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Interpretaion of the Rules


lpskier
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An interesting question was posed on another ski related web site, but it was a bit off topic from the tread, so the question didn't get much traction. This is the poster's question:

 

A quick question about driving slalom - nothing to do with anyone named in above threads.

Once the boat exits the course and Zero Off records an in tolerance time.

The skier is still in the course but the boat has exited the gates.

Skier is in trouble getting back to exit gates, Driver slows down the boat to allow skier to compose and make the gates.

Do you ever see this in a tournament? Is it against a specific rule?

 

My response, using the U.S. Rule Book:

 

@learning the ropes. The rules do not have a specific provision for your hypothetical. If that were to occur, however, the situation would probably be governed by Rules 7.01 and 7.07 (B). Section 7.01 addresses "unfair conditions" "that in the opinion of a majority of the event judges adversely affects a contestant." The unfair condition would be the slow down to wait for the skier with slack. Even though the Rules require that the speed be measured only within the course (but see Rule.10.09(B), "Timing shall be from the entrance gate to the boat path alignment gate [the 55s] ),the spirit and intent of Rule 10.09 is that the boat speed remain consistent while the skier is competing.

 

Since the slow down saved the skier by reducing the hit when the rope comes tight and thereby is to the skier's unfair advantage by helping him avoid or minimize the severity of a slack hit, the reride is mandatory. The competitor that was initially disadvantaged by the unfair conditions are any of the other skiers in that division whose placement could be effected by the driver's actions.

 

Under Rule 7.07(B), an official can be disqualified from an event for unsportsmanlike conduct. If caught, the driver could be disciplined. If he is new, or makes a convincing argument that what he did was for safety purposes in an unusual circumstance, he may get a cautionary word to the wise from the chief driver. If he knew what he was doing and it was blatantly to favor a friend over the other competitors, he may get an unsportsmanlike conduct call, 15 yards, repeat first down.

 

Other judges: Agree? Disagree?

Lpskier

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I think it would be the boat judges responsibility to notify the cheif judge if this were to occur. I have never seen it done though it is plausible. Most tournament sites I ski keep the ZO engaged till the 55s at least. Should there be a provision for it? Sure why not. I can tell by the pitch of the motor if it were to happen to remove slack in a tournament setting and as a competitor I would feel obligated to tell the cheif about it.
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At some sites, the set down might require the boat to initiate deceleration prior to the 55's.

 

However, I fully agree that the intent should be clearly stated:

The boat driver shall bring the boat up to speed as soon as safely possible before the 55's on the approach of the course and shall maintain speed until the skier is completely past the exist gates upon a full pass, preferably until the 55's if the site allows the driver to safely do so.

 

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I should add that every tournament in which I have participated the drivers do this without needing it to be mandated. Therefore, specifying it in future rules would not require our local drivers to make any change at all.
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and... wouldn't slowing down simply delay the consumption of the slack further? Sure the eventual "hit" might be softer, but the time until the line becomes taunt would be increased if the boat were slowed down, no?

 

It seems the ultimate move to "help" the skier would be to gun it for a second, then back way off at the time just before the hit...

 

Again, any driver doing this in a tournament would be easily noticed and should be pulled from the boat immediately.

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further... even if a driver could pull this abrupt throttle maneuver off, the resulting variation might still result in the skier falling. Any skier who felt the driver's fluctuations were possible to blame for his or her fall would likely request a reride... Bottom line, just keep the darn speed steady.
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lpskier - very good topic. You're right, its not addressed in the rules, so is up to interpretation, primarily of the event judges. I have seen it many times, and there has never been any issue raised one way or an other.

 

There are a few things to consider:

 

1. If the skier is in such bad shape that the driver needs to back off, it could be considered a safety issue to avoid skier injury (Brett Yaeger is an extreme example), so it becomes more of an emotional argument vs a logical issue.

 

2. The "unfair conditions" rule is intended to mean unfair conditions to that specific skier, not his competitors. This would allow for an optional reride if the skier falls or does not make the pass. I don't think that applies in this instance, although it could be considered an unfair advantage and require a mandatory reride (rule 7.01).

 

3. Unsportsmanlike conduct is very sticky. That would require something very obvious and blatant. Calling a driver who slows down to save a skier from a potential injury "unsportsmanlike" would be a hard call. If I was a boat judge in that instance, I know I would have a very hard time calling that unsportsmanlike.

 

So while this is open to interpretation, my opinion is that the driver should maintain speed until the skier exits the gates to be fair to all skiers. If there is a safety issue, the driver shouldn't be penalized for split second judgment to back off.

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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Kc - you're right. However a good tournament driver won't have to look in the mirror. He will know exactly where the skier is by feeling the pull on the boat. If a skier is in trouble, or have slack around 6 ball, he will be keenly aware while looking straight ahead. If he is not aware of that, he has no business being behind the wheel.

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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so if it is a matter of safety when the driver backs off going out the gates, why not do it in the course as well? As you say @Bruce_Butterfield, the driver should know where the skier is. therefore, if the skier is late, pulls all the way and just gets around the next ball (say 2 ball), with the safety argument, the driver should be backing off just the same in course. But you never see that, and I dont think anyone wants to see that happen in a tournament. The skier is still going to try and get the full point, regardless if its 2 or 6, so why should the boat do anything different at each ball? The only time I have seen a boat back off mid course prior to the skier falling was when the skier hit the boat (pre current half/full point tight line rule change).

The cases of the driver backing off out the gates ive heard of have been drivers giving 'favourable treatment' to the skiers of their choosing and could easily be seen as unsportsman like.

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Requiring timing to the exit 55s would not work on a typical eight ball course, although it could probably be made to work by adding an additional set of buoys to an already confusing course set up. Also, some boats at some sites at 36 just aren't up to speed and engaged by the 55s on the way in, so you would not get good times.

 

As for waiting and does it happen, the answer, I think, is "of course it does." I try to do it for my ski partners all the time in practice, and yes it does help avoid a vicious slack hit. When I am the skier, I appreciate the driver that is so dialed in that he (or she, my daughter is a great driver) waits for me when needed. Does it happen in tournaments? I don't know. I can say this: At Nationals this year, no one waited for me at 35. Six no continuation. That's what I get for setting a "I just want to run 35" goal.

 

All that said, how specifically do the rules apply to this situation. There was no rule that said Dr. Jim could not "customize" course width mid tournament, but he received a game misconduct for doing so. Lets just assume we are all at a tournament and this happens. How do the rules apply?

Lpskier

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@auskier You don't see the same scenario IN the course, only at the end. Going to 6, the skier can pull all the way until they are right on top of the buoy and turn with big speed and slack, needing to get to the gates which are much closer than anywhere else in the course. I can count on one finger the number of times I've felt the need in the course to back off to save a skier in the course. But at a tournament, I feel like I'm put into the position to have to make that split second decision out the end gates at LEAST once a tournament. A lot of people complain and are against it until a driver saves their elbows. lol
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@ShaneH what about skiers making an unsuccessful S turn and popping the handle back into the boat and trying to take the hit? There are times where it does happen, especially at the elite level. Would it be safer for the skier and boat crew if the boat was disengaged? probably I say. would it be fair? No. With the current tight line rule before the next set of boat guides, skiers are now taking more hits in the course.

Ive driven a fair amount in recent months for 38-41 off level skiers, and would often find myself disengaging out the gates and in course to pick the skier back up once they shoot out past the boat. no one is going to take a hit or push for a full point in practice so its safer and easier to back off. In a tournament, leave it engaged I say. Its a risky area best left alone..

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I recall a video of the Atlanta Pro Am, where I'm sure (with a small amount of certainty) I heard the boat disengage almost instantly after the exit gates. It may have been a short lake necessity, because it happened for almost every skier. Therefore in this situation there was no unsportsmanlike like conduct, each competitor was in the same boat.
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Definitely a bad idea to include the 55's in the timing. Doing so would eliminate all short 8-ball courses from being able to host tournaments. As a skier I would never want the driver to disengage the ZO early even in practice. It is my job as the skier to measure risk and decide what to and what not to hang onto. If the driver starts fiddling with the throttle it will lessen my ability to weigh those risks with accuracy.
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IWSF (Rule 14.03). The speed may vary a maximum of 1 km/h for a distance before entering the competition course and be maintained until the skier is out of the course. If, in the opinion of the official in the boat, the tolerance was exceeded, a reride will be mandatory if the speed variation was advantageous to the skier. If it was disadvantageous to the skier, he will have the option of a reride.

 

No doubts for IWSF...

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One thing to consider when talking about disengaging the ZO system (and was somewhat alluded to in a previous post) is that there isn't a "standard" slow down speed or throttle adjustment. I am sure that amount would vary from driver to driver - with that variable alone I would want the ZO system to stay engaged the entire time through the 55's. I agree with @klundell - it is up to the skier to determine the risk they want to take. The only caveat is if it is an 8 buoy course like Waterski Atlanta and you must slow down right after the exit gates.
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We do it often...in practice!

We watch the wake crossing between 5 and 6 and you also can feel if your skier is running late and may run into trouble with slack rope after turning 6.The goal is to save our elbows and lower back from those big hits.We're 50 years old and all need to work on Monday.

 

But in a tournament ,i would call it unfair.

My ski finish in 16.95 but my ass is out of tolerance!

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@rico @ral yes it's unfortunate that there are sites that can't get up to speed in time. But it is fair to all skiers skiing that day. I assume you know the sites you ski and that this is a possibility. I know of a few lakes like this. It sucks but it's fair.
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Just to throw this out there: there are some sites that standard driving procedure not only has the boat slow down after exiting the gates, but also fade right to setup the almost immediate drop of the skier - and the boat never even goes through the 55's.

 

Speaking of the boat not giving up too early, does anyone remember this video: (I know, it's jump)

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Nothing in the rules suggests that the boat should go through the 55s at either end.

The closest the rules go to covering this is in 14.15

"It shall be considered no effect {the deviation} if the deviation happened in a part of the pass where the skier was not in the process of

attempting to round a buoy."

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