Water Skiers With Disabilities Association
Frequently Asked Questions About The Disabled
What events are there?
Slalom, Audio Slalom, Tricks and Jumping
What is Slalom?
In the slalom event the skier must go around six buoys that are
staggered the length of a 259-meter (850-foot) long course while
the boat runs down the middle of the course. Each time the skier
successfully completes the course, the boat speed is increased by
3 kph (2 mph) until reaching the maximum speed of 55 kph (34 mph)
for women and 58 kph (36 mph) for men. After reaching the maximum
speed, the skier’s rope length of 18.25m (60’) is shortened by
pre-determined increments each successful pass. The skier
continues until he or she falls or does not go around a buoy.
What is Audio Slalom?
Audio Slalom was designed for individuals with visual impairments
to create an event similar to slalom as described above. The
difference is that the skier turns at the sound of a tone rather
than turning around a buoy. The tone is produced by the Audio
Slalom Signal Generator (ASSG). The ASSG measures the angle of the
rope in relation to the boat path and sounds a tone when the skier
has pulled far enough to the outside to simulate a turn around a
What is tricks skiing?
Trick skiing entails skiing on a short flat bottomed ski that
allows the skier to turn sideways to the boat (known as a “side
slide”) or ski facing away from the boat (the “180 trick” is
called a “front to back” or ”back to front”). Combinations of
these moves can be linked together to perform a variety of tricks
with multiple turns both on the surface behind the boat or in the
air using the wake as a take-off point.
Can I use a wakeboard as a tricks ski?
Most sit skiers and a few of the stand-up skiers use wakeboards as
a tricks ski. This is allowed in disabled rules. However, in order
for the skiers to get full credit for the trick his or her ski
can’t be any wider than 30 percent of its length. For example, if
a board is 52 inches long it cannot be over 15.6 inches wide
(52x.30=15.6). Furthermore, a fin cannot be used.
What is Jumping?
In the jumping event, the skier skis over a ramp and tries to go
the farthest possible in the air and ski away. The ramp is 14 feet
wide by 22 feet long. The height of the ramp can be set at 1 meter
(3.3’), 1.25m (4’), or 1.5m (5’) and is selected by the skier.
What type of disabilities do people have who compete and whom do I
A variety of physical disabilities are represented at the national
championships. Competition is organized into different
“categories” so individuals with similar disabilities compete
against one another. An athlete is placed in a category as
determined by a “classification” process. Classification is
available and mandatory at the national championships and is
typically offered on the day before competition begins.
The different categories for water skiing are:
-Arm (A): Skiers with any arm disability preventing him or her
from using the disabled limb.
-Leg (L): Single leg amputees or single leg disabilities skiing on
-Leg with Prosthesis (LP): Leg amputees skiing with prosthesis.
-Multiple Plegics (MP): Skiers that ski sitting down. Paraplegics,
quadriplegics, and double leg amputees comprise the largest number
of MP skiers. There are three categories of MP skiers (MP1, MP2
and MP3). General guidelines are as follows:
MP1: Athletes unable to utilise the majority of their trunk
musculature and rise from their knees without arm support. They
lack full use of their upper extremities. Typically, they do not
have adequate grip strength and may utilize their forearms or
wrists to hold the handle. This division is comprised mostly of
MP2: Athletes able to use their upper trunk muscles and raise
their body partially from their knees in the skiing position.
Typically, they have full use of their upper extremities. This
division is comprised mostly of paraplegics, with breaks above
T-10 that have poor balance.
MP3: Athletes with good use of the majority of their trunk
muscles, possibly including abdominals. Typically, they are able
to raise their trunk from their knees in the skiing position and
have full use of their upper extremities. This division is
comprised mainly of double leg amputees and paraplegics with
complete breaks lower than T-12.
-Vision Impaired (VI): Skiers with vision impairments shall be
classified as follows, using the best eye with the best possible
V1: No light perception at all in either eye, up to light
perception but inability to recognise the shape of a hand at any
distance or in any direction. V1 skiers are required to ski
wearing “black out” goggles.
V2: From ability to recognize the shape of a hand up to a visual
acuity of 2/60 (20/600) and/or a visual field of less than five
V3: From a visual acuity of 2/60 (20/600) up to a visual acuity of
6/60 (20/200) and/or a visual field of more than 5 degrees and
less than 20 degrees. Skiers classified as V2 and V3 will always
ski in one single category named V2/3.
(A/L): Skiers with significant arm and leg impairment, arm
and leg amputation, and hemiplegia are eligible for this category,
which may also include skiers with cerebral palsy and other
What do I need to do to be able to compete at the national
The National Championships are open to skiers with a physical
disability. All skiers must be members of USA Water Ski and have
skied a minimum qualifying performance (see below).
How do I join USA Water ski?
Athletes may sign up on line on the USA Water Ski Web site at:
https://www.usawaterski.org/renew/membership_new.asp. You may request a
membership application by contacting USA Water Ski at: 1251 Holy
Cow Road, Polk City, FL 33868-8200 or by calling: 800.533.2972
How do I qualify to ski in the nationals?
In order to enter the jump event, a skier must prove that he or
she has successfully landed and skied away from a jump. In order
to enter the slalom event, a skier of category A, L, MP1, MP2, MP3
or A/L must prove that he or she has successfully completed a pass
on the inner or outer slalom course at any competition speed; a
skier of category LP must prove that he or she has successfully
completed a pass on the outer slalom course at any competition
speed. In order to enter the audio slalom event, a skier of
category V1 or V2/3 must prove that he or she has completed a pass
on the audio slalom course at any competition speed. In order to
enter the tricks event, a skier of category A, LP, MP1, MP2, MP3,
V1 or V2/3 must prove that he or she is capable of scoring 200
points; a skier of category L or A/L must prove that he is capable
of scoring 50 points. These performances must have been performed
during the year of the competition or within two years prior. A
new skier shall provide, at registration, a proficiency
certificate signed by an official judge, driver, scorer, or coach
in which the signatory certifies that he or she has personally
observed the skier achieving the qualifying performance
successfully in conditions similar to those of a competition. The
date of observation must be stated on the certificate. A skier
qualified in slalom or tricks may compete in both events even if
not qualified in the second event. In order to compete in the
jumping event, a skier must prove that he or she has successfully
landed a jump as outlined in the above paragraphs.
How do I sign up for the Nationals?
Contact USA Water Ski at: 1251 Holy Cow Road, Polk City, FL
33868-8200 or by calling: 800.533.2972 and ask that a registration
packet be sent to you.
Where can I get a copy of the rules?
On the “Disabled” page of the USA Water Ski Web site there are
links to the International Water Ski Federation (IWSF) rules and
The competition handbook covers topics such as classification,
audio slalom signal devices and rules interpretations as well as
listing all world records established to date.