Roller Skiing: Safety & Equipment Care Tips
Roller skiing is similar to cross-country skiing but is done on a hard surface. It is often referred to as ‘road skiing’ or ‘skiing on wheels’ since roller skis have wheels.
The skiing techniques used for roller skiing are very similar to techniques used in cross-country skiing.
Roller skiing is a great way to train in the summer, it keeps your ski muscles strong and is a great cardio workout. However, it does take some practice and care when learning how to roller ski safely. Here are some tips to help you get into the sport safely and to take care of your equipment properly.
All activities have some degree of risk involved and roller-skiing is no exception. Asphalt is not as forgiving as snow and can lead to impressive road rash. Roller-skiers also share the road with motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians, which has its own risks. Some tips to keep you safe:
- Always obey the rules of the road.
- Wear the proper protective equipment when training such as a helmet, knee and elbow pads and proper roller-ski gloves, especially when you are learning.
- Wear gloves with leather palms to prevent blisters, they can also help protect your hands in case you fall.
- A properly fitted, current helmet is critical to keeping your head safe. If you’ve fallen when wearing it before, carefully inspect it, and replace it if there are any signs of damage. If your head made contact with the ground, even if there is no damage, it is prudent to replace the helmet, as much of the damage is invisible.
- Learn to roller-ski in an empty parking lot where you can practice moving, turning, and stopping in a safe flat area.
- When starting, choose your route carefully, and avoid steep downhills or sharp corners until you are more confident.
- Choose to roller-ski at a time of day that the roads will be less busy, or use bike paths where roller-skiing is allowed.
- If you are skate roller-skiing, always double pole when a car or truck passes you. Better yet, pull over to the side or stop poling altogether.
- Ski single file when skiing in a group.
How to care for your roller-skiing equipment
If you care for your equipment properly it will allow you to use if for a long time. It will also help prevent accidents due to equipment malfunction.
- Ski poles should always have roller-skiing ferules with carbide tips which should be checked and sharpened with a diamond file before every outing.
- There are many wheels available to athletes, from slower rubber wheels, to harder synthetic wheels. Generally, beginners use a mid-range wheel, and then progress to different wheels to simulate different snow conditions.
- Check the skis, bindings, and wheels prior to each trip to ensure that they are in good condition. Bolts should be securely tightened, and moving parts should have sufficient lubrication before each outing. Use 2 wrenches to tighten the ratchet wheel simultaneously to avoid torquing the axle.
- Alternate which roller-ski you wear on your right and left feet, to wear the wheels evenly.
- Store your roller-skis at room temperature.
- Check the frame of the skis for signs of damage. Deep scratches on an aluminum frame can cause a weak point that could snap in an accident. Check carbon frames for impact fractures.
- Roll the wheels by hand to check the bearings – listen and feel for irregularities, and make sure they roll smoothly.
- Check the screws on your bindings before each outing and listen for rattling or vibration when you are skiing. If one does come loose, use glue or epoxy in the hole before tightening the screw.
- If you are skiing in wet conditions, use fenders to help keep your boots dry and clean.
- Use strong ski boots when roller skiing. If you are skate roller-skiing, use a true skate boot, not a combi boot. If you are classic roller-skiing, using a combi boot can help instill confidence.
- If you are mounting the bindings yourself, make sure to follow the instructions carefully and use the correct mounting jig. Alternatively, bring them to a professional for mounting.
Roller-skiing is a great form of training, and lots of fun once you get the hang of it!
If you want to get serious about it this summer, consider joining one of the clubs in Canmore or Calgary to find a community of likeminded people who can help you get to the next level.
At the Norseman we offer a Rollerski Package Rental if you are interested in trying out the sport before investing in equipment, which is always a good idea.
We also carry roller skis and a variety of roller ski accessories which are available for purchase. Please stop by the store and talk to our team for more information.