How Waterskiing Works

Trick and Slalom Skiing

Aside from recreational water skiing, there are several types of competitive water skiing events. Let's take a closer look at each type of waterskiing.

Trick skiing is just like it sounds; skiers perform tricks on the water. Trick skiers use short, finless skis instead of the usual gear in order to perform tricks akin to gymnastics. You can do tricks on one ski or two. Using one ski, you can do surface and wake tricks holding the rope in one or two hands. Most skiers use two hands, while more advanced skiers can even slide their back foot into the handle. In trick ski competitions, skiers have two 20-second passes to attempt as many tricks as they can. Before the competition begins, skiers must outline their routine and present it to judges. Usually, advanced skiers perform the first pass with their hands and the second with their back foot in the handle. Judges watch the skiers and award points for each completed trick. Tricks that earn the largest amount of points are wake flips and multiple turns with the handle attached to the foot. The winner is the skier with the most points.

In slalom skiing, a skier uses only one ski with two foot bindings to negotiate a course of six zigzagged buoys. Boat speed increases by increments of 2 miles per hour (3.2 kph) until a maximum speed -- set by the competition's rules -- is reached. Then, the rope is shortened in measured lengths. The winner is the contestant who rounds the most buoys without falling or missing. Skiers with slalom proficiency are those who don't miss until the rope is shorter than the distance from the boat to buoy. This is pretty difficult; in fact, to do this, you have to round the buoy by leaning over it with your body.

What about ski jumping and racing? Learn about those next.