The EZ-Slalom Frequently Asked Questions
We've attempted here to publish answers to some of the questions we're most often asked. If you'd like an answer to a question not covered here please give us a call toll free at 1-800-216-4461 or you can e-mail your questions to us. We're always happy to answer any questions you may have about our products or anything else that we can help you with.
For detailed information on portable course setup, takedown, trouble shooting and more please visit Aquaskier.Com and view the article "Portable Slalom Course Use 101" written by EZ-Slalom's Ed Obermeier.
Why should I choose EZ-SLALOM?
Very simple. EZ-Slalom is the best built, best engineered, and lowest priced slalom course available. Best Quality + Best Price = Best Value! Sure, it's easy for us to just tell you that EZ-Slalom is the best slalom course available. But it's a claim we're able and happy to back up. To see what our current customers are saying about their EZ-Slalom courses please revisit our Home Page.
What is the difference between EZ-SLALOM and your competitors slalom courses?
That is probably the most asked question we get. For the answer to that question please see our Comparison page.
Why is EZ-SLALOM a better value than the competition?
1) At EZ-Slalom we only sell our products directly to the end user, you. You won't find EZ-Slalom products at a ski shop, boat dealership, online catalog store, or other retail water sports gear outlet. We simply don't do it because we just don't have the profit margin to work with that others have. Why is that?
We put more content into our products. We use the best available materials to construct our slalom courses regardless of what those materials cost. We use the best engineering and construction methods regardless of the additional labor required. We simply invest more into our products. Yet to remain cost competitive we keep our prices as low as we possibly can. Putting more content into the product without jacking the price up to match means that we make a lot less profit but you get a much greater value! We'd rather stay small and give you a great price on a great product than be the largest volume slalom course company around. More content, reasonable price. That's just how we do business at EZ-Slalom.
2) We don't spend loads of money advertising in the major water sports publications, which is quite expensive to do, so we don't have to mark up our prices to cover that expense. We're confident that if we're good enough the water skiing public (you) will hear about us and find us. Our rapidly growing reputation for quality, value, and customer service is all of the advertising we believe we need!
3) We want everyone to be able to afford our products, so we do everything that we can to cut our overhead costs. We then pass along these savings in the form of the lowest possible prices on our courses and kits. When you buy from us you buy direct from the source. No middleman or big advertising cost markups to deal with
Your competitor says that you use zip ties for your buoy arm attachment loops, they use an aluminum crimp. They say their crimp is a much better way to do it. Is that true?
In a word, no. They're only telling you half of the story. It's true that we do use heavy-duty nylon cable ties to form the buoy attachment loop, but we also reinforce the solid mechanical connection created by the cable ties (which by itself is similar in strength to a light weight aluminum crimp) with an adhesive specially formulated for polypropylene rope. This creates a two-stage connection - the mechanical connection of the cable ties then reinforced with a tough, durable chemical bond. In long-term testing this has been proven to be as tough or tougher than their aluminum crimp. Not the most conventional way to do it to be sure, but especially from a structural engineering viewpoint it is a tested, proven, superior way to do it.
An aluminum crimp used on poly rope at the buoy arm attachment loop tends to wear the rope at either side of the crimp, which over time leads to the failure of the rope at the loop crimp. This means the mainline has to be returned for repair or replacement, which means down time for its owner. Our competition is well aware of this problem. By replacing the crimp with a nonabrasive connector (the cable ties and specially formulated adhesive we use) we have removed this potential for failure by removing the source of the failure, the crimp. We've personally seen two of our competitors mainlines fail at the arm attachment loop (several worn and failed loops on each mainline). We're still using a 9 year old prototype EZ-Slalom mainline, built using our cable-tie-and adhesive method, that has not had this problem. We think that should pretty much answer that issue.
It costs less than 10 cents in materials to crimp a loop into the rope. Our cable tie-and-adhesive arm attachment loops cost almost a dollar each to build (ten times more than they spend), plus they require significantly more time and labor to build in this manner. Why would we do that if it wasn't a proven better way to do it? It would be much easier (and cheaper) to just use a crimp. It just doesn't make sense that we would guarantee our mainlines for at least ten years if we weren't certain that they would hold up. Don't believe for a second that an aluminum crimp is better than our cable tie-and-adhesive arm attachment loop method. It's just not true.
Do you sell steel cable mainlines?
Yes we do!
After doing the research we're of the opinion that for a portable course a steel cable mainline is really not necessary. We do realize however that some people prefer to use a cable mainline for a portable course rather than a poly rope mainline. Our stainless steel cable mainlines are built and designed to be useable for either portable or permanent installations, and will work with any of our three different buoy arm designs. The choice is yours.
If you're going to put in a permanent or semi-permanent course, we recommend steel cable. However we do have numerous customers who have been using our poly rope mainlines for 3 - 4 years now in semi-permanent installations without problem. If you want a truly portable course that's easy and quick to set up, take down, and transport we suggest going with a poly rope mainline. For a permanent or semi-permanent installation we suggest going with the stainless steel cable. However, the final decision is yours.
Won't a polypropylene rope mainline stretch? Won't that throw off accuracy?
Yes, it will stretch a bit, but NO it won't throw off accuracy. Here's why.
First of all it's true that poly rope does have a certain amount of stretch to it. That is the nature of poly rope. We factor that stretch (which is a known quantity) into every mainline we build and we guarantee our mainlines to be within and to remain within the dimensions established by USAWS and IWSF rules. In fact there is actually an inherent benefit to using rope with a bit of stretch to it. The benefit? That very slight amount of stretch acts as a tensioning and cushioning factor much the way a bungee cord used to hold down a tarp (in example) does, although of course there is nowhere near as much stretch to poly rope as their is to a bungee cord. This allows for some movement of the courses structure (the mainline and buoy arms) without placing too much stress on those components yet still returns into perfectly correct position. Anchors are also less likely to be pulled loose from the bottom if there is something to cushion the stresses placed on the course structure by the repeated forces of a boat and skier passing over the structure of the course. You don't get this benefit from no-stretch steel cable, thus much heavier anchors are generally required to hold a steel-cable mainline completely taut.
We use the highest quality, twisted 3-strand poly rope available, which minimizes any inherent stretch. Poly rope has been used successfully and has proven its reliability for mainline use since the first portable slalom courses were sold beginning back in 1985. Actually, very few portable courses are sold with a steel cable mainline, and once installed you won't be able to tell any difference. As for the life span of our poly rope mainlines, we guarantee our mainline will last at least 10 years. See our Price List page for details of our EZ-Slalom Ten Year warranty.
Do you sell buoys and anchors?
Yes we do.
We can include buoys and anchors with your course or kit order. See our Price List page for details and pricing.
Do you sell river current adapters?
Yes we do!
Having said that, you should know that river current adapters are not a hassle free system. They add significantly to set up time and require more work to get your course properly aligned. If you have no other choice of sites you will require a current adapter system to use a portable course in current successfully. If you can avoid sites with current, to save your self a lot of additional work and hassle we would suggest that you do so.
There are two different designs (at least that we are aware of) for current adapters. The first type attaches one end of the adapter line to the end gate up-current from the buoy arms, the other end attaches at a point on the arm itself. This setup works to stabilize the buoy arm in much the same way that a down-guy line on an overhead power pole works to hold the pole straight against the tension of the power line. The good news is that this setup can be installed from the boat . The bad news is that in order to get your course to go straight and to stay straight you have to be absolutely certain that your anchors will lock into the bottom on both ends.
The second design is simply a slight variation on the first design. It requires that you set two additional anchors up-current from the buoy arms rather than attach the current adapter lines at the end gate, one additional anchor for each side of the course in addition to the two anchors required for the mainline. Otherwise this system uses the exact same adapter lines as the first type. You then run a line from each anchor to the first buoy arm on each side of the course, and then run lines from arm to arm on each side. You must then pull each anchor into proper position to get that sides arms straight against the current. This system is similar to the first type except for the fact that you use separate anchors to hold the buoy arms against the current rather than attaching everything together at the end gate. The upside of this type of system is that it doesn't stress your mainline anchors and mainline as much as the first type can. Obviously though the use of either of these systems is a time consuming process.
What's up with your course kits?
The whole idea behind our Special Plus™ and HeavyDuty™ course kits is to offer the customer a way to save money on their slalom course without sacrificing quality or design features. Buoy arms are actually pretty simple to build, especially from our kits which contain all of the major components (mainline, buoy lines etc), parts, and illustrated instructions. Invest a Saturday afternoon in some simple arm assembly and you can save $100 - 150 or more on your own portable OR permanent slalom course. See our Course Kits page for more detailed information.
How long does it take to set up or take down an EZ-SLALOM course?
Our portable slalom course can be installed and removed in an AVERAGE of 15 to 25 minutes without rushing around, once you become familiar with how it all goes together. That's for both the STANDARD and the COMPACT EZ-Slalom courses and assumes this is being done by three people who have set the course up a few times and are somewhat familiar with it. Two people can do it in 30 - 35 minutes or less average. We have actually set our course up in under 15 minutes, however this was done by three people who were very familiar and experienced with it and were installing it under ideal conditions. We normally don't like to rush around that much so we just tell people to figure on 20 - 25 minutes average.
For our HeavyDuty™ steel cable mainline courses with HeavyDuty™ buoy arms, the install time should be in the 45 - 60 minute range (or less). Our new arm design is designed to be tough and stable, yet is designed to be installed quickly and without tools of any kind! Yet another example of our thoughtful, superior engineering!
Why would I even want or need to own my own portable slalom course?
The fact of the matter is that the only way to improve your course skiing is to practice your skiing on a course! Sure, you need to do some open water skiing too but without some way to measure your progress how do you know that you're improving? If you have access to a permanently installed and readily available course you're one of the lucky few. Most us us do not have ready access to a permanently available course. So if you want to ski the course regularly the easiest solution is to own your own! Then you can ski the course whenever you want to and you get to pick the site!
How much lake do I need to install a slalom course?
This has been the subject of quite a bit of discussion that we've seen on the Internet. In our opinion, 2000 linear feet of open water is probably the minimum distance required to put up a course, allow sufficient turn around space at both ends of your course, and give your boat rollers room to clear out from both the course itself and from the skiers setup area. In a dedicated, properly constructed slalom lake designed to soak up the rollers you can probably get away with 1600', maybe even less.
How do you determine this in the open lake?
At 36 mph it takes 16 seconds to go through the course end gate to end gate. At the place where you intend to install your course, bring your boat up to speed and after passing the spot where you intend to place one of your end gates (find a landmark on the shore to help mark this point) allow another 10 seconds to pass and then execute your turn around. Go back through your imaginary course (which requires 16 seconds), allow another 10 seconds on the other end and turn around. If you have enough room to allow 10 seconds on both ends and 16 seconds through the place where your course will be situated you have enough room to set up your course. This is, of course, our personal recommendation and we realize that it is subject to discussion, argument, personal preference, and (we're sure) ridicule. But it works for us!
How much anchor weight do I need to use?
Anchor weight in and of itself may not be enough to get your course to go/stay straight. The design of the anchors must be suitable for the bottom conditions at your site so that they will "lock in" and hold in whatever bottom conditions you're dealing with. You will of course need a certain amount of weight for your anchors to work properly, but their design (in our experience) is more important than what they weigh. The whole idea of having a portable slalom course is that it is "portable". Massive, heavy anchors (i.e. buckets of concrete) just aren't really very portable, and they're unnecessary for portable course use. We recommend 30 pound tri-fluted river anchors for any portable course. They're heavy enough to go down quickly, they're really quite compact, and their design holds well in a large variety of bottom conditions. We've experimented with every type of anchor available in every bottom condition imaginable , and we have had the best experience with these. We strongly recommend that you invest in good, well designed, compact anchors for best performance. Consider it money well spent!
For a permanent or semi-permanent course we'd recommend heavier anchors (50 lbs or more) although dependent on bottom conditions at your site, the 30 lb river anchors may work. Portability isn't as great an issue with a permanent installation so heavier anchors would be preferable in most cases.
Why don't you sell your products online through your web site?
Basically, in order to help keep our overhead (and thus the costs of our products) down we've made a conscious decision to not get into it at this time. This is due primarily to the cost to operate and maintain an online ordering system. For the present time we're accepting credit card payments via telephone, cashiers checks and money orders by mail, and electronic fund transfers. We're reevaluating online ordering and may offer secure online ordering at some point in the future but for right now we think that for the sake of safety it's better to err on the side of playing it safe with your personal information.
Actually it is quite fast and simple to order from us via telephone. Call us toll free at 1-800-216-4461 anytime between 8 AM and 8 PM CST, we'll answer any and all of your questions, and in a few minutes we can complete any transaction and send your order on its way! We think that the additional security is worth the trouble and we hope that you will too.
Plus, we love to discuss water skiing and course design with you!
Just who is EZ-Slalom Course Systems anyway?
We're a small group of avid water sports enthusiasts who love and actively support the sport of slalom skiing. We're a small, family-owned company founded on the idea that slalom course skiing should be both available and affordable to anyone interested in the sport, regardless of ability or income.
We're also members of both USA Waterski and INT League.
EZ-Slalom is based in rural Paola, Kansas, about a half-hour south of the Kansas City area.
EZ-Slalom is the OFFICIAL SLALOM COURSE of the INT LEAGUE
and OFFICIAL NATIONAL SPONSOR!
Thank You for taking the time to review our information. If you have a question about something not covered here and would like to request a brochure, additional information, or would like to discuss any issue with us person-to-person please contact us by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us toll free at 800-216-4461. We enjoy answering your questions and we'd love to hear from you!