Waterskiers Benefit from New Technology

12th September 2002
by SHELLY BERESFORD

THE UK SPORTS INSTITUTE (UKSI) is continuing to provide elite sport with the services needed to achieve success at the highest levels of international competition.

The UKSI recently provided the necessary funding to work in partnership with Aerial Camera Systems and the British Water Ski Federation to develop a revolutionary strain gauge to assist Britain’s leading water skiers in their quest for medals on the world stage.

The new device is used in training to measure a skier’s resistance to the boat in the slalom and jump events. The resistance measured can be used in conjunction with information on the skier’s technique and body positions used through the transitional processes of the slalom and jumps.

The device is based on existing technology that can also be used in the trick discipline to relate to the timing of the pull on the boat for the manoeuvres.

“Although the technology isn’t new, as coaches have had success using basic devices to analyse performance for the last 15-20 years, the new equipment incorporates custom made software that enables a coach to put the performance data in context with the skier’s technical execution,” explained Dr Scott Drawer, Sports Science Co-ordinator at the UKSI.

“This device is already proving to be of huge value, acting as an extremely effective feedback tool for the coach and athlete. It is being used to develop performance profiles of the world’s best skiers that will help the coaches work with and support the development of younger skiers for the long-term success of British water skiing.”

Slalom and jump skiing styles have undergone a revolution in the past few years, led by the British pairing of Andy Mapple, the six-time world slalom champion, and European jump champion Jason Seels.

Both Mapple and Seels were fully involved in the project’s development and have been able to obtain their own performance data to use as a model for other World Class Performance Programme skiers.

John Wood, Performance Director for British Water Ski, said that the new technology is vital if the UK is to retain its place as one of the sport’s leading nations.

“No-one in the sport has taken on the task of gathering data on the forces the skiers have to endure in the three disciplines – slalom, trick and jump - and matching it with video,” Wood said.

“The strain gauge is now greatly furthering the knowledge of both the coaches and skiers for both the technical and physical aspects of the sport. It is a superb training device and one we would not have been able to source without the assistance of the UKSI.

“Already it has set us thinking of adapting another device to gather yet more data to integrate with the data from the gauge.”