There have been several discussions on here about how to make tournaments more fun or at least engage the participants and spectators more. I've previously posted about the Ability Series that the Michigan Water Ski Association (MWSA) created years ago to have a side competition that leverages the skier's regular C scores at selected tournaments. Our club, Tivoli Gardens Ski Club, hosted a tournament this weekend, which coincided with the final stop of the Series. This year, the skiers with the 4 highest point totals in the series participated in a head-to-head format for a championship trophy. It couldn't have been scripted any better if we had planned it. We had "youth versus experience" and we had the potential for a husband and wife to face each other in a runoff. We even had the boat crews competing with each other for winning the most matchups. I was a boat judge.
The skiers all had differing levels of skill and the competition was set and adjusted to have them ski a pass-for-pass matchup against their skill level max and/or "wall pass".
We started with a B3 skier who can take down 32 off at 36 mph regularly against a W8 skier who is a State record holder and has been on the Nationals podium multiple times. The B3 skier went first and, while he was sitting in the water, smiled and said how cool it was to be in the water watching the other skier run down the lake to match his pass. The W8 skier won that matchup by one buoy.
Next, we had a G2 skier not yet at her divisional max speed matched against a M7 skier who is a two-time M6 Nationals champion. In a very close competition, both skiers had to ski to their max. The G2 skier even PB'd to win and went right back out to face off with our W8 skier for the championship.
After another close matchup, the G2 skier prevailed and we took her on a victory lap back to the dock. She was very excited and had a tremendous experience that I know will only further her interest in competitive water skiing.
I was struck by how both the G2 and B3 skiers looked during their respective matchups as they waited in the water between each pass. They reminded me of Big Dawg competitors - focused, relaxed, prepared, and like seasoned pros. The whole thing was exciting to watch and the spectators were really engaged.
If you are looking for a way to add something to tournaments, this seems like a winner to me.
The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.