ROLLERSKIING 101 & LESSONS
Learn to rollerski from experts. Improve your fitness and prep for next year's season. Rollerskiing can be dangerous, let us set you up for success!
Cross country skiers use them for staying in shape and for recreation in the snow-less months. Rollerski once or twice a week through the summer months, then step it up to 3 or 4 times a week when fall comes and you'll be ready to ski as if the snow had never left. We recommend rollerskiing for skiers of intermediate and advanced skills. Rollerskiing can be dangerous. Falling on asphalt is unpleasant at best. So we like to see skiers have experience and good balance on snow skis before they take up rollerskiing. Having said that less experienced skiers and even beginners can rollerski, but some precautions are in order. Some skis are easier than others for beginners to use. Read more about that below in Which Skis to Buy, Equipment Needed and Getting Started.
Which Skis to Buy...
Do you want to skate or diagonal stride? This is the first question to answer. Skis for diagonal stride ("Classic" skiing) have a ratcheted wheel on each ski that won't roll in reverse, so you can push down and back to stride forward. Skate skis free wheel in either direction, so they can't be used for diagonal stride. The classic skis are stable in double poling and classic striding, due to the flat, wide wheel shape. Skate wheels don't have ratchets and are taller and narrower. This creates a smaller contact patch which translates to more precise push off in skating. In addition, this narrower profile tends to not catch small pebbles and cause crashes. In skating we are more vulnerable to this as we are really commited out on one ski at a time in the extension phase.
What Surface Will You Ski On?
Concrete is not an option, because your pole tips won't sink into it. Asphalt, hard packed dirt, and limestone chip trails, are the surfaces you need. Grass and sand are too soft. If you have smooth asphalt, the small wheeled skis will roll easily and they are lighter than the Aero (pnuematic tires) skis. However you will be unable to use them on very rough surfaces. If you anticipate some smooth asphalt and some rough surface use, the small wheels are fine. If you only have rough surfaces, Aeros are definitely the choice. We recommend the Aero XL150S(150mm or 6 inch wheels) for very rough surfaces.
Is your terrain very hilly, flat, or somewhere in between? If it is very hilly you may want to add speed reducers to whichever skis you pick so you can slow them down for descending slowly and safely. If you are skilled and hardly ever fall, medium hilly terrain can be skied without the speed reducers. On flat terrain, speed reducers are not necessary for most skiers, but they can be useful for adding skiing resistance for a more strenuous workout. Most rollerskis roll at a speed approximating medium to fast snow conditions. For skating you will be able to use V1 technique on the flats.
Steep downhills, open cracks and holes in the pavement, gravel strewn over asphalt, small sticks and isolated pebbles, and tarred cracks in pavement all are obstacles rollerskiers must watch for. Watch the road surface and step or steer around obstacles. Skiing into an obstacle can suddenly stop your wheels resulting in a face plant.
Bindings: Use the same kind of bindings you use on your snow skis, but we recommend racing bindings over automatic ones, because they give a tighter boot to ski link. They mount to the rollerskis with screws, just like on snow skis. Your shoe size is important for placing the binding correctly on the rollerski.
Boots: Supportive boots are essential for control. Rollerskis are more "tippy" than snow skis. It's tempting to use your old worn out boots, but if they don't offer good lateral support for snow skiing, they will be very inadequate for the increased stability demands of roller skiing. Many skiers prefer to even classic ski in their skate boots for the added ankle support.
Poles: Use the same poles you use for snow skiing but replace the baskets with rollerski ferrules which have a spike, hardened for asphalt use. Use a stiff pole and don't slam it into the asphalt. A really limber pole does not protect your elbows from shock and may cause tendonitis issues.
Helmet: A bike helmet will do.
Gloves: Use a lightweight glove for summer use. One that is reinforced in critical areas, especially between the thumb and forefinger.
Knee, Elbow & Wrist Pads: Knee and elbow are used by some rollerskiers for extra protection, especially for less than expert skiers. Wrist guards, like those used by inline skaters aren't an option because you can't wear them with poles.
Getting your balance is the first priority. Roller skis are "tippier" than skis. Get used to balancing on them standing still before you roll away. On a level surface step into your bindings and support yourself with the poles. Then step from ski to ski, balancing on one foot at a time. Step in a circle while stationary. Circle in the opposite direction. Become comfortable stepping from ski to ski and balancing before you have to use these skills while rolling down the road.
Ready to roll? Stay on two feet for a while and just double pole. Step your skis back parallel to one another if they tend to wander apart. Now double pole and lift one ski while rolling. Step from ski to ski while rolling. Step in a circle while moving. Reverse direction.
Now add the skiing motions. Skate without poles. Use a short diagonal stride before you work up to a fully extended position. At the risk of stating the obvious, be careful never to plant a pole between your skis.
Brakes are now available for all V2 models. They have excellent modulation so you have lots of control over how quickly you want to stop. Experienced skiers with a brake can stop in seconds. If your skis have speed reducers, you can activate them at the top of a downhill and descend slowly. Think ahead and avoid terrain or situations beyond your ability to ski. Practice the brake at slow speed before you need to do it for real.
Eventually you will have to replace tires. How you use your skis determines how long the tires last. Rough asphalt and hot asphalt will wear your tires out more quickly than smoother, cooler surfaces. Larger skiers tend to wear tires more quickly, too. Rotate your skis as you use them to wear the tires evenly. One way to do this is switch skis midway through a session. Replace solid wheels when they become unevenly worn and unstable. Replace inflatable tires when the tread is gone.
The following is an excerpt from Len Jennings, designer of V2 rollerskis. The article is from his blog from April 6th, 2002 just after the Salt Lake City Olympics, more than ten years old now but very pertinent.
April 6, 2002
Roller Ski Questions: Got some e mail questions on roller ski speed and also requests from medalists at the Salt Lake Olympics. In the first e mail, a top age group American Master skier felt it was better to train with the Aero skate skis at reduced air pressure for greater rolling resistance. But, many of his friends said no, faster is better and he e mailed me for my comments.
Comments: In 1987 Dr. Arthur Forsberg did a study on Swedish Junior skiers. He noted that the Swedish Juniors had logged more hours training than the skiers in the past, but they did not have the oxygen uptake capacity of the Swedish Junior skiers from the 70's. In reviewing the training log books he discovered that about 50% of the dry land training was on roller skis. Dr. Forsberg decided to measure the metabolic demand of the roller skis, compared to snow skiing. What he found was that the skiers were training 2 to 3 hours on relatively flat terrain on fast roller skis.
What Dr. Forsberg discovered was that the metabolic demand of the roller skis was only about 65% to 75 % of snow skiing. The pulse rates were very similar to skiing on snow, but the metabolic demand was much lower. So..... lot's of training, but not enough resistance. Arthur Forsberg states that conditioning is a consumable resource that must continuously be replenished. In order to increase cardiovascular capacity there must be increased load on the system. The increased load can be achieved by more training or by greater intensity.
Training has a central and localized effect. The central training requires the use of large muscle groups in an aerobic state. This develops the hart muscle, the lungs and the capability of blood to absorb oxygen. However, the muscle development is dependent on the specific form of training. This is referred to a localized muscle effect. Specific training develops and changes muscle mass, enzyme activity, slow and fast twitch fibers, capillary action and energy conversion.
We know that long training passes are required, but we must also look at the quality of the training. To increase oxygen uptake we need at least 60 - 70 % of max V02. If the skis roll too easily resistance for proper training is insufficient. Today skiers need more than maximum oxygen uptake. They also need anaerobic capacity, strength, technique and tactics.
Roller Ski Study
The best data we have of snow skiing, versus roller skiing, comes from a study in Falun, Sweden. This study was supervised by Dr. Karin Piehl- Aulin. The study was made in order to determine how V2-910 roller skis simulate on snow skiing. There is in Falun a ski course in the winter that is the asphalt roller ski course in the summer.
The study includes six juniors, ages 15 to 16, five boys and one girl. The max V02 of the subjects was 76 with three over 68. The test site was identical for snow and roller skiing. The course for distance warm-up was 3,400 meters and consisted of three laps. For speed the course was 2,500 meters and consisted of two laps. The snow test was done in the beginning of March and in the middle of May the subjects were asked to roller ski the same course using V2-910, the slowest roller ski that Jenex makes. For the on snow test the conditions were perfect, -4C with well prepared tracks. In May the conditions were excellent with sunshine, no wind and a temperature of 20C (68F )
Test Procedure. For the 10.2 K warm-up workout the skiers were asked to ski at a pace for a typical long distance workout. After ten minutes of rest, the subjects skied the 5 kilometer course at race pace. After each workout the skiers were asked to rate their effort according to the Borg scale. Lactic acid values were measured directly after both the distance and maximum tempo and also 3 minutes after maximum tempo.
Here is a comparison of on snow versus roller skis for the 5K race tempo.
Subject 1 on snow time 17:00 roller skis 16:45, Pulse 190 vs 194, lactate 10.2 vs 9.3. Subject 2 was sick and could not roller ski. Subject 3 on snow 16:32 roller skiing 16:55, pulse 196 vs 198, lactate 10.7 vs 8.9. Subject 4 on snow 16:05 roller skiing 15:05, Pulse 193 vs 195, lactate 10.1 vs 9.00. Subject 5 on snow 16:03 roller skiing 16:30, Pulse 189 vs 185, Lactate 9.4 vs 5.5. Subject 6 on snow 18:26 vs 18:05 roller skiing, Pulse 187 vs 196, lactate 4.9 vs 5.7.
This is how the subjects rated their effort. ( The first value is on snow, the second value is roller skiing. ) #1 19 - 19. #2 N/A. #3 17 vs 19. #4 14 vs 16. #5 18 vs 18. #6 16 vs 18.
Why did 3 of the 5 skiers think roller skiing was tougher even though 3 of the 5 skied faster on roller skis? There are several reasons. When skiing in a track, or in a narrow ski path, the sensation of speed is highly increased. When skiing on a wide paved road, the sensation of speed is reduced. The fact that roller skis are harder to balance on than snow skis makes some users feel it's slower and harder. But, the people who made the study feel that the main reason was probably insufficient time on roller skis. It was only mid May and most had done very little roller skiing. The person that was one minute faster on roller skis and thought roller skiing was easier, had roller skied substantially more that spring than the other skiers in the test.
The exercise physiologists made the following comments: " The test results reinforce the opinion that the V2-910 is very similar in speed to snow skiing."
More on Roller Ski Speed: Received an e mail from Estonia today. It said: "We want V2 roller skis with the slowest wheels that you have because these skis are for top skiers like Veerpalu and Mae."
John Bauer, who had the top US results at the Olympics with a terrific 12th place finish, uses 910's and the 9848 for classic and the Aero skate for most of his training.
When Gunde Svan was at his best, Scandinavian roller skis were too fast, so he trained a lot in the woods running and pulling a log on a harness for up to 3 hours for his resistance training.