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Waterskiing is a sport that can be fun and exciting for everyone, regardless of age or athletic ability, but you need to pick the right water ski for your skill level, age, weight, boat speed, and type of ski. Beginners need to start with a combo pair, children may need trainer skis, and beginning slalom water ski riders need to start with a larger ski than normal. As you become more advances you can choose other more advanced options.
If a skier is a beginner, it is advisable to learn on a single ski that is part of a combo pair (Double Skis) because they are wider and offer more surface area to provide easier starts out of the water. Combo skis are built for a general size range for 100 lbs and over. They are not as weight specific as slalom skis. However, if a skier has mastered the single ski deep water start and is comfortable crossing the wake, it is most likely time to find the proper slalom ski.
How to select the right slalom water ski seems to be a challenge, of sorts, for all levels of water skiers. Many people are overwhelmed when it comes to choosing the proper water ski. Buyers must consider their weight , boat speed, and ability. For quick reference, please use the slalom ski size chart below as a guide for the slalom ski length. (Remember that as the skier weight increases, the boat speed usually increases also.)
First and foremost one should consider their weight. Keep in mind that 100 lbs and over is considered an adult weight. The skier should decide if he is on the more aggressive side, looking to improve, and skiing more than 2 times per month. If so, then that type of skier, would use an intermediate to advanced slalom ski. A skier who skis less often than 2 times per month, or who is somewhat reserved, would either stay on the single from the 'Combination Pair', or find a beginner/intermediate slalom ski. The skier who is already accomplished and wants to cut and carve through the wake can handle a more responsive, advanced slalom ski.
The next factor to consider is the frequency skiers will be on the water! With that in mind, there are some water ski design elements that will match each skier.
Beginner to Intermediate slalom skiers may choose a wider series or shaped slalom ski to provide more ease out of the water on starts and allow a slower boat speed. However, while the wider skis are easier initially, they do not cut or turn as well as traditional slalom skis and can easily be outskied by a more aggressive skier, in a relatively short period of time. In a traditional slalom ski design, a beginner/intermediate skier would look for a standard tunnel or narrow center tunnel concave with a soft flex pattern. (Non graphite core.) This type of tunnel will track better and offer stability for the novice skier. The softer flex pattern will act like a shock absorber in waves or water that is not smooth. The only difficulty in the traditional slalom ski is that it is sometimes more difficult to get out of the water, but that is usually overcome, unless the boat is under powered. Generally it is NOT advisable to buy a ski just for the ease of getting up out of the water. The only time it is recommended to buy a ski solely based on the ease out the water, is for BIG GUYS, BAD BACKS, UNDER POWERED BOATS, OR BEGINNERS NOT LOOKING TO ADVANCE.
The following table is a guide for the recommended length of Slalom water ski based on your weight and boat speed. The most common mistake is to buy too short thus making it difficult to get up on that slalom ski. The width of the slalom ski is a factor, and some slalom waterskis, for example the connelly big daddy, are wider to handle heavy riders.
|Water Skier Weight||26 to 30 mph||30 - 34 mph||34 - 36 mph|
|60 - 100 lbs.||59" - 63"||59" - 63"||59" - 63"|
|95 - 125lbs.||62" - 64"||62'" - 63"||62'" - 63"|
|115 - 140 lbs.||64" - 66"||63" - 66"||63" - 65"|
|135 - 160 lbs.||66" - 67"||65" - 66"||64" - 66"|
|150 - 180 lbs.||67" - 68"||66" - 67"||65" - 67"|
|170 - 200 lbs.||68" - 72"||67" - 68"||66" - 68"|
|190 - 215 lbs.||72"||68" - 72"||67 "- 68"|
|210 and up lbs.||72"||68" - 72"||68" - 72"|
Womens Binding Sizes: Many bindings are sized in mens foot size but the binding can be used by women as well.
To convert to a womens foot size, please click on the foot to see a conversion chart:
The bindings are a major factor in ultimate control of the ski. There is not really a right or wrong decision in binding choice. It is really matter a personal preference. Beginner and intermediate skiers will do fine in a standard adjustable front universal binding with a rear slip-in toe. This is usually easier and more comfortable for this level of skier.
More advanced skiers may prefer a non adjustable, fixed binding, sized to their foot to provide ankle support and maximum control of the ski. Some skiers choose the front fixed binding with a slip in rear toe, while others prefer the fixed front and rear boot. The rear fixed boot keeps the heel in place and gives additional ankle support to give ultimate control of the ski for turning and carving through the wake! This is not for everyone though, because it usually requires more effort and some technique and usually binding lube, for entry and exit of the bindings. However, the double binding set up allows the skier to ultimately use the ski to its maximum potential. Many will argue that it is the only way to go!! Again, just remember, there is no right or wrong. (Also it does not matter which foot is forward. Left or right foot forward is a comfort choice!) The forward foot is strictly a matter of personal preference. One thing to know is that by choosing a double binding set up, it usually means that a skier is serious about his sport, and should know that this adds a significant dollar amount to any ski. Bindings are a major part of the price of a ski.
As a rule, a more advanced slalom ski will have an edge to edge concave and a somewhat narrow tail. This type of concave creates more suction across the entire bottom surface of the ski, allowing the ski to hold the edge through the wake more efficiently and with more ease for this level of skier. The graphite core is stiffer, more responsive, and quick to accommodate the more intense or aggressive riding style.
As mentioned earlier, the frequency of time spent on the water will also determine how fast a skier will progress in ability. Obviously the more often you ski the faster you progress. If this is the case, then it is advisable to select a ski above your current ability so that you will be skiing INTO the ski rather than OUT of the ski. Again, keep in mind, this would apply to a skier than has mastered deep water starts and is comfortable and confident crossing the wakes.
The same general weight category applies to the Intermediate/Advanced slalom skier as above with one exception. Sometimes, more advanced skiers will ski faster than the speeds noted for the different weight categories. In such instances, skiers may choose a smaller ski due to the increased speed which will keep the ski riding on top the water for a heavier skier. However, this will definitely work the skier much harder and be more of a challenge. This is okay to a point, but if the skier is at a speed that is too fast for his ability, the focus will more about just hanging on rather than working on technique, and the skier may become too fatigued to enjoy the ride or dramatically cut the skiing time in half.