What's wrong with competitive skiing?

It's no secret I've been cycling the last 9 months. And started road racing this year. And while I was at a stage race this weekend with SkiDawg and his family, it really became clear to me an issue we have with competitive skiing. There isn't anything competitive about what we do any longer at 95% of the tournaments. Here I am with @skidawg , one of the best MM slalom skiers in the world and a ridiculously good mountain bike racer. and we're racing against each other because he'd never ridden a road race event and I've only got a few races in. Huh. So I'm not racing against the Pro's or semi-Pro Cat1 or Cat2 racers, I'm racing against 25-30 other Cat5(the racers with less than 10 race starts) who are all peddling their a$$es off so they can beat anyone they can in our Category. There were racers that were 18 and racers that were 48 in our three Cat5 races(Road Race, Time Trial, and Crit) over the course of the weekend. And if a Woman Cat 4(the equivalent of Men Cat 5) wanted to race with the Men in Cat5, she could. And if a Junior wanted to Cat up and race with the Men Cat 5s, he could. And it was a freaking blast. As have the other USA Cycling road race events that I've been to.

Purely Age based divisions in Waterskiing need to go the way of the dinosaur. Soon.
Shane "Crash" Hill



  • Texas6Texas6 Posts: 2,197
    edited May 2015
    I believe people enjoy competing to win; even if it's just a local class C event. Perhaps you could still have a competition among all the event competitors, yet still compete against yourself and your age group for National rankings. I think a real competition to win any event makes a big difference. I understand kids may still need brackets but adults dont
    Daryn Dean - Lakes of Katy, TX
    ***Robbed out of Hundreds of Panda Worthy Posts***
  • GOODESkierGOODESkier Posts: 1,107 Crazy Baller
    INT has it that way............... think about it, if you are 35 and dive into M3 and never skied the sport before you might be a bit intimidated. I skied INT for a year or two before going to my first tournament at BROHO. I hope the grass roots are going to keep my family involved this summer.........
    2003 Nautique 196 LE Star Gazer & ZBox - GOODE NANO OneXT 66.75" - Powershell 5 (LFF) - Tournament PB: 2 Balls @ 39.5' OFF (34.2 MPH) on 7/18/2015 at BIG DAWG BROHO!
  • RichardDoaneRichardDoane Posts: 4,879 Mega Baller
    @shane - tournament waterskiing is not for everybody, it's brutal mentally and physically, and I know quite a few people who've given it up for a number of reasons, but the hardest part is keeping it fun, and if that feeling leaves then I understand why people quit, you are correct that sometimes the local tournaments are not that competetive for certain groups and in that case you need to travel to other areas and/or ski the larger events
    BallOfSpray Pacific Northwest Vice President of Event Management, aka "Zappy"
  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,395
    Richard, if traveling to other areas is the best anyone can come up with, then competitive skiing is doomed.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • RichardDoaneRichardDoane Posts: 4,879 Mega Baller
    shane - I'll give @davelemmons a +1 on the never made, and also anyone who does a handicapped bracket for a head to head, our Broho 4th rounder H2H is a blast, last year we all got beat by a G2 skier, and it was a ton of fun
    BallOfSpray Pacific Northwest Vice President of Event Management, aka "Zappy"
  • KMKM Posts: 161 Baller
    I have been skiing competitively for the last 20-25 years. I took up road and cyclocross racing about 4 years ago and am now hooked. Have made it to Cat 3 and now I have decreased the amount of time spent training for waterskiing and increased my cycling training. Lost 20 pounds, which actually improved my water skiing even though I am training less for it.

    I have to agree with Shane that it is much more rewarding competing in ability based divisions vs. age based divisions. Plus the amount of time spent at bicycle races vs. water ski tournaments is a consideration. For example, I can complete a 50 mile race in a little over 2 hours whereas I would sometimes spend 10-12 hours sitting around to get 3 slalom rounds in.

    I haven't completely retired from water skiing, yet. But it is definitely now my 2nd favorite summer activity. Something needs to change in the sport to renew my enthusiasm.
  • dbutcherdbutcher Posts: 570 Crazy Baller
    I am in Men 8. At local tournaments I am almost always the only one. I compete against my personal best and the standings list. I always have competition, and I always enjoy tournaments.
  • BRYBRY Posts: 593 Crazy Baller
    edited May 2015
    @shaneH First you are comparing apples and oranges (both fruit but not the same). Road races (and criteriums) are mass start, first one to the line races. Skiing equivalent would be NWSRA. Time trials with essentially one competitor against the clock is much more comparable to AWSA. Go hit a time trial, will be interesting to see what you think.
    As far a competition goes, were you and @skidawg really competitive, even in the CAT5? You guys were there at the end, sprinting for the win? If so, very impressive. But I bet you guys weren't. And once you advance to CAT4 bet you won't be competitive initially there either. I used to race bikes back in college. I would say 90% or more of the field was not really "competitive", there were only a couple guys capable of pulling the win. Takes time, work and experience (lots of races) to get to be one of the ones capable of winning. Takes lots of time not being competitive to become competitive, kinda like skiing.
    Biking has advantages over skiing such as cost and access. Bikes are a lot less expensive than a boat and roads to ride are everywhere. I've seen crit's held in parking lots, big lots, but parking lots. Hence more participants in biking. Most local ski tournaments there are too few people with too wide a range of abilities for straight up competition.
    I love to ski, snow or water. I like to ride. I will always ski as I love being out and doing it, even when it's bad it's good. For me riding is fun but not fun in the rain, in the wind, in the cold. So I consider myself a skier and do not consider myself a biker. I ran 35 all three rounds in a tournament this weekend but got beat by a guy into 39. Those 35's were a big deal for me. I felt good about that even though I didn't win. Better than if I had gone down at 35 and won.
  • drewski32drewski32 Posts: 218 Baller
    For those who say "travel" and "ski the larger events," take juniors into consideration. I'm 17 and when skiing local tournaments there is NO ONE in my division. most guys are skiing 34 instead of 36, and only a handful are on my level (usually run -32), some are much better and some are worse. I don't really have anyone to ski against so it isn't as fun as it should be. There are only two tournaments a year where I actually feel like I'm competing and that's regionals and nationals. "Larger" tournaments still have avery small participation from juniors. I believe that is a big reason why people my age don't want to get into this sport... they don't have a group to do it with.

    I think many of us agree that nat's can be a royal pain in the ass, so make that one tournament per year for someone my age. If you're wondering about state tournaments, in TN there are usually only around 3 B3 slalom skiers... not much competition.
  • brodybrody Posts: 363 Solid Baller
    A big problem is as soon as someone says but what about ratings!!!! There needs to be the rec level guys who don't care about ratings. We used to run a red tourny with a 3 fall and your out. Just what it sounds like. You can fall twice but the third time your done. We had divisions based on ability and we barely could get through the skiers in a day compared to the sanctioned events that 5-8 skiers would show up. All I'm saying is not everybody cares about ratings for nationals
  • LeonLLeonL Posts: 2,835 Crazy Baller
    So biking is based on how many times you've raced, not how fast you are? Seems to be kind of an unusual way to determine groupings for close competition. Skiing equivalent would be how many tournaments you've entered? If that were implemented I'd be sking in a level above Nate and CP. Not being critical, but that just wouldn't work in waterskiing and don't see how it would work in any competition.

    Leon Leonard Stillwater Lake KY - SR Driver SR Judge

  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,395
    @LeonL Only upgrading from CAT5 to Cat 4 is based on number of starts. After that, it's points based on how you finish races in a 12 month period. I'm not advocating that for skiing. Although you could probably find a way to make something very similar work.

    @BRY skidawg killed it in our time trial. Came in 2nd only to an olympic class athlete who's now crosstraining into cycling. Not to mention, his time beat half the CAt1/2/3 and Masters field. And I don't think I am comparing apples and oranges. It's only been in the last 15 years that skiing became like the time trial. In the 60s, 70s, 80s, and early 90s it was way more about competition. Of course, there were more skiers then too. You have to evolve the format and rules to keep relevant and keep the level of competition up and we've not done that in skiing.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • skidawgskidawg Posts: 3,579 Mega Baller
    @BRY - I placed 2nd in the time trial (not bad for a 200lb mtb'er) I don't have a road set up at the moment so I didnt do the road race, but I borrowed one for the crit, yes I am competitive in the cat5 field when I'm able to ride more than 1 day a week, but I prefer the dirt! Shane's point is having a set up that fosters competition, our present ski format is long and boring!
    NWA....Heaven on earth!
    Nick Sullivan
  • drewski32drewski32 Posts: 218 Baller
    With a substantial amount of skiers in each division I think it would be more fun. Because we don't have that, and so many skiers are on different levels, something has to change.
  • skihardskihard Posts: 566 Crazy Baller
    There are many arguments to made on either side of the coin here. I agree with @ShaneH in that changes need to made to keep this sport growing at every level and at every age.
    We just ran a clinic with Trent at our site this weekend and there were skiers of all levels and all ages. Youngest being 11 and oldest being close to 60. Ironically the 11 year old was way farther ahead in his abilities than the older fellow is. But both came for instruction to become better skiers.
    There was lots of conversation on the dock and something that really got me thinking was - there is quite a few people here who started skiing early as kids and quit for various reasons, and others who hadn't started skiing until the were much older.
    I personally am almost 49 years old and just started chasing those damned orange balls just a little over a year ago. Through the help of great ski buddies at my site and the exceptionally good coaching of guys like Trent and Seth I have seen great improvement in my own personal skiing. Am I a good skier? Hell no but I'm trying to get better.
    With that said why the hell would I want to go to a tournament and ski against guys solely based on my age rather than my ability? I can't compete with a guy who runs deep into 28, 32, 35, 38, and deeper than that. I can however compete against anyone who can ski around what my level is; and currently that is 22 to 28 off at 32 mph. Again I am working to get it up to 34 mph in the future.
    I would really like to see a database and a handicap system that mirrors golf to some degree. If you are a scratch golfer you're going out in a golf tournament to play with and compete against players of your ability not Tiger Woods, regardless of your age.
    I could care less if I was sitting on the dock with a 15 year old, 25 year old; if they skied at the same level I do based on a handicap - that's true competition. We all go off the dock trying to beat each other and improve ourselves based on that ability.
    I really wold love to do the tourny thing! I like meeting new people and sharing my own passion for this sport. But when they call my name and I'm next up on the dock and have to follow a seasoned 49 year old dude that just ran 38 at 34 mph and the when the person handing me handle says "Good luck that's the score and the guy you need to beat" ............... think I'll just ask for my handle back and go home because there is no competing in that for me.
    And more than anything...................... it's NOT FUN!!!
    One will always strive to be a better skier as people who play golf strive to lower their handicap. Some days are good on the course and other not so good. But they keep playing to get better, and competing against someone at the same ability & level as yourself is competing regardless of age.
    Life's about working hard and then having fun on the water!
    I am - are you?
  • The_MSThe_MS Posts: 6,843 Member of the BallOfSpray Hall Of Fame
    @ShaneH You just like all the tight shorts and colorful outfits on the chicks.
  • ChadWChadW Posts: 100 Baller
    @ShaneH, I raced bikes for a few years. I enjoyed the format and the competition, however my job relies on my upper extremities. Often, cycling crashes involve broken collarbones and/or wrists, so I no longer race. In contrast to you, I am skiing in my first tournament Wednesday. My mindset going into my first tournament is to run a certain pass, it's all about personal goals. I think it will be fun and exciting, but maybe it gets old. My mindset in my first Cat5 cycling race was, hang with the pack and sprint to the finish, maybe you can win. My point is I agree with @ShaneH, ability based formats foster a different mindset and are fun/competitive. I think they could be implemented in water skiing. That being said, tournament water skiing and USA Waterski, in its current format, gained a new member this year.
  • BRYBRY Posts: 593 Crazy Baller
    @skidawg Great riding! Should have used the crit bike for the RR, get a start in. Particularly in CAT5 it's the legs not the bike. So how'd you do in the crit? And @ShaneH? I'm still not swayed that everyone or even most of the field had a real shot at winning. My point and my experience with biking is only a few are capable of winning, everyone else just for placement. I will assert competitive cycling is very much about points and a electronic ranking list http://www.usacycling.org/news/user/story.php?id=580 So much so some people travel to find races they feel they will do better in and avoid tougher fields. But seriously man, great riding.

    @ShaneH You say "It's only been in the last 15 years that skiing became like the time trial. In the 60s, 70s, 80s, and early 90s it was way more about competition." So what about the rules, format and/or participants has changed that make that so?

    Saturday I drove for an hour to a tournament that started a little after 8 and ended a bit after 4, drove an hour home with a couple hours of sunlight to hang with the wife on our dock. I skied 3 rounds slalom, a round of trick, judged, scored, met some people I hadn't met before, hung with some friends I hadn't seen for a while, had some great discussions about technique with knowledgeable and capable people and received some great pointers for my own skiing. Only time I was bored all day was the drive to and from the site, buzzing down the freeway. All in all a great day.

    I'm not trying to attack you guys or cycling. I do think cycling fundamentally is different. 3 event skiing is fundamentally one person at a time, putting up a score. Always has been, blessing and a curse for the sport.

    There is a lot of bashing of skiing on this board, some justified but much of which I think is unfounded. I feel the conversations and tone on this board about tournaments is negative. Lot, I can say thousands, of people like them or why else would they come time and time again? I don't want people lurking on this board who are on the fence about tournaments to get turned off from even giving one a try.

  • santangelosantangelo Posts: 193 Solid Baller
    Fairly certain the AWSA rulebook is not limiting Class C tournaments being set up as indicated in some of the posts above regarding ability based divisions. Granted, these would not be 'official' divisions and scores would go into your age division, but an event organizer can set the running order and 'groupings' based on ability vs rankings list seeding.

    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.
    Additionally, I believe alternate formats can be pursued with approval from EVP.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 7,105 Mega Baller
    edited May 2015
    @santangelo You are absolutely correct and we have done it many times at the "New England Slalom Championships." Recently we've had just two "divisions": a handicapped division in which everyone can compete with everyone and a lower-case-o "open" division where the pack of us who are stuck at low-to-mid-38 compete against each other straight up. Some years we also include a 36 mph skier or two (with +6 buoys which is arguably generous but we want to encourage the young guys).

    One year we superimposed head-to-head as well, which was pretty clever by tournament organizer @MikeT (but personally wasn't my thing). The idea was round 1 was qualifying, round 2 the top eight faced off in pairs [just on paper; no change to the tournament schedule], round 3 the remaining 4 did so, and then -- as an exhibition only -- the final 2 went out again to crown a champ.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • BRYBRY Posts: 593 Crazy Baller
    +1 to @DaveLemons Your crew is putting on tournaments, props to you all. Doing it in a format you all find fun and getting people participating.

    @brody Sounds like a fun tournament! And you had lots of participation! But you speak in past tense, so it no longer is held? Why not? Hard to believe ratings killed it... You should put one on this year, lot's of summer left!

    @skihard Your the kind of guy tournament skiing needs to capture. You have passion for it and are going to ski with or without tournaments. I think some sort of handicap is an idea with real promise. Current ranking system could stay in place nationally but the handicap for direct competition locally. But how? That might be a good topic for it's own thread.
    I had a similar experience. My first tournament after moving to Florida I followed a guy who got .5 @41. I don't have a 41 loop on my rope. But I thought it was cool, getting ready with someone like that on the dock, chatting with them and listening to what they are thinking about. Then I went out and was 1 buoy short of my PB at the time. Walking back some people I didn't even know said "good skiing". It was a good day.

    For those who want ability base tournaments there is this INT thing. http://www.intleague.com/ They have been around a while and haven't taken over skiing so maybe ability based isn't the answer to growing participation. Not my cup of tea but for those who want that, there it is, ready to go! I have some friends who love it. Not one in your area? Give them a call, they would love to help you put one on. Kinda what they do...

  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,395
    edited May 2015
    @BRY what does only a few out of 30 have a chance at winning have to do with anything? If you're in last place, you're doing your damndest to finish ahead of that guy ahead of you. And if you're 10th, you're doing your damdest to finish ahead of at least ninth. It's called competition for a reason. Skiing, in it's heyday, was about local competition. In the digital age, you're competing on the internet against some guy 1000 miles away. Now everyone deserves a medal because they beat their self. This doesn't even have to be comparing cycling against skiing. Let's compare competitive inline skating to waterskiing. Same thing. Competition drives participation. Or team sports. Baseball isn't about long ball hitting. It's competition against others.

    Tournament skiing can no longer be called Competitive skiing, except in a few situations. Which is a shame.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • brodybrody Posts: 363 Solid Baller
    Bry, I wasn't the organizer of these events just a participant. There was a group of people that stepped in, made it purely sanctioned and chased everyone away. It got too serious for people. Now I don't know if there is the numbers to justify it. We have been looking at doing it again
  • BRYBRY Posts: 593 Crazy Baller
    @ShaneH Exactly! But that's not what you seem say about skiing. If you are at the bottom of your group aren't you doing your damnedest to get that .25 buoy more than the guy one up from you?
  • BRYBRY Posts: 593 Crazy Baller
    edited May 2015
    @brody Hope you do. Can even "sanction" it under Class F to get insurance. Or do a Class C and a Class F combined, and then have your 5-8 "serious" guys to help. Be the Tournament Director then you can have the tournament your way, particularly Class F. TD is some work but lots of fun too. If I can do it anyone can (really I didn't do anything but get good people and delegate).
  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,395
    I was chief driver at a tournament and someone brought people who weren't skiers. After about 30 minutes the daughter asked "Whos' winning?" The reply was no one, that's not really how it works. So the explanation started on how skiing was scored. Her reply after seeing a few more skiers was "Well, this is kind of boring. Dad, let's go to Top Golf." Hell, even Top Golf turned a sport with no appeal to the common person into something that someone with zero golf experience can try out and compete compete against the others at their booth. The local golf pros tell me that after Top Golf goes in an area, that the golf pro business goes up 20-25%. And yet tournament waterskiing is losing participants every year.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • gt2003gt2003 Posts: 726 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    I used to shoot skeet . They had differing divisions based on ability. On a good day, I could break 85-90 out of 100 targets. Not bad for a guy who basically just did it to improve my hunting. But, I would never have competed if I had to shoot against the guys that consistently broke 98 or more out of 100. As I recall, at the beginning of each year you had to shoot maybe 300 targets as part of a "qualifying event" at a local club. You could shoot all 300 on the same day or at different events but you had to have 300 total. That would set your average and that's the "category" you shot in to start with. As you improved, you advanced up to the next division. Yes, there were always "sandbaggers" but after a tournament or two they had to move up. That made it fun to shoot with others of similar abilities. I'm not sure how it would work for slalom but maybe a >35 off division, >22 off division etc. I do like the idea of having head to head as the finals no matter what the division. That would be a great way to end the event.
    2014 HO TX
    1996 Malibu Echelon
  • aupatkingaupatking Posts: 1,821 Mega Baller
    edited May 2015
    How about we try to set up local tournaments and use resources on this forum, like @santangelo and @klindy. The format flexibility seems to be there within the current rules, it's just that most of us don't know or understand, or even know how to find the rules that would allow such formats.
    I would suggest AWSA move the contact "the competition department" to the top of the first page of the sanction events section. Start with the contact, and let the people who know what they are doing take it, to start with.
    Outside of that, like I said, there are a lot of very knowledgeable resources here that could help and know the rules.
  • skidawgskidawg Posts: 3,579 Mega Baller
    I didn't borrow the crit bike till after the time trial was over (wasn't planning on doing any of it) I did the crit to work for a few team mates and pull so the could have a shot at overall. (My placement was not reflective of my abilities. I was used up by the half way point, but i had a local guy place 2nd overall partly due to our help as a team
    NWA....Heaven on earth!
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