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Too Old to Try Jumping?


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I’m looking for opinions on taking my first trip over the jump ramp. This isn't a difficult decision except for the fact I’m 58 years old. I have a couple of experienced three-eventers who think I’m all but guaranteed to get injured in the process. Several other experienced competitors, including @eleeski , think I’ll be fine. I’m in good shape, I’m fairly limber and I have no back or knee issues. Just some gray hair. And I'll have some very capable coaching if I choose to go for it.

 

Should I give it a try?

 

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no

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Just the fact that @eleeski thinks "you'll be fine" should send off alarm bells. If you are stubborn, spend at least a dozen sets riding the jumpers and getting big air off the wakes. Then intentionally jump the wakes and try to land on your head and see how it feels. Then maybe try a mini ramp.

 

In general, I have to agree with horton. Your tender young age is no time to intentionally get hurt.

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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I spent all of my Summers junior high school, high school and college working ski school. In those years I didn't see a ton of injuries from beginner jumpers but I saw some and we were pretty careful. We pretty much followed the method described above by Butterfield and occasionally things still went wrong and people went to the hospital.

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@bassfooter is a talented athlete in good shape. He is an experienced waterskier who is good at slalom and reasonable on a trick ski. He would be a decent overall skier if he just plopped over the ramp.

 

I do not advise him to "learn how to jump" for real. But just riding over the ramp gets him that overall score. That's well within his skillset and carries little risk given his health and abilities.

 

It bothers me when people hold themselves back due to fear. "Toes are dangerous", "don't try for that 6 ball" and "you'll get hurt jumping" are excuses to justify mediocrity.

 

Dave, get some coaching from Connie at Imperial, Terry Goodman in Washington or a ski school (Bennett's, Cory's, Travers, etc). Take your slalom with you and have some fun while you safely pick up jump basics.

 

Enjoy the ticket to Nationals that that easy jump will earn you.

 

Eric

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Get more beginners jumping at Nationals. Don't even get me started ....

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Darn, @Horton I couldn't give you both a "disagree" and a "dislike".

 

Allowing an incompetent jumper like me into overall made the competition fun. I am proud of my National overall medal. I've avoided coming in DFL at Nationals (and when I jumped at Senior Worlds).

 

Inclusion is good for the sport - and fun!

 

Eric

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Bassfooter, I think you should give it a try. But start at the level you described in your first post, just getting over the ramp, and see about going further or harder at your own pace after you master just getting over the ramp.

 

Bruce_Butterfield wrote "Then intentionally jump the wakes and try to land on your head and see how it feels." and later Horton wrote " We pretty much followed the method described above by Butterfield". --- That sure explains a lot things about Horton.

 

Ryan

 

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Wow, strange diversity of opinion on this.

@bassfooter I fall into the 'go for it' camp, given that you describe yourself as limber with no back or knee issues. One major caveat: make sure you've got a reasonably good coach/instructor.

 

Your first plop over a ramp on a pair of old-school 72-78" jumpers @ 26-28mph — assuming you are an experienced and comfortable skier after a good dry-land lesson — should be a pretty boring experience. Except for the mental game, it's akin to sliding on ice in running shoes for about 1/2 second, followed by what feels like the equivalent of hopping off a kitchen counter (yes, the ramp is higher, but you've got forward movement and big skis which make the landing comparatively softer). If that description doesn't scare you (it shouldn't if you're spry and athletic, it should if you're arthritic and slow), go for it.

 

Becoming an advanced distance jumper is a completely different question. At 58, you should think hard about the risk/reward... the road to jumping 100'+ is usually littered with a few bad falls that can be hard even on a 15-25 year-old body. But they generally won't be on your first plop over the ramp.

 

 

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My wife has threatened me with divorce if I go over the ramp.

 

That said if you are going to plop and do some easy singles to compete in overall I think it is relatively low risk. Trying to go 100 feet is a total different ball game and comes with substantial additional risk.

 

For equipment I would argue that if you can find a pair of 80-84" modern jumpers I think they are much better than a pair of old school jumpers. I have ridden the 72" jumpers my son learned on and his 84" Goodmans and the Goodmans are much much easier to ride and control. I know from watching my son the landings on the Goodmans are much easier as well.

 

If I hadn't struggled with my back (and my wife's threat of divorce) I likely would have ridden over the jump. I don't think I would have done much more than plop though.

 

 

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Thanks for all the thoughtful posts. So awesome.

 

@Bruce_Butterfield I am getting pretty good at knowing when to listen to @eleeski and when not to. The guy is incredibly generous of spirit, has a twisted sense of humor and is a lot of fun. I cannot imagine a better person to help me set up my new/used trick ski. When I drop at the end of the slalom course, however, his coaching sounds just like Charlie Brown's teacher....

 

@dnewton - thank you, I think! To quote a semi-famous song, "...and you know that you're over the hill when your mind makes a promise that your body can fill..."

 

@igkya @andjules @Chef23 Thanks for the insights - I am only looking to plop and would only consider more aggressive training depending on how plopping goes. And I have some great coaches right here in town. Most importantly, I have a wonderful, understanding wife who loves her time on the course. I wouldn't consider this if she was truly concerned.

 

@Than_Bogan nice to hear from you. As a fellow engineer, I always enjoy your contributions here.

 

@Horton genuinely curious about the problem with novice jumpers at Nationals...

 

 

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Just going to drop this little bit of info here....I've seen 35-40 stitches and almost a section of lip gone from a plop over one time. The skier had successfully ridden out 2 or 3, then sat back on the landing on the next one. The rope came tight and snatched him over the front where he hit somewhere between his upper lip and nose on the front of the skis. Before that I though it was relatively harmless to pull a beginner. The skier was what would have been considered a level 9 slalom skier at the time.

That being said, jumping is exciting but the better you get, the more painful the mistakes are.

 

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@BoneHead if anybody should jump it is you. Don't worry you don't need a helmet

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@bassfooter , give it a go!

 

Our lake just purchased a new jump that we will be installing in the spring. By that time I will have made it 57 years without going over a ramp, but I've already committed to my jumping lake neighbor that I'll give it a go.

 

Peer pressure, the result of many an injury. >:)

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@BoneHead: what does running the slalom course @ 32 mph on jumpers have to do with plopping over a ramp? Exactly zero of the skills, experience, body mechanics and physics translate between the two. That's like telling someone they can't try riding a four-wheeler ATV until they can ride a unicycle.
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I'm 55, I've never jumped over 90 feet, get to jump about once a year, but I have WAY more fun with that occasional jump than I do running a good slalom pass, Get really comfortable on jumpers, jump the wakes a lot and run the course, stretch your legs and back, go 24 - 26 mph, have the boat run inside the course and don't worry about how far you go. Bend your KNEES, Keep your head up, eyes on the TREES, and FREEZE. Then just ride over, land, and ski away. I predict a HUGE smile on your face!
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You can start jumping at any age, we have a couple who ski with us who are both over 50 and just learnt to jump, absolutely love it. You need to make sure you have the right instruction and planning before hand to make it really fun. Just being thrown over the ramp is definitely not a good plan.

 

Get to know your skis first and foremost, we don't let people go over until they can cut both direction, jump the wakes without pulling on the handle, cross the wakes by lifting one ski up and cutting through on one ski. We need to see you be balanced and in control of the jump skis before sliding over.

 

When going over for the first time we always use a rope release just in case someone falls into the handle.

 

Basically drive 18-20mph close to the ramp, head up, arms straight, skis shoulder width apart and freeze.

 

Lastly don't use long skis for your first time, try to use skis shorter than 80", preferably a pair of old 74" is best.

 

If you go over enjoy, its a lot of fun.

 

Thomas Asher

 

 

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It didn't take a 100 foot jump to medal in Overall in Men 5 at Nationals this year, and 107 got a medal in Jump. If you're in Men 5, and your goal is to win a medal at Nationals, your odds in Jump (or Overall) are a lot better than in Slalom or Trick. Now that I've exposed my plan, I hope we have MORE Jumpers next year! Isn't that AWSA's Goal??
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@LLUSA I really enjoyed the times I competed in overall. As did my competitors. Individual event results were very important but the fun of calculating where you were and what you had to do next was great. I might be incompetent as a jumper but I rarely fall (and delay the tournament) and I can be a reasonable overall contender. I should be encouraged to three event (thanks @JeffSurdej for the MM age division rules).

 

Eric

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@gdetray and @Thomasasher - thank you very much for the practical advice. Yours are words to live by -- perhaps literally -- should I decide to go through with this.

 

@LLUSA If Nationals isn't about inclusion, why do we have a grassroots program, a junior development program, and ongoing membership drives? We host seven 'Class F' tournaments a year in our little corner of the skiing universe, and we're trying to include anyone who's interested in getting better.

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Whoever said “Nationals is about inclusion”? Sorry that mentality strikes a nerve. Nationals is about determining the best in the country, not being the only survivor in your division. Yes, there several examples, but we shouldn’t increase the trophies for the war of attrition.

 

Grassroots, JD, etc is the path to get skiers up to higher levels like regionals and nationals. Showing up for a grassroots tournament is not a ticket to nationals.

 

More jumpers at nationals? Absolutely. More ploppers? No way.

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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@Bruce_Butterfield What is your cutoff score? I'm pretty competitive in overall despite just plopping. Actually, I do a nice double wake cut (with the ski lifted in the air and everything) - I'm just early doing it (by 50 meters).

 

A M5 plopper can be pretty inspiring to a kid considering taking up jumping - I know my jumping convinced several kids to try.

 

I jump for fun. I only do it in competition. Now you want to restrict that? Exclusion not inclusion so there aren't enough people to fill out an event? Why not just get rid of jump altogether? Elitist thinking is a good way to completely kill the sport.

 

Eric

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Don't even think about it. In the early 80s I could jump over a 100 on a 5" ramp with a single wake cut, and mid 120 with double cut, but I would never consider plopping over the ramp in my 50s or 60s, and jeopardize my ability to slalom or walk. It is hard enough to maintain your ability to slalom as you get older. I can recall crashes that only hurt when I was young, that I would never survive now.
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@sunperch you have a very good point.

 

@Bruce_Butterfield I agree with almost everything you wrote, and I thank you for your candor. I would respectfully add that Nationals is way more than just determining the best in the country. I aspire to slalom in the Nationals because I've busted my butt and I'm now just a half-buoy from qualifying, and I want to celebrate advancing to that level and immerse myself in the whole scene. I don't have any chance of getting on the podium, but I'd sure like to participate.

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@eleski, no I’m not elitist, I just want recognize accomplishment vs rewarding showing up.

 

Its been awhile since I read the rules on overall, but once upon a time if you qualified for Nationals in 2 events, you could “drag” the third event for overall as long as you met some lower level qualification. I think that’s a good thing to encourage overall and the cutoffs are determined by the ranking committee just like everything else.

 

If a M5 plopper encouraged kids to try jumping, just think what someone getting after it and going far would do!

 

There are some seasoned citizens that are still good jumpers, but they have been at it since they were much younger. I’ve also seen a good number of old folks that are down right scary as they try to jump – and they are well below 100’. Dirty Harry’s words of wisdom come into play – “A man’s got to know his limits”.

 

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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@Bruce_Butterfield I was inspiring because I was a plopper! Too many people think that you must either be exceptional or go home. The fact that I was jumping for the third event, being competitive in overall and enjoying my "limits" made many kids realize that they should try the jump. After a few jumps, many went on to develop good skills. Some just scored a few points for their college teams (note, you score zero if you don't ride out a jump - just plopping was important!). But if an old frail guy was having that much fun, they could try too.

 

I've missed a couple years due to injury (injuries that held back my slalom as well). I'm certainly hoping to be a M6 inspiration - and overall contender! I have to show up for overall - not that easy now. Don't disregard the effort (and skill) that just going over takes. Add the competence required in the other disciplines and I'm quite proud of my overall performances. I'd like overall to still be an option, not some arbitrary new skill level to hit.

 

The "old" number was something like 62 feet. I've actually jumped that far a couple times. But when I needed it to qualify, I couldn't crash that long. Not healthy to try so I quit trying for overall. When the rules relaxed, I started jumping - and overalling. I never came in DFL in jump or overall. And we all had a decent size event for overall. I had fun jumping safely within my limits and pushing my other events.

 

My experience is a long way from a participation award. The minimum cutoff will still be quite lame relative to the winner. And the age division winner will be lame relative to the elite champion. How exclusive do we want Nationals to be? I like it big. Freddy won't ski Nationals unless it is required for entry to an associated pro event. So really we all suck relatively.

 

Ski because it's fun. Use the competition to hone your skills. Be safe and reasonable but do your best. Be happy with that and proud of your accomplishments. I certainly won't let anyone diminish my overall performances because they think I wasn't up to their standards in jump!

 

Eric

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