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What's so hard about slalom for guys in Men 8 and above ?

swbcaswbca Posts: 126 Baller
edited December 2020 in Technique & Theory
Looking at record-setting scores, and National tournament qualifying scores, the slalom performance levels taper off significantly for the 'senior' age divisions but I don't know what age related deficits cause the greatest problems. At glance it seems Men9 performances are about 4 passes lower difficulty than Men3 performances in 1985.

I am preparing to resume competitive skiing at age 75. My last tournament was at age 40. With no experience with competitive skiing at this age, I don't know which age deficit causes the greatest decline and which deficit the least decline in slalom performance. This would vary by individual but there must be some generalizations that are true.

The lifetime snow skiers my age ski just as well as they did when they were 40 - they are good in powder but stay away from steep mogul runs. Obviously slalom water skiing has a large strength component that snow skiing doesn't have, but otherwise it seems similar . . . applying skills with relatively static body position. A separate subject . . I am imagine that trick skiers have a greater challenge. Their body positions are very dynamic and require high levels of quickness, balance and flexibility.

By next July I will probably know some answers, but would like to prepare with training that may possibly help.

Any feedback from some senior type skiers who have been at it for years would be appreciated.



  • OldkierOldkier Posts: 44 Baller
    One of my ski buddies is 78 and he bought his first ski boat this year a 1998 Response lx and we can't keep him off the water. He is skiing into 32 off almost everytime out. He's never been in a tournament but this just might be the year!
  • GloersenGloersen Posts: 1,074 Mega Baller
    declines in balance, flexibility, quickness; the greatest deficits with aging imo.

    If each could be quantitatively measured - balance likely the greatest in decline, but perhaps the attribute most likely improved with balance training, followed by flexibility training; albeit calcified ligaments and tendons don't gain much flex (outside of a well-timed OTF now and then to break up the spine calcifications).

    Also, suspect the relative forces endured in the aging skier increase (F=mass x acceleration) increase from greater delta V's as a consequence of the above declination.
  • dbutcherdbutcher Posts: 456 Crazy Baller
    A successful pass at 30mph scores 12 buoys less than the same line length successful pass at 34mph. That explains 12 buoys or 2 passes. The other 2 passes of the reduction are no doubt caused by old age, but specifically what is hard to say.
  • swbcaswbca Posts: 126 Baller
    edited December 2020
    I am not up to date on buoy counting, so I was just counting the pass difficulty differential between a run at 38 off/34 versus a run at 35 off/30. I believe that approximates the high level performances in Men3 and Men 9. That's 4 steps difference in difficulty. 3 steps in speed + 1 step in rope length. However you look at it, there seems to be a big difference between being age 40 versus 75. I am doing a lot of weight training now and anxious to see what happens after about 6 weeks in a course next summer.
  • dbutcherdbutcher Posts: 456 Crazy Baller
    You can still get into and even run -38 at 30mph. Enjoying skiing is what is important - w/o regard to line length, score, or age.
  • swbcaswbca Posts: 126 Baller
    edited December 2020
    @ dbutcher My original question was an attempt to understand which factors in age that cause the performance differences, then try learn how to improve those deficits if possible. A big part of my enjoyment of water skiing and other competitive sports is brain storming every possible thing I can do to do it better. Addressing age related things is just another set of variables to figure out how to do my best. Of all the crazy memories, Warren Witherell got me and a bunch of other local skiers into endless ski tuning when we were teenagers. Every time you touch the ski it got worse or better, sort of like gambling.
  • RichardDoaneRichardDoane Posts: 4,544 Mega Baller
    Add a vinyasa flow yoga class to your regime, strength, flexibility, and balance training all in the same program
    BallOfSpray Pacific Northwest Vice President of Event Management, aka "Zappy"
  • dvskierdvskier Posts: 696 Crazy Baller
    Tai chi is very good for balance and agility. Most senior enters offer classes, very convenient and time efficient. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to gain massive improvements.
  • david_skidavid_ski Posts: 121 Baller
    I had an eye injury at the beginning of this season (not related to skiing). When I got medical clearance to be back on the water, I decided that I was going to spend the season at 32mph to take things a little easier and not push the limits. Next year I will age up into M7.

    My average scores this year have been about the same [email protected]@32mph vs [email protected]@34mph. The slower speed for the full season has allowed me to focus on fine tuning my techniques at shorter line lengths.

    My best scores were 10 years ago when I got to [email protected]@34mph a couple of times. I do feel that for me with age the reflexes get slower. I have to work harder each year to get into shape. My core strength is not what it was 10 years ago, and that too is part of the equation.
  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 3,075 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @david_ski If you have to work harder each year to get into shape, why let yourself get out of shape in the first place?
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • david_skidavid_ski Posts: 121 Baller
    @lpskier Winter Hibernation and get the need to get projects done at the house during the off season. Our lake closes from Dec 1-March 1 in NorCal. This year my plan is to ski at least 3 times a month at other local ski lakes that are open to stay in shape. So that March is not spent building the core back.

    In general it takes more effort to keep the core strength up as one gets older whether is is on the bike or the ski.
  • JackQJackQ Posts: 397 Open or Level 9 Skier
    Though I am only a young pup of 66 in Mens7, but I imagine the hardest part is staying healthy into your late 70s. It all sounds easy until get there.
  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 3,075 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @david_ski You and I are the same age. Although I live in Florida now, I used to be a New Yawker. I got in the habit of hitting the gym November to May each year and still keep at it. It’s not skiing but will keep you strong in the off season and will help you avoid injuries on the water.
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • ZmanZman Posts: 1,734 Mega Baller
    What @JackQ said for sure (I'm also 'just' 66). Jack, I also like your tee shirt that goes something like this...
    "Inside every old guy is a young guy asking, what the hell happened?".
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,562 Mega Baller
    So few people in any sport can continue aged at an advanced level...or sometimes any level. Skiing is physically demanding with a relatively high injury potential. The number of folks who continue win national titles due to attrition of their competitors and their ability to keep chugging.
    Keep chugging if you can--mad respect to aging skiers who can still get it done. Jeff Wiswall I think was his name at skiwatch tourneys in Florida--skied a lot better than his hearing---but really was getting into 38 at 32 mph I think it was? Remarkable.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • sltrjusltrju Posts: 9 Baller
    There is, as shown in the other posts, lots of reasons for the decline of men 8 and men 9 skiers performances. One is the fact that we have less skiers in the these divisions. Another is lower boat speeds are not always beneficial.. The top skiers in these divisions can still ski into 35 and 38 off at 30 and 32 MPH, and some would say they could ski the same or better at higher speeds. I think you will find the divisions are very competitive when you have so few skiers- I'm impressed with those at the top. No doubt it is harder for these skiers to stay in shape, keep improving and break bad habits than when they were younger. Personally, mental reaction affects me the most. Because of that 30 MPH ended up being a benefit even though I initially found it harder and didn't like it. I suspect there are bigger/heavier skiers who found it extremely difficult to adjust and ski at that speed.
    If you compare, current performances in Men's 8 and Men's 9 to 5 or 10 years ago, I think you will see that we now have more skiers with high scores.
    It would be interesting to hear your thoughts after you make your comeback. I wish you well and assure you the older divisions need skiers.
  • DaveDDaveD Posts: 952 Mega Baller
    @6balls I'm waiting on that attrition to be competitive enough to ski Nationals. I modelled the drop in performance of the top skiers in my age group and figure I'll get to Nationals when I turn 108. That's assuming I don't see the same drop in performance.
  • thagerthager Posts: 5,140 Mega Baller
    Also factor in as we grow older that some of us die because we want to!
    Stir vigorously then leave!
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