The video above demonstrates how different types of roller skis are not only good for different trail types, but different trail conditions.
I’ve decided to present the final part of this series in a case study format with four cases representing a fitness-minded mid-age skier, a youth skier, an experienced skier and a new to skiing individual.
Skier 1 – The primary purpose of roller skiing is training/fitness. Limited xc ski access. Primary skiing style skate 30 years old or older
The first pair of skis I would put in this quiver is a pair with 6″ (150mm) pneumatic wheels and a calf break. Jenex V2 aero model would be one example that would require the use of a Nordic ski boot. A second example would be a pair of Skikes. Skikes have a built-in binding system that allows the use of a regular shoe. The calf breaking system is a reliable system that will enable you to slow down or stop if you come upon terrain or trail conditions that you are not comfortable with. A quality pair of tires are good for over 1500 miles, and when adequately inflated, do not get many flats. I have averaged less than one flat for every 5,000 miles skied on the pair of Skike V8s that I own. This pair of skis perform well on most paved surfaces, even with some defects and trails garbage (leaves, some gravel, twigs) that are common on rail-trails that are not regularly swept. The tires are also good on hard-packed dirt surfaces, which are found on the trails of many of today’s linear parks.
The second pair of skis would be a pair of Polyurethane wheeled skis. An example of theses woud be Swenor Skate ski. These skis would be fast for a similar amount of effort to allow for a little over speed training without fatigue setting in. They would not have any wheels with locking bearings, so would also be suitable for agility type training. This type of training is generally done in a flat parking lot with obstacles go around, over and through. Part of developing better agility is to be able to ski in a forward and backward direction. There are not many roller ski races, but if you have a desire to race, this pair would be the type most roller ski racers would use.
A third set I would acquire is a pair of roller skis with 8″ (200mm) wheels. The 8″ wheeled skis are an excellent choice for some classical style skiing, working well on grass surfaces. They would allow some good double pole workouts on dirt surfaces. They work well for skating also. I have tried them on trails at six different xc ski centers, and have found them to be an enjoyable way to get on the trails during the offseason. Two of the trails systems provided for nice classical, two good skating, and the other trail surface had too many big rocks and indentations for good roller skiing. One of the main reasons for having different roller skis is to be able to try different ones on different types of trails and in different trail conditions.
The fourth set I would add would be a pair of solid rubber wheel classical roller skis. I would probably only get this pair if I was interested in doing some classical ski races or if I was roller skiing with others using this type of ski. When skiing with others, it is nice to be on similar equipment. For classical training, I feel the 8″ wheel is more than adequate and is more versatile.
Speed reducers and braking systems are available as add-ons for many roller skis. One can also drag a small tire to reduce speed if the roller skis seem to fast for your ability or if you want to increase the workload for a more demanding outing.
Skier 2 Youth skier 10 to 20 years old, living in xc ski country, avid winter skier
The first pair of roller skis in my mind for this skier would be a polyurethane wheeled skis. At this age, in xc ski mecca areas, there are ski teams, camps, and clubs where young people can develop skills in group practices. Fun workouts for skiers in this age group include agility drills, along with other strength and skill development workouts. A ‘low-speed fall’ for most skiers in this age group is not a big deal. They have fun challenging each other in skill development. They can test their selves and each other in time trials and other ski-related activities. And have a tremendous amount of fun doing so.
The second pair would be a pair with 8” wheels. They are great for getting off the asphalt and having fun in the grass and on dirt trails. A cross skate model like the Skike V9 Tour would allow for some good classic practice and also works well for skating. With its built-in calf brake, it is suitable for hill workouts and safe descents. It is also a nice pair to let friends use, who may be interested in the sport and want to try it for the first time in the summer.
Skier 3 Experienced Skier
If you have never tried a pair of roller skis with 8” wheels, and you are an experienced roller skier, I would recommend trying a set. After using them a few times, I’m sure you will find that they will add to your enjoyment of summer skiing. Single tracks through the woods make for some enjoyable double poling and classic skiing. Some wide, packed dirt trails are good for skating. My conversion moment on 8″ wheels was when I used them for the first time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Frick Park. Lots of dirt trails with hills and I was able to skate up and brake on my descents and the time flew by.
As an experienced skier, I imagine that you already have a pair or two of roller skis. Think about it, each different type of roller ski has a different feel. Skiing on multiple different skis gives one the feeling of being on different types of snow in different conditions. The body and technique adapt so one move efficiently down the trail.
For the individual that has never xc skied before, summer can be a great time to start developing the necessary skill and techniques. A pair of cross skate style skis are great for the beginner. The calf brake adds stability. Good brakes allow one to ski at speeds that they are comfortable with. The larger wheels will enable you to develop balance, agility, and some skill on a grass surfaces. They roll over trail imperfections better than smaller diameter wheels, significantly reducing the chance of falls. They are great to practice gliding and agility skills with only one ski on, allowing you to step on to the ground to stop at any time. It is nice to develop these skills outside on days with temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s. Contact someone that has a pair you can try or rent a pair for a couple of weeks from someone like nordicskater.com Get outside and have fun.
PS: Do wear a helmet when roller skiing. Knee pads and elbow pads are other safety options that you may want to consider when learning.