Spring skiing just might be the ultimate cross country experience. I hear about these amazing outings all year long: super-fast, glazed tracks; warm sun and bluebird skies; rolling up your sleeves and soaking in the day.
Or, maybe you’ve had your fill of skiing for the season and want to start on other things: planning your garden, sugaring, etc.
One thing we don’t often think about while the snow is still on the ground is roller skiing. Sure, you might buy a pair at the end of ski season, but there’s a good probability that you’ll store them away until later in summer while you either maximize the last cm of corduroy or get on to rehabbing your perennials for summer.
But if you are only skiing on snow right now, you might be missing a great opportunity…roller skiing while there is still snow on the ground may sound crazy, but it affords the skier an important learning opportunity. Plus, getting out in the spring sunshine for even longer is never a bad thing!
We talk all the time about how roller skiing is the best way to train for on-snow skiing; it’s the most similar in cardio and strength demands, not to mention the general movements. (If you’re interested in a more in-depth read on the topic, link to this NMN archived article from last summer on how roller skiing benefits mind and body.) There is even a Norwegian saying that “skiers are made in the summer.”
Here’s what usually happens: we ski on snow until the very last snowflake has melted, then, a few months later, we get out the roller skis and unknowingly alter our on-snow technique to fit the demands (or lack thereof) on the roller skis. Sure, many, if not most things are the same between the two activities, but a few subtle things will shift. We go for the feeling, but it’s not quite the same.
As New Moon founder, Steve Morales, likes to say, “falling on pavement is unpleasant at best.” People tend to be more tentative on roller skis, more afraid on downhills because the (perceived) risk is greater. Your body awareness, or proprioception, is slightly altered due to the time off skis. And, also, the placement of your poles is usually different on the road.
So, here’s what Joel suggests to ramp up your learning curve: head out to the ski trail (Joel likes OO) and ski for about an hour. Immediately go for a 15 minute roller ski. Since the two techniques are happening right after one another, you’ll be able to better apply on-snow technique, which typically demands a bit different hip and ankle movement than is needed for roller skiing. Practice planting your poles closer to your body, which is more common on snow than on the road. Work on engaging your core in the same way (you can move on roller skis with a bit less of a push than on the snow). Overall, you’ll be trying to replicate your exact snow skiing body positioning, movements, and energy output on the road. Since you literally were just skiing on the trail, you’ll be able to fine tune all those things your body may have “forgotten” by the time the roller skis typically come out in the fall. Immediately, your movement will be more intuitive on the roller skis, and you can remember the feel of and continue your more precise workout until you are back on the trails in November or December.
You’ve only got a short time to try this out, at least up here in Hayward, so get on out there. If you’d like to talk about roller skiing and technique, give Joel a call at the shop. And, whether you are snow skiing, roller skiing, planting your garden, or riding your bike, everyday outside is a good one, so enjoy your time in the great outdoors. Here’s looking forward to a fantastic summer! —Judy