Getting Started

Roller skiing is easy so get started. The best location is to start on is an open flat area like a car park or a dedicated cycling track with smooth tarmac and no cars.

Equipment you will need: roller skis, boots, poles, gloves, cycling helmet, reflective vest and protective elbow and knee pads.

The most important thing to concentrate on is the technic when you start roller skiing to be able to get the most out of your roller skiing. To learn to break is imperative and should be one of the first things you learn!

With only the toe part being locked in to the roller skis the balance can be a challenge to start with. It can take up to 4 to 6 roller skiing session before you feel you have mastered the balance factor and anything between 2 – 4 month to get the perfect roller skiing technic. Before good technic the speed will not be there but don’t despair as you will get a good workout even when you are trying to improve the technic.

Roller skiing is also a perfect way to get fit for the skiing season, even if you are doing alpine skiing.  It will get your stamina up and your leg muscles switched on. 

Health benefits of Roller Skiing

Cross-country skiers are amongst the fittest sport people in the world.

The benefits of roller-skiing and x-country skiing are many and varied.

Foremost it is a low-impact, aerobic and anaerobic, skilled activity suitable for all ages and all abilities.

This means: -

  • That it is a bit friendlier on joints than running.
  • It employs large muscle groups making demands on the heart and lungs to transport the blood required to deliver the oxygen and nutrients to those muscles. The heart is arguably the most important muscle to train.
  • It is extremely high in calorific expenditure so a fabulous way to loose or maintain a healthy body weight by burning energy.
  • It is a skill to learn and improve upon whatever your level. This makes it an interesting sport where fitness can sometimes be overridden by a better technique.
  • All levels means from International racing to a nice gentle ski to the next mountain hut in beautiful scenery for another hot chocolate.
  • It can be sociable and Ski Fit creates a friendly environment to meet likeminded people.  

There are two key disciplines in cross country, often referred to as Nordic Skiing, those being ‘Classic’ and ‘Freestyle’ (otherwise known as Skating.)

Below are some of the key points from each discipline.

Classic Style:

History has evidence pointing all the way back to 5000 BC for the earliest forms of skiing and there is no doubt that Cross Country Skiing was a means of transport in China, Russia, Sweden and Norway throughout prehistoric periods.

Basic techniques are: -

1. Diagonal Striding

2. Double Poling

3. Stride double poling

4. Gliding

In between those techniques there are transitional techniques which allow for finer adjustment of effort i.e. diagonal striding with a single arm rest, know as three phase.

1. Diagonal Striding - a bit like shuffling over a polished floor in socks. The method is very much an extended walking gait without your feet coming off the floor. We begin learning this without poles and concentrate on the feet, legs and balance. Once we can ‘glide’ we introduce the poles for added momentum.

2. Double Poling - although the non- athlete will use this technique on slight downhill terrain as your fitness improves double poling is used a great deal on varied terrain at increased speeds, even uphill. The skis stay parallel and both poles are planted as the skier uses his arms and torso to move themselves forwards. Once a skier is very proficient their heels will leave the ski binding and their body weight is thrown forward. It can look like they are nearly jumping.

3. Stride double poling - this technique is the same as double poling but with a stride added. Often used to maintain momentum of double poling but sometimes used to increase the speed of double poling. Just after one leg does a step or ‘kick’ the double pole action is used.

4. Gliding - often called a ‘tuck’ is very useful to learn as it aids aerodynamics and is often used as a means to rest the torso. The ski’s stay parallel and the skier tucks the poles under their arms. As you progress you then flex the torso and the knees to present less surface area to the wind.

Freestyle (Skating)

Skating involves a decisive weight transfer onto one ski angled and then the other, supported by the inner edge of the ski on the snow, which looks similar to an ice skater. As in classic skiing, transferring weight completely from one ski to the next is essential to learning to skate. Those who have learned to ice skate may find skating technique easier to learn than classic skiing.

The basic techniques have these names

1. Diagonal V

2. V1

3. V2

4. V2 alternate

5. V skating

The first ‘gear’ is similar to the classic herringbone but with a short glide on each ski. This technique is used in racing only on very steep hills. As the name indicates it is often used by weaker skiers, both in training and racing.

Second ‘gear’ slightly off-set double-pole on every other leg. Used mostly for hill climbing.

Third ‘gear’ double-pole on every leg. Used on the flat for accelerating and on moderate uphills. Requires a good balance.

Fourth ‘gear’ double-pole on every other leg. Used on the flat, while climbing and on gentle downhills

Fifth ‘gear’ skating without using the poles. Used exclusively on downhills often at high speed.