USA Water Ski & Wake Sports



Three-Event (Slalom, Tricks & Jumping) Water Skiing Background

Slalom, tricks and jumping are the three events of traditional water skiing that make up the oldest and most original discipline of water skiing.

The slalom event is performed on one ski by an athlete attempting to negotiate his way around the outside of six buoys in a zigzag course without falling or missing a buoy in consecutive passes. An athlete receives one point for each buoy that he successfully rounds. The athlete who skis around the most buoys and scores the most points, wins the event.

Each athlete begins with a 23-meter (75-foot) slalom rope at the minimum boat speed for his age/gender division. Once an athlete has run enough passes to reach maximum boat speed for his division, the rope is shortened in pre-measured lengths until he misses a buoy or falls.

The tricks event has been described as the most technical of the three events. Beginners perform this event on two short skis, and intermediate to elite athletes perform on one short ski. An athlete attempts to perform as many tricks as he or she can during two 20-second passes. Each trick has an assigned point value and an athlete may perform each trick only once. The athlete who earns the most points wins the event.

Tricks are performed either with an athlete's foot slipped into a strap attached to the handle, called toehold tricks, or with the handle held in the athlete's hands.

The object of the jumping event is for an athlete to jump as far as he can. There are no style points. Just pop off of the ramp and fly!

Each athlete has three attempts to jump as far as he can. In each age/gender division, there is a set boat speed and the ramp height is set at five feet (1.5 meters) in most divisions. However, elite women jump at a ramp height of 5-1/2 feet (1.6 meters) and elite men jump at six feet (1.8 meters).

Although most jump distances for the average male and female range between 80 and 170 feet (24 and 52 meters), the Men's world record is 254 feet/77.4 meters.

Age Divisions — Divisions of Competition and Performance Rankings

Competition in traditional three-event skiing is based on age and sex (see list). The Open Division is divided into men and women and has no age requirement. There is no distinction between amateurs and professionals. Competition for the three major events shall be separated into the following divisions as determined by the contestant's age. The "ski year" shall begin on the day after the conclusion of the Nationals, and shall end on the final day of the following Nationals. The contestant's age on December 31 of the ski year shall determine his or her division for the entire ski year. For example, if a skier's birthday within the "ski year" could result in an age division change and his or her birthday is between the day after the conclusion of Nationals and Dec. 31 inclusive of that "ski year," he or she will ski in the older division, beginning the day after Nationals. Otherwise, he or she will remain in the younger division for one more season concluding with the end of the following Nationals.

  • Boys and Girls 1 -- 9 years and under*
  • Boys and Girls 2 -- 11 years and under
  • Boys and Girls 3 -- 13 years and under
  • Boys and Girls 4 -- 15 years and under
  • Boys and Girls 5 -- 17 years and under
  • Men and Women 1 -- 18-24 years inclusive
  • Men and Women 2 -- 25-34 years inclusive
  • Men and Women 3 -- 35-44 years inclusive
  • Men and Women 4 -- 45-54 years inclusive
  • Men and Women 5 -- 55-59 years inclusive
  • Men and Women 6 -- 60-64 years inclusive
  • Men and Women 7 -- 65-69 years inclusive
  • Men and Women 8 -- 70-74 years inclusive
  • Men and Women 9 -- 75-79 years inclusive
  • Men and Women 10 -- 80-84 years inclusive
  • Men and Women 11 -- 85 years and over
  • Masters Men and Women -- 35 years and over
  • Open Men and Women -- any age

* This is an optional division established to give youngsters an introduction to the basics of competitive skiing. Skiers compete only in the slalom and tricks events.