For those of you who are unfamiliar with this rapidly growing sport, roller skiing was first developed in the 1930’s as a way for cross country skiers to continue training throughout the summer months. It is now a recognised competitive sport, and races are held throughout the world.
WHY ROLLER SKI?
Roller skis are shorter than traditional skis and vary from between 21 to 35 inches (54 to 89 cms). If you are a serious skier and want to maintain ski fitness all year round, then obviously this is a sport in which you should participate. The roller skis emulate the feel and speed of snow and you use the same boots and poles that you would use with skis. You can choose to buy classic roller skis, skate roller skis or skis which allow you to choose which cross country technique you wish to follow. The classic roller skis simulate the classic ski stride whereas the skate roller skis have free rotating wheels and are much easier to use. The classic and combination roller skis have a longer wheelbase and wider wheels than the skate skis. Even if you don’t ski, roller skiing is a marvellous low impact way to improve fitness. They are slower than roller blades, as you are generally only travelling at the speed of a cross country skier - between 6-10 miles per hour (10 – 16 kph). This slower speed means you can stop quicker and the impact of any fall will be lessened. Roller skiing not only gives you a good lower body workout but also gives the upper body a workout due to the use of ski poles. It is also far kinder on the knees and joints than running or jogging.
SAFETY GEAR AND A REFLECTIVE SAFETY VEST
Roller skiers should use the same safety equipment that would be used when rollerblading. That means a good quality helmet which fits perfectly on the head, elbow pads, knee pads and gloves. A reflective vest is essential, as roller skiing is a sport which is generally undertaken on a pavement or a road where there will be other road users. You need to ensure that you are highly visible to everyone around you. Beginners are advised to check out their route before they start, to ensure there are no obstacles in their path and don’t go out if your route is wet. Remember, roller skis don’t have brakes!