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about USA Adaptive water ski & wake sports assocation

Our mission to provide opportunities for skiers of all levels to get involved in adaptive water skiing through clinics, recreational events, and competitive tournaments.

Water Skiers with Disabilities Association (now USA Adaptive Water Ski & Wake Sports - USA-AWSWS) was created in 1994 as an official sport division of the American Water Ski Association (now USA Water Ski). The United States Olympic Committee and the International Water Ski Federation recognize USA Water Ski as the National Governing Body for the sport of water skiing in the United States.


The purpose of USA-AWSWS is to organize, promote and direct water skiing for individuals with disabilities from “Learn to Ski” clinics to international competition. Members of USA-AWSWS and their local water ski clubs hold clinics throughout the nation. USA-WSWS sanctions the Water Skiers with Disabilities Water Ski National Championships every Fall. Typically held in conjunction with the Nationals, every other year, on even numbered years, USA-AWSWS coordinates the U.S. Disabled Water Ski Team Trials. USA-AWSWS selects the 14-member U.S. Disabled Water Ski Team on the basis of performances at Nationals to represent the United States at the biannual World Championships the following year.

About Us
3 Event Water Skiing

Whether you’re new to the sport or you’ve been doing it for years, water skiing is an action-packed, fun-filled sport that is open to anyone. One of the greatest things about water skiing is that everyone participates at her or his own level. People with disabilities can ski for fun, compete against others with similar disability, and/or compete against able bodied skiers.


There are 3 Competition Events in traditional and adaptive water skiing (slalom, tricks, and jump)


In the slalom event the skier must go around six buoys that are staggered the length of a 259-meter (850-foot) long course while the boat runs down the middle of the course. Each time the skier successfully completes the course, the boat speed is increased by 3 kph (2 mph) until reaching the maximum speed of 55 kph (34 mph) for women and 58 kph (36 mph) for men. After reaching the maximum speed, the skier’s rope length of 18.25m (60’) is shortened by pre-determined increments after each successful pass. The skier continues until he or she falls or does not go around a buoy.


The tricks event (also sometimes called figures or shortboard) has been described as the most technical of the three events. Standing beginners perform this event on two short skis, and intermediate to elite athletes (standing or seated) perform on one short flat bottomed ski that allows the skier to turn sideways to the boat or ski facing away from the boat. Combinations of these moves can be linked together to perform a variety of tricks with multiple turns both on the surface behind the boat or in the air using the wake as a take-off point.

 An athlete attempts to perform as many tricks as he or she can during two 20-second passes. Each trick has an assigned point value and an athlete may perform each trick only once. The athlete who earns the most points wins the event. Tricks can be performed either with an athlete's foot slipped into a strap attached to the handle, called toehold tricks, or with the handle held in the athlete's hands.


In the jump event, the skier skis over a ramp and tries to go the farthest possible in the air and ski away. There are no style points. Just pop off of the ramp and fly! Each athlete has three attempts to jump as far as they can. The ramp is 14 feet wide by 22 feet long. The height of the ramp can be set at 1.25m (4’), 1.5m (5’), or 1.65m (5.5’) and is selected by the skier. 

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There are 5 Disability Categories within the competition divisions. Detailed information about categories is available from International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation’s Technical Rules for Water Ski for the Disabled, Rule D3 Competition Divisions and Disability Categories.

  • Arm (A1/A2)

  • Leg (L1/LP)

  • Multiple plegics and double leg amputees (MP)

  • Vision impaired (V1 & V2/3)

  • Arm and leg (A/L1 & A/L2)

 From those 5 categories come 3 Competition Divisions in adaptive water skiing.

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Those unable to stand to ski use a sit ski.  Sit skis are longer and wider than able bodied skis and include a metal seating frame (aka a cage). A narrower slalom course is an option for those whose disability is greater such as those with quadriplegia and athletes with both arm and leg disabilities. This division combines all skiers from categories MP1, MP2, MP3, MP4, and  MP5.


Standing athletes use the same equipment as able bodied skiers and may choose to ski with or without prosthesis. This division combines all skiers from categories A/L1, A/L2, A1, A2, L and LP.

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 Vision impaired

Those with vision impairment also use able bodied equipment; however they’re guided by another skier in the jumping event (guide cannot go over the ramp) and use audible signals instead of buoys in the slalom course. The skier turns at the sound of a tone rather than turning around a buoy. The tone is produced by the Audio Slalom Signal Generator (ASSG). The ASSG measures the angle of the rope in relation to the boat path and sounds a tone when the skier has pulled far enough to the outside to simulate a turn around a buoy. This division combines all skiers from categories V1 and V2/3.

Water Skiing is for everybody and everybody can do it!

USA Water Ski & Wake Sports is the national governing body of organized water skiing and wakeboarding in the United States. USA Water Ski & Wake Sports is a member of the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (world governing body), the Pan American Sports Organization and the United States Olympic Committee.

Affiliated with USA Water Ski & Wake Sports as sport discipline organizations are the American Water Ski Association (AWSA), American Barefoot Club (ABC), American Kneeboard Association (AKA), National Collegiate Water Ski Association (NCWSA), National Show Ski Association (NSSA), National Water Ski Racing Association (NWSRA), USA Adaptive Water Ski & Wake Sports (USA-AWSWS), United States Hydrofoil Association (USHA), and USA Wakeboard (USA-WB).

The International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) is the world governing body for all towed water sports and has 90+ affiliated member Federations worldwide. It was founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1946 and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the sole authority governing all towed water sports.  The IWWF is also an affiliate member of the Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations (ARISF), the Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF) and one of the seven founding sports of the World Games.

The IWWF’s competitive and recreational towed water sport divisions include the following: 3-Event Waterskiing), Wakeboard, Barefoot, Show Skiing, Cable Wakeboard, Cableski, Ski Racing, and Disabled Skiing.

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