In the context of my writing for this website I’m making the following assumptions about your skiing environment/situation:
- We’re talking about skiing a slalom course on this website. We’re not talking about “free skiing”. I do a lot of both of those activities and have never been able to rationalize them as being remotely similar. Further with regard to the slalom course we’re assuming your course is in good shape, has generally correct dimensions, has 55M buoys, and has reasonably flat water.
- I’m assuming you have a fairly modern ski boat with Zero Off speed control. At a minimum you’ve invested in the latest Perfect Pass Stargazer with Z-Box and it’s relatively dialed in. Further, you’ve mapped the course correctly in the speed control system and you’re familiar with the fundamental operation of this system.
- We will talk about skis more later but I’m assuming your ski is relatively modern and set up correctly.
I know some if not all of these assumptions may come off as a bit snobby, but it’s important to define the playing field. This is a totally artificial environment, after all. We are creating our own external force with a boat. We are skiing around buoys that we just decided were supposed to be that way. If we were talking about snow skiing I wouldn’t have to baseline that we’re talking about sliding down a hill on two flat sticks. I need to tell you what I consider to be the playing field.
What is super thrilling and engaging to me about this sport is the degree to which we can try to make very difficult-to-control variables as consistent as possible. Perfect course + perfect lake + perfect boat. Nothing gets better than that in this sport. Perfect course + perfect lake + old boat with outdated speed control? No thanks. I mean, I’d “appreciate” the pull, I suppose, but it doesn’t mentally check the boxes for me as a serious skier and does nothing for me. Brand new boat but no course? Nope. New boat, perfect course, but borrowed old fiberglass ski? Again, not for me.
If you’re in a situation where you are not able to ski with a nice course, a reasonably modern boat with good speed control, and a fairly modern ski you’ve really got to ask yourself what you’re trying to get out of this sport. If you just want to have fun, carve some dollar signs in the lake, occasionally ski some buoys, that’s fine. But that’s not what makes me think about this sport every day.
Equipment matters in this sport, and it matters a lot. I’ve encountered a fairly large percentage of folks in this sport who are almost “proudly” against newer equipment. They will complain about the price of newer boats, scoff at newer skis, and would never go outside of their comfort zone to get access to a good slalom course setup. In most cases these people clearly have the financial means to change their ski equipment/situation but their own egos and assumptions get in the way. Sometimes they are just thrifty or cheap. Sometimes they actually truly believe new equipment is not worth it. What’s even more amazing is that some of these types of skiers have a huge piece of the puzzle but stop there. A perfect example would be somebody literally living on a private ski lake, but rocking a 20yr-old boat and still skiing on a 10+ year old ski. You see that sort of stuff all the time. That’s not how I’m wired, particularly with regard to this sport. As you follow along with this site it’s important that you understand that context.
I suppose it’s about making the call that “this sport is important to me” and then aligning/prioritizing things to support that belief. It’s tough, I know. It’s expensive, it’s crazy. There will be setbacks and bumps in the road. It’s about a mindset of “what’s possible?” Think boats are too expensive? Have you looked at a minimum of 3 financing options and called on at least 3 boats for sale to see what kind of flexibility the sellers have? Think private water is impossible to find? Are you sure there’s nothing within 2 hours of where you live? Can’t get into that club? What have you tried to get in? Think travel is too expensive? Have you looked at all hotel and airline points systems and credit cards out there? Always dreamed of going to a ski school? GO. DO IT. Get out there and give the “serious” side of this sport at least a try. Meet people, network, see what’s possible. Buy that portable course. Drop it in the lake at 6AM one day. Whatever it takes. Again, for me it’s fundamentally what I love in this sport. Maybe one day I’ll just want to free-ski on an old HO Mach 1 but for now it’s all or nothing.