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Do we ski at tournaments or trials?

HortonHorton Posts: 30,790 Administrator
edited November 2016 in Rules/Politics/Issues
This is a little of a rehash of other threads but my phone rings a lot. In the last 24 hours I have gotten an earful from a few well know skiers about what water ski tournaments should and should not be. I am going to try to condense it all into a few snips.

Anecdote from skier we will call Lex:
Kid gets involved in BMX. Enters some races. Begs dad to come watch. When dad finally gets around to it he is astounded at how boring it is to watch and how unorganized it is. The dad goes out and buys trophies to give out for the next event. He also gets a Polaroid camera to take pictures of the kids with the trophies. Additionally he hires a DJ to play music during the competition. ½ the music old for the parents and ½ current music for the kids. Dad repeats this every event.

The top 3 or 5 kids win trophies and get pictures of themselves with the trophies to take to school the next week. Other kids want a trophy and within a month or so a lot more kids are practicing and competing. The local bike shop is seeing sales up. More and more kids are aspiring to win the trophies.

Lex was suggesting that simply chasing a piece of hardware might be a motivator for some skiers – mostly the kids. I am not sure it is the magic bullet to save the sport but it seems like an easy thing to do.

I think it would be pretty cool to win a 4 foot tall trophy.

Lex also makes the point that we usually don't even know how won a 3 round tournament. What place did any skier some in? I guess you know how you place in any round but beyond that who knows?

One thing I saw at the Centurion BallOfSpray Cash Prize Events is that everyone loves getting a check. I handed out checks this year for as much as $1,000 and as little as $7.41. The winners of the big check are a bit happier but the winners of those little checks are usually pretty darn entertained. It is a trophy either way. People love it. My take away from the Cash Prize events is that it is not rocket surgery to design a water ski event that is far superior to the normal tournament. I challenge every tournament organizer out there to add some sort of game on top of your basic event. DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

A skier we will call “Taco” made me think about the word “Trials”. Water ski tournaments were once competitions. In most of the country they are usually “Trials”. I think most of us already think about it this way but Taco defined it for me. If I am only going to try to get a score for the rankings list then it is a “trial” and not a competition. Most of us agree that a competition sounds more fun than a trial?

Skier we will call “Alvin” works in the industry. He tells me what I already know. Slalom ski sales have little to do with the size of USAWS membership. Ski sales are up at the same time that USAWS membership continues to shrink. Skiing is fun and standard tournaments are terribly boring.

All of this makes me think I need reconsider the value of the team concept. Not that it fits with the above talk about trophies but that it is an additional motivator. @JeffSurdej you have me thinking....

Does anyone know anyone in the trophy business? If so, have them contact me. I have a proposal for them that they cannot reject.

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  • RazorRoss3RazorRoss3 Posts: 1,384 Mega Baller
    I think teams could be really big, could distribute boat costs across a wider base making then more affordable and the team atmosphere of a college event is great if you could bring that to AWSA

    No doubt class C tournaments and in my case almost every tournament is a trial. As I've said, 8 haven't seen another M1 skier all year except at an alumni tournament in Iowa and a record in Austin.

    Definitely agree that even winning one of the small checks at your events is pretty fun, ever since I won in '15 I've been bragging that I've won money skiing. I always follow up with I haven't made any but that was never going to happen.
  • HortonHorton Posts: 30,790 Administrator

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  • HortonHorton Posts: 30,790 Administrator
    What do I have to do to win THIS

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  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 3,221 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @Horton "Rocket surgery?"
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • wtrskiorwtrskior Posts: 704 Crazy Baller
    Just got my silver place medal in thr mail from regionals. The kids all get there's and a podium photo at the event. Participation is down in my area and it has zero to do with there ever being a lack of trophies.

    It is important but hardly a magic bullet to increased participation.

    I'm surprised there are events where there aren't ribbons/medals/trophies for youth at your events
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,749 Mega Baller
    As a kid I thought ski trophy's were cool. In one of our moves they didn't come with us cuz it wasn't important to me anymore. I'll take a PB or close to it any day over a win with a sub par score. Tough to say but it may be a big deal on the youth side.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • dchristmandchristman Posts: 1,291 Mega Baller
    Now that's a trophy!
    Is it time to ski, yet?
  • RichardDoaneRichardDoane Posts: 4,618 Mega Baller
    Broho event in June hands a huge trophy to the H2H winner plus inscribes their name on another that lives in the clubhouse. One of these days it's gonna say "ZipZapPaddyWhack"
    BallOfSpray Pacific Northwest Vice President of Event Management, aka "Zappy"
  • Mateo_VargasMateo_Vargas Posts: 917 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Sounds like Lex is getting more kids involved so his kids have more kids to beat. He is also hoping that his Polariod stock goes up.
    Success is failure that just hasn't happened yet
  • santangelosantangelo Posts: 192 Solid Baller
    I agree in the concept of competition vs trials. Most tournament are trials, or what I would call qualifiers where you are trying to achieve a goal for future 'competitive' tournaments or simply trying to gauge your progress under controlled conditions.

    Ask anyone that has been in a 'competitive' tournament like States, Regionals, or Nationals and has been in a run-off. Those moments stand out as the most fun you can have at a tournament, win or lose. It's more 'me against you' than anything we have in water skiing. It's the same concept as structured head to head formats such as the Big Dawg series which has made it so popular.

    The point is, there is a structure in place to bring about the competitive environment with a reward at the end. Changing the aggregate of skiers from age based to ability based does not solve this problem alone.
  • Mateo_VargasMateo_Vargas Posts: 917 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    If you are in front of a judge it's a trial.
    Success is failure that just hasn't happened yet
  • LeonLLeonL Posts: 2,519 Crazy Baller
    Qualifier better suits the situation. As @santangelo said, there's nothing like a runoff. I was in my first runoff this past Regionals and it was great. I had always loved to watch runoffs, and always wanted to be involved, for the fun, and it also means you may well podium.
    Leon Leonard Stillwater Lake KY - SR Driver SR Judge
  • dave2balldave2ball Posts: 833 Crazy Baller
    @Mateo Vargas sounds like you have a lot of experance with trials. LOL
  • Jody_SealJody_Seal Posts: 3,354 Mega Baller
    I skied 8 event's in 2016 where two of them were competition (Florida State and southern regional championships) the other 6 were nothing more then a trials type event. No medals no podium no nothing except skiing against the list! Even our own Florida State championship ( except juniors) was just another day at the lake as age group winners had to chase down their medals at the club house as there was not a official podium presentation after each event.
    For the most part it is a trials type of sport when we do the weekend tournament thing.
    Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

  • Wow!! "Trial skiing" sounds so boring!! No wonder the amateur scene is dwindling, the more I learn about class C tournaments the less I am interested to start competing. Unless your skiing to be ranked in the top 100 or so, you should be skiing to win some kind something!! Anything that says "I won"
  • Jody_SealJody_Seal Posts: 3,354 Mega Baller
    If one goes to the poll currently running on this subject one will find majority are about scoring against them selves as a priority and competition against others a secondary.
    Pretty much sums up the current mind set that I see at the events I go to and these are Class c on up to the class REL level. The second in the poll is the skier that wants true ability based competition and a true "Tournament" at the weekend events. One issue is that we run one set of rules with the "tournament" ideology even when the majority have the Trials / self improvement ideology in their participation of the sport.

    We truly are at a Cross roads in ideology and the sports implementation at the competition level. Currently at the AWSA Board level there is much talk about what to do with the National championship or the lack of a site for the 2017 season. lots of constructive E-mails being passed but for the most part of Elitist direction and not considering the lack of membership growth in the discussions.

    The Winter State, Regional and National meetings are soon upon us. Please contact your counsel person or attend these meetings and participate in these conversations, share your thoughts and concerns.
    Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

    WishRalph Lee
  • WishWish Posts: 8,295 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited November 2016
    One of my favorites, A plaque lazer engraved in 1990. Cannot be all that expensive to do this these days. Looks even better in person. Anyone remember the Novice devision that was ability based?. Was a BIG deal to ski out of Novice and into regular age based competition. Never understood why that was abolished. The newbie always had a chance. Then when they got good enough and set a bench mark predefined score, they were bumped into age devisions. And by then, could possibly be competitive by age.

    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,231
    edited November 2016
    When is the last time your lake had a new skier that wasn't somehow connected to skiing show up at your tournament? We had 4 new racers at our BMX track today that signed up on site for USA BMX memberships. 3 of them walked away with trophies. That makes over 20 new members we've signed up in the last 6 weeks. How many lakes have signed up 20 new memberships in a year, even? Hell, even I won my class today and treated myself to a couple of fat margaritas to celebrate.

    Waterskiing has an identity crisis. I think Horton is asking a valid question here. The results of Horton's poll on tournaments suprised me. There's a considerable contingent which are fine with tournaments being trials type events.

    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • @BoneHead 20 new members in one year may cause an uprising at the lake I ski...
  • Texas6Texas6 Posts: 2,197
    I'd be curious wha the breakdown in fall off is between three event versus the pure slalom competitor.
    Daryn Dean - Lakes of Katy, TX
    ***Robbed out of Hundreds of Panda Worthy Posts***
  • Jody_SealJody_Seal Posts: 3,354 Mega Baller
    I can shed some light:
    Slalom single event members of AWSA make up over 60% of total membership (probably closer to 70%) .
    At the 2016 US Nationals ( And by the way probably the best Nat's I have attended ever)
    there were just shy of 600 entry's. Nearly Half of those entry's were Slalom single event skier's.
    Of the 2016 national qualified overall or multiple event skiers nearly or over 60% attended the Nationals.
    Of the 2016 National qualified Single event slalom skiers less then 30% attended the national event.
    These numbers are a little loose but with out going into my e-mail and pulling them up they are close.
    Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

  • Texas6Texas6 Posts: 2,197
    Good data @Jody_Seal thank you! How about the fall off in memberships in general? Roughly? Or asked differently, of the new memberships, how does the three event vs slalom only new membership volume compare? These questions are a bit loaded, although I don't actually know the breakdown, just a hunch.
    Daryn Dean - Lakes of Katy, TX
    ***Robbed out of Hundreds of Panda Worthy Posts***
  • @BoneHead when you ride BMX in practice, do you compare your exhilaration, your heart rate, your endorphins to a real race? I've competed in many amateur sports and slalom skiing is the only sport I can go home completely satisfied from a practice set. Above all other things, the number one reason I don't "compete" is I can attain total euphoria from getting into shoreline with only my wife and the birds witnessing.
  • Short line
  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,231
    Ralph Lee, that's actually awesome. I get what you're saying. But this discussion is about tournaments and competition. If you can be completely satisfed in that way, awesome! That actually is a hell of a lot cheaper and easier! lol.

    And the answer is, I'm completely jazzed when I get something new on the track in practice. Friday I took 20 shots at the first jump at this track before I finally got it. And when I did, I could repeat it. Then yesterday I went to a new track that has a very similar jump and was able to cleanly take it like at my training track. It was way cool for a nationally ranked teenager to tell me "You're getting pretty fast for an old guy." lol. But still, it was even more awesome to go out and win my race class, leading from the time the gate dropped to when I crossed the finishline.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

    Ralph Lee
  • HortonHorton Posts: 30,790 Administrator
    @Ralph Lee i have the exact opposite experience. Everyday practice is challenging but work. Good practice days are nice. Big tournament scores are the only real payoff.

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  • @horton Id like to share your enthusiasm for the tournament scene. There's a few of us out there capable of competing that are itching to be drawn in. BOS cash prize, especially if there's a few pros is enticing! Trial skiing is not.
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