For the cross-country or skate ski enthusiast, there is a lesser known option for pre-season training, rollerskiing!

What is rollerskiing? In a nutshell, it’s cross-country skiing on pavement. Rollerskis are short skis mounted on wheels, and they allow the user to mimic the movements of classical and skate skiing. The boots are the same as winter boots, the poles are slightly different in that they have reinforced tips to prevent them from breaking off.

Initially, only serious, hard-core Nordic athletes used rollerskis. It was considered a challenging training tool, and most assumed the recreational cross-country skier wouldn’t be interested in it.

Today, however, that attitude has changed. Many folks are enjoying rollerskiing as a fun way to exercise. Be forewarned though, if you don’t have any cross country or skate ski experience and technique, you should skip the rollerskiing and wait for the real snow. Keep in mind that snow is more forgiving if you fall!

There are many models of rollerskis available, but most fall into two categories: skate-specific and dual category. The latter skis have wider rubber wheels, and this makes them more stable than the skate ski ones. If you have previous Nordic skiing experience, but no rollerskiing experience, you should try the dual rollerskis first, for several reasons.

First, the main point of rollerskiing is to give your upper body a Nordic workout that is challenging to duplicate any other way. Second, you take up less room on the road or path if you are classic rollerskiing, and lastly, the dual skis are more stable and can help you get used to rollerskis. When you get the hang of them, you can still use them for skate skiing.

Here are a few safety tips for folks that are considering roller skiing:

Wear a helmet, bright clothing.
Kneepads, elbow pads and gloves are a good idea.
Learn to stop and snowplow first.
Make sure your bindings are secure and haven’t loosened up.
Watch for vehicles and classic skate when they are passing you.
Ski single file, and look for roads with less traffic.
Watch out for steep downhills!
When in doubt about a downhill, take off your skis and walk down.

Whether you live in a city, a suburb or the mountains, rollerskiing can be done anywhere. Just remember to pad up and plan your route well. Try rollerskiing and have some fun!

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