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Buying Guide | Slalom Water Skis



By Steve Kopitz




There are several different styles of slalom skis that are available to slalom water skiers, so how do you know which style is the right one for you? The information contained in this buying guide will hopefully allow you to determine which is best for you and your abilities.

 

The first step in making your determination about slalom skis is to make an honest evaluation about your skill level. This is not the time to pad your ego by thinking you’re a superstar when you’re not. If you do, you’ll regret it later. Making an honest evaluation of yourself will allow you to narrow down your selection of skis to choose from.


 

Components

 

 

Rides

 

 

Sizing

 

Bindings

 


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Components

 

Bevel

 

The side profile of the ski.

 

Determines the way water flows from under the ski and up the sides.

 

Lower Bevel: Affects lift. A rounded lower bevel facilitates smooth water flow and keeps lift low. A sharp lower bevel results in more water resistance underneath the ski, resulting in a higher ride.

 

Upper Bevel: Controls roll. A rounded upper bevel facilitates rolling, but is more challenging to control. A sharp upper bevel reduces a water ski’s leaning tendencies.

 

Flex

 

Slalom ski stiffness varies greatly from tip to tail.

 

A rule of thumb for flex points of a slalom ski is that each flex point should be within 20 percent of the next. A good guideline may be 100 : 85 : 60 : 50.

 

Flex pattern of slalom skis is more important to performance than stiffness of the ski.

 

Rocker

 

Influences the turn radius of a ski. Is defined as the degree to which the nose and tail are angled upward.

 

It is important to know that the greater the rocker, the tighter the turns you will be able to make.

 

Also understand that too much rocker will make your ski difficult to control and slow to accelerate.

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Bottom Design

 

A concave bottom design is featured on slalom skis of today.

 

Ski performance is affected by the width of the concave tunnel.

 

Wider tunnels create more suction and make a ski more difficult to roll.

 

Narrow tunnels are less difficult to roll as they sit higher in the water.

 

Transition design skis are slalom skis that have a narrow tunnel at the tip for easier roll into turns, but wider tunnels at the rear to allow the ski to ride deeper in the water.

 

Width

 

Wider skis provide more support.

 

The taper of a slalom ski is from fore-body to tail.

 

Narrow tails increase a skier’s ability to dig the ski into the water. Additionally, it is easier to cut across wake and slow speed on command.

 

Wide tail skis maintain speed and reduce drag.

 

Profile

 

The thickness of the ski.

 

Thin profile skis ride deep, specifically in the tail section.

 

Wide profile skis rider higher and keep the ski from sinking and diving prior to a turn.

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Rides

 

 

Wide

 

For beginners, wide skis are ideal. This type of slalom ski is significantly wider than traditional slalom skis.

 

Provides for greater overall stability and balance. Helps the rider get up easier and does require quick edge.

 

Shaped

 

Suited for both beginners and experienced skiers. This type of slalom ski is a combination of wide and traditional slalom skis.

 

Provides the performance features of a traditional slalom ski but with the stability features of a wide ski, specifically at speeds below 35 mph.

 

Increasing in popularity among slalom skiers.

 

Traditional

 

The ideal selection for experienced slalom skiers who primarily ride on edge and can initiate and link a series of turns.

 

Provide stability when crossing wake, responsiveness, and ease of turning.

 

Perfect for skiers working on body form.

 

World Class

 

The ideal selection for advanced and aggressive slalom water skiers.

 

Constructed with a greater amount of carbon graphite material than traditional slalom skis.

 

Provide quick acceleration and strong edge hold when crossing wake.

 

Perform best when used aggressively in open water or slalom courses due to their very responsive nature.

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Sizing

 

Utilize the chart below to determine the proper slalom ski length for you. Locate your weight (or the rider’s weight) and the average cruising speed. Ranges that overlap are provided to compensate for skis that may be used by more than one rider.

 


 

Slalom Water Ski Sizing

 

Rider Weight (lbs.)

Average Boat Speed (mph)

Ski Size (in.)

80 - 110

26 - 30

62 - 64

95 - 120

26 - 30

65 - 66

115 - 140

26 - 30

65 - 66

135 - 160

26 - 30

67 - 68

155 - 180

26 - 30

69 - 70

175 - 200

26 - 30

69 - 70

195 - 220

26 - 30

72

215 +

26 - 30

72

80 - 110

30 - 34

62 - 64

95 - 120

30 - 34

63 - 64

115 - 140

30 - 34

64 - 66

135 - 160

30 - 34

65 - 66

155 - 180

30 - 34

67 - 68

175 - 200

30 - 34

69 - 70

195 - 220

30 - 34

69 - 72

215 +

30 - 34

69 - 72

80 - 110

34 - 39

62 - 64

95 - 120

34 - 39

63 - 64

115 - 140

34 - 39

63 - 65

135 - 160

34 - 39

64 - 66

155 - 180

34 - 39

67 - 68

175 - 200

34 - 39

67 - 68

195 - 220

34 - 39

69 - 70

215 +

34 - 39

70 - 72

 

 

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Bindings

 

As a general guideline, bindings should be loose enough to put on without the use of soap or other substance. Yet they should still be tight enough to provide the rider with responsiveness and feel for edge control.

 

Types

 

Front high-wrap with rear toe plate: A versatile binding that is good for multiple skiers using the same ski.

 

Double high-wrap: Custom fitting bindings that provide enhanced control and better feel.

 

Adjustable bindings: Customizable fitting for better performance.

 

Materials

 

Traditional Rubber: Best for beginners. Provide a soft comfortable fit and feel.

 

EVA Foam: Better for intermediate to advanced skiers. Provide a stiffer feel and increased edge control.

 

Boot Arrangement

 

 Adjustable Front-Open – This boot will have an open front that allows you to adjust it based on the size of the foot inside.  They’re great because you usually have the heel tucked back and you’re secure inside with the versatility of allowing riders with multiple foot sizes to be able to water ski.

 

 Fixed Front-Fixed Back – This will be your closed boot.  No adjustments here.  Just like a ski or snowboard boot, it’s fixed so trying to pass it along to others might be difficult.  The benefit is that you’ll probably buy it to work well with your foot.  You also are locked in and more secure.

 

 Fixed Front-Open Back – This has the boot up front and a rear toe plate in the back.

 

Hinge Tech – This is a binding from Connelly Water Skis that specializes in excellent heel hold that you can customize to how you want to ride.  With the turn of a screw you can easily adjust the tilt level.

 

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