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Is skiing dying?


Than_Bogan
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This seems like a popular discussion topic, but it keeps showing up in other threads where it is off-topic and therefore hard to find.

So I decided to start a thread actually dedicated to this.  Please complain about how ZO is killing the sport right here!

In my opinion, skiing WAS dying, and a lot of damage has been done.  The first Nationals I attended had over 1000 competitors, the most recent one I attend had 700.  30% decline in participation (even with slightly easier qualifying in my opinion) is a baaaad sign.

But the current direction, in my opinion, is one of growth.  In the last few years, I've seen numerous new faces, most 'graduates' of INT -- some old, some young.  And there is a very obvious surge in the kids divisions.

It seems like we "missed" a generation -- I rarely see many folks in M1, M2, W1, W2.  But I think rumors of our continuing decline are not only exagerated but outright incorrect.

IF these trends continue -- i.e. we MAKE them continue -- then 3-event skiing may be a very healthy sport as the future unfolds.

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Also relevant here: The count of 'high end' skis that Horton just did.  People don't normally look to enter a market that is dying...

Technically, this can't tell us anything about tournament skiing, as it could be just folks skiing "seriously" at home.  But I would claim that the total slalom population is very tightly correlated to the tournament population anyhow.  So more customers == healthier sport.

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I skied a few weeks ago with an executive from O’Neil. He told me he thinks across the factories, wakeboarding sales are flat and water skiing sales are trending up. Tournament skiers seem to be in decline but rec skiing looks to be making a come back.



 It is not secret that more than one water ski factories thought 2010 was going to suck so they made less product and were surprised when they sold out so fast. It is a good sign.



As for the lack of M1-M2 & W1-W2 … . . I don’t know.



 

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The lack of M & W 1&2 IMOP is a reflection of when we thought the sport was dying. This was mainly because wakeboarding hit its peak when those skiers were younger and want to be cool and thus went to the dark side. Because they stopped skiing tournament attendance went down as well as ski sells as wakeboard sells went up. Now people are starting to get back skiing. One of the best skiers I know was on the Canadian Junior wakeboard team and then converted to slalom skiing and was in the top 3? I think at the Pro-Am. I think I heard of a retired pro wakeboarder who reverted back to his roots of skiing because it is easier on his body and he still loves the sport. My 2c.
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Thanimal wrote "...Technically, this can't tell us anything about tournament skiing, as it could be just folks skiing "seriously" at home.  But I would claim that the total slalom population is very tightly correlated to the tournament population anyhow.  So more customers == healthier sport."

If so the correlation would perhaps be as a percentage of all "serious" skiers who do choose to actively enter tournaments.  I'd say that number would be somewhere under 10% of the total population of "serious" skiers and that's only if you're including INT'ers (you said "serious", not necessarily "good").  I know lots of "serious" skiers capable of holding their own even in serious tournaments who could care less about entering one.  I'm probably in that group, although I do ski in the INT some...  Reasons - lack of time, lack of interest, lack of funds, did I say lack of interest?  They just don't care about "competing".  Personally I'd rather hit the early Saturday morning sets with my buds than travel, sit all day to get a couple of rounds, etc, etc, etc and I know plenty who agree with that mind set.

There are plenty of quality skiers and those trying to become quality skiers out there buying skis, buying slalom courses, buying other gear whose numbers aren't and probably can't be counted because they're out skiing with their friends rather than entering tournaments.  Being in the water sports business myself I'm confident in the accuracy of my statement when I say that at least from my perspective the sport is definitely not dying.

Ed 

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Horton - executive at O'neill? Are you calling BM an executive? Just kidding - dude is very cool and a great skier.

PS - saw the ghost skier and his hot girl friend at regionals. I had to confirm that he was in fact "the ghost skier". She had to confirm to me that she was the "hot girl friend".

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My ski partner owns the nautique dealership in Houston.  His quota on Nautiques for 2010 was 15 boats. He's sold I think 37 at last count. Sold out his lot, in fact, and is just now getting a new order of boats in. Although the majority are wakeboard boats, he's sold 5 SN200's to retail customers who are not tournament skiers and who don't live on private lakes. They are recreational skiers who live/ski on big public lakes without any slalom courses. That # right there surprised me, him, and a lot of people. Had he known he would sell that many, he probably would have ordered more 200s earlier in the year because he lost sales by not having any in stock.  I bet there wasn't a single 196 sold in houston in 08 and 09 to non tournament skiers.
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I saw some report last year that talked about how the baby boomers had a lot more extra cash left over at the end of the month for fun/recreation. I'm not surprised to see so few skiers in M1-2, W1-2. They are either in college or just getting out of college and have no money. Unless mommy and daddy are still footing the bill, it takes a while before you have any money for fun nowadays.
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Interesting topic I have been waterskiing for 42 yrs now and snow skiing for about the same. I worked in the snow ski field for some 25 yrs. I saw the evolution of snowboarding and wake boarding. Both have giving the their respective industries shots in the arm. I watched the skier numbers decline the increase again with the next generation of kids and their new tricks. I dont think you can base the growth or decline of a sport on how much money is spent or who is showing up to a competition that day. Just because peeps are not spending money doesnt mean they are not skiing. I think skiing is alive and well. Water skiing has been mainstream has it?
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We need to find a way to get the word out to everyone about Novice and Int. We need to get courses on public sites and encourage newbies to give it a try. Maybe have a "Learn to Ski Day" thru some kids summer camp.

I think most people are more comfortable with skiing than wakeboarding. I think it would grow by leaps and bounds if people just knew about it.

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People know about waterskiing.

I have 5 "Learn to Ski Clinics" at my site this summer.  We have taught people to ski the course, let people ski the course with ZO for practice and to choose a setting, taught little girls to ski the first time, taught some to get up on a slalom ski the first time, and coached people to new PBs in the course.  This is great.  It was a life long dream for some to ski the course on a private lake that most only see in magazines (CR is 5@41 off and 236 in night jump).  We will do it again next year as well.  However, it is a very small result.

The culture has changed.  There are so many forms of entertainment in the summer that did not exist in the '70s and '80s.  People do not want to spend the time necessary to learn to ski.  When I was a kid there were few summer options - Little League or summer church camp.  Now, soccer, track, dance, LL, Rocket Football, wakeboarding, wakeskating, wakesurfing, horses, video games, paint ball, Facebook, cars, mopeds, etc.  Couple that with restrictions on time and locations where you can ski, jump, the cost of boats, the cost of skis, the cost of gas, etc.

Waterskiing has passed from a middle-class aspirational activity to an elite sport for a high-middle class few.  Wakeboarding has responded with cable parks and 2.0 systems (I have one on my property) where you can ride cheap without a boat.  In 3-event, we have such an incredibly high cost (money and time) overhead for organized events that it no longer makes sense for a lot of people.  While some blame ZO, the real culprit is we have sucked the fun out of the sport for the elite few.  As for officials, I can get an MBA faster than a Regular Judge credential.  In today's culture, who has time or even can respect that?

Wateskiing is not dying, it is adapting to the culture.  We will never recreate the heyday of the Coors Light tour.  Eventually, the IWWSF and USA WS will also adapt after the money dries up because the culture will no longer support the old ways and perspectives.  It will be difficult to watch, but eventually it will happen.

Karl DeLooff

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Great topic.

" The culture has changed.  There are so many forms of entertainment in the summer that did not exist in the '70s and '80s.  Wateskiing is not dying, it is adapting to the culture. "

Good news..................I have a 6 girl, 7 boy and 10 boy.  Everyone skis.  We spent a week at Bennett's in June.  I own a home on the water on a public lake in Austin with a boat and.............also own a lot and a boat at a private ski lake (Aquaplex - several US Opens and two Big Dawgs).  I'm constantly teaching every neighborhood kid how to ski and as a Scout Leader.........the Cub Scout Pack.   SInce my kids can now ski I just started skiing in tournmanents again (after being absent 15 years). 

Bad news...................most people on the public lake wakesurf or wakeboard - not ski.  Believe it or not!.........some people wakesurf/board at Aquaplex.  No one has time to spend an entire weekend at a tournament ( I don't).   And who the heck has time for 3 Event with 3 kids?

Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts has the same problem with relevancy.  My entire family just spent last week at the BSA training center at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and the Scouts are also struggling to stay relevant in today's society.  I mean when you think about Scouts you think about "outdoors, and hikes etc."..............but yet, Scouts just came out with a video game badge that can be earned as an achievement?!   I read that they specifically came out with the badge to become "modern" and I guess relevant.

BUT I agree that traditional skiing is not dead..........traditional skiing just needs to adapt.  Don't just complain - do something.  For example wakeboard tournaments are an "event" with music and fun whereas most ski tournaments are......yawn........a tournament where everyone stands around and talks geek speak about slalom technique.  Food for thought.

Ted Thomson

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But, but, it's so fun to stand around and geek out about slalom technique...  /vanillaforum/js/tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-smile.gif

No, I agree that it's a time for adapting, but also think that process has started.

Against the backdrop of there being a zillion things for kids to do, there is also a shift in culture toward formal competition.  Ironically, I am one of those people who thinks that's kinda silly.  Even though I am naturally drawn to measuring myself in formal competition, I don't see that as a key aspect of growing up -- I prefer the concept of kids playing purely for fun.

BUT this represents an opportunity, and several of the posts above show how it's already becoming one, with heavy participation in the kids divisions at both INT and AWSA tournaments.

We have more to learn, for sure.  But I think it's not too late.

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Right on Karl, succinct analysis as always. I was asked over and over at Regionals "how come the INT events are so much fun ? How can we make AWSA more fun ? The problem and the soloution permeate the tournament culture. Classic example was the morning flag ceremony. I was schooled that Presentation of the Colors was always done in a respectful manner, yet we had to combine the flag run with a "simulation pass" to appease the elite officials, as they say on TV "give me a break " RE officials ratings : I've had one fellow who did a great job announcing do some research on getting an announcing rating, from his work looks like it's going to take me several years to become a rated announcer LOL, WTF. The fun factor in my limited perspective comes from the "event" focus, rather than ratings and record chasing. The Bud and Coors tours were presented as events, vendors were there with tons of stuff for sale, boat mfgs had displays, there were on and off the water entertainment segments, a "party on" atmosphere where spectators mingled with the stars. I am conviniced that somewhere along the line, perhaps as the 4&5 skiers move on and a new guard comes in that some new energy will find it's way back in. Our culture now is focused on a sport of attainment: rankings, records and ratings as opposed to level playing field competition. I get off on events where I ski with folks working on the passes and issues I am, I love seeing the high end guys go deep but most of the time I can't tell who's on the water , let alone what line length. Sounds like you have really put Placid Waters on the map. Great job. That is all.
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I believe it has to do with the cost of water skiing. Just rec skiing is expensive. To ski in tournaments cost even more. You have the cost of lake rental times, boat maintenance,  you need gas to commute to practice, for the boat, and to/from tournaments and the entry fees. With gas prices the way the are, the younger generation can't afford it. They have college cost or are still paying off their college cost, they are newly married, have little kids. Also you need a boat. At this time in the job market, they are lucky to even find a good job. If they have a good job, you need years to build up sick days, so you can call in sick to ski. You need years at one company to build up paid vacation days. Etc........ .  You also need to have good medical coverage too, skiing can cause trips to the Docs office, for x-rays, casts and crutches. Having enough MONEY is the key. I might mention too, if your married, a spouse that doesn't mind you gone skiing, even though there is more important chores to do.

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Ted and Jean B:

If the tournament was 3-4 hours maximum, had events for the kids (wakeboard, kneeboard, wakesurf, silly games, etc.), and had ability based competition for men, women, and children, would that help with getting the entire family out?

I have found that 3-4 hours is the maximum tolerance of a mom with small kids.  The problem is this kind of format is non-traditional, takes more people to run (board sport judges), uses different boats (towers, ballast), and does not comply with current rules and structures.  Also, traditional 3-event lake owners are hesitant to run a wakeboard boat.  What I just described is an INT tournament.  I have also tried to do this with a USA WS sanctioned tournament, but am stuck with an F designation.  That does not even count for building officials qualifications - a shot in the foot for the organization.

The ski clinics are more successful because it is organized, but do not require the officials or level or organization or stress of an actual tournament.  Think of a Poker Run.  No scores, just skiing, riding, and hanging out with people who want to be there.  Lots of families show up.

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I am extremely thankful that INT exists.  It has exposed tons of people to the concept of competitive waterskiing in a friendly, non-threatening, "fun-focused" atmosphere.  It seems to be by far the main source of "new blood" for AWSA tournaments.

I am also thankful that AWSA events are not like that.  I don't want to listen to music.  I don't want to watch someone wakeboard.  I don't want ability-based divisions and qualification standards that are based on participation.

I just want to ski with the best folks around and measure myself both against myself and against others.

So I reject the standard criticism I hear (not from boarditup, just in general) that AWSA is doing it "wrong."  I think they are just providing one small piece of the puzzle that serves a very narrow clientelle.  They and others should strive to serve more clientelle, and that is happening.  But serving more clientelle doesn't mean "one size fits all" -- it means having more options so that everyone can experience water skiing in the manner that THEY enjoy!

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I have an 11 year old and we have been skiing three event tournaments starting last year. My son has been having a blast. There are other kids that he gets to run around with, he has made a bunch of new friends and they are all very supportive of each other and their skiing. I have been really impressed with how nice the kids are at the tournaments. We are new to the scene and the other kids have been great to my son.

 

The biggest challenge is that if you have a three event skier it does take the whole weekend. This is good and bad. I have met a bunch of great people, get to spend the whole weekend with my son and he is outside running around and not looking to sit in front of the TV. The downside is that my daughter isn't as into this right now and she has had conflicts with some of her activities and we haven't been able to go to the events together.

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USA-WS 3 event lost another 475 members thru April of this year over 09. Wasn't so long ago that there were 15,000 members and now it is half of that and going down every year so yeah I would have to say it has lost favor with individuals and families. Maybe the grassroots program can turn that around but accessibility is a huge problem.

Wish there was a magic pill to change the trend but with the economy probably in the tank for the foreseeable future it doesn't look good. Doing my part to bring people in but it is not easy. Yes you can teach them to ski and I do, but that is a far cry from getting them sufficient quality water time to get them hooked.

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I'm told they're down too John but I don't have any specifics to back that up.  I know here in Kansas our numbers are down, particularly in wakeboarding.  Slalom is down some but not as much.  As someone stated earlier I think the economy has as much to do with it as anything.

Ed

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I think the sport has had some big miss-steps. I think the sport is sick but not on its death bed. It is easy to second guess USAWS on some things but there are still a lot of us who live and breath the sport. I look at the traffic for this web site and I realise just how many of us are out there.
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We had a 3 event tournament this weekend, almost 30 Jumpers/Trickers on Saturday and 50 slalom skiers yesterday. By the large numbers of kids involved, I think that "dying" is the wrong word for what's happening to our sport.  Junior Development is a big part of the Western Region's function, and if you attended the Jr. Banquet during the Regionals a couple of weeks ago, you would have seen the rising stars that are growing up around tournament waterskiing as we speak.
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A cost counterpoint.

The bandwagon that has been jumped on here seems to be that competitive waterskiing is too costly and therefore reserved for the upper-middle-class as more of an elitist activity.  The costs, as I calculate them, do not particularly support that argument.  In fact I believe it is much less costly today then it was decades ago.  The advent of dedicated ski sites across the country, has in my opinion, made the sport much more accessible to those with less income.  Years ago the only real option you had was to own a boat and lakefront property on one of the few lakes which had a slalom course. Then it was also likely that there was a lot of other activity on the lakes during prime time (i.e. weekends and evenings).  One needed to be very dedicated to get quality water time on a daily basis.  You either got up before sun up or you pay big bucks to live on a private lake at which it was customary to limit other water activities in the area of the slalom course.

Today, if one decides to make waterskiing their passion it is affordable!!!  You are probably thinking what is this guy smoking?  But let's look at the numbers.

1st you need to live generally in an area that has active ski clubs/sites. This cost no more than living anywhere else.

2nd you need to seek out club openings and pony up the annual dues which I see range from 1500 to 3500 year. This includes the site(used exclusively for waterskiing - and of mostly pristine conditions for 5 to 7 months), a boat, gas and ski buds who are your driver, coach and friends.

3rd you need to gear-up. For well under $1000 you can outfit yourself with a 2 or three-year old used top-end ski and everything else that takes.

4th you need entry fees for local tournaments at approximately $50 each.

So let us add this up..........

Ski site and boat, etc. $2500/year

Gear $1000.00 divided by 2 years of use until obsolescence equals $500 per year

Tournament entry fees (6 tournys @ $50) plus travel and eating expenses (6 @ $25) equals $450 per year.

Ball of Spray Membership.............Priceless!!!! http://www.ballofspray.com/vanillaforum/js/tinymce/jscripts/tiny_mce/plugins/emotions/images/smiley-laughing.gif

That equals in the range of $3500 per year......... that's under 300.00/month for a 12 month period.

If one has the passion for something one can certainly arrange their life to afford the $300 a month it costs to pursue that passion.

And certainly it can be done for less than that.  The truth is, that because it is our passion, most of us on this forum choose to spend a lot more than that.  But no one is making us do so.

Now go buy or build a house on a private lake, on a boat, pay for the insurance and all of the costs that go along with ownership, and surely, the affordability for the "average Joe"is out the window.

Time to go ski!

John Miller - Michigan 

 

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John:  Perfect analysis.  As a site owner, it is amazing how affordable I've made it for 13-15 individuals.  By sharing the costs of the site, boat and various equipment, we've lowered the costs to an affordable level for all.
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The Waterski Magazine readership is a little more encouraging than the AWSA numbers - and there must be a reason that they have reinvested in both a larger, more expensive print format and richer online content.  

-------------------

Distribution 50,000 

Own a boat 85%
Own a slalom ski 88%
Own a wakeboard 84%
Own a combo pair 71%
Ski at least once a week in season 81%
Average spent on equipment annually $748
Average Age 43.7
Average HHI $157,600

--------------------

These statistics correspond with my real-world experience of families where mom and dad grew up skiing and the kids are interested in a mix of wakeboarding, skiing, towables, etc.  On the private lakes in my area where I ski - I'd estimate a 50/50 split between 3-event skiing and other disciplines.  I'd suggest that instead of viewing this as a sign of skiing's demise, this is a good thing for the sport, because more people are participating at some level and are exposed to skiing.  

I wonder how WSM readership lines up with the BOS regulars?  Any takers...

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What's this about a horse?I'd buy a goat from you if you had those fainting ones,those dudes are bad ass!And I'm sure Proctor would buy a few to keep his grass looking good.Maybe you need to expand into new markets.On the serious side,our lakes(Ski West) no longer offer lake rental mainly because of liability issues I believe.I know several owners who got involved through skiing on rented lakes.On another note,a skier connection type of thing might help people to get involved.When I put my ski away for the season,I get out my dirtbike.And when I want to do a mid week ride,and none of my friends are available,I can usually hit one of the sights and find someone willing to miss work and head out to the desert.Just a few thoughts.Oh yeah that's right,I didn't get to ski last Thursday because my regular partners were all out of town,and someone forgot to text me a number of a possible connection.That's OK,I'll still buy the goat if you start stocking em.
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I dont think that skiing is dying, but the world of AWSA is dying.

 I ski both on a public lake and at Cory's here in the Panhandle of Florida. In my business I see many ski boats a very large percentage of my customers are slalom skiers/towable recrational types. many of these customers are pretty accomplished slalom skiers as are their children. but they have no want to sit around at tournaments and wait all day to ski a round and pay$75-$150 per entry. Their is a young man up on the public lake that has never skied in a tournament in his life yet can run deep 35 at 36 mph.

Skiing is not dying only the Governing body of the sport. How many of you have recently attended your State meeting? Regional Meeting? National Meeting? I can only use my experiances here in Florida and The southern region, but this year at our State meeting their were less than 15 people in the room, average age of the group exceded 55 years of age. Many of these people have been in control of the sport in Florida for over 20 years. At our regional meeting of the 15 committee reports to be given only 2 were heard because the other 13 members were not present including the chair of the rules committee and the President of USAWS Who lives less than an hour away from the meeting site. No I do not think that skiing is dying just the organizing body!! Me, I encourage the under 35 skiers in my state and region to take control of the direction of the sport. These are well educated young professionals yet they are not picking up and running with the ball. Sad is it not?

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I agree w/ Jody.  Nationals has less than 400 registered skiers as of Monday........400!  There were over 900 at Lago in 2002.  I have tried different formats to increase participation and it has worked.  The Turn and Burn concept that I proposed last year has been a success at most sites that have used it.  It has expanded the participation at my tournaments by 20-25%.  And yet, the leadership of our organization doesn't get it.  I'm certain there are other ideas that sites have used but due to the attitude of USAWS, they just don't feel it's worth the effort.

We offer dinner on site Saturday night.  We offer a good value ($60 per 3 rounds).  My September tournament filled up in two days after the on-line registration went live.  If you offer entertainment, good conditions and a good value, people will come.  $110 for one round in the middle of nowhere is not a recipe for success.

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One important aspect of this is that people's lives simply contain more "stuff" now.  This is not so much a reflection on skiing, but a change in people's lifestyles.  For example, in the 80's on my home lake (though it didn't become my home lake until 1994), I understand it was common for people to hang out all day at the "ski beach" and BBQ, chat, ski, tube, etc. for just about the entire day.

Today, the former "ski beach" isn't even maintained, because there is simply nobody who wants to spend an entire day "hanging out" like that.  Folks today want to get out and ski with their families, and then get back in and do other stuff.

This carries over into tournaments, and even more so Regionals and Nationals.  While the cost is indeed significant, and a recession makes the costs look all the more significant, what discourages me is the TIME.  There are so many things I'm trying to do in my life that it's extremely difficult to justify burning additional vacation and dedicating several full days to a grand total of 2 rounds of skiing.  I absolutely enjoy doing it, and I will make the time occasionally (hopefully 2011), but it just seems to get harder and harder every year.

Similarly, the idea of serving on some Regional Committee seems comical.  With all the demands on my time, how could I possibly justify that?

That said, I don't think this in any way means that skiing is dying.  It simply means it will be different.  Maybe 1000 people at Nationals (as there supposedly were at my first one in 2000/Bakersfield) simply isn't the right size for that event any more.  Heck, with 400 people you could give every skier two rounds and still have fewer pulls than in 2000 -- maybe that's a direction to consider.  But anyhow, attendance at local tournaments remains pretty good, and (as noted repeatedly in this thread), a lot more kids are getting involved again.

Perhaps most importantly, it seems that more people are involved in the sport in a "purely" recreational capacity.  Ultimately, I believe this is what drives the health of the sport.  When a lot of people are doing it, the opportunity to learn will exist.  If those who learn desire to compete in tournaments, then tournaments will happen.  If they don't, they won't.  I guess I consider that a pretty minor issue.  What's important to me is that people have the opportunity to participate in this great sport in whatever manner they choose.

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I don't think you can use Nationals attendence this year as a measure. All of our tournaments this year were full, however only a very few are going to Nationals. This has to do with where it is, the length of the event due to limited lakes, no (or very little) practice, and the site's reputation for wind. For those with children, a 4 day gap between when Dad/Mom ski and the kids ski means taking a vactation to get it done. At least one family here is just going for the kids to ski, Dad is skipping it to save time and money. Also, the site has a reputation for being great or being blown out, do you feel lucky?
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I cut back on tournaments this year just due my skiing sucking, so I didn't go to Regionals and consequently not Nationals.  I will again in the future.  Jody and or Roger can confirm this, but I believe that the number at Southern Regionals was reported at 240.  That's pretty sad for the location being in FL.  I can only attribute that to the lack of desire to go to Nationals.  If that's so what can we expect for Nationals 2011?  Has anyone stepped up for 2011 Southern Regionals?  
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I remember Standing on the dock at the 1995 Regionals at Sunset lakes (Jacks) with 110 men 3 slalom skiers. This year I think their were 17.

 Ski Paradise in Mulberry is going to put in a bid for regionals and at this point I believe they are the only site intersted. We are considering holding the FL State tournament in SRB (Cory's).

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I think the reason you don't see any people skiing in M1,M2,W1,W2 is money. 10-15 years ago you could buy a tournament boat for $30-40,000 new. Now you pay $40,000-$60,000. I would enter tournaments, but I have to work two saturdays per month with my job, and I cannot schedule a vacation day on my working Saturdays. With the price of boats and equipment skyrocketing the problem is accessiblility. I quit doing tournaments because I could not get practice time in decent conditions, and the cost of the entry fees and travel were too much for me. When I was in my 20's (i am 41 now) it got to be too expensive for me then, and the economy was good then.  To ski at a level where you can compete at a national level takes more money, and time than most people have. I can ski, but I am on a budget. I have a 16 year old Ski Nautique, a 10 year old trick ski, 20 year old barefoot suit, 4 slalom ropes and handles that are 5 years old and wearing out. $1200 a year on gas etc... I think the expenses and other obligations are squeezing people out of tournaments, or the sport all together.   
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I like what Marcus Brown is doing to promote the sport, he is more appealing to the younger generation to show them how sick waterskiing is.  Notice the word "sick" instead of "cool?"  Yea, I am down.  You should of seen him at the Western Regional Junior banquet, he was a hit with the kids, well everyone really. 
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Tournament participation is down in many places. Nationals attendance has been going down for a long time (well before ZO). I'm not going to get into the argument as to why, but it is down.

 

HOWEVER!!! What this has done is forced some of us to re-think how we run tournaments. I have only been this sport for about 9 years and have only been hosting tournaments for the past 3 years. However, I recognized that something was missing in tournaments..... FUN!!! I went to tournaments for 6 years and was bored to tears. Ski, sit/drive/judge for 4 hours, ski, sit/drive/judge for 4 hours, ski.

 

SO.... I decided to bring some FUN into tournaments! Following the Big Dawg lead, we created the Little Dawg series. Bang! Attendance went up. This year, we added a couple Wed afternoon tournaments with night skiing. FUN!!!! We also have great food (cooked by my wife) or cookouts, offer free bottled water to everyone, sell cheap t-shirts, invite more officials (like 3 scorers), etc. Bang, we have waiting lists!!!

 

Some of the other lakes are trying, but IMO still are missing a few things. Their attendance is down. One even canceled a tournament.

 

It HAS to start with the LOC member's mentality. You have to do something to attract skiers. The old models are not working. I went to one tournament where they were going to pull practice till 7pm. Someone showed up on the dock at 7:05 and they were initially told it was too late. Eventually, they were allowed to ski, but what message does that send? No fun! Attitudes need to change.

 

The tournaments that I hear are doing well are doing things like turn&burn, head2head, 6 rounds, or just doing a great job of marketing nationwide (like JD). I wanted to go to Cottonwood, thought about it for a day, lost out b/c it was full. That's cool!

 

BRING THE FUN!!!

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