Final during the Moomba Masters Waterski Championships  in Melbourne, Australia.
Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

The object of ski jumping is to optimize distance. It's performed on two long skis with short, wide tail fins designed to support your weight while on the ramp. There's a rule for the maximum boat speed for each competitive division, so it's up to the skier to increase the distance they jump. You can do this by making a single, three-quarter, or double cut in order to increase your speed and give you a longer jump. Male jumpers have approached speeds of more than 60 miles per hour (96 kph) at the very base of the ramp, causing them to jump more than 240 feet (73 meters) off a 6-foot (1.8-meter) ramp. Female skiers have jumped more than 170 feet (51.8 meters) from a 5-foot (1.5-meter) ramp.

Show skiing is a form of water skiing in which teams of skiers choose a theme, music, multiple boats or other elements of entertainment to put on a show for a crowd. This is the kind of waterskiing you might associate with TV shows and movies where people stand on each other's shoulders in the shape of a pyramid. They're judged according to difficulty and showmanship.

Ski racing, the fastest type of water skiing, takes place when several water skiers race around a set course. A team consists of a boat driver, an observer, and either one or two skiers. The driver tows the skier at varying speeds, taking into account water conditions, while an observer watches the skiers' signals and relays them to the driver.

For more information on waterskiing and other water sports, look through the links on the next page.