National Show Ski Association
SHOW SKIING — WHAT TO LOOK
Guide to What’s Happening on the Water
skiing has been called the most entertaining discipline in the sport of
water skiing. It is fast-moving, exciting, graceful, and most of all,
fun to watch. Virtually all aspects of the sport – including
barefooting, jumping, slalom, tricks and kneeboarding – are
choreographed into one grand performance.
its simplest form, show skiing involves a group of skiers performing a
variety of acts with the primary objective of providing entertainment.
Even at the most advanced and technically difficult levels (professional
shows such as Cypress Gardens and Sea World), the basic format and
entertainment concepts remain the same.
Show Ski National Championships gives the best amateur show ski clubs in
the country a chance to compete for the coveted national title. As a
spectator then, what should one look for at this particular event?
is critical in show ski competitions. Each club is allowed 20 minutes
prior to its show to set up. At one end of the beach the next club to
perform has unloaded its gear and props into a staging area. When their
set-up time begins, the entire cast, often as many as 70 people –
youngsters, in addition to parents and friends –race about placing
thousands of dollars worth of equipment – including sound system,
boats, skis, ropes, costumes and stage props – along the beach.
the set-up deadline nears, a horn sounds warning the crew that it’s
almost curtain time. When the second horn sounds, it’s time to begin
and the club now has one hour to present its show.
the conclusion of the one-hour show, the club is then given a maximum of
10 minutes to break down and remove its equipment so the next club can
prepare for its show. If everything is not off the beach and out of the
staging area, the offending club is given negative points.
the tournament are five certified USA Water Ski-rated judges. They are
selected for their past experience and technical expertise in the field
of show skiing.
the one-hour timing clock starts, the judging begins. Each club is
required to perform a minimum of 14 acts within the one-hour time
period. For the most part, clubs will perform a wide variety of acts,
both on and off the water.
announcer, of course, plays a very important role in that he or she is
the spectators’ official host. The announcer establishes the
environment and tempo of the show and will often play out a character as
part of the show’s overall theme. In addition, the announcer has the
added responsibility of explaining the acts as they relate to the
technical aspects of water skiing.
clubs incorporate numerous types of water skiing into their shows,
however they generally focus on five major areas which include:
Jumping – For spectators, this is the most thrilling event.
Usually three to five skiers will perform spins and flips over the 5
1/2-foot ski jump. Distances can exceed 100 feet and frequently
spectacular falls occur during this act. Fortunately, the skiers
wear protective clothing and know how to handle the falls safely.
and Swivel – Generally performed by young women, this act features
a line of skiers choreographed to music. Some skiers may be using
swivel bindings which allows them to make 180-degree turns or
– Just as the name implies, this act involves skiers skimming
across the surface of the water on nothing but the bare soles of
their feet. Boat speeds are usually in excess of 35 mph. Watch for
multi-skier barefoot lines and barefoot pyramids.
– Features a man and woman team performing various lifts (similar
to ice skating) while being pulled by the boat. The male skier
either holds onto a handle or is pulled along by a harness, thus
freeing his arms to perform the overhead lifts.
– Is the ultimate in team work. Using hundreds of feet of rope,
skiers actually build a human pyramid on water. Look for pyramids up
to five levels high where the top skier often is 25 feet above the
water — a spectacular display of teamwork.
the variety of acts, skiers and show formats, how does a judge
differentiate between clubs and ultimately decide on a winner? Each club
is awarded points in two major categories. First, each of the 14 acts is
– How smoothly does an act progress? Clubs attempt to avoid delays
and poor boat patterns while maintaining spectator interest (25
points total per judge).
– How well is an act performed? Acts are judged on the
technical merit of that particular maneuver (0-25 points).
– This is judged by comparing acts of similar type (0-25 points).
Appeal – Rates the entertainment value of an act and includes the
quality of music, costuming, and the performers’ interactions with
the audience (0-25 points).
each club is evaluated on the following (more commonly called box
and Equipment Personnel – They should maintain a low profile, set
up acts smoothly in a timely manner, and keep equipment operating
properly (0-100 points).
Boat Crew – Must keep skis and equipment clear from the skiing
area, have a low profile, and not create rough water, etc. (0-100
– The host must communicate, entertain, and know the acts (0-250
Driver – Judged for proper speeds, smooth takeoffs and landings
– The overall production of the show, appearance of the skiers and
equipment, stage presence, choreography (0-300 points).
Show – Reflects each judge’s overall opinion of the show,
including content and quality (0-350 points).
that you know something about how a show ski tournament works, sit back,
relax and enjoy the greatest show on water!