With freestyle snow skiing gaining popularity, you had to figure it was only a matter of time before the latest rage of big-air boosts, crossed-up skis and tweaked-out grabs transferred onto the water. And so the movement of a new sport has begun – wake skiing. For us at WaterSki, it's an exciting moment. Wake skiing is yet another outlet for people to get stoked on the water. When you look at the dynamics of the activity, you'll quickly realize it has potential. Perhaps its biggest draw is diversity. You can carve around the lake on wake skis like jumpers, flip them like a trick ski, hit rails and kickers and launch off the wake like a boarder. The variations of moves are endless. In a nutshell, these skis are the best of all worlds.
HO Sports is a wake ski believer. The Redmond, Washington-based water ski and wakeboard company released their twin-tip Wake Skis to the skiing world almost a year ago. From a technology standpoint, the skis have a huge head start compared to wakeboarding in its early days. When HO teamed up with accomplished wakeboard designer and former pro Greg Nelson to create the Wake Skis, they had a solid base of what would work and what to avoid. The twin-tip, 145-centemeter-long, compression-molded skis have a polyurethane core and feature a wakeboardlike shape when they're edging through the water side-by-side. The skis are lightweight and easy to ride. Another added bonus is that they also make for excellent high-end combo skis for first-timers. The added width and overall surface area allow skiers to more easily nail their first deepwater start.
So who's riding these twinnies and what are the sport's possibilities? Interestingly enough, show skiers are taking a strong liking to the skis. Accomplished showmen Chad Beauchler and Pete Kuhlman, both originally from the Midwest, are leading the charge in Orlando, especially at the Orlando Watersports Complex cable park. “The evolution of freestyle snow skiing totally transfers to the water,” says Beauchler. “We're hitting all the rails, A-frames and fl at bars and doing different variations across them.” Says Kuhlman, “It's the same principles as hitting the rails on a wakeboard. You have to edge at it versus riding straight into it. Keeping your skis together is pretty important, because there's always a chance of crotchin' it [a.k.a. nut cracker].”
Freestyle snow skiers quickly adapt to the rails, as well. “As far as the learning curve goes,” says Beauchler, “I recently taught a couple of young snow skiers how to wake ski at the cable park, and on their first day they were hitting the fl at rail just like they do on snow skis.” The crossover dynamic between the two sports seems to be instinctual.
Beauchler and Kuhlman have just as much fun smacking off the wake as they do at the cable park. And let's just say the guys also enjoy just as much added ballast in the boat as a pro wakeboarder. “As a kid, I remember all I wanted to do was jump,” says Beauchler. “With these skis, you don't even need a ramp — you've got the wake.” His raleys off the double-up are big. And he's currently working on his front halves, which is comparable to a scarecrow on a wakeboard. He says the move transfers easily to skis because you're able to spot your landing throughout the entire move.
And don't be surprised if you soon spot wake skis on your home lake, river or cable park. The freestyle wake ski movement is inevitable. Beauchler agrees: “The potential is there. I think once people start seeing it, and realize all the variations, they'll be drawn to it.” It's all about being creative, having fun and enjoying the water.