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Tournament water ski is the original form of water skiing, from which all other forms have been derived. Skiing on a plank - mind you, a highly developed piece of technical equipment these days - behind a boat can be done just for fun, a lot of fun actually, or in real competition, which of course is fun for both skiers and spectators. Tournament water ski has become one of the world’s leading water recreation activities and a competitive sport enjoyed by men and women, of all ages in the five continents.

In competition, tournament water ski divides into three events: slalom, tricks and jumping with a winner in each event and an overall winner.

The boat is driven down the centre of a line of boat buoys at a speed of 58 kph (36 mph) for men and 55 kph (34 mph) for women. The skier has to enter through the first set of gate buoys and then ski round six buoys, right and left alternately, exiting through the last set of gate buoys. Once this has been done successfully the rope is shortened to make the next pass more difficult. The line gets shorter and shorter until the skier gets wet! In fact the line gets so short that the distance from the boat to the buoys that the skier goes round is less than the rope length. To score one buoy the skier must round the buoy and return to the boats wake. If he rounds the buoy and falls before he gets to the boat wake he scores half a buoy. If he gets outside the buoy but fails to round it then he scores one quarter buoy. To complete the pass he must round all six buoys before being allowed to continue to the next (shorter) rope length.

Each skier is given two twenty second passes in which he has the freedom to complete as many tricks as possible. The tricks may vary from simple 180 degree turns on the surface of the water to a somersault with twist. The points awarded for each trick are based on the difficulty of that trick. The skier may not repeat any trick although he may do the same trick but in the opposite rotational direction. This is called a "reverse" trick. The boat speed for tricks is much slower than for slalom, around 18 - 20 mph and each skier chooses his own speed. The judges have to decide for each trick whether it was performed to the rules and in time.

In this event the skier passes over a ramp (6' for men and 5' for women) lands and recovers to ski through a set course. Each skier has three attempts at the ramp. The idea is to get as wide as possible to the side of the boat and cut as late as possible at the ramp to generate the most speed and then spring off the top of the ramp. All that matters is the distance jumped and not the style use to achieve that distance.

After all three events are completed the results from each are combined, on the basis of a special calculating method, to give an overall result.



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