Waterskiing is one of the toughest individual sports on the body. In just 16 seconds a slalom skier will accelerate to speeds exceeding 70mph behind the boat, decelerate to under 25mph to make a sharp turn and do it again....6 times! Skiing demands cardio, strength and technique and is one of the most unforgiving sport disciplines out there. If you make a single mistake...you could end up in the drink! Which means you’re DONE. One little bobble and it is game over. All of these elements combined make for a very intense competition where anyone could win on any given day!
Slalom: Slalom skiers must go through the gates (two orange buoys at each end of the course) and then successfully ski around all 6 buoys (3 on each side) without missing or falling. This is called a pass. Women have a maximum speed of 34mph and the men go 36mph. After a skier makes a successful pass at their maximum speed, the rope is shortened by pre-determined line lengths. A rope initially starts out as 75’ and from there sections are removed to make it more and more difficult to go around all the buoys. The faster the speed and the shorter the rope, the harder it is to complete! After every successful pass, the rope is shortened a few feet more. Eventually it gets too hard and the skier cannot make all 6 buoys and misses or falls, ending their turn. Whoever gets the most buoys at the shortest line length wins! If a skier falls around a buoy, it is scored as a 1/2 of a buoy or sometimes even a 1/4! So you will often skiers throwing their bodies out to get a piece of their ski around a buoy. Every little piece counts and can make a difference of making the finals cut or even a podium placement. Skiers definitely leave it all out on the water, sacrificing their bodies for just a piece of a buoy!
Jump: Jumpers are some of the most extreme and crazy skiers out there! During competition, a jumper will have three attempts to go over the ramp and jump as far as they can go. The best jump of their 3 attempts is their score. Whoever goes the furthest wins! Technology and equipment used allows us to be very accurate with the jump measurements. Down to the 10th of a meter! Since just the best score of the three jump attempts counts you will often see a jumper “pass” or “balk” meaning they took a cut at the ramp and realized it wasn’t what they wanted for whatever reason. Maybe they were too late, out of position, their timing was off or they just weren’t comfortable. This scores as a ‘0’ but still counts for one of the three attempts. If a jumper takes a jump and doesn’t land it, ski away or crashes, it also counts as one of the three attempts and is ore as a ‘0’.
How the Malibu Open Competition Works
The Malibu Open is a professional event comprised of 4 single elimination rounds. The prelims, semis, and finals with 4 people in a head-to-head scenario. The head-to-head is an exciting and fun format to watch. That is when skiers are paired up based on their earlier round performance and have to face off on the water as a single elimination show down! The first skier of the pair will go out and run their first pass and the second skier must match it. Whenever the first skier misses, the second skier must do better (even by just a 1/4 of a buoy) to win or advance to the next round. Please see the list of competitiors and the brackets below. You may also print out a “score” card HERE to bring with you and use at the event. At the end of the prelim day, if you turn in a filled out card with your guess of who will win the finals and with what score you could win an iPad!
Brief History Lesson
Competitive waterskiing is part of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and is represented around the world with federations in more than 44 countries. The Malibu Open will be hosting athletes from more than 33 countries! The Professional Waterski Circuit has more than 22 money-winning events around the world every year allowing these guys an opportunity to make a living while traveling to Indonesia, Russia, The US, Chile, Australia, South Africa and more---just this season!
Traditional waterskiing involves 3 events. Slalom (where skiers go around 6 buoys in a course on a single ski) Trick (skiers get two 20 second passes to perform flips, 360s, 540s and jump over the line on small single skis to earn points for their tricks) and Jump (skiers generate their own speed and momentum by pulling out to the side of a boat and then whipping themselves into a 5.5’ or 6’ fiberglass ramp at speeds exceeding 70mph on two skis to see how far they can go. The current World Record for Men is 241 feet!
Download and print out this scorecard, fill it out and win prizes!
Win an iPad Mini!
The rules of the iPad Mini game!
The organization that puts on the Malibu Open!
Cool pics, articles and videos!
Governing body for USA waterski organization.
News aggregate and forum for all things waterski!