Skiyaker's post about running the course raised some questions that I have had for a while, but wasn't sure who to ask. I am an average slalom free-skier (never tried the course), but would like to try it at some point. I admit I know a lot more about wakeboarding, although I have been skiing for longer. My wife used to compete some in INT when she was younger, but is not a whole lot of help on the questions I have, and I don't know anyone else that skis, so I figured you all could help.

First, when will I know when I am ready to start running the course? And if I have never skiied it before, what line length should I start at? We never really ski at 75', so is it safe to start at 15' off? Or is it better to start at full length?

Also, how fast should I ski. I have skiied at around 32mph before, but I am pretty out of control. I have also gained weight since then, so I have gotten a wider ski so I could ski a little slower. I think last time I went out skiiing, I ran at 28mph. Is that still too fast to run the course the first time? How slow can it be run?

Related to the above, I have yet to figure out the scoring/run system for slalom skiing. Where does one start in a tournament and how does one move up? Is it 15 off @ 28, then 30, then 32, then 34 and then to 22 off and repeat the speed increases? Or do you run all the line lengths at 28mph, and then up the speed to 30 and run them again? That doesn't sound right since 43off at any speed would be very tough. I understand the bouy count I think, a bouy for everyone you round, and a half bouy if you make it back to the centerline of the boat path? Is that right?

I have the book "The Complete Guide to Waterskiing" or whatever it is called, and they talk about the mini-course and shadowing the bouys, but they don't get into speeds and line lengths.

Last questions is regarding the ski. My wife claims that unless a skier is elite and deep into shortline at higher speeds, that the wing on the fin hurts more that it helps. Have ya'll heard this? Do you have an opinion?

Thanks for the help!