If you’re here, you either love cross-country skiing or have a genuine interest in the sport. That said, you’re likely a little sad when the season ends and the winter snow completely melts. Unless you live in a climate with year-round snow, you probably want to fill the gap in your Nordic skiing practice. Enter: roller skiing.
This is an off-snow equivalent to cross-country skiing—just what you need to power through the summer months. Roller skis have wheels on each end and are used on hard surface, such as pavement. They are designed to emulate cross-country skiing, and the techniques used are remarkably similar to those used in Nordic skiing. The sport began as a summer training exercise for Nordic skiers, but it quickly grew into a competitive sport. Annual championships are held in various locations around the world. However, many still see this as an off-season training aid; most national cross-country ski teams roller ski during the off-season.
As with cross-country skiing, roller skiers can utilize skate style or classic style. There are roller skis designed specifically for each method, as well as “combi” skis, which may be used for either technique. There are also off-road rollerskis, which are designed for rougher surface conditions like cross-country running trails. Most rollerskis have two wheels—one in front and one in back. Certain skis have three wheels for added stability. Normal cross-country ski bindings and boots may be used with most roller skis, though some manufacturers produce special roller ski versions better equipped for hot weather.
When roller skiing, extra protection is always recommended: full-finger gloves, a helmet, eyewear, and protective knee and elbow pads. The sport is especially popular in France, Italy, Norway, Finland, and Estonia, but there are large groups of roller skiers across North America.
If you’re interested in trying this summer alternative, give it a go—you have nothing to lose. Most ski retailers carry a small supply of rollerskis and concomitant equipment. Go rent a pair, find a secluded stretch of road, and try it out. This might just be your new favorite sport.