best slalom water skis

Sure Footed: The Best Slalom Water Skis

Whether you like your water semi-solid or splashy, the word slalom can mean a couple of things. Even though they share a name and have similar techniques—a zigzagging motion through either poles or buoys—slalom water skiing is not to be confused with slalom snow skiing.

The biggest difference, after the snow/water factor, is that slalom water skiing takes place on one ski. Slalom snow skiing just refers to the technique of skiing through the poles. Then, of course, there’s that whole thing with the freezing cold.

With that being said, let’s get sunny and talk about slalom water skiing. (No offense to the snow bunnies.)

You can slalom water ski behind ski boats, deck boats and even some pontoon boats. A 22-foot boat with a center-mounted pylon for the rope makes a great slalom ski boat.

Slalom Water Skiing Basics

  • Skiers use one ski
  • The dominant foot goes in front
  • Skis are usually long and narrow
  • Slalom skiers navigate a course marked with buoys. There’s a total of 26 buoys with six turns (three on each side) that create a zigzag pattern through the water. Of course, you can also just ski for the fun of it without setting up a designated course.

Features of Slalom Water Skis

Slalom water skis are very similar to traditional water skis that you use with two feet. In fact, you can buy regular skis with a binding on one that can be used for slalom. How’s that for a two-for-one deal!

  • Ski Curvature — Also called the “rocker,” this is the curve of the ski’s base. It’s what affects the turning radius of the ski.
  • Bindings — Just like a snow ski, the binding holds the boot in place. It can be customized for right or left foot forward positions.
  • Toe Plate — The toe plate is located behind the binding. It allows you to drag your back foot in the water for stability and turning.
  • Edge Bevel — The edge bevel is the area between the side and bottom of the ski. It’s the angle where they blend into each other. This allows the ski to make precise turns.
  • Stiffness — You’ll want just the right amount of stiffness and softness in a slalom ski. More energy is created with a stiffer ski, but if it’s too stiff, it’s hard to control. If it’s too soft, you won’t be able to perform as well. The amount of fiberglass used in construction affects the level of stiffness in the ski.

Sure Footed: The Best Slalom Water Skis

The Best Slalom Water Skis for Beginners

Preview
HO Excel Combo Skis 63 W/Adjustable rsesHO e Bindings Black/Blue
HO Freeride Combo Skis w/Adjustable Horseshoe Bindings Sz 67in/One Size
O'Brien Vortex Widebody Combo Water Skis 65.5", Red, Crimson (2181130)
Item
HO Sports Excel Combo HS/RTS Water Skis
HO Sports Freeride Water Ski Combo
O’Brien Vortex Combo Water Skis
Boot Size
Adult 4.5-13
7.5-13
Men’s 4.5-13
Ski Count
2
1
2
Preview
HO Excel Combo Skis 63 W/Adjustable rsesHO e Bindings Black/Blue
Item
HO Sports Excel Combo HS/RTS Water Skis
Boot Size
Adult 4.5-13
Ski Count
2
Check Price
Preview
HO Freeride Combo Skis w/Adjustable Horseshoe Bindings Sz 67in/One Size
Item
HO Sports Freeride Water Ski Combo
Boot Size
7.5-13
Ski Count
1
Check Price
Preview
O'Brien Vortex Widebody Combo Water Skis 65.5", Red, Crimson (2181130)
Item
O’Brien Vortex Combo Water Skis
Boot Size
Men’s 4.5-13
Ski Count
2
Check Price

You’ll notice that most of these skis come as a pair, rather than one slalom ski. This seems to be the norm from what I can see. I find this gives you more for your money, as you have the option of using them as traditional water skis or just using one as a slalom ski. Also, many slalom skiers start out on two skis and then drop one.

HO Sports Excel Combo HS/RTS Water Skis

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Sale
HO Excel Combo Skis 63 W/Adjustable rsesHO e Bindings Black/Blue
  • Traditional Water Ski Shape
  • Tunnel Bottom Design
  • Compatible with HO Trainer Bar
  • Adjustable Horseshoe Bindings

The HO Sports Excel Combo has a tunnel bottom design with adjustable horseshoe bindings. This allows a variety of foot sizes to use them. There’s a toe plate on one ski, which is the ski you would use for slalom skiing.

These skis can be used with a trainer bar if you or your kids are just starting out. The multi-use aspect, combined with the stability and dependability of this model, makes them my favorite choice in a beginner slalom ski.

  • Boot Size: Adult 4.5-13
  • One or Two Skis: Two

HO Sports Freeride Water Ski Combo

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HO Freeride Combo Skis w/Adjustable Horseshoe Bindings Sz 67in/One Size
  • COMPRESSION MOLDED: Stronger lighter construction for long lasting fun!
  • CLEAN EDGE TECHNOLOGY: Clean Edge Technology is bevel-less and the sidewalls are rotated inward like wakeboard edge, causing water to release cleanly off the ski's bottom surface. This results in a 50% less drag than conventional skis. This low drag back half of the ski means more lift, easier get-ups, less spray & less effort!
  • TRADITIONAL EDGE STABILITY: The traditional beveled edge in the Freeride's front half allows water to wrap around the bottom of the ski and up the sidewall where it finally releases off the ski's top edge. This rounded edge rides deeper in the water for the stability skiers need.
  • FREERIDE FLEX FRAME: A snowski inspired flex pattern allows the Freeride to bend its rocker into turns providing smooth carving with low effort.
  • COMPATIBLE WITH HO TRAINER BAR: For easy learning

HO Sports Freeride Skis are a great choice in a multi-use model. Inspired by snow skis, they have a flex pattern that lets the rocker bend to make smooth turns. The front half of the ski has a traditional beveled edge to give stability in the water.

The sidewalls are positioned inward (like a wakeboard edge). This allows water to release smoothly off the bottom surface, resulting in less drag and more lift. This also makes it easier to get up. It’s compatible with a trainer bar when using both skis.

The 67-inch is recommended for 150-200 pounds. The 63-inch is for up to 110 pounds. Choose the 71-inch model if you’re over 250 pounds.

  • Boot Size: 7.5-13
  • One or Two Skis: One

O’Brien Vortex Combo Water Skis

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O'Brien Vortex Widebody Combo Water Skis 65.5", Red, Crimson (2181130)
  • Length 65. 5 inch/166cm
  • Plastic fin
  • X-7 adjustable bindings (one ski has rear toe piece)
  • Foot size: Men's 4. 5-13
  • Wide body for stability

The wide body and extra wide tips make the O’Brien Vortex a great choice for beginners. Wider skis are easier to get up on the water. A wider surface also means less drag and easier skiing at slower boat speeds. Many beginners, myself included, may be intimidated by the thought of zooming across the water (or into the water, as the case may be).

The fins are bright white, making it easier to find the ski after you’ve dropped it for slalom skiing. They have a plastic fin, X-7 adjustable bindings and a rear toe plate on one ski.

  • Boot Size: Men’s 4.5-13
  • One or Two Skis: Two

The Best Slalom Water Skis for Experienced Skiers

Preview
AIRHEAD S-1300 Combo Skis, 67", pair
O'Brien Siege Slalom Waterski with Avid Binding and Rear Toe Plate (66)
CWB Connelly Big Daddy Waterski, Front Adjustable Binding/Rear Toe Strap
O'Brien Celebrity Combo Water Skis, Blue, 68"
Item
Airhead 1300 Water Ski
O’Brien Siege Slalom Ski w/Avid Bindings
CWB Connelly Big Daddy Water Ski
O’Brien Celebrity Combo Water Skis
Boot Size
5-12
Adjustable binding (up to 7, 7-11, and 12+)
Up to 14
Men’s 4.5-13
Ski Count
2
1
2
2
Preview
AIRHEAD S-1300 Combo Skis, 67", pair
Item
Airhead 1300 Water Ski
Boot Size
5-12
Ski Count
2
Check Price
Preview
O'Brien Siege Slalom Waterski with Avid Binding and Rear Toe Plate (66)
Item
O’Brien Siege Slalom Ski w/Avid Bindings
Boot Size
Adjustable binding (up to 7, 7-11, and 12+)
Ski Count
1
Check Price
Preview
CWB Connelly Big Daddy Waterski, Front Adjustable Binding/Rear Toe Strap
Item
CWB Connelly Big Daddy Water Ski
Boot Size
Up to 14
Ski Count
2
Check Price
Preview
O'Brien Celebrity Combo Water Skis, Blue, 68"
Item
O’Brien Celebrity Combo Water Skis
Boot Size
Men’s 4.5-13
Ski Count
2
Check Price

Airhead 1300 Water Ski

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AIRHEAD S-1300 Combo Skis, 67", pair
  • 67" rim-molded combo water skis
  • Perfect for different skill levels
  • Wide tails / tunnel shaped bottoms for performance, control, and stability
  • Composite construction and fiberglass reinforced nylon fins
  • Slide-type adjustable bindings fit US sizes 5-12

The Airhead 1300 offers multi-use variety for all skill levels. It’s made with a composite material with fiberglass reinforced nylon fins. The slide-type bindings make it easy to adjust when you’ve got the whole crew on the lake.

They have wide tails with tunnel-shaped bottoms for control, performance and stability. There’s even a toe plate on one ski.

I enjoy the colorful design of this ski. I find that bright colors help you spot the ski when you have to turn the boat around to find it floating in the water.

  • Boot Size: 5-12
  • One or Two Skis: Two

O’Brien Siege Slalom Ski w/Avid Bindings

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O'Brien Siege Slalom Waterski with Avid Binding and Rear Toe Plate (66)
  • Flex: Pro
  • Fin: Carve
  • Rocker: Smooth transitions from edge to edge
  • Tunnel: Quick, easy edge changes
  • Bevels: Small, defined bevel for easier turning

The O’Brien Siege Slalom Ski is tunnel concave with an adjustable carve fin, lightweight bindings, an EVA footbed and a front lace system.

An increased rocker provides excellent stability. Small defined bevels allow for faster and easier turns. The lower cut binding gives flexibility and makes it easy to release.

  • Boot Size: Adjustable binding in three sizes (up to 7, 7-11, and 12+)
  • One or Two Skis: One

CWB Connelly Big Daddy Water Ski

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CWB Connelly Big Daddy Waterski, Front Adjustable Binding/Rear Toe Strap
  • World famous "Big guy" ski
  • Closed cell polyurethane resin core
  • C.A.P.T. (Connelly advanced profile technology)
  • Effortless to get up on, suggested 24-28mph ski
  • Rider weight > 220lbs.Aluminum drop-through fin

Known as the “Big Guy” ski, the Connelly Big Daddy is designed for the heavyweights in the group. There’s an adjustable front binding, a rear toe strap and an aluminum drop-through fin.

The wide tip and tail and Connelly Tracking System (CTS) make for great starts in deep water. There’s a narrow underfoot design and flex pattern for smooth performance.

The suggested weight is 220 pounds. It has a closed-cell polyurethane resin core.

  • Boot Size: Up to 14
  • One or Two Skis: Two

O’Brien Celebrity Combo Water Skis

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O'Brien Celebrity Combo Water Skis, Blue, 68"
  • X-7 adjustable binding designed to fit US Men 4.5-13
  • Padded rear toe plate
  • Great all-around ski for the whole family
  • Performance side cut for better turning
  • Dual tunnel enhances control and stability

These multi-purpose skis have a padded rear toe plate and X-7 pinch slide bindings for easy adjusting. This makes them comfortable and suitable for the whole family to use.

They’re made of a durable composite and have a performance side cut for excellent turning. A dual tunnel gives great control and stability while the flatter and faster rocker reduce drag.

The nylon fins are rounded, which provides traction on the water and eliminates sharp points damaging vehicles and boats. The pronounced V-entry at the tips allows you to glide easily across the water.

  • Boot Size: Men’s 4.5-13
  • One or Two Skis: Two

Slalom Water Ski Accessories

Preview
STEARNS Adult Watersport Classic Series Life Vest, Blue
OEM POLYFORM Water SKI Slalom Buoy Yellow Prod. Type: Boat Outfitting
SGT KNOTS Water Ski Rope with Floating Handle - Lightweight Watersports Rope for Wake Board Tow, Towing Tubes & More (3/8" x 75ft, BlueWhite)
attwood Corporation Pro-Swivl Ski Pylon Adj 34-58-Inch
Item
Stearn’s Adult Watersports Classic Series Vest
OEM Water Ski Slalom Buoy
SGT Knots Water Ski Rope
Attwood Corporation Pro Swivel Ski Pylon
Preview
STEARNS Adult Watersport Classic Series Life Vest, Blue
Item
Stearn’s Adult Watersports Classic Series Vest
Check Price
Preview
OEM POLYFORM Water SKI Slalom Buoy Yellow Prod. Type: Boat Outfitting
Item
OEM Water Ski Slalom Buoy
Check Price
Preview
SGT KNOTS Water Ski Rope with Floating Handle - Lightweight Watersports Rope for Wake Board Tow, Towing Tubes & More (3/8" x 75ft, BlueWhite)
Item
SGT Knots Water Ski Rope
Check Price
Preview
attwood Corporation Pro-Swivl Ski Pylon Adj 34-58-Inch
Item
Attwood Corporation Pro Swivel Ski Pylon
Check Price

If you’re thinking of getting into slalom water skiing, check out some of these accessories and gear.

Stearn’s Adult Watersports Classic Series Vest

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STEARNS Adult Watersport Classic Series Life Vest, Blue
  • US Coast Guard-approved adult life jacket
  • Great for wakeboarding, water skiing, and tubing
  • Soft and durable 200D nylon shell and lightweight PE flotation foam
  • Open-sided design and 4 adjustable buckles for breathability
  • US Coast Guard universal sizing 30-50” chest and weigh 90 pounds or more

Being on the water means wearing a life jacket. The Stearn’s Watersports Classic vest is your basic multi-use life jacket. It’s U.S. Coast Guard-approved for everything from wakeboarding and waterskiing to tubing.

The open-sided design has four adjustable front buckles and webbed straps that make it easy to get into and out of. It has a durable 200D nylon shell and lightweight PE floatation foam. Universal sizing fits 30-50” chests. The wide size range makes it easy to wear over a cold water wetsuit.

OEM Water Ski Slalom Buoy

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If you want to practice your slalom skiing skills with a real course, check out this buoy. It’s made of durable PVC and meets the American Waterski Association’s specifications for tournaments. It has a durable ropehold and a 28-inch circumference.

I love the bright yellow color. You, and other boats, won’t miss it.

SGT Knots Water Ski Rope

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SGT KNOTS Water Ski Rope with Floating Handle - Lightweight Watersports Rope for Wake Board Tow, Towing Tubes & More (3/8" x 75ft, BlueWhite)
  • WATER SKI ROPE - SGT KNOTS single section ski rope is designed for all extreme water sports, including water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and kneeboarding. 1-section kneeboard, wakeboard, and water ski ropes are a great place to start for beginners who have very little experience.
  • WATER RESISTANT MATERIAL - Our water sports rope is made from high-quality polypropylene fibers, providing excellent resistance against moisture degradation, mold and mildew growth, and UV rays. The hollow braid structure makes this a lightweight, easy to handle rope.
  • FLOATABLE HANDLE - Our wakeboard rope features a lightweight, yet sturdy 12 inch aluminum core handle with performance “Tractor” grip and molded fingertip protectors.
  • SIZES - SGT KNOTS watersports rope has a width of 3/8 inches and a length of 75 feet.
  • VETERAN OWNED and OPERATED - Just like the Marine Corps, SGT KNOTS is committed to be the best of the best. We continue to live by the motto, Semper Fidelis—Always Faithful. Our loyalty to our customers is what makes us who we are, and the reason we continue to grow in popularity and product offerings. We promise to maintain the strength and consistency of our products. We also pass down our bulk savings to our customers.

SGT Knots water ski rope is great for beginner to expert skiers.

It’s made of polypropylene fibers that, like most marine rope, are resistant to mold, mildew, water and UV rays. A hollow braid construction method makes it lightweight. The “tractor” grip handles floats, making it easy to find when dropped. It’s 3/8 inches wide and 75 feet long.

Attwood Corporation Pro Swivel Ski Pylon

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attwood Corporation Pro-Swivl Ski Pylon Adj 34-58-Inch
  • 2 inches post diameter
  • 34 inches - 58 inches post height
  • 6 inches post base diameter
  • 33 inches - 56 inches arm length
  • Removable pin arm base

While not required, a ski pylon is a very handy feature to have on your boat. It helps to keep the ski rope up and away from the prop. If you’ve ever had to cut a day short because of a chewed-up rope, you’ll agree.

The Pro Swivel Ski Pylon from Attwood Corporation has a removable pin arm base and a head that swivels 360 degrees. The stainless steel tube is 2” wide and 34 to 58 inches in height. The base diameter is six inches.

 

Whether you’re a beginner slalom skier or a seasoned pro, the right pair of slalom skis will make your time on the water fun and exciting.

Hopefully this has given you some tips on choosing the best slalom water skis for yourself or your family.

Happy skiing!

 


Sandy Allen is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. Her specialties range from hotels, islands and yacht charters to theme parks and family fun. She enjoys boating, snorkeling and jet-skiing along the waterways of Virginia, Florida and North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Follow her adventures at Somewhere in the Sand.