Jump to content

Who says skiing is dead?


jcamp
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • Baller

So me and my ski partner were trying to wedge some sets in last night between rain storms on our usual, public lake ski site. As I’m dropping at one end I look over to the shore and see some guy standing in chest deep water, in a near downpour, holding a ski over his head. Think that 80s movie “Say Anything” with John Cusack holding a boom box over his head.

 

We go to pick him up and he’s already swam a ways out. We get to him, take his ski on board and he hops on the platform. No vest, no gloves, no towel, no shirt. Nothing. Just his early 90s era O’Brien. Come to find out he’s a college student in the area for a summer internship who saw us skiing and went and grabbed his ski and biked back to the lake with it.

 

Super cool dude, just stoked on skiing although he hasn’t had much experience. He’d never skied the course before and hadn’t skied since last summer, so we pulled him a couple times in open water. Got some potential for sure. After he gets in the boat he says “nothing like skiing behind a MasterCraft (note: mine is a 94 205, so not even close to the latest and greatest out there),” which of course my Nautique-owning ski partner just loved.

 

He wants to start skiing the course and says he knows how to drive, so, it looks like we’ve got a new ski partner. I’ll just make sure to bring an extra vest and pair of gloves. And maybe even a towel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller

When I was 17 I just started showing up at the Santa Clara County Water Ski Club to ask for rides. They obliged me and I eventually got in the club. When I was 27 and going to grad school in San Diego I stood on the shore of Fiesta Island by the Mission Bay Boat and Waterski Club's course and yelled over to some guys on the dock asking for a ride. First time it didn't work 'cause the guys were leaving. The next time it did.

 

That was very nice of you @jcamp to give a young man, who obviously wanted it badly, some rides. Often it's not clear to outsiders how to get started skiing on a course. I'm impressed by his efforts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great story! Sort of a longstanding tradition in our club that if wallys are messing around near the course on jet skis or tubes or wake boards or whatever, you flag them down and invite them to ski. Occasionally, they are interested and, not only are you doing something nice, but you also have an opportunity to idle over to the course while explaining the importance of smooth water to them. :) Win-win.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller

I think giving him an opportunity to ski through the course is pretty awesome of you. Two years ago when I moved into my house across the street from a private ski lake there was a few old timers who were 38' skiers. They saw me and my Ski Nautique and came by to chit chat. Long story short I told them I was a long time skier but never been on the course and def had the desire but no access to one. They took me out once but when they realized I had truely never been in a course they wouldn't give me the time of day.

 

So I'm familiar with being the same guy skiing into the middle of the lake with an old ski, it kinda sucks. Give him a pull, he may be willing to cover his share of fuel and then some.... And can drive. Without newbies, skiing doesn't have a future.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Orlando76 Not to be mean, but I see this attitude come up a lot, you simply CAN NOT drive a skiier into 38 off if you aren't VERY familiar with course skiing and have spent hundreds of hours in the drivers seat in the course. There are a number of things at play here, but just dropping a skier at that rope length can be challenging for the inexperienced. You also probably can't give somebody at that level advice for their skiing so to be brutally honest, you can't offer them anything. It costs $30,000+ a year extra to live at a private lake and most people are trying to cram sets in after work and don't have a ton of time for beginners who can't reciprocate in any way. I agree that people need to learn to ski, but at a private site on others time is not always the best way?

 

That said if someone would mow my lawn they could ski all they wanted to, so try that!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Horton Do you let people you don't know ski with you and trade pulls into 38?

 

I am being kind of negative, but this forum is giving people weird impressions sometimes about what is owed them.

 

That said I have pulled MANY MANY strangers and new skiiers for nothing or whatever they offered in the past. AFAIK more then anyone else in my neighborhood apart from maybe @Moskier3ev.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller_

@kfennell, sorry but I've broken in a lot of drivers with way less than "hundreds of hours in the drivers seat" - a good number into and beyond 38.

 

I'll take a beginning driver who is eager and willing to learn over a mediocre driver that thinks he's better than Jack Walker any day.

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller

@jcamp loved the story! It kinda reminds me of myself when I got started so I sure can appreciate people like you!

 

@kfennell I don't get the feeling that people think anything is "owed" to them....people just want to learn and get better. If you agree that people need to learn to ski then tell me how this is suppose to happen without using someones private site, or private boat, or someone else's time? It can't! If people don't want to help someone learn, at least get them in contact with someone who will.

 

I joined a collegiate team and this was my first exposure to competitive skiing and although I am only running into 36mph I still aspire to get better. Since graduation (3 years ago) it's been like pulling teeth even trying to find a place to ski, let alone ski a course and I don't see how I will ever get better unless I get an opportunity to ski more. I am not (what I call) a "privileged skier" meaning I do not own a boat, have no quick access to water, or let alone a course. To hear stories of people who can't give up a little bit of time on the water makes me cringe. If timing is such a big deal then set some ground rules...3 falls and you're done, or 6 pass max, or last skier out, don't just cut someone out completely. I can understand not wanting to have a rookie driver pull you at -38 but not even letting someone ski on your private lake because they are inexperienced is just rude. You wouldn't tell the children that live on your lake they cant ski with you because they can't run a course. So therefore that tells me it is not about inexperience but rather just not wanting to share....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller

Access is tough for newcomers. We did our time to get where we are. First time I had a pull behind an inboard was when I bought my own, on the test drive. I wanted a beginner course skiers website, so I made my own. First pull in the course was when I got myself to ski school. Next pulls after that was when I bought my own portable course and deployed it at the crack of dawn on weekends when weather cooperated on public water. Only after doing this for years did I have a crack at getting into a club and I'm very thankful for it.

 

Though we got into this sport the "hard knocks"/"roll your own" way, I'd still welcome the opportunity to make it easier for somebody else. Our barrier to entry was ridiculous, really, yet here I am.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@jcamp , GOOD JOB! As pointed out, it's difficult to get into this sport yet there are so many voices saying it's on the decline or it's "dead". Are we somewhat to blame? I was very fortunate to find a fairly remote lake to ski and a family that gave me access for a very reasonable rate. I've had nothing but positive experiences so far (although I still STINK). Here's hoping that those truly concerned about a "dying sport" will breathe life back into it by giving back (and from reading on here for months, I know many of you do). @skihard invited me down to Texas to ski knowing full well I had no experience. That road trip will happen pretty soon. @Hugh Nichols and @OK_SKIER have invited me to check out the lakes they ski on to see if I want to join them. That's what it takes. Who's to say that the guy you run through the course the first time may not be the same one who opens his own site down the road and brings more people into the sport. I don't buy the I'm too good to give others a pull because I run 38 off. That's simply BS. The guy I ski with runs into some very short line lengths every time we've been there. However, there is absolutely NO qualms about pulling my newbie butt through the course or skiing my gf on 2 until she was ready to try slalom then giving her the first opportunities at that. In fact, he and his wife show excitement that others are now sharing their passion. They were definitely not put off that we aren't even near their level. No, I'm not OWED anything. However, through the courtesy of Steve Allen and his wife Angela, my gf and I have found a sport that we will eventually give back to in some way. Consider this opinion worth exactly what you paid for it but it comes from a newbie looking to get into a "dying sport" that he has loved for years...despite his skill level!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller
I don't ski into 38 off but I do ski into 35 off and I have broken in numerous drivers including my son. It takes time and patience and volume sets where you work on your easier passes while the drivers get better. I would say shame on skiers who aren't willing to work with new drivers. There are certainly occasions when I am short on time and don't have the time to work with a new driver/skier but if that is the case I make sure to say I can't do it today can we pick a different time.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller
I taught my sister-in-law to slalom, got my cousin up for the first time in 20 years, got another cousin so into it, he just bought a 2015 prostar, and have been teaching anyone and everyone about the course and driving etiquette. I'm not a -38 skier yet, but the guys I ski with are and I learned by going with them and now I'm driving for them. That's the only way it works. Bring them in and show them how.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller

kfennel, i will mow your lawn, wash your boat, your car, your dog, and do your laundry for sets!

I live in Nebraska where it's either windy or cold (or both), the nearest course is 40 mi. away, and the "water" is closer to mud than water. the sport is dying because. IMHO, it is hard to get a newbe hooked. it is expensive, hard to access, (in my neck of the woods) and just plain hard to do! Anything we can do to encourage people to try it e should. you never know, that guy that you took through the course last year could be your new favorite driver / ski partner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller

I had a guy swim out to my course a few summers ago, he had never skied but thought it looked really cool. After

He got to the boat I could tell he had been enjoying a number of beverages and was in no shape to learn how to ski, not to mention I only had my ski in the boat. I told him since it was getting dark we would come back in the morning with two skis that would fit and be happy to teach him.

Went back down in the AM, talked to someone else they said he was still passed out and not likely to be up anytime soon! It was about 10 am after I had skied a few times. I gave myself A for effort for at least going back!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Supporting Member

I generally disagree with @kfennell about drivers. I think if someone wants to learn how to drive, it doesn't take long to be competent at -38. (-39 might be a different story and -41 definitely is.) I've only run a grand total of maybe twenty -38s in my life, and yet in that small sample are five different drivers. Their skiing ability ranges from deep -41 down to 32 mph. And several other drivers have pulled me to within a few buoys of my PB, again with varying skiing abilities themselves.

 

Moreover, I broke into "serious" skiing by being dedicated to becoming a good driver. I was driving @MikeT into -39 when I myself could barely run 36/-15 on a great day. As you might imagine, I learned a few things from him...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller
We need many more skiers in our sport and we always try to encourage new skiers and introduce them to the course if they show any interest..... come to think of it we need just about as many drivers as we need skiers. And while driving does take some skill and practice I think the new boats and technology has made it easier for drivers to provide a quality pull.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller

I sometimes wonder if slalom is actually "dying" or if it's just perceived to be dying, on public water. Pretty much living my entire life on water, I don't know that I see any fewer slalom skiers on our lake now, than I did back in the 80's. There was always some towed sport that appeared to be more popular, like tubing, kneeboarding, wakeboarding, now surfing.

 

Also, does anyone know how many more (or less) Ski Nautique's and Prostar's are sold now than in the 80's? There are many more slalom boats (CC, Bu & MC) on our lake now than back then. The difference now is you see the CC, Bu and MC branded wake boats, where back in the day it was I/O's. Seems to me that slalom boat companies went from niche manufacturers to major industry players, once wake boats become the trend over I/O's.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller
From what I've seen this year at tournaments water skiing is dead, look at the entry list (subject to change) for the Southern regionals, without Florida you don't have 80 skiers. 4 for South Carolina, 12 Tennessee, 11 North Carolina, 13 Alabama, I know tournaments have been way down, I wish I knew the solution.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller

@LLUSA Regionals and Nationals are a whole different kind of dead. Over $100 for one round of slalom? Seems a little outrageous.

 

The model needs to be changed. @MattP and I have talked a fair amount about this. There is a way to do it right, we just need to be willing to experiment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller

@LLUSA you forgot GA!

 

Things do look slim this year but I just paid $125 for 2 events... I will slalom no more than 4 passes and trick 2 passes. That should be 1gal of gas.... Where is the other $121 going?

 

As a M1 skier I'm asking how can we keep the costs down to make it attractively affordable for more to attend who are just not skiing regionals to ski nationals?

 

People tell me that they are not skiing Regionals because they are not skiing Nationals. Regionals needs to have a higher standing in peoples mind as a goal to qualify for and ski in not just a requirement to ski Nationals.

Should Regionals be a class C run to record standards? Use more on site officials than putting people up in hotels? I don't have the answers either but lets put our heads together and help find an answer that will help it might not be the perfect solution but doing the same thing year after year and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@jcamp, awesome!

 

I read your post about a week ago but was reminded of it the other day when some guys I work with overheard a conversation I was having about an RLXi I'm getting next week. Apparently they go out and try to drag their shoulders in open water on 20+ yr old skis behind someone's Bayliner (or whatever). Suddenly I have a bunch of ski dates lined up with people who's wakeboards are starting to collect dust. There is hope!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller

A lot goes into organizing an event and development or maintenance of the environment, so to me the entry fees mentioned earlier do not seem surprising. My brother used to compete in triathlons and would pay a $600 entry fee for a single Iron Man triathlon (which would sell out within the first day you could enter the race).

 

The public lake I ski at has a few slalom skiers every now and then but it is 99% populated by wakeboarders, wake surfers and tubers. Slalom is not dead but it seems to be a tiny minority of the behind-a-boat sports in my neck of the woods.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller

@TallSkinnyGuy iron man is a prestigious event in a sport segment of wild growth in popularity. When we have 13 skiers from an entire state (mine). The demand is far too low to price high. I've bitched before, that a local tournament + yearly dues gets my crap skiing 4 passes for $180. Not a good deal. Hell, I spent $125 for 8 passes with the #3 skier in the world. And he was giving me a lesson. What's the better deal?

Don't think I'm downplaying the cost, just to have the event at all, but with almost zero NEW demand, charging a price that high, greatly discourages new competition skiers. A grassroots membership should get your first years entry fees covered. That would make the skier want to sign up for every tournament available. Wouldn't it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller
I've never let the cost of an entry deter my wanting to compete. What nobody will admit is private lakes have killed this sport, and I am guilty as well, there are no slalom courses on public lakes. Twenty years ago there were 5 slalom courses and three jumps in Tuscaloosa county alone, now there are two courses, neither are on a public lake. The access to sites, the cost of boats, has driven this sport to near death.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I entered my first tournament this year...a 3 round turn and burn class C for $55...free beer and pizza included. There are some sites and organizers doing it differently. Also, I agree with you @LLUSA regarding private sites. Fortunately for me and others in Orlando, there are still many courses on public water. Without them, I wouldn't be a course skier.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Found the slalom course on my public lake Saturday. Still a decent amount of debris in the cove from all the rain but I'll be skiing it soon. Supposedly it's well used according to the marina owner and it is in GREAT SHAPE! Maybe I'll get the chance to meet some new ballers with true boats to ski behind where I can bum a ride. Could be a good year!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Baller
Last year I bought one of those Zup boards. Seems like a good way to get kids started. Had 2 of my 13 yr old nieces out yesterday and they both stood up first try. Also got a boom recently. My daughter had been struggling behind the boat on two skis but had no problem on the boom yesterday.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...