Over the last month, I've been involved with tournaments and a clinic that has shown a little of the future of water skiing (at least in my area).
At the beginning of June, there was the well-attended Spartan Buoy Bash tournament of primarily collegiate skiers (35 skiers total). The tournament director was the Men's captain of the Michigan State University Water Ski team and several of the collegiate skiers were drivers, judges, scorers, and a safety. He did an impressive job. It was very well-run and successful. I enjoyed participating as both an official and a skier and found only positive experiences throughout the day. Great attitudes, great skiing, and actual fun.
In mid-June, Michigan Water Ski Association held a drivers' clinic and some collegiate skiers attended to get their driver's ratings in 3 event. They were very capable and were focused on the importance of safety, good driving, and the responsibility of being an official. It's important to note that they were already multi-discipline judges and weren't just pursuing a driver rating first, but adding to their versatility as an official.
Just over the weekend, the water ski portion of the State Games of America tournament was held. 35 skiers attended. 11 were collegiate and 7 were younger than collegiate. As I mentioned in another thread, several of the collegiate skiers were performing practical requirements to pursue their judging. A lot of great skiing occurred, even as the wind conditions deteriorated for Slalom. The collegiate Women were the most impressive to me. They had the poorest conditions in both rounds and put up very good scores when many veterans were missing their openers. Across the board, I saw a great enthusiasm for the sport and the willingness to take on the challenge for the fun of it - everyone who attended knew the forecast would be less than stellar and they came to throw down and see what they could do.
One item of note: both the Spartan Buoy Bash and State Games of America had more than just Slalom. They both had the Trick event and the State Games of America also had Jump. When I was commenting to another official on the turnout of younger skiers, he said that the 3 event format was a better draw for them than just Slalom. I hadn't given that much thought until then. I think the format of the competition, part of a larger multi-sport convention for the summer, may also have had some influence. Medals for the State Games were awarded. Either way, there was good participation.
Water Skiing still has a bright future. I've met some of the leaders. Let's help them when we can.
The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.