Now is the time to train for 2018!
Rollerskiing is the most ski-specific offseason training available. And it’s fun! Check out what you do (and don’t) need to get started.
One of the best ways to improve your fitness for the winter months and achieve your racing goals is to train on rollerskis in the summer and fall. Rollerskiing engages all the muscles you use in in xc skiing, and improves balance and stability on skis. I often hear from skiers after their first offseason of rollerski training that the “breaking-in” period or learning curve when they first get on snow is must faster or non-existent at all compared to previous years. The strength, fitness, and balance you get from your time on rollerskis allows you to hit the trails after that first snow in mid-season form.
What do you need?
There are a couple of barriers that prevent many skiers from getting out on rollerskis in the first place. One is the perception of needing more costly equipment. Really, there are just three things: a helmet (which you probably already have), the rollerskis themselves, and special tips for your poles, roller ferrules, that replace your snow baskets during the summer. You can use your same boots and same poles on the road. Ferrules are in the $20 per pair range, and rollerskis start at just $209 plus bindings, depending on your boot system.
What don’t you need?
Beyond the essentials, you can add accessories just as you see fit. Poles can see more wear and tear on the road, so some skiers will get dedicated poles just for rollerskiing. But the length is the same as your regular ski poles. You do stand higher on rollerskis, but the poles don’t sink into the pavement like into snow, so it balances out. Super-stiff 100% carbon poles will transmit vibration, so a lower carbon-content pole that has some flex can be easier on your elbow and wrist joints.
You can use your same boots. Also available, summer rollerskiing boots are lighter weight and ventilated, and some skiers like to use them or an older pair of boots to reduce the wear and tear on their racing boots. One nice aspect of your high-end racing boots is that they are durable and they have very little padding and insulation so there is little material to soak up sweat. Occasional rollerskiing shouldn’t significantly reduce the life of your boots as long as you dry them out after each use and are careful walking on asphalt/gravel etc. If you are pounding the pavement daily, you can expect to put enough wear and tear on the boots that a second set may be necessary.
Brakes and speed reducers tend to be a matter of personal preference and tend to be most appealing to beginner rollerskiers. The reality is that neither brakes nor speed reducers are very good at dealing with unknowns or surprises. Speed reducers need to be applied from a standstill and are good for slowing you down on long descents or for resistance training. Brakes are similarly good for gradually slowing you down on descents or coming to a gradual stop. Neither are good for quick stops when an unexpected patch of gravel appears, for example. As far as gaining confidence on rollerskis, you already have balance and technique from your time on snow, so just putting some time in on a parking lot can be enough to get comfortable before you head out for real. The ideal situation is to find bike paths, trails, and roads that don’t have downhills with sharp corners or stop signs at the bottom. Scouting your terrain ahead of time is necessary. Many skiers are content with finding one or two good loops or out/back stretches that have little traffic and wide shoulders. If swimmers can spend two hours doing the same 25 yards back and forth…
We are happy to answer all your questions here at BNS. We have multiple models of skate and classic rollerskis from multiple brands as well as all the boots, bindings, poles, and accessories to help you have fun on the road. And we have inexpensive ski, pole, and binding packages from SkiGo for every level of racer!
Boulder Nordic Sport Midwest
8929 Penn Ave S
Bloomington MN 55417