Waterskiing vs Skiing

What is the difference between waterskiing and skiing? Can snow ski skills transfer to waterskiing? This is what we wanted to find out. Luckily our ski instructor, Pete, was a willing guinea pig for our experiment.

Waterskiing vs Skiing


You know when some people are just born sporty?

Apparently, there’s a little more to it than that. The principle of transferable skills is well established in sports skill acquisition.

So if you are an ace tennis player with incredible hand-eye coordination, then the chances are you’ll be pretty nifty on a squash court, or playing badminton.

The same goes for balancing sports. Surfing, paddle boarding, mountain biking, ice skating and slack-lining might not have much in common on the surface of it, but they all use core stability and are general balance sports.

waterskiing vs skiing

So, we tested this out with one willing ski instructor (Pete) who is also a keen surfer. I’ve not seen him on ice skates so I can’t testify that.

Last week was his first time on water skis, courtesy of Millie from Camel Ski School. Millie is both a ski instructor and a waterski instructor, so she was the perfect person to set Pete up on his ski challenge. We wanted to see if Pete’s ski instructor training meant he was able to pick up water skiing quickly.

3 Steps to Waterskiing:

1. Standing Up

First of all – stand up. Bum close to heels, arms straight and let the boat do the work. Don’t be tempted to pull yourself up (apparently girls are better at this as they don’t always have the upper body strength).

2. Turning

This is exactly like alpine skiing. You turn by balancing on the opposite foot and transfer weight across to make a turn across the wake.

So far so good. Pete was up on his first attempt, merrily cutting through the wake. With nothing more severe than slightly tired arms, he was ready for the next challenge.

3. Monoskiing

Millie explained that this is something that people don’t normally attempt on their first experience waterskiing, let alone their second run. Pete backed himself, and we figured it would be entertaining regardless.

The advice here is to keep all movements as smooth as possible. Lift the heel out of the ski you are dropping while balancing on your other leg. Once the ski has dropped into the water, don’t look at your feet (same with alpine skiing!) and slide your free foot into the rear mono binding.

How’d it go?

Apart from a thrilling three seconds where Pete was slightly in the back seat and wobbling, he was up and mono-skiing on his second ever run, happily crossing the wake. Pretty impressive.

Pete says: I teach people how to balance for a living, so was fun to be a beginner for a change. Learning a new skill by drawing on other experiences is a great way to learn and teach. Thanks Millie.


Are you a skier who also has a knack for waterskiing? Do you think the skills needed for both compliment each other? Let us know in the comments below.

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