USAWSWS Today unveiled its latest initiatives to reinvigorate the sport and grow its membership. The organization has spent the last year re-imagining the sport and this time they believe they've nailed it.
The first exciting change is the new iBoard and bfBoard disciplines. A cross between trick skiing and wakeboarding, "x"Boarding is intended to bridge the deep divide between traditional 3-event skiing and wakeboarding. The disciplines will appear in both 3-event (now renamed "5-event")
and wakeboarding (renamed "3-event") sanctioned competitions. The iBoard event was initially trialed as an NCWSA event and was a huge success with the collegiate crowd. Erika Lang, a cross-over prodigy, currently dominates the iBoarding event. Because of its versatile configuration, the iBoard is expected to eventually find its place in all of the USAWSWS sports divisions. A hydrofoil attachment is already available for the iBoard.
BfBoarding is attracting some of the heavier skiers to the tricks discipline. Many of these larger skiers wrote off tricks in the past because existing skis were just too small for them to compete effectively with smaller skiers. Now they will have their own event.
Both iBoarding and bfBoarding events will be a 1-pass format to provide a natural transition from the collegiate ranks. The USAWSWS also reasoned that the bfBoarders just didn't have enough tricks to fill 2 passes without repeats. One pass will be a huge relief to the competitors and spectators alike. In an effort to generate media appeal and attract cross-over wakeboarders, trick names for both events will be in the style of wakeboarding. Toe turns are not allowed. Trick skiing will be renamed sBoard and its existing 2-pass format retained.
New Division Structure
The second change this year is the introduction of weight divisions to AWSA. Although the concept of same-size-ski-for-all has be tried by manufacturers in the past, it was never successful due to performance anomalies experienced by skiers of different weights. Weight divisions are intended to remediate this issue, allowing ski companies to reduce the number of ski sizes they have to manufacture to one. Production costs are expected to drop, allowing vendors to lower ski prices, and in turn attract more skiers with a lower cost to entry barrier. A supporting AWSA rule change will require skis to have a specific surface area for each of the 5 events. Scot Chipman, Utah State Water Ski President, exclaimed, "I've been pushing for this kind of change for years. It's about time!". Skier's weight will be recorded one week after nationals and that weight will be used throughout the season ending at the last day of the following Nationals.
In consideration of ski manufacturing cycles, the introduction of weight divisions will be staged over the next three years. Tricks will transition first in 2018. In addition to weight divisions, the trick event will expand into 3 disciplines - sBoard, iBoard, and bfBoard. Each of these disciplines will be divided into three weight divisions - small (50-125lbs), medium (126-175lbs), and lard (176-250lbs). Jumping changes will follow in 2019 with 2 weight divisions, small (50-150lbs) and large (151-250lbs). Slalom weight divisions are slated for 2020. Four weight divisions are anticipated - small (50-100lbs), medium (101-150lbs), large (151-200lbs), XL (201-250lbs). Anyone falling outside of the weight divisions is advised to adjust as necessary.
Is it time to ski, yet?