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Would doing away with max speeds change slalom for the better?

JeffSurdejJeffSurdej Posts: 682 USAWS Official
edited September 2015 in Rules/Politics/Issues
With the recent discussion on B3 going 34mph it got me thinking...why do we force skiers to ski at a certain max speed period. Think about this...with zero based scoring starting at 15.5 mph the skiers with the most buoys wins so why not let skiers shorten the line before they get to their max speed. If I have a 14 year old boy not ready for 36 he could shorten at 34, he would be 6 buoys behind so it's not that much of an advantage. 3 @ [email protected] 34 would equal [email protected]@36. Whats the harm, if it will help kids stay in the sport. Then it got me thinking why not expand this across all divisions. If mens 3 want to go 36 let them and they get 6 more buoys. Why should AWSA dictate max speeds, let the skier do what best for them, maybe it will give shorter skiers some equalization, IDK. Food for thought. It would also let us combine the 4 million older age divisions that were created b/c skiers want a slower max speed, well with this it wouldn't matter, ski what speed you want, the zero based scoring will even it all out. Am I crazy? Jeff Surdej
AWSA President
HortonMattPjayskiRpc29gregyTexas6smalorThan_BogandchristmanescmanazecrashmanBrennanKMNBill22BlueSkiDragoAdamCordbojansSkoot1123WishMISkierjcampAustin BolgerelrIlivetoskiunksskisShakeskiGloersenJJVDMZN


  • jayskijayski Posts: 980 Mega Baller
    The only argument would be that a 6 buoy difference is applicable at longer lines but in the shorter lines it is too much of a spread, a guy running [email protected]/41 @36 mph is not going to run [email protected]/43 @34 mph, otherwise great idea and worth applying for the masses, perhaps a sliding scale as the rope gets shorter?
  • gregygregy Posts: 2,590 Mega Baller
    no your not crazy.
  • MattPMattP Posts: 6,229 Mega Baller
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,852 Mega Baller
    “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”
    ― Albert Einstein

    That may be a VERY good idea. The only "issue" I see (which could be called a feature) is:

    Background: I believe slower speeds would be more advantageous for longer-line skiers (e.g. 34/-22 is easier than 36/-15) but higher speeds would be more advantageous for very short line skiers (e.g. 36/-35 is a hair easier than 34/-38 in my opinion).

    So the "issue" is that skiers would ski at 34 (or slower) for such a long time that maybe they would then be very hesitant to change to 36 so late in their career??

    Btw, one thing I would definitely like to see as part of this idea is to allow people to do whatever progression they like and get credit for it. For example, 32/-22, 34/-22, 36/-22 should not score 60, 66, then leap to 84, but rather as 72, 78, 84.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,852 Mega Baller
    @jayski The great thing about this idea is that there is no need for a sliding scale. If you believe a pass that gets the same buoys is easier than a different one, then that's the one you pick! It doesn't matter if 36/-39 is easier than 34/-41 because everyone has the choice to ski whichever of those they prefer!
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • DragoDrago Posts: 1,605 Mega Baller
    @JeffSurdej This was one of the ideas I was going to forward to you via our Area Councilperson. Lots of kids. M2, M3,want to be at a different speed (some slower, some faster) so...let them!! Keep records where they are.
    Leigh Sheldrake
    SR SL Judge & Driver (“a driver who is super late on the wheel and is out of sync”)
  • nam1975nam1975 Posts: 148 Baller
    Heck yeah! +1 on the choice of progression too, let the skier pick how they get to their best/final score.
  • Bruce_ButterfieldBruce_Butterfield Posts: 1,820 Member of the BallOfSpray Hall Of Fame

    No you’re not crazy. We need change and new ideas should be discussed and evaluated.

    For speed changes within divisions, I do not think it’s a good idea. When you compare buoy count at different speeds, the rule of thumb is 6 buoys for every 2mph. But in reality the buoy count varies for each individual skier and certainly at both ends of line lengths (38-41) and slow speeds (below 30).

    For divisions like M3, I can see a lot of strategy to maximize scores. For example, if a 35 off skier can ski 8 buoys better at 34 than 36 he has an advantage. If a 39 off skier makes 1 more buoy at 34 than 36, it is definitely to his disadvantage to ski 34. Take it to another level, what if a skier can run 35 off at 34, but can run 41 at 30? (very hypothetical, but possible) That’s a 6 buoy advantage over an equally skilled skier at 34. So where is the “level playing field” that we need for competition?

    For the B3 situation, I think the benefit of 34 is over-stated and sets the bar lower for aspiring kids (really bad idea). For a kid on the border, it would be a good idea to work at 34 at the longer lines (15-28 off) as a prep for 36, but a kid at that level isn’t winning regionals or nationals, so he is better off with some variety in training.

    If my opinion is in the minority, and there is enough interest, it would be a good idea to have some tournaments with a rules exception and see how it plays out. Maybe my concerns will be proven wrong.

    For the 4 million older divisions with 2 participants each, yes, they need to be consolidated, but that’s a different topic.
    I'm Ancient. WTH do I know?
  • DragoDrago Posts: 1,605 Mega Baller
    @jayski my PB @36 was [email protected] without the slack rule, at 34 was 1-1/2 @41 with the slack rule. Others vary, but not much. If we are going to "think out of the box", we can't pick at too much detail.
    SR SL Judge & Driver (“a driver who is super late on the wheel and is out of sync”)
  • BlueSkiBlueSki Posts: 831 Mega Baller
    Very good idea, and the methodology allow for the free market to dictate what is easy and what is hard. As @Than_Bogan points out, if a skier thinks pass A is easier than pass B, A will be selected. I have heard more than one skier say that 22 off at higher speeds feels easier than 15 off. If that is the case, we are scoring incorrectly. Think of of all the cool data we could give to Than after a season if we have freedom in speed selection.
  • Bill22Bill22 Posts: 1,763 Mega Baller
    @Bruce_Butterfield the new rule could say each skier could opt down in speed but not more than 2 mph less than normal speed.
  • JohnNJohnN Posts: 129 Baller
    Interesting idea, and it should be much less complicated. I like that there is strategy involved, more than just deciding starting pass or opting up. A taller skier who typically has an advantage at shorter lines may choose a slower speed/shorter line where a shorter skier may choose a higher speed/longer line to get to the same buoy count. Kind of levels out the playing field... I could even see people changing their max speed based on the site or conditions. Communication with the boat crew would be essential - currently we know when to speed up and when to shorten, with a change to skier selected max speed it would be a little more challenging.
  • wtrskiorwtrskior Posts: 704 Crazy Baller
    As an m2 skier who has no desire to ski 36 I agree to a point.

    I talked to a novice skier recently who wanted to ski tournaments but he "trains" at 32 he said. His max speed is 36. He ran a few buoys at 28 off at 30 mph.

    Here is a kid who is just wanted to cut the rope. We all know 28 off at 30 is nothing like 28off at 34 or 36. Frankly this kid couldn't run 15 off at 34 for thr life of him.

    Are we doing him a service if he can ski shortline at very slow speeds? I personally don't think we are. I don't see thus kid skiing at a much higher level unless he gets comfortable with higher boat speeds.

    To me speed is about timing and time on the water. Shortening the line is about felling comfortable with the timing and speed and focusing on your technique as the rope gets shorter. One definitely comes before the other.

    The sport needs some new ideas like this but we have to stay focused on improving skiers abilities as well.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,854 Mega Baller
    When I saw this topic, I was expecting to read something about skiers wanting to ski at 38MPH or more... Any takers? Anyone?
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,854 Mega Baller
    Interesting ideas... What if the sliding buoy rule was limited such that:
    1) you can't shorten more than -28 under your normal max speed. In other words, once you shorten to -28, you have to stay there until you run your normal max speed. Only then you can continue to -32
    2) you can't get the sliding buoy benefit unless you are skiing within +/- 4 MPH your normal max. i.e. a young skier who chooses to start 15 MPH at -22 would score the same as LL until they get within 4 MPH of their normal max speed.

    This is such a catch 22. We want something new. However, new ideas need to be clearly defined to be truly proposed. Then that leads to lengthy rules, which we already complain about.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • socalskiersocalskier Posts: 62 Baller
    It is hard for me to understand how a 14 year old has to ski the same speed as a professional skier. It doesn't make sense. Something has to change. Retire the old records and let's make competition better for the young kids in this sport before there aren't any left. It's not about making it easier it is about making it fun and competitive.
  • BulldogBulldog Posts: 1,035 Crazy Baller
    The governing bodies of this sport really dont care about bringing in new people, it is a culture of my way or no way...
    Mike Loeffler - "Someone somewhere is having a real problem today...My bad skiing is NOT one of them"
  • DragoDrago Posts: 1,605 Mega Baller
    @Bulldog do you know who started this thread??
    SR SL Judge & Driver (“a driver who is super late on the wheel and is out of sync”)
  • MurrskiMurrski Posts: 190 Baller
    It's been said that height of skiers may dictate a skiers speed preference for some of the elite skiers and we've talked about speeds 30 - 36. Wonder if any super technical yet shorter skiers opt for 38mph? Could TW run [email protected] - the equivalent of a full pull at [email protected]? Hmm... tasty ideas out there. Imagine the ski manufactures challenge on the speed variation philosophy.
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 3,086 Mega Baller
    This topic is timely for me. I just decided to ski IM at a couple tournaments this year to post some 36 mph scores, since I started tournaments well after the time I could have competed in a division with that max speed. In doing so, I discovered something: I actually prefer to ski at 36 and ski with much better form at that speed. I have more fun and I can match my 34 mph shortest line length. Since I do not have an Open Rating, I ski in IM rather than OM. Plus, for my rankings, it looks like any IM scores are not used or are discounted by 6 buoys if they are used at 36 mph.

    I am not saying that I want to ski against 34 mph skiers at 36 mph, but I should be able to choose to ski at 36 and receive the correct scoring for that speed. And, I should be able to choose to do this without an Open Rating.

    Side note: I'm trying to adjust back to 34 mph for the last tournament of the season. It's not going well. I really just click with 36 mph better. I will probably ski several tournaments next year as IM, knowing full well that it will do nothing for my ranking or qualifications for Regionals or Nationals.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
  • EdbrazilEdbrazil Posts: 1,396 Historical Baller
    Referring to some notes above: Jeff Surdej is AWSA President, and a good M3 3-event skier.
    Age 14: Billy Spencer won Slalom at the Worlds when he was 14. Long while ago, of course.
    36 was always scary for me, but may have had a good bit to do with being on squirrelly skis.
    I improved about 2 passes when I graduated to Sr. Men and 34.
  • John BrooksJohn Brooks Posts: 367 Crazy Baller
    I really like the @JeffSurdej ideas and thoughts. I feel it makes perfect sense. I know some have mentioned, @wtrskior "Are we doing him a service if he can ski shortline at very slow speeds? I personally don't think we are. I don't see thus kid skiing at a much higher level unless he gets comfortable with higher boat speeds.

    To me speed is about timing and time on the water. Shortening the line is about felling comfortable with the timing and speed and focusing on your technique as the rope gets shorter. One definitely comes before the other.

    The sport needs some new ideas like this but we have to stay focused on improving skiers abilities as well."

    I think the service we are providing him is enjoyment, exercise, entertainment and having fun.

    I think the issue is implementing change, making it fun for all, regardless of level, finding new ways to bring more skiers, regardless of skill level into and stay in the sport. All of the skiers in a division cannot be competitive for the podium but if we continue to find ways for them to enjoy, we are on the right track. I have seen skiers, kids and adults, smile from ear to ear, just from running a pass, regardless of the fact that the speed is 23 mph. I stand on the starting dock with those skiers and they are just as charged up, maybe more, than the guy running 39 off. This sport is and can continue to be the "Fountain of Youth".
  • dislanddisland Posts: 1,455 Mega Baller
    Decent idea, The real problem is that there is no way IWWF will do this (the reasons are too many to list) so if we do it here in AWSA you have this big discrepancy in the rules. At the high end of the sport skiers want class L for international ranking list. So this rule would only be legal in Class E or C. That brings up all the issues for qualifications into Nationals, Junior US Open and Sr. Worlds.

    The risk is further bifurcation of the sport between the "casual" tournament skiers and the elite skiers. Note the BOS handicap tournament was changed to class L,, why????, my guess is without it you cant draw the elite skiers.
    Dave Island- Princeton Lakes
  • LeonLLeonL Posts: 2,417 Crazy Baller
    But why "L" for the qualifying rounds? I think it's a good idea allowing a "pick your speed". If this change is made, there should be no "normal" speed as some have mentioned. It's just whatever you want. I do see a real challenge for boat crews and scorers adjusting to this scenario, however. I know a lady who is a former narional champion who has stopped skiing tournaments because (W7) she hates skiing at 30mph. I've encouraged her to ski at 32 and take the 30 score, but (strangely enough) she feels that other competitors would be offended at her doing that. I told her that if they could ski better at 32 they'd be doing it, and they could if they chose to. So, this is a real world instance where such a rule change would keep a skier in the tournament scene.
    Leon Leonard Stillwater Lake KY - SR Driver SR Judge
    Austin Bolger
  • crashmancrashman Posts: 722 Crazy Baller
    It would be interesting to run this format as an experiment to see if it gets casual skiers who prefer to shorten before their max speed involved. I know several guys who shorten before max speed who figure tournaments to be a waste for that reason.
    slalom addiction triggering irrational behavior
  • jwroblewjwroblew Posts: 143 Baller
    I like the idea. I don't ski many tournaments a year but when I aged up to M3 I stopped skiing tournaments all together because I didn't want to go 34. 4 years later I started skiing tournaments again when my daughter started skiing them. If I could have kept skiing at 36 I probably would have kept skiing those 4 years.

    I also a agree that 38'@36mph isn't equivalent to 39'@34mph, but under this proposed rule I could chose whichever I think I can put a better score.

    Also I would think the better skiers would opt to run max speeds, so IWF ranking lists wouldn't change.
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,060 Mega Baller
    I like the idea. Let people ski at a speed that they enjoy and have fun. If they can be competitive at a tournament even better.

    How many events a year are L or R events? In the Eastern Region is is mostly regionals that is an L or R pretty much everything else I have skied in has been a class C anyway. I realize it may be different in other regions.
    Mark Shaffer
  • jayskijayski Posts: 980 Mega Baller
    @Drago are those PB's in a relevantly close time frame? like same year?
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