Whether you use two skis, or a single ski, or skim through the water on bare feet - getting pulled by a speedboat - there is something about skimming on water as you glide through the spattering sprays that has you coming back for more, despite the number of times you get dunked.
It was back in 1922 that water skiing began when Ralph Samuelson, an eighteen year old boy from Minnesota, thought that if snow skiing was possible, then why not skiing on water? He tested his theory out for the first time on Lake Pepin, Lake City, in Minnesota, getting his brother Ben to tow him. It was after the two brothers had been experimenting for several days that Ralph realized that if he leant his body back, putting the tips of his skis up in the air, it led to skiing successfully.
Those skis that the two brothers used were made from barrel staves, after which they tried using regular snow skis. Later, Ralph created the first pair of water skis out of lumber that he bought and hewed into shape. Leather straps were used to bind the feet on to the skis and a window sash served as a tow rope.
From those days to today, water skiing has turned into one of the most popular water sports. Whether you are a beginner or a long-time fan, who has always envied people gliding effortlessly on the water, here are a few tips that you are sure to find interesting and useful:
- One of the first things you will need is a Personal Flotation Device or a Coast Guard Approved Life Jacket, that fits properly. So that when you do take a toss in the water it should not come up to your head.
- The next thing is learning to put on the skis. While this is usually done in the water, it is better for a young beginner to be helped by someone while they sit on the swim platform of the boat.
- The bindings that come with most beginners' skis are adjustable in order to fit various sizes of shoes. The bindings should be sized properly, adjusted in a way as to make them as tight as possible, and still have the foot fitting in comfortably.
- Once you have the skis on, the next thing to do is get hold of the tow rope handle and float on your back in the water, while the boat driver takes out the slack of the rope. It is not necessary at this point to try to keep your skis straight or to align yourself with the boat. Simply relax, and float with the help of your life jacket.
- Once the boat driver removes the slack out of the rope, he/she will put the boat into neutral, waiting for you to get ready. This is when you begin getting into position by bending your legs fully and extending your arms almost completely, with the elbows outside your knees. The skis should be positioned in such a way as to be between you and the boat, while the rope should be between the skis. So, your body should be bunched up in a ball, while your head should be upright and facing the boat.
- The next thing you need to master is how to stay up on the skis while the boat tows you. Keep your knees bent, since the knees act as shock absorbers. If the knees are not kept bent, the waves will come up to your waist, which will make you unstable.
- While keeping your knees bent, you need to see that your back is straight, which will give you a more relaxed posture and balance. Most beginners tend to hunch up, which puts a lot of stress on the back.
- Take care to extend your arms fully, so that when you get slack on the rope you have the space to pull your arms in towards your chest. Most novice skiers tend to keep their hands near their chest, so that when they do get slack on the rope, they have no space left to compensate and thus fall backwards.
- Keep your weight centered on both the skis. If your weight is put on one foot, it will help you to make a turn.
- It is important to keep the skis together, or you may end up doing a split on water. The ideal distance between the skis should be shoulder-width.
- Once you master the basics and become good at it, you can even try some trick skiing, such as dropping a ski, or taking a ski off and holding it aloft, or using a harness to hold the rope with the toes of one of your feet. You can perform other more intricate tricks like flips, jumps, step-overs, and of course slalom.
- Some of the most important equipment include: boots and bindings; gloves; skiing vests; and of course the skis and the boat.