Rollerskiing Q&A

Q: Where I live we are roller skiers first and snow skiers second. In my estimation, most of the country is either facing this reality now or moving in that direction. Therefore from a skate perspective what do you see as being the main differences between snow and roller skiing that people should look out for and how can they adjust for them to make the transition easier?

A: Any rollerskiing is better than no rollerskiing. Do not avoid rollerskiing because it is slightly different than on snow skiing. Any rollerski time will only improve your on snow experience.

Q: Here is what I have come up with so far in my experience:

a. Seems much easier to plow snow skis by displacing too much weight forward and not so much because on rollers because the wheels are more forgiving with this.

A: Yes snow plowing is easier on snow but you get used to it on pavement.

b. With roller skiing you always get the “perfect ski” every time. With snow skiing there is much more variation to surface conditions (icy snow, deep snow, etc.). How can one train for this in the summer if at all to transition better?

A: Yes with rollerskiiing skate or classic you get perfect kick and glide every time, that is why it is nice to do. Just go do it. But when you are doing it imagine you are skiing on snow. In all sports you never what to just muscle your way through, but rather find finesse.

c. Stronger fuller leg pushes seem more critical on snow whereas on rollers you can get away more with a lighter touch due to the consistently good conditions.

A: Light is right both on snow and on pavement. Do not think about the power of the push think about complete weight transfer.

Anyways, just curious what other differences you see and how people can adjust for them while training in the non-snow months.

A: Think less, ski more.

Q: I really seem to struggle in deeper or soft snow, especially when skating up hills, I feel very inefficient with my energy output. Wondering what tips you would have for this? It seems to me that one would need to adjust their V1 technique in a certain way to ski more efficiently and economically in these types of conditions. I would also be curious to understand the adjustments one would make on an extremely hard packed surface that lacks any edging.

A: First of all, a ski for soft conditions vs hard pack will help you glide through powder much better. And as we said before light is right. Think of yourself as a feather floating across the snow. Be it v1, v2, or v2 alternate all can be done on/in powder. But floating vs pushing should be the thought. Skiing is a finesse sport. Figuring how to get your ski to glide over the snow rather than to plow through it is key.

One of the easiest way to improve is to ski behind another skier and adjust your technique. If you can get behind a better skier try to match them and you will improve quickly. If you are skiing behind an equal skier try different things and see how you can improve relative to them in each stride.

I hope this helps.

– Andy @ SkiPost

About SkiPost

Cross-Country skiing’s community lodge. Where knowledge and stories are shared. The goal of SkiPost is to make the sport of Cross-Country skiing easier and more enjoyable for all who choose to participate. If you have questions on Cross-Country Skiing email us and visit

Enjoy Winter,
Andrew Gerlach
Director/Editor- SkiPost

An Outline of Nordic Training Modes

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 11.45.04 AM

Skiing and Rollerskiing
Used for:
– endurance, intensity, speed, recovery, racing.
– strength (no poles skating, double-pole and single pole only sessions)

Running and Cycling
Used for:
– endurance, intensity, recovery, racing

Used for:
– intensity, speed, strength

How: Bounding can be done with or without poles. The motion should closely imitate classical skiing. To focus on strength and explosiveness do shorter intervals focusing on getting maximum distance with each bound. For intervals try to use the explosiveness, rhythm and intensity that imitates ski racing.

Ski Walking
Used for:
– intensity, endurance, strength

How: Ski walking can be done with poles, but is generally done without them. It should closely imitate classical skiing. It can be incorporated into running endurance sessions on steep and/or long uphills and be used for intervals on uphills. Poles should be about 2 inches shorter than poles used for classical skiing on snow.

Spenst (dynamic ski specific plyometric exercises)
Used for:
– developing explosive power and strength

How: The focus is on getting maximum distance on each of 10 to 15 hops. Do sets of 10 to 15 hops and take full recovery (2-3 mins) between sets. Skating spenst can be done by hopping from side to side in one place, or jumping sideways up a steep hill. Classical spenst can be done by hopping on one leg at a time up a steep hill, or by bounding with both legs up a steep hill. Be imaginative, and warm up and down very, very well.

Used for:
– developing overall maximum-strength and muscular balance

How: use a wide variety of lifts that cover all major muscle groups.

Used for:
– developing overall strength-endurance and muscular balance

How: set up a circuit of exercises that alternate stomach, back, legs, arms. Spend half a minute to a minute and a half at each station and move from one station to the next without stopping.

– Andy at


Skate Rollerskis for Training in the Summer

Summer is a time of dryland training, which means long hours on the rollerskis, trying to simulate snow-skiing as much as possible. For this, your gear can make a big difference.

Depending on your needs and preferences, there are several options when it comes to choosing the right skate skis.

“For most skiers you want your skis to offer the glide resistance similar to on-snow. If you are skiing with a team you want all your skiers to have similar wheel speed across the team, day after day and year after year. For young juniors (U-14 ish) you want lower skis and easier glide. For rough surfaces you want larger wheels that roll over roughness and shafts that absorb the harsh road surface. Swenor offers the largest multitude of wheels speed options along with long lasting rubber.” – Andy G. at



When shopping for skate roller skis, it is important to consider the following criteria:

  • diameter and width of wheels
  • rubber density
  • platform material
  • length of platform
  • quality of components
  • price


Swenor, specifically manufactures two types of rollerskis, there are the “SKATE” model made of aluminum and the “SKATE ELITE” model that incorporates a fiberglass platform. The difference? Aluminum weighs 490g less than the Skate elite, partly because the Skate model is 3.5 cm shorter and harder than the fiberglass model.

What makes the “Skate elite” model more expensive? The longer fiberglass platform will dampen vibrations, meaning less rattling on rough pavement, making for a more comfortable, smooth ride on the skis than the stricktly aluminum version.


Swenor wheels are 100 mm in diameter, 24 mm in width and come with three different rubber materials, marked appropriately, “1” to “3”.


  • The number 1 wheels are the fastest.
  • The number 2 wheels are average speed, compared to Marwe wheels, they are faster than the Marwe #6, but slower than the Marwe #0.
  • The number 3 wheels are the slowest in the Swenor line, which can be ideal for specific strength training, and those who are uncomfortable with gaining speed on the downhills.

As a discretionary note, it is always a good idea to switch feet that each ski is on each workout, to avoid wearing out the rubber on the same spots repeatedly.


Hayscastle’s Chris Gouldsmith trains for record-breaking roller ski from Land’s End to John O’Groats

Hayscastle adventurer, Chris Gouldsmith, will attempt a world record breaking journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats this summer, as he aims to become the first person ever to complete the journey on roller skis.

Ex-soldier, arctic adventurer, ironman coach and cross-country ski instructor, Chris is currently in training for the arduous task which will test his fitness, courage, and determination.

He will set off on the 900 mile challenge on August 1 and aims to complete the journey in around 15 days, covering between 55-60 miles a day.

Roller skiing is a popular sport in Europe and is the off snow equivalent to cross-country skiing. It is usually practiced on fairly flat smooth tarmac routes and the undulations of the British roads, not to mention the surfaces, are two of the technical challenges Chris anticipates.

“It’s going to be difficult,” said Chris. “I have had a few falls and things but it’s not going to faze me, I’m quite determined to do it.”

Chris is taking on the challenge to raise awareness of roller skiing as a sport and to raise funds for two charities close to his heart; The National Autistic Society which raises funds, awareness and understanding for those affected by autism and the brain injury charity, Headway.

Headway provides rehabilitation and support programms to survivors of brain injury, their families and carers. The charity is personally important to Chris who lost his identical twin brother Jonathan following a head injury. Jonathan was knocked down and killed by a taxi in Llanelli while on leave from the army in April 2011. He was 24 years old.

Chris hopes to raise £6,000 for both charities and will hold a fundraising ball at Wolfscastle Country Hotel on September 8 to help reach his target. You can sponsor him at

Chris is also looking for a local sponsor who would be able to help him with travel and equipment costs.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Training is going well and I’m working on building up balance, flexibility and endurance. Hopefully I will be the first person to roller ski the length of Britain.”


Struggling to Keep Skis Straight While Striding

Q: Are there any technique tricks that I should try to facilitate striding?

A: I always find that starting with dry-land drills to gain balance on flat ground is easiest when trying to learn how to stride. It sounds like what you are describing with your skis tracking all over the place is there is a failure to complete shift weight from one ski to the other. When we don’t shift our weight from side to side and can not control this transfer of weight, we have incomplete weight on one ski or the other which causes instability in those striding skis.

By building balance and coordination on dry-land first, we can develop stability in our ankles and proper movement patterns to hopefully transfer over to skis.

You’ll find several striding drills in the CXC Academy video library that can help with developing good striding mechanics. These drills don’t have to take up an entire workout but beginning a session with 15 – 20 minutes of drill work can help you build correct patterns to take in to the rest of your workout.

Bungee Work – Stable Balance

Improving Glide On a Classic Ski

Shuffle to Full Glide Drill

Diagonal Stride Basics with Nina Gavrilyuk


Hope this helps and good luck with training going forward.

Andy Keller, CXC Academy Coach

Does Roller Skiing Damage the Surface of Modern Tracks?

It’s not unheard to use a track to ski on. There is even an instance where the top 2 skiers in the world did a mile race during a pro track race in Europe.

That being said, a couple things to consider:

A rubber track may be a little difficult for glide, as it may be like skiing on a chip sealed road that is a little soft. I’ve done it before but definitely less glide then a road.

A mondo track, like the one in the video, is going to be smoother, still a little soft, but will provide a surface that is good for practice. It may however show pole marks a little more then a rubber track, so doing no poles (or using Nordic walking pole tips) may be better in that instance.

In my experience, using empty flat parking lots and dead end roads are the best options for beginner skiers that may not be ready for the open road.

by Andy Keller (CXC Team Head Coach)

Ways To Stop On Rollerskis

By: CXC Team Member, Alice Flanders 

Rollerskiing on the bike trails around the Minneapolis area, you get a lot of comments and weird looks. Everything from “Birkie Birkie Birkie!” to “Holy Crap arm strength,” if there’s an exclamation about seeing someone doing something odd, it’s probably been said to a rollerskier on the Greenway. One of the most common questions I’ve encountered when people find out that I rollerski is,

“How do you stop on those things?”

This is a great question, one with a lot of really bad answers. Just as with anything that requires a quick decrease in speed, there are good ways and not so good ways to come to a standstill.

The following is a list of ways to stop on rollerskis, some of them good and some of them awfully painful.

10 Ways to Stop on Rollerskis


Also known as “face-plant” or “eating the pavement,” this technique is best known for the momentary “OH CRAP!” weightless feeling quickly followed by getting the wind knocked out of you. Causes often include cracks in the pavement, railroad tracks and appropriately sized pebbles.


The Butt Scoot

This technique is common on snow but is much more effective at stopping you on pavement. When you get going too fast and don’t know how to stop, just sit down and eventually you’ll glide to a halt. Unfortunately pavement is not nearly as forgiving as freshly fallen snow and often contains small pebbles that are painful to remove. The Butt Scoot is not a recommended method of stopping on rollerskis.


Sliding into Home

And Lucca nearly knocks it out of the park! The right fielder throws it to third for the out, but Hedblom is just too fast. Hedblom is sprinting for home plate. The third baseman throws the ball to the catcher. It’s going to be a close one folks! Hedblom sticks her foot out and slides into home, SAFE!”

There’s a reason we don’t play baseball on rollerskis. Similar to the butt scoot, characteristic results of this technique include road rash on the hip and outer leg, scuffed ski boots and ripped shorts.


The Black Stuff

Beware of The Black Stuff, especially on hot days. This is the goo they squirt into cracks in the road. The hotter it gets, the more it likes to grab the wheels of unsuspecting rollerskiers. The faster you’re going the more it likes to reach up and give you a surprise crash landing.

Rolling Stop 

The rolling stop is one of the better stopping techniques. It requires having a good feel for the speed of the rollerskis, enough room ahead of you (or an uphill), and a back-up plan in case your speed calculations are wrong. When done correctly, you will slowly and gracefully come to a stop at exactly the right time and everyone will be impressed.

Stop Drop and Roll

This is a planned fall method for the dramatic flair in us all. It is a good back-up plan when rollerskiing next to a grassy curb. To employ this method, aim for the softest patch of grass and like a paratrooper hit the ground with a solid roll. As always it is important to make sure your helmet is properly fitted and adjusted.


Grassy Knoll

Possibly one of the best and least technical methods, the Grassy Knoll allows the skier to control their speed and come to a stop without hitting the ground. For the Grassy Knoll, the rollerskier shall first stagger their feet and shift most of their weight to the back leg. The skier shall then aim for the grass alongside the trail and gently roll onto the grass while staying upright. Sometimes ski poles can be used to assist in balancing. Be wary of long grass, hidden rocks and sticks. If done incorrectly this can easily be adapted into a version of the Stop Drop and Roll.


Urban Tree Hugger

When coming into an intersection a little fast, the Urban Tree Hugger is your best option. Aim for a light post or crosswalk post, catch it with one arm and redirect your forward inertia into the stationary light post. Be careful not to hurt your arm and make sure the light post/ crosswalk post is strong enough for the collision prior to using this method.



Similar to how you snowplow in the winter, this is the most common way to slow yourself down on rollerskis. In order for this method to be successful, it is important to make sure your wheels do not touch (don’t cross your tips!).  To do this, push outward on each ski. This will force them to stay separated. You will stop due to the friction between the pavement and the rubber wheel as the wheel slides sideways across the road. This technique does take some practice to perfect.


Water Landing

Water hurts a lot less than pavement. Summer days get hot. Sometimes it pays off to aim for the lake.


Lets enjoy what pieces of summer we have left. Train hard, go fast, and don’t fall down.

It won’t be long until the snow comes!


Should I start rollerskiing this spring or wait until summer of fall?

For recreational racers that just completed skiing take a month off without any form of skiing and then start ramping it up through the spring going once a week. Increase frequency in later summer and fall to 2, 3 and 4 times a week if possible. Unless you can get on-snow rollerskiing is the most ski specific training you can do. If you are new to roller skiing start in a flat, empty parking lot. Always wear a helmet.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.57.53 AM



Keeping Rollerski Tips Sharp

To keep the tips sharp it is best to just wet stone them for 1 minute after each use. If they are really dull then you can use a wheel but have a bucket of water next to it to cool the tip every few seconds to keep it cool so the glue and plastic does not soften and the tip come out of the basket or ferrule. Use the same length poles for roller skiing as snow skiing.

from the SkiPost readers:

… those tips are silicon carbide, so the best thing to sharpen them with would be a diamond file or diamond wheel. Regular grinding wheels are also made of silicon carbide, which would be the same hardness as the tip, so using a standard wheel could be frustrating….


Balance vs. Speed Issue while Rollerskiing

Q: I’ve noticed that on roller skis or snow skis there is a velocity where I definitely feel uncomfortable gliding and I can feel myself checking my speed. I can see where this might be useful on roller skis (hitting pavement sucks!), however, I have no fear of downhills (on snow) and relish going as fast as possible. It’s the commitment to standing on one leg at speed where there is a problem.

I always do my interval workouts up an incline or hill because if I do them on the flat I feel like my skis are getting ahead of me and I’m unstable.
I am wondering if my rollerskiing is getting in the way of going fast on skis and how I might work with what I have to get faster?

A: It’s difficult to know what the issue is without actually seeing you, so we’ll give you a couple of ideas based on some common difficulties.

First, is it possible that your rollerskis have wheels which are too fast, or are out of alignment? It’s definitely hard to be comfortable if you’re on blazing fast rollerskis. We saw that when Jennie Bender and Brian Gregg hopped on some really, really, really fast inline skate wheels and bearings right before the North Shore Rollerski Marathon. Both of them are pretty experienced at going fast, but there was bit of a learning curve of how to deal with gradual downhills feeling like 10% grades. It’s also hard to feeling copacetic when your left foot is conspiring with your right to throw you into traffic and ditches.

If it’s a balance issue, it may be worthwhile to work with no poles a fair amount, with an emphasis on balancing (read: gliding) for a long time on each ski. Another option is to challenge your balance for 5-15 minutes/session with “V4” — a V2/balance drill where you pole twice on each side of a V2 (once while balanced on one leg, then poling to the other side like a normal V2). It’s definitely worthwhile to spend a short period of time at the beginning of workouts on drills that help you ski technically better — 1:30 in your planned heart rate is fine, but 1:20 in the right zone and :10 figuring out how to ski more efficiently is better.

Another drill that we have used working on agility/comfort on rollerskis is a short agility session — skiing figure-eights, slaloms, small circles, etc. You often find yourself getting into somewhat sketchy body positions doing these while going relatively slowly — so if/when you find yourself getting into those positions going relatively quickly, at least you have an idea of what to do to save yourself.