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Why is slalom the most popular form of skiing?


jgills88
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Taking a look on this board, it's pretty easy to see that slalom is the basis of 90% of the discussion on here, why did it over take the other disciplines as most popular? Jump is easy to see because of the expense, but I'm surprised that trick isn't number one. It's inexpensive, the it can be done behind any boat (although advanced trickers have preferences with wakes), doesn't require a course, and is relatively safer than slaloming.
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Go out into the world sometime and ask 100 normal people if they know what slalom skiing is. Then ask them if they know what trick skiing is. If they say yes then ask them to describe it. After finding that 0 people know what trick skiing actually is you will have the answer ;)
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Personally I see tricking as the 'ski-ballet' of waterskiing. I find it quite boring, maybe I just don't get it. I would rather wakeboard or surf vs trick ski.

Slalom on the other hand, I love going fast, throwing up a big spray, adrenaline factor etc.

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@jgills88 it’s because that while @Horton secretly loves tricks and trick skiers (even @eleeski) he can’t admit it publicly here without being persecuted.

 

Seriously... even tho the equipment to trick can be somewhat cheaper it does take an enormous amount of time and dedication to be proficient. Which means you need someone equally patient to drive. Trick sessions (with a comfortable hard shell) can be 2-3 times longer than slalom so if there’s more than a couple skiers it can take some dedicated time to get everyone on the water.

 

All that said it can be a great “gateway drug” because you can really get some good practice on public water. Even lakes that are crazy busy. Getting over the hump of only knowing a couple surface tricks is the key. That’s when it starts becoming fun.

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I skied in all 3 events in college tournaments and jump and slalom in summer tournaments in the 80s and 90s. Jump was by far my favorite event. It was the most exhilarating and addictive sport I had ever done. I suspect that there are many fewer jumpers and trickers now because there seems to be less emphasis on overall skiing, fewer manufacturers making jump skis and trick skis, fewer public jump ramps, etc. Personally I think all 3 events are very cool in their own ways.
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Getting up on a trick Ski is much harder than getting up on a slalom and getting up on a pair of tricks is much harder than a pair of skis. Riding a wakeboard is much easier than a single trick. In addition trick skis are kind of hard to come by.
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@klindy Pretty much nailed it. I tried taking up trick skiing and after some time and fails my driver (my wife) told me she hated pulling tricks. I would have liked to get better and have something else to do on my public lake. As time consuming it is for the skier to learn it can be mind numbing for the driver.
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I'm not sure what to say here. I know lots of people who are very passionate about aspects of waterskiing but not so much for slalom. I happen to love both slalom and tricks. I'm lame at jumping but I respect good jumpers. Wakeboarding is related to tricking - and quite popular.

 

Waterskiing is a niche sport. Slalom is a smaller niche. Tricks even smaller. Jump smaller still. Three event skiing IS waterskiing but the smallest niche.

 

Games, popularity contests and infighting work against the health of the sport. We really should be supportive of all aspects of the sport.

 

Eric

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@eleeski and @Jody_Seal I am a fan of trick skiers because it is hard. I think in order to get good at the sport you need the support of another trick skier such as yourselves. You understand and have the patience to drive and possibly instruct.
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@jgills88 great question. Several not so simple answers:

- it’s harder and takes a lot more time to be proficient at tricks than slalom. In a nutshell, slalom is easier. For those who doubt that look at any 5000 point plus tricker and try to do ONE of those tricks. Then think about doing those nearly every time and as fast as you can.

- A typical set for a serious tricker is 20-30 minutes, usually with lots of falls when learning new tricks. That takes not only persistence from the skier but patience from the boat crew.

- Learning tricks can be really frustrating. Many many falls. Catching edges doesn’t feel good even though serious trick injuries are rare.

- It’s even harder for adults to learn tricks. Kids can learn tricks at an amazing rate with the right environment. If you don’t start young, it’s even more difficult to learn. It took me a year and half to learn a RTB in my 20’s. My daughter learned it in 2 days when she was 10.

 

So bottom line is tricks is the hardest and least appreciated event.

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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I like to do a variety of events. I still slalom, trick and barefoot. Last year in tournaments tricks was my best event. I have been struggling with slalom lately. I changed skis, from a 2008 D3 Nomad RCX to a 2015 Connelly GT. My best tournament performance is 2 1/2@35off 34 MPH. I am thinking the GT may be too advanced of a ski for me I used to get in to deep 32 off every time, but lately I have been falling on my opener, and going down at 28 off. I have been doing the Insanity workout in the offseason with some P90x Plyometrics and yoga which I think has helped my trick skiing. I sprained my ankle and foot last season which slowed me down in the course. I could still trick and barefoot, but it hurt to put my slalom ski on toward the end of last season. The last couple of years the spring in Ohio and Pennsylvania has been terrible. I need an early start to have a good season. Tricks is coming easier to me lately than slalom.

 

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@jgills88 I’ve been skiing all three events for 40 years (arguably not very well) and I’ve been hurt more often in tricks than any other event. Muscle pulls, bruised/broken ribs, cuts requiring stitches, etc. Not real serious injuries but certainly more often. Probably because you spend a lot more time on (or in) the water trickskiing than the other events.
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Slalom is my only event and I just enjoy the speed and dynamics of it.

 

However, I must give Trick skiing its due. Last year, I was an official at a Collegiate tournament. We had a side competition and the officials participated as a “school”. Since we needed 3 event team points, Trick and Jump skiers were at a premium. So, I said I would try to Trick. Hilarious. I borrowed a Trick ski and asked around on how to at least do a side slide. I had to ask if I should get up with one foot or two. I tried two and didn’t get up. Got up with one foot, got the other in, and fell just before the start of the course. Slippery. Score 0. But, the scorer didn’t log it. I sent him an email to get it recorded. I wanted the zero just to own a Trick round. I have a newfound respect for it. Might try it again sometime, but it’s not like I’m going to run off and buy a 197 or anything.

 

Not sure I should try jumping, though.

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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I think you all are missing the obvious here. Sports betting and Fantasy. People follow sports where they can get into the action...and the action is on Slalom. It's also why there is endless arguing about half ball, 1/4 ball, etc...when Vegas gets involved, stuff gets serious.

 

Do we need to be reminded of the ball shaving scandals of the early oughts?

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Because back in the day, chicks dig big spray! Maybe they still do? I am too old to care.

 

We had a 3000 point tricker in our boat on the river and he would go past the party boats that take people out on the water for a ride, doing step overs, yada yada, and they would watch and all that, but when someone went out and ripped some good turns off and threw a wall of water, they would applaud and give thumbs up... just like if we did a barefoot run past them..

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I cant wait to pull your trick set today said nobody ever.... when I see the trick ski come out I start praying for my phone to ring. If its a toe set just shoot me in the head. You never get that time back. Im stil trying to work out a payback ratio but its about 9 slalom sets to one trick set and toes almost needs some off the water favors to make it fair.
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Trick got left behind the second wakeboarding came around and it decided not to evolve with the times. All the young crowd decided it was cooler to do/watch this:

 

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than it was to do/watch this:

 

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Wakeboarding embraced big boats full of people and big wakes with new creative tricks with lots of style, including various grabs and tweeks and jibs - just what kids of the 90's wanted, while trick skiing, already established and full of purists, seemed to shun all that for a more traditionalist approach, which appealed to very few kids of the 90's.

 

The same thing happened in the 90's on the snow as we saw this:

 

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get replaced by this:

 

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Again it just had something to do with aspects of counter culture, style, creativity, or something. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but it definitely caused a seismic shift.

 

As far as jumping goes, who in their right mind would want to jump 200 feet distance with about 30 feet of height onto a landing that is completely flat that looks and feels like this:

 

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Very few people, that's who.

 

Even in snowskiing, this:

 

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has been largely replaced by this:

 

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For probably a lot of the same reasons mentioned above. So if anybody on water really wants to go huge and put up with a rock solid flat landing, they seem to be trending to this instead:

 

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As for slalom, the appeal hasn't been replaced by any newer version. It is much like Nascar or Formula 1 competition. It is a race of speed and turning and is comparable to racing in that it gets in the blood and folks become obsessed and go crazy over thousandths of inches and hundredths of seconds. There's just a certain percentage of humans that are naturally inclined to go crazy on that stuff and here we are.

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When I worked at a Marina we sold a TON of combo skis - any new boat purchase of a runabout, big pontoon, even some jet boats you could count on selling the buyer on the standard "kit"

 

Safety Gear

Life Vests

Ropes

Anchor

Fenders

 

A Tube

A set of combos

Sometimes a knee board. This was shifting when I worked there to maybe a Wakeboard.

 

Now that same spot generally will sell a tube and a wakeboard and maybe a set of combo skis.

 

We had a few "performance" slalom skis, at the time it was probably the World Team Comp and an Obrien Siege.

 

Point being, you buy a boat you think you'll ski, we sold you combos. If you wanted to learn something else it was probably going to be slalom... No one knew what a trick ski was.

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