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Guidance for a dad of aspiring tournament slalom skier

jercranejercrane Posts: 270 Solid Baller
My 14 YO daughter is really interested in skiing a(some) tournament(s) this summer. I'm trying to figure out the best way to support this desire while simultaneously avoiding her getting overwhelmed and feeling defeated. She is not the most "gritty" kid, meaning she is easily defeated by failure. My worst nightmare is I take her to her first tournament, she misses ball 1 on her first pass, and quits skiing altogether. I know that scenario is unlikely but that is way too high a cost.

She's a very athletic kid (gymnastics since age 2) and skiing pretty well these days but not like off the charts or anything. She's very close to getting the full pass at 25mph/15off. I haven't wanted to go any slower than this as the wake just seems enormous to me (SN 200). She is a pretty small for her age. Like 5 foot nothing and 90 pounds. Considered going to long line but haven't as I usually don't even have that section in the boat. She crushes the mini course with absolutely no problem and can get the full pass at 25 with a couple speed assists here and there. I'm hopeful that in the next couple weeks she will get the full pass with no speed assist but I know that doesn't mean she's going to get that in a tournament setting.

How do I get her into this without screwing it up?

Also how much coaching typically happens for kids at local tournaments? The last time I skied a tournament it was a collegiate tournament in the mid 90's and I remember getting yelled at by the driver because I didn't stand on the correct side of the dock waiting for my set. I really want her to have a great first experience where she can learn the ropes a bit and know that its ok to not have a clue how the whole thing works.

We are in NH and there's a couple tournaments near by over the next couple months. Wolfboro and Dube's. Maybe folks have experience with which might be better for a kid? I believe Dube's is a "grassroots" tournament? Of course Dube's is a pretty tight course which might add some stress???

I'm probably doing that overly stressed dad thing nd should just chill and just let her jump in but any advice and guidance would be great.


  • JordanJordan Posts: 1,164 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    I don't really have ski specific advice for you. Having said that, I did have two kids in competitive sport, one in high level hockey and one in competitive figure skating.
    My best advice is first of all, set your expectations low, and no pressure to start with.
    If you can have her compete for the first time at a local club where she has skied before, she will be more comfortable. Even better if her friends are taking part.
    When my daughter went to her first skating comps, her coach was with her. Told her where to wait, where to change, when to warm up etc. You might want to see if a local coach or junior skier could help you out.

    Biggest single piece of advice, dads shouldn't coach. They should encourage and give opportunities. Then let her tell you all about it.

    Good luck and have fun!
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,435 Mega Baller
    Both Wolfeboro and Dubes tournaments are very friendly to kids, and will usually feature some parent/kid combos that are both competing. I tend to be the sort who just signs up and sees what happens, but if you prefer to ease into it, you and she could attend a tournament as spectators the first time. Be sure to talk to pretty much everyone, but at Wolfeboro you especially want to find Becky Bartlett who is a long-time tournament skier and does extensive work with young kids.

    Btw, in my limited experience with gymnastics, it appears to me that gymnastic events are WAY higher pressure than water ski tournaments!
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • jercranejercrane Posts: 270 Solid Baller
    @dvskier I've had her down to Jodi's Ski Skool twice now. He was fantastic with both my girls. He's the one that got her skiing the course to begin with. Learning to slalom is not really the issue. It's learning to ski in a tournament and go through all the motions of how things work in that setting.

    @Jordan for sure. I have zero expectations, only hopes and dreams and those are simply that she has fun and finds as much joy in it as I do. I learned a long time ago trying to teach them to alpine ski that Dads shouldn't coach. :)
  • jercranejercrane Posts: 270 Solid Baller
    @Than_Bogan well maybe that's my problem. I've seen too many of her gymnastics meets. Thanks that is great advice. Probably just need to do it ... both of us. :#
  • jcampjcamp Posts: 781 Mega Baller
    Go to the Vermont tournament. Close to you, grassroots skiers get a mulligan (so guaranteed two passes each round) and I know of at least two 13 girls (my daughters) who will be there and are skiing around her level.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,435 Mega Baller
    edited July 9
    @jercrane Many of my best pole vaulters are primarily gymnasts, so I've occasionally tried to support them during their "main" season. Even as an almost-totally-neutral spectator, those events seemed stressful!
    To be fair, any competition in which one wants to do well is necessarily stressful, but at least to me the atmosphere at New England waterski events is completely different than those gymnastics meets.

    One observation I have is that gymnastics seems extremely focused on the failures. Things that are done well are hardly noticed. Ironically, slalom water skiing (and PV and HJ) always ends with failure, but it's the successful part that is your score! It's easier to celebrate success in these events -- every rounded buoy and every completed pass (and every bar that stays on) is exciting!!
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • MoffattraMoffattra Posts: 63 Baller
    I think you're in NH? there are lots of SUPER friendly tournaments in the northeast;
    tournament skiers are crazily excited to welcome new people, especially kids. here are some thoughts:
    go to new sites first- it's fun anyway and helps break the comfort of home
    practice- some of the tournaments have Friday afternoon practice, HUGE help. unfortunately the VT tourney can't practice on the actual course, but there is one just down the lake
    Pangea- crazy friendly people and super non-intimidating setup
    get in the boat- volunteer to be in the boat for her rounds
    maybe let her skip first round- seeing other kids do it helps sometimes
    friends?- if you can get a friend of hers to do it too, there's nothing like peer pressure!
    do it with her- she'll probably do better than you and love it...

    bottom line is that if she has any inclination to go, I think you'll find it friendly, easy, and fun. I hope you go!
  • jcampjcamp Posts: 781 Mega Baller
    Sorry @Than_Bogan but I would not recommend taking her to a tournament as just a spectator. First, tournaments are BORING if you aren't competing in them. She may never want to go to one again! Second, if she isn't a participant she'll miss out on being on the starting dock with other girls her age. That is where the magic happens, i.e. each of them wishing each other luck, congratulating/consoling them after they ski, etc.
  • jercranejercrane Posts: 270 Solid Baller
    @Bruce_Butterfield interesting ... I have her on a 62" Connelly Prodigy right now but I have an older 65" Concept in the ski locker. You think that would be a better ski and then put her out at long line and drop speed to maybe 21?

    I mostly went with 25mph because that's what Jodi was skiing her at down there.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,435 Mega Baller
    @jcamp Fair points. I was thinking more along the lines of "dropping in" for maybe 30-60 minutes. Would you guess that would also be unproductive? Like I said, my own strategy would be to sign up and THEN figure it out, so perhaps I shouldn't be trying to guess what would work for someone with a different way of thinking than my own!!
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • ScarletArrowScarletArrow Posts: 801 Crazy Baller
    Everything Bruce has ever said about teaching kids how to ski is right. I’ve followed his prescription almost exactly (I put them on a 62” even at slow speeds) and all of my kids love skiing, love tournaments and are now better than dear old dad.

    Keep in mind our definition of success is usually different than our kids. We count buoys. They count friends. Make sure she is having fun with other kids - probably at jr. development or a grassroots - and the rest will fall into place.
    Anthony Warren
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 5,954 Mega Baller
    I agree with Bruce. When my kids were that size they were skiing at 19 or 21 mph. Definitely slow her down and get her through a few passes.

    The skiers in the east are super welcoming. I have skied Dubes and Wolfeboro and they are both great sites. @jcamp is a great guy and since he will have a couple of daughters at the VT tournament going there would guarantee some girls to ski with.
    Mark Shaffer
  • jimskijimski Posts: 389 Solid Baller
    Once she makes friends and is having fun she’ll be hooked
  • jercranejercrane Posts: 270 Solid Baller
    edited July 10
    Thanks all ... great advice. Going to drop her down to 21 on Friday morning when we pull the course up and register for some tournaments today!

    Will throw the old Concept in the boat too just in case the 62" is sitting too low. I knew I kept that ski around for a good reason.
  • rfarfa Posts: 247 Baller
    If the sheer weight of "numbers" help, let me add to boys were a little younger, but the experiences were phenomenal then, and the friendships that have lasted for 15 years, priceless. Not once did they have a less than awesome experience with everyone involved -the other kids, parents, officials, all. Best wishes!
    Rui Afonso
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 5,954 Mega Baller
    @jercrane are you going to Oakham this weekend? I am not skiing but will be there on Sunday to hang out and catch up with friends. Let me know if you are there and I will make sure to say hello and I can talk to your daughter about the way the site sets up.
    Mark Shaffer
  • jercranejercrane Posts: 270 Solid Baller
    @Chef23 Nope we're going to make Dube's our first and then hopefully hit VT tournament the following weekend if schedule works out.

  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 5,954 Mega Baller
    @jercrane I likely won’t be at either of those but they will be a blast.
    Mark Shaffer
  • jcampjcamp Posts: 781 Mega Baller
    @jercrane I would sign up for the VT tournament relatively quickly. It's almost full. Hard cap is 30 skiers.
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