Twists. Spins. Even flips. Like a gymnast on the water, trick skiers combine cat-like agility with Herculean strength to perform as many different ticks as possible in two 20-second passes.
Trick skiing does not require a buoy course, ramp, or souped-up towboat, so kids of all ages can have fun on those squirrelly, slippery trick skis. Beginning trick skiers start by learning sideslides, or turning the ski sideways 90 degrees and sliding while skiing. Next come the 180- and 360-degree water turns. Then, you can jump the wake, and execute the turns while in mid-air. You can trick on a pair of skis or use just one single ski. Two skis are easier, but score lower points. Each trick has its own, predetermined point value, based on its degree of difficulty. If in the opinion of the judges, it was done properly and within the rules, the points are awarded to the tricker. The most difficult, and highest point value tricks, are wake flips and flips/twist combinations. MAKING IT COUNT The trick run begins when the skier begins her first trick past a designated course marker buoy. You may see practice tricks, and falls, occur outside the course, and the skier start over. In most tournaments, the skier is allowed one fall outside the course. But that’s it. From then on, it’s in the hands of the judges. The skier is credited with all properly performed tricks, up to a fall, or the 20-second horn.
Even though the skiers are moving as fast as they can, the boats aren’t. Each skier is allowed to designate his or her desired boat speed. And unlike slalom or jump, where the boat brand is assigned by random draw to each event, trick skiers may also choose any of the available boats to trick behind. Why? Because the wake table and shape play such a critical role in the skier’s ability to perform a trick, and it would be unreasonable to expect them to perform well behind an unfamiliar boat. Trick speeds can be anything, but generally range between 13 and 21 mph, depending on the skier’s size and skill.
Watch for smooth, fluid movements. Since there is a time limit, a skier who can quickly perform a lot of lower-point tricks may triumph over another who does high-point maneuvers, but loses time recovering from off-balance landings. Good tricking is beautiful to watch, and can be fully appreciated by even the uninitiated viewer. Just as in gymnastics, you don’t have to understand every nuance to recognize poetry in motion. The quiet event can be spectacular indeed.