Roller skiing

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Roller skis

Roller skiing is a non-snow equivalent to cross-country skiing. Roller skis are used on tarmac to emulating winter skis by having wheels at the ends of the ski. The skiing techniques used are very similar to techniques used with cross-country skiing on snow.

First created as a summer training alternative, roller skiing has now grown into a competitive sport in its own right. Annual championships are held in various locations around the world. Most, if not all, national cross-country ski teams around the world roller ski during the off-season for specific physical training simulating winter skiing.


The first roller skis were built in the mid-1930s in Italy and North Europe.

In the early 1950s, when cross-country skiing started to evolve to a serious competition sport, the necessity for good summer training grew. All around the world from 1950s to 1970s people experimented with skis on wheels.

In the 1970s, something of a standard emerged and the first races took place. At this time all roller skis had one wheel in front and two wheels at the back. The metal frame was between 70 and 100 centimetres (2'4" and 3'4") long.

Athletes felt they could start to engage themselves in competitions. In 1976, Giustino Del Vecchio, an air pilot, established a record in Monza by doing 240.5 km in 24 hours thanks to the roller skis he had designed, using material and technologies from the aircraft industry; narrow solid wheels with hard tread, reverse lock-up ball bearings to enable push forward.[1]

In 1987, Mark Richardson (b.25 May 1962) roller skied From Chamonix, France to Canterbury, England from 6 - 21 May, a distance of approximately 1000km (621 miles) unsupported. See 1989 Guinness book of World Records 1989 page 279.

In the beginning, the skis were developed with one wheel in front and two wheels behind. The introduction of skating (free technique) in cross-country skiing added some changes in the use of materials and training methods, which consequently produced an impact on roller skis. With changes from 3 to 2 wheels and much lighter materials roller skis could be used both for the classic style and skating. Paolo Miorin, with his famous Skirollo, can be considered the inventor of the innovative 2-wheels roller skis.

The World Record for the greatest number of roller skiers in one place was established in the Gatineau Park, Chelsea Quebec, Canada 2 October 2010.

The Races[edit]

The races became international and the need for serious supervising grew. Around 1985 the European Rollerski Federation was established and the first European Championships were organized in the Netherlands in 1988.

The growth of the roller ski sport caused the FIS (Federation Internationale de Ski) to notice the roller ski sport. In 1992 the congress decided to incorporate the roller ski sport. After the first World Games in The Hague, in 1993, the first World Cup races where held in that same year. In 1998, in Prague, the congress decided to grant the roller ski sport the official FIS World Championships. On 30 August- 3 September 2000, these competitions where organized in the Netherlands.

Races have a variety of formats with different terrain. Formats include relays, sprints, team races, individual races and pursuit races. Terrain will vary from relatively flat to hilly. On flat courses the speed can be as fast as 50 kilometres per hour (30 miles per hour). Average speed on flat tracks in World Cup races can easily be 30 kilometres per hour (almost 20 miles per hour). As in regular cross-country skiing, the skiers compete in classic and free style. Helmets and protective eyeglasses in competitions are mandatory.

World Cup and World Championships[edit]

The Italian, Russian, Norwegian, Swedish, German and French rollers, have been very strong in competitions compared to other Nations since the beginning in 1993. Note that World Roller Skiing championships are not an officially sanctioned races by FIS or recognized sports governing bodies.


So far, the World Cup and World Championships, have been dominated by a few very good rollers. The most successful skiroller are Italian Alfio di Gregorio, who has won the World Games three times and World Cup four times. Then include Russian Igor Glushkov who have won World Cup three times. One of the major cross-country skiers has been noticed in the sport; It is the Frenchman Vincent Vittoz, which fetched World Championships in 2002. World Championships 2009 takes place in Piglio, Italy.


Mateja Bogatec from Italy has been one of the most successful female rollers since the beginning of the FIS World Cup in 2000.


Roller skis for "classic" and "skate" style skiing are used. Off-road roller skis are a variation designed for rougher surface conditions.

Classic style roller skis usually have wider wheels to provide better balance and classic technique simulation. A ratchet or ratchet-like mechanism in one of the wheels on each ski allows for uni-directional travel to simulate "grip" — comparable to grip wax on snow; the other wheel is free-rolling.

Skate roller skis usually have narrower wheels (similar to those used on inline skates) to allow the skating action to be easier to emulate. Both wheels on the ski are free-rolling (no ratchet mechanism).

The shafts of the skis are composed of many different materials depending on the manufacturer and model. Historically wood has been used (often from wood snow skis) though this has mostly been replaced by aluminum, fiberglass, kevlar, carbonfiber or a combination of these materials now. The length of the shaft is typically shorter for the skate roller skis than the classic roller skis. The longer shaft for the classic roller skis help provide a better simulation of snow skiing. Many manufacturers have junior roller skis where the shafts are shorter to reduce the overall weight for younger skiers.

There are also types of roller skis that have both thin and thick wheels, with a thin one on the tip, a slightly thicker wheel in front of the binding, and two thick wheels at the very back.

Roller skis with pneumatic tires (such as skikes) are also available for rough pavement and off-road use.

Normal cross-country ski bindings and ski boots can be used with most roller skis though some manufacturers produce special roller ski versions for the warmer weather use. Cross-country ski poles are also used, with the basket replaced by a ferrule. A ferrule is usually more reinforced to handle impact with the harder road surface (versus snow) while retaining the carbide steel tip or spike.

Extra protective clothing is recommended (gloves, helmet, knee and elbow pads). Many ski training programs require the use of helmets while roller skiing.

Weltcup in Schmallenberg 2008

Most roller skis don't have bona fide brakes, except for a relatively new calf-activated brake pioneered by Len Johnson of V2 Jenex. Speed reducers, available on some models, work by providing different levels of friction against the wheels. Different types of wheels are also available that are slower thus limiting maximum speed. There are techniques for slowing down without the use of speed reducers or brakes including dragging the pole ferrules and "snowplowing". Roller ski snowplowing is similar to a snowplow on snow skis where pressure is applied to the inside edge of the roller ski while the roller skis are held in a wide 'V' shape.

Popular manufacturers of roller skis are: Marwe (Finland), Pursuit (US), Briko-Maplus (Italy), V2 Jenex (US), Start (Finland), Pro Ski (Sweden), Elpex (Sweden), Skigo (Sweden), SkiSkett (Italy), Swenor(Norway), Eagle Sport (The Netherlands) and Oneway (Finland).

Roller skiing is most popular in Europe (France, Italy, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Russia) where there are many serious races and even a World Cup Circuit. In North America, roller skiing is popular in areas with many Nordic skiers such as Canmore, Ottawa, Alberta, Alaska, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin.

Nordic blading[edit]

Nordic blading is a sport which uses ski poles with special tips and inline skates or roller skis to train the total body for skiing. The sport has been practiced for over 80 years by elite cross-country skiers in the off season and is now being rediscovered by the masses through blading. It is much like Nordic Ski walking, the only difference being that skates/roller skis are used. The benefits of Nordic blading are similar to that of cross-country skiing if performed correctly. Nordic Blading has also been proven more risky than inline skating as the poles constitute extra coordination challenges. By using the poles, the user can also expect to develop upper and core body strength.

Types of techniques used[edit]

  • One-skate (V1)
  • Two-skate (V2)
  • Offset
  • Free Skate
  • Double Poling
  • Diagonal Stride
  • Double Pole-Kick (Step-Double pole)
  • Downhill (Tuck, Free Skate, Slalom, etc.)

Equipment needed[edit]

  • Helmet
  • Gloves (recommended)
  • Poles
  • Roller skis
  • Boots
  • Protective eyewear (optional; mandatory in some competitions)

See also[edit]


External links[edit]