Roller Skiing Basics

STUDY IN SWEDEN
February 5, 2019

Roller Skiing Basics

Jenex Inc.   /   V2 Roller Skis

Roller Skiing Basics

 

Many roller skiers are looking to continue their Nordic ski training through the snow free months.  As Roller Skis garner more attention, however, they are gaining interest from people who do not cross-country ski that are looking for fun ways to get outside and exercise.  For anyone new to roller skiing, there are some things you should know to help you get the most from your roller skis.

First, be sure to wear safety equipment.  A helmet, knee pads and elbow pads are recommended.  Roller ski gloves can protect your hands from developing blisters and can also prevent road rash during a fall.

Remember that while snow skis ride along the snow, roller skis have a good amount of air between the bottom of the shaft and the ground, so they will fatigue more quickly than a snow ski due to the constant flex.   While the trend seems to be to run drills that include running on grass, jumping curbs, hopping around cones, etc., these practices are not recommended as they will cause miniature fatigue cracks that will propagate and eventually cause the shaft to snap, sometimes at an inopportune time, such as bombing down a fairly good-sized hill.

 

Skate, Classic or Combi?

 

The Skate stride is very similar to ice skating or inline skating, where the skier kicks off from side to side.  Skate roller skis are shorter than Classic roller skis, with narrower wheels, so they are not as stable as Classic skis.   In general, skate roller skiing is better suited to experienced in-line skaters or experienced ice skaters with a good sense of balance.  Keep in mind, also, that the skate stride can take up more road space and may not be suited to narrow paths.

The Classic stride is more of a forward-and -back in-line motion. The classic stride is also referred to as the Diagonal stride, as it mimics walking or running, when your arms and legs work in opposition. This natural human motion makes Classic skiing easier to learn for beginner skiers who are not in-line skaters.   Classic roller skis are longer, have wider, smaller diameter wheels, and have a ratcheted wheel in the front or back to prevent roll-back.  The classic skis tend to be more stable and are better suited to beginners.

Combi skis are equipped with wheels that will allow either stride.  They may not be ideal for either stride (a little more clunky for skating, a little less stable for classic), but can work reasonably well if you don’t want to invest in two pairs of roller skis, or if you ski on busier roads and paths. They will allow you to skate stride, and also allow you to tighten up your area by switching to a classic stride if you need to make room for a car, bicyclist or jogger to pass by.

 

 Brakes and Speed Reducers

 

Safety is number one concern.  That is why Jenex, Inc. was one of the first companies to develop brakes and speed reducers for its roller skis. The owner, Len Johnson, is a former Nordic Skier and racer, so he knows first-hand what is important to career and to novice skiers.

There are V2 Speed Reducers available for every pair of our roller skis.  The speed reducers are sold in pairs.  One mounts to the front of each ski.  The system consists of a set of arms with ‘teeth’ that hold a set of bearings.  A lever is used to engage the teeth in several positions, forcing the roller bearings to come in contact with the front wheel of the ski, causing the ski to slow down.  The reducers are great for maintaining control on hills, and in some instances for getting greater resistance for a better workout.  Brakes are sold singly.  A brake is mounted to the rear of a ski. The brake consists of a lower arm which holds a brake pad, a middle arm, and an upper calf ‘cuff’.  The arms and cuff are constructed with several possible positions in order to adjust it to your anatomy.  Once properly fitted, the cuff will be positioned so that, with the braking ski in the forward position, the skier can lean back, putting pressure on the cuff with the calf, which causes the brake pad to come in contact with the rear roller ski wheel.  The brake is essential for emergency stops, and for even greater control on steep declines.

 

Outriggers

 

The outrigger is just a cool name for our training wheels.  These are sold in pairs and can be mounted to the outside of each ski in the Aero models, since most skiers tend to roll their ankles outward.   They are a great way to learn how to balance without the worry of twisting your ankles. For the extra-cautious, use two pairs and mount one to the outside and inside of each shaft.  The outriggers can be adjusted up a bit as you gain control, and they can eventually be removed all-together.

 

 Roller Ski Ferrules (Ski Pole Tips)

 

Skis poles come equipped with ferrules and snow baskets.  Roller ski ferrules do not have a snow basket, which could get caught under a ski or in a wheel, causing a crash.  V2 Ferrules are the strongest on the market and come in two sizes.  Yellow fits 7-8mm poles.  Black fits 9-11mm poles.  We also offer a spring- loaded ferrule in the 9-11mm size.  When used properly, the spring- loaded ferrule will absorb some of the shock caused when planting the pole.  Use a low-melt hot glue to install your ferrules.  This makes it easy to switch from snow to roller ski ferrules, or to change out a broken tip.  Purchase a good sharpener and keep your tips sharp!

 

 

Ski Poles

 

If you are already a Nordic skier, you can use your poles to roller ski, but you should replace the tips. While roller skis will make you a few inches taller than snow skis, your ski poles do sink into the snow, so most skiers use the same length poles for snow and for roller skiing. Skate skiing requires a slightly longer pole than classic.  Refer to our Pole Recommendation Chart to find the correct length for your height.  Use caution when poling on pavement. Planting your pole in a crack can cause your ferrule or pole to snap, or even cause a fall.  You should practice pushing off with a forward motion, never sideways, as sideways motion can also cause poles and ferrules to snap.  Always remember to pull in your poles or double-pole when in highly congested areas or when cars are passing.  Poles flying out can be dangerous for several reasons.  You can injure a pedestrian, injure yourself getting caught on a passing car, or get injured by angry drivers when you scratch a passing car!

 

Boots

 

If you are already a snow skier, you can use the same boots to roller ski.  You will need to equip your roller skis with compatible bindings.

For beginners, skiers tend to choose a boot first, as you will need to find a comfortable fit, then add the compatible binding.  Be sure to choose a binding for the stride you have chosen.   That being said, what is the difference between different boots and different bindings?

Because of the strong sideways push-off needed for the skate stride, skate boots are stiffer in the sole as well as the upper to give the foot and ankle more support.  Classic boots AND snow-skis are more flexible, allowing the ski to flex so you can really dig in to the snow for a good push-off. Classic boots are more flexible in the sole, and have a lower, less stiff ankle cuff.  You may notice some cuff-less boots.  These are not recommended for recreational skiing. Generally, only elite classic racers should use boots with no ankle support.  Combi boots have a fairly stiff ankle cuff (not quite as stiff as a skate boot cuff) to aid in skate skiing, but a more flexible sole to aid in the classic dig-in.  Roller ski boots are also now available, and will be lighter than snow ski boots, without the insulation needed for the colder snow skiing weather.

 

 Bindings 

First, let me just tell you what any Nordic dealer will tell you… the boot is most important, so find a boot you like and then go with the binding that is compatible with your boot. That being said, here is some Binding 101.

What does NNN and SNS mean? NNN is the New Nordic Norm (Rottefella), SNS is the Salomon Nordic System.

NNN bindings have two narrow ridges that run the length of the binding, forming a center trough for the boot to fit into.  SNS bindings have one molded center area for the boot to fit onto.  Boots/bindings are male/female, so the boots that have a raised molded area fit into the NNN trough.  See Figure 1. Boots with a trough in the sole will slide onto the molded, raised area on the SNS binding.  See figure 2.  The boots will have a small metal pin at the toe that will lock into the front of the binding.  NNN and Salomon Profil bindings fit boots with one pin.  Salomon Pilot Bindings, however, will fit boots with TWO pins to lock onto.  Salomon recently developed the new Salomon Prolink binding, which is ONLY compatible with Salomon Pro-link boots.  These bindings all come equipped with a flip-up lever to unlock the boot from the ski. Most bindings need to be mounted to the ski shaft with screws, and the installer will need to know your specific boot size before installing the bindings. Rosignol, Madshus and Rottefella developed the NIS (Nordic Integrated System) plate.  The plate itself can be mounted to the ski, allowing the skier to slide the binding on and find the best position for their stride and boot. The earlier versions of this plate did not work well with roller skis, however.  Many skiers found that the bindings popped off the plate, the stiffness of the plate reduced flex in the roller ski, and the thickness of the plate raised the skiers center of gravity.  Jenex developed a plate of our own that had better flex, more positions, and a lower center of gravity.   Fisher has developed the new Turnamic Binding, which utilizes a turning, knob-like lever to unlock the boot from the ski.

 

So which boots fit which bindings?

 

NNN, Fisher Turnamic and Salomon Prolink bindings will fit the following boots:

Salomon ProLink (ONLY PROLINK), Rosignol, Alpina, Madshus and Fisher

Salomon Profil bindings fit Salomon Profil and Pilot and Atomic boots (NOT COMPATIBLE with Salomon ProLink boots)

Salomon Pilot fits Salomon Pilot (2-pin) boots (NOT compatible with Salomon Prolink)

Don’t want to invest in boots and bindings?  V2 has a classic, 3-wheeled ski that comes equipped with a binding that can be used with your own athletic shoe! Eventually, the new binding will also be available in a skate version, but we do recommend the ankle support of a hiking boot when skate striding.  See the new JenXC  here.

 

What is the best roller ski for me?

 Choosing the right ski depends on several factors.  Ability, desired stride, and road conditions are your main considerations. Skier weight, height and experience are also important factors to consider when purchasing roller skis.  First, decide on the stride you want to focus on.  Beginners who are not experienced in-line skaters will find it easier to learn with Classic skis.   Skis with smaller, hard wheels may be lighter and easier to maneuver, but are best suited to smooth pavement. If you go that route, you will need to decide if it is worth the upgrade from an aluminum shaft to a composite shaft for vibration dampening.  If you have lots of rough conditions, you will need to go with the pneumatic wheel (air filled tube and tire) skis (V2 Aero models). These come in a 2-wheel skate, 2-wheel combi, or 3-wheel classic version. The three-wheel version is the absolute safest way to break into roller skiing.

Weight, height and foot size are also important factors when choosing a ski.  Most of our skis are rated for skiers 195 lb or lighter.  Our 125S model is rated for skiers under 150lb, and the 125RC models for skiers under 160lb.  For skiers up to 225lb, the 3-wheeled XL150RC is a pretty safe bet, as well as the XLA9848.  Our shafts can be reinforced for heavier skiers.  The forks and wheels cannot be changed, however, so while skiers up to 250lb have had great success using reinforced XLA9848 and XL150RC models, V2 cannot warranty them for skiers over 195lb.  This means ski at your own risk.

 

 

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