“Great skiers are made in the summer” is an adage as true as man landing on the moon- everyone believes and accepts it, except a few conspiracy theorists in tinfoil hats. It’s simple, if you want to be properly prepared for a great winter of racing, summer is when you really need to get down to business. Running can accomplish this very well, biking is ok, but rollerskiing is ESSENTIAL.
Think about it this way, if you are trying to be a fast runner you’re going to run for training. If you are training to be a fast swimmer, you’re going to swim for training. So…. If you’re trying to be a fast skier, you need to SKI for training in the summer. Your training methods should translate 100% to you racing activity, or as close to it as possible. This is accomplished perfectly on a glacier, but unfortunately that is not a feasible option every workout. This is where rollerskiing comes in.
Rollerskiing is not a perfect substitute for snow skiing, but it is as close as you are going to get without snow. The balance points of rollerskis are different and rollerskis are shorter and heavier than skis, but the motions are very similar, as well as the cardiovascular benefits- building capillaries in your upper and lower body at the same time. Rollerskiing also incorporates major balance and strength components which translates closely to on snow skiing.
Rollerskiing is not especially common in the US, but that is slowly changing as people become more serious about racing fast in the winter. If you want to see improvement in your winter racing, get started rollerskiing now! Here’s what you need to get rolling:
1) Boots: Your boots for on snow skiing (skate or classic) are the same ones you will use for rollerskiing! A few brands offer rollerski specific boots, but they are just regular ski boots with mesh instead of insulation (since it’ not cold in the summer).
2) Bindings: Since you will be using your regular snow skiing boots, make certain that you have bindings that match your boots (SNS or Prolink/NNN)
3) Poles: Your regular snow skiing poles are good to go for rollerskiing with one simple adjustment: they need special tips (called ferrules) to replace the baskets on the bottom. These ferrules are a hardened spike that bites into the asphalt to give you purchase with your poles.
4) Rollerskis: A good pair of classic or skate (or both) rollerskis is essential. Older beat up rollerskis may work but are not always safe and can be extremely frustrating if the wheels are worn out, the shafts are warped, or the forks are cracked or bent. A good pair of high quality rollerskis will make rollerskiing safer, more fun, and allow you to have better technique and mimic snow skiing more closely.
5) Helmet: Do not rollerski without a good helmet that fits correctly. Older helmets are ok, but the foam used in modern helmets loses its effectiveness after 5 years or so. Even if you think you won’t fall, what if someone else hits you? Or a dog runs in front of you? It’s not worth it, get a helmet and wear it. Is your brain worth more than $50? We thought so.
6) Bright clothing or rollerski vest: Make sure if you are on a road with cars that you are as visible as possible!
Once you have all your equipment, you are ready to get started rollerskiing, here are a few tips for your first time:
1) Try putting on and walking around on your rollerskis on grass the first time to get a feel for how they balance and move under you. Slowly transition to asphalt.
2) When you do make the transition to asphalt, take it slow. Remember that rollerskis don’t have brakes so make sure you know any road or bike path you are travelling on and anticipate well in advance when you will need to stop.
3) Concrete is too hard for your poles to get purchase and it dulls your pole tips very fast. Stick to asphalt, it is relatively much softer, to your poles anyway.
4) TAKE IT SLOW. Rollerskiing can be painful if you don’t keep the wheels on the ground. Take your time getting comfortable on them before you really get after it.
There it is, nothing to it. Rollerskiing is not something that only World Cup skiers do, it can be done by everyone with relative ease. There is a learning curve, but no good things come easy. Put in the effort this summer, get into rollerskiing, and make yourself a great ski racer…. By skiing in the summer right from your front door.
Let us know if you have any questions!
Enjoywinter.com and SkiPost