Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed
Edit Module

Get Out There

(page 3 of 8)

ROLLER-SKIING: A Summertime Rush

You’ve seen them. It’s the middle of summer and they are out there in their bright neon shirts and helmets, holding ski poles and skiing … on pavement. No, you don’t have your seasons confused. It really is summertime and these athletes, most of whom are Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) Nordic ski team members, are roller-skiing.

Roller-skiing is a training method for cross-country skiers during the off-season months. It is used to emulate skiing on snow. The equipment consists of two approximately three-foot aluminum or composite shafts with rollerblade wheels on either end. There is a cross-country binding fixed in the middle so your boots can clip right onto the skis. The poles are your basic cross-country ski poles with special tips that will grip the tarmac.

To learn more about these brave roller-skiers and to get advice from a roller-skiing expert, we talked to long-time SVSEF cross country post grad head coach, Chris Mallory.

Summertime doesn’t have to mean the end of the ski season. photo by Thia Konig.Sun Valley Magazine: No brakes right? That seems pretty terrifying.

Chris Mallory: If you’re not a cross-country skier, you’re going to want to learn the sport first on snow. The lack of brakes can definitely be a challenge. There are different techniques you can use to slow your speed, and for a last resort, hopefully you’ve got a grassy shoulder. You always want to make sure you take the proper safety precautions, and while some might chose to use more, at a bare minimum, you want to roll with a bike helmet.

SVM: How much of an athlete’s off-season training is devoted to roller-skiing?

CM: In the spring and summer, our team might devote around 30% of training to roller-skiing. Then once fall hits we are on roller-skis around 50% of the time.  

SVM: Is it important to supplement roller-skiing with other training?

CM: It is definitely important to mix in other training modes to keep the body and mind fresh. We try to develop a big endurance fitness base through running, biking and ski-bounding with poles, as well as putting an emphasis on strength. But roller-skiing has been a key advancement in our sport in helping athletes develop technique and ski-fitness faster and better. It has also been important in helping athletes develop upper-body power.

SVM: Is it something that anyone could do or is it recommended in a team or training atmosphere?

CM: I’d be hesitant to recommend it to the average Joe. They would lose some skin. But for athletes who are already accomplished skiers, it can be a useful training tool. For rookies, stay on the bike paths, and in the beginning, keep to the flats.

SVM: What is the best route in the Valley for roller-skiing?

CM: We like to use the bike paths up through Elkhorn. They have good rolling hills with ski-like terrain. The hill down past Dollar Mountain is fast though, so you’ve got to be careful through there. Any of the chip-sealed roads generally aren’t too friendly to roller-skiing. It is a huge asset to have the Blaine County Recreation District bike paths that stretch all the way down to Bellevue for distance sessions. 

SVM: Now honestly, how similar is it to on-snow skiing?

CM: It’s pretty similar but there’s nothing quite like gliding on snow. -Katie Matteson


Sun Valley Magazine encourages its readers to post thoughtful and respectful comments on all of our online stories. Your comments may be edited for length and language.

Add your comment:

Subscribe Today!

Edit Module
Edit Module