Skiing versus boarding -- on water

Sunday , May 31, 2015 - 6:00 AM

Spencer Durrant

Water-skiing and wakeboarding are two of the most popular water sports in Utah, and with the warmer weather here earlier than usual, Utahns are itching to get out and play on the water.

Warm water in the spring usually signals the start of great early-year fly-fishing for me and the other trout bums in Utah, but if you’re thinking you’d like to get out and try something new this spring, water-skiing or wakeboarding would be a great option.

Water-skiing is performed with two skis, much like alpine skiing, while wakeboarding is performed on a board, like snowboarding. Chances are, if you enjoy skiing or boarding Utah’s mountains in the winter, you’ll love skiing and boarding its reservoirs.

In water-skiing, a lot of the same skills required for successful snow-skiing apply. You have to be able to dig your edges into the water for turns and keep your knees bent and loose.

The biggest difference lies in the fact that you use a lot of your upper body in order to water-ski (and wakeboard). You have to hold onto the two rope and constantly be pushing down to keep yourself upright on the skis.

Rick Koloch, of Marine Products in Salt Lake City, said that waterskiing and wakeboarding both will “shred” you.

“If you take the whole water-skiing and wakeboarding, I don’t think I’ve seen anybody not shredded (after a day on the water),” Koloch said. “It takes so much upper-body strength.”

In addition to using so much more upper-body muscles, you’ll also be moving a lot faster on the water than on the snow slopes.

“You also go a lot faster when you’re water-skiing (than snow-skiing)” Koloch said.

“Wakeboarding, you’ll get to 26-27 miles per hour, but water-skiing you’ll be at like 36-37 miles per hour.”

While the skills may not be exactly the same as their snow-slope counterparts, Koloch said the lifestyle is pretty similar between snow-skiing and snowboarding, and water-skiing and wakeboarding.

I did try wakeboarding once, at East Canyon a few years ago, and I found that much easier than water-skiing. Which can be seen as slightly ironic, seeing as I prefer skis while on the snow — two boards are easier to work with than one!

On water (the nonfrozen kind), I’ve found wakeboarding to be easier to learn and to master.

Wakeboarding is more closely related to surfing than to snowboarding, but there are some similarities.

The bindings on a wakeboard are similar to those on a snowboard, as is the stance. The biggest difference is again the amount of upper-body strength you’ll use to keep yourself up on the board.

Koloch said he enjoys wakeboarding more than water-skiing.

“Wakeboarding isn’t as competitive as waterskiing,” Koloch said. “I feel like the lifestyle is more laid-back, like snowboarding.”

Koloch also believes wakeboarding is easier to learn than waterskiing, because you generally don’t go as fast. However, just as with snowboarding, wakeboarding is a bit tougher to get better at than water-skiing.

Water-skiing and wakeboarding are great ways to get the family out on the water together for a weekend on Utah’s beautiful reservoirs. Some of the best lakes to enjoy water sports on include Pineview Reservoir, Causey, Flaming Gorge and East Canyon.

Wherever you end up recreating, remember to wear life jackets and brief everyone on common-sense safety procedures. And most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself.

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