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Accidental "Jim Michaels" course

WBLskierWBLskier Posts: 476 Baller
Until the post the other day I had never heard of the Jim Michaels scandal. That is crazy, but it made me laugh because a few years ago we accidentally had our ski buoys narrow on us. We ski a portable course but leave it in all year. Over time the floatation in the pvc was losing its buoyancy and slowly the pvc arm out to the skier buoy was sagging in the middle pulling the buoy in. Since it happened so slowly and we all ski on the same course only we didn't recognize what was happening, but man did we all keep getting better and better. What a good summer that was until we dropped a different portable course in and realized that we actually all still sucked at skiing. So if you are like us and use a portable course, don't forget to replace the internal floatation occasionally.


  • kmenardkmenard Posts: 158 Baller
    A guy I used to work with would come into work every day and brag about how much weight he was losing. This guy absolutely ate like crap. His idea of healthy was McDonalds pancakes. The fitness fanatic in the office was going crazy and was about to give up on eating healthy and exercising when the dinner food connoisseur came in dejected one morning. Apparently he gained all the weight back when he changed the batteries in his electronic scale.
  • DragoDrago Posts: 1,599 Mega Baller
    I was seriously considering quitting back when the prick doctor was setting these records.
    SR SL Judge & Driver (“a driver who is super late on the wheel and is out of sync”)
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,287 Mega Baller
    One of my ski buds, who skis in Big Dawgs called this way early on. He said there aint no f'n way some guy will come out of the blue and run easy 39's that no one has heard about. Several months later, the truth was revealed. It deserved a giant Panda!
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,808 Mega Baller
    As a kid I also skied an "accidental Dr. Jim" course. We had one of the first pvc-arm accufloats, but no real tournament skiers. We had no clue you're supposed to have sub-buoys to keep the arms straight. Adding in that my 70 hp Whaler would only go 32 mph (average; we pulled it way down of course), I was running -38 occasionally. At about age 19, I went to the Swiss Ski School thinking I was pretty good. After falling repeatedly at the 1 ball, I finally backed all the way down to 28 mph / -15 and ran a pass! By the end of the week, I had eeked out some 32/-15s.

    This was actually the start of my modern obsession. Once I realized how bad I actually was, and how much better it was possible to be, I was hooked!
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,287 Mega Baller
    I skied a course near Three Mile Island back in 1984 or 1985 on the river that was actually wider than spec. At the time I was sometimes running 32 off at 36 mph and could get a few at 35, and after skiing this course and working my tail off to make 28 off, I convinced the owner to measure it and we determined that they set the skier ball width from the gate width and used the gate width down the entire course.

    They thought it was too much work to change and left it that way. Whenever I stopped in to ski, I just knew it was going to be challenging, but it was fun anyway just getting on the water.
  • WBLskierWBLskier Posts: 476 Baller
    Do others use sub buoys on the PVC arms rather than internal floatation? I think ours uses
    Pipe insulation which takes on water over time. What do others use?
  • klindyklindy Posts: 2,545 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @WBLskier I've seen others use a plastic gallon milk jug which is about half filled with water. I suppose a half-gallon milk jug would work too but never tried.
    Keith Lindemulder
    AWSA Chairman of the Board
    AWSA Southern Region EVP
  • rfarfa Posts: 265 Baller
    We have the "mini-course" green buoys (10ft from the turn buoys)...they do double duty...learning the course and support the PVC arms
    Rui Afonso
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,808 Mega Baller
    We use empty 3/4 gallon jugs as sub-buoys tied as close to the arm as practical. But they have to be changed out somewhat regularly. We probably replace 1-2 every season because they either fail or get damaged. Sometimes a little water has to be added to them to get them to sit at the right height. (If using gallon jugs, then definitely always need a little water in them.)
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,287 Mega Baller
    We use mid-arm buoys and EVERY buoy on the course has the same length of line from the pipe to the buoy. If you want an accurate course, this is a must. It's a geometry thing if one pipe is level to the water line, and another one isn't. I guess I am just anal about it...
  • Ed_ObermeierEd_Obermeier Posts: 1,345 Crazy Baller
    A properly built floating course using PVC for the arms should have floatation built into its design and shouldn't require anything external such as a floating gallon jug etc.

    If it's a portable course there is (or should be) floatation foam in the center most section of each arm. If you leave a portable course arm in the water long term the foam will indeed eventually water log and will require periodic replacement. If the course goes in and out and dries out between uses that foam should last years without issue.

    On a permanently installed floater the easy fix is to use a section of the same PVC pipe the arms are built from to create a sealed air chamber. I.e. for 2" Sch 40 PVC we use a 4' section of the same pipe capped and sealed on both ends. Strap this sealed air chamber to the arm at the center point of the arm, halfway between the inner boat guide and the turn ball to keep the arm level in the water. Works like a charm. You can still add a mini course (novice balls), won't throw off the arms balance one way or the other.

    Ed @ EZ-Slalom
    Ed Obermeier - owner, EZ-Slalom Course Systems
  • swc5150swc5150 Posts: 2,432 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Once, during a total brain fart, I accidentally did not extend the buoy arms all the way out on our old Insta Slalom. It was the first day I "crushed" -32 like it was nothing. It was a great day until pulling the course and seeing what I had missed.
    Scott Calderwood
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,287 Mega Baller
    I like your idea Ed. If we didn't have so many beginners using the mini course, I would use it!

    Scott - that's as bad as using a non-switch rope with the switch. Done that! After a first round where everyone skied out of their minds, the freaking attorney in the group said we better measure the rope, and of course, it was too long... That was a bummer!
  • EdbrazilEdbrazil Posts: 1,396 Historical Baller

    When the Tour went to Hartford, CT to do a tournament on the Connecticut River circa 1997, they found earlier estimates from an inspection months before were off. Twice as deep as estimated, plus a current over 1mph. Bottom-anchored course attempted, but the Tour's top waterworker (former top swimmer who had gone to the Olympic tryouts back a few years) couldn't even do the job.

    Then they went to a floater with the "river current" adaption. Consisting of something like mason line guying out to the ends of the PVC arms. Appeared to work, until the first skier ran all the way through all the lineoff loops. Skiers were certain that the PVC arms weren't fully extended, and swam out to the course to inspect it.

    Upon returning, after a hard struggle against the current to get back to the dock, they reported that the current was bowing the arms into a 'U' so much that it narrowed the buoys a great deal. Somewhat surprising that the PVC didn't break (not then, anyway).

    Only a short part of the whole story about that event. Yet another river site nightmare.
  • KirtKirt Posts: 3 Baller
    I can't be the only one who did this, but a few years ago when the Switch ropes were just being used, I tried one out right at the end of the season and then forgot to add back in my Switch segment (18"?). Well that spring 28 off, my normal starting pass felt a little bit tougher then I recalled, but it's a long winter here in Michigan.

    My ski buddy was having no trouble with his 32s and 35s (using his boat and rope, we rarely use the same boat) and I was making my 32s but with a lot of effort and excitement and not having a hope at 35 (a pass which is my make or break pass still). This went on until mid July at our State competition, my first competition of that year.

    I went out at 28 like normal and was blown away how easy this course was. It must be the water, the boat, the site. Ran my 32 and got something at 35 (it was blowing pretty hard that day). I told my ski partner how amazing this course was. How narrow it seems. He didn't think it felt all that different. (He went on to win that year's Mens 3, it's good to have someone to train with that pushes you.)

    The next day we were in my boat, I was getting ready to ski and my buddy was looking for a towel and he discovered my "switch line" in the bow of the boat from last fall. 32s suddenly felt normal again. It's not a bad training technique. But it was awfully hard on the ego that spring.
  • EdbrazilEdbrazil Posts: 1,396 Historical Baller
    Similar to just above:
    This was at one of the Tour stops at a private lake in Arizona: Crystal Point Estates in Gilbert, AZ in 1993 or 1994. Nice site, and had room for the Tour's land setout before their full buildout. Anyway, the towline supplier furnished a line that had a leader part (handle to shortest loop) that was 1 meter too long. The company made a towline suitable for most all skiers/events which went to 38 off, and then a pro-level line that went to 41 off. Got provided some lines that mixed up the 38 off leader with the pro-level loops. Discovered before any competition while checking towlines, but for sure would have been discovered with the first skier.
    Glad to bid adieu to switch lines and SL switches.
  • MISkierMISkier Posts: 3,037 Mega Baller
    A switch rope mistake also happened in a Big Dawg qualifier. They were running two boats and skiers using one boat were always winning. There were suspicions about some inequality about half way through. Later, they discovered that boat's rope had a switch section and was basically 18" too long. They even had one skier take a shot at the current record and I think he might have beat it. In fact, I think that particular event caused them to measure the rope and discover the error. They had everyone using the inaccurate boat re-do their passes and the accurate boat's skiers retained their original scores. I don't remember all the results differences, but there were some. The real downer was for a local skier that smoked his PB and was really celebrating.
    The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.
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