Roller skiing mimics Nordic skiing
Nordic athletes don’t have to wait for snow to train for the upcoming race season
You may have seen a pack of athletes cruising on the bike path not on bikes, not on foot, but on roller skis. It’s not a new fad, it’s a way to train for the upcoming Nordic ski racing season.
All summer long Daniel Weiland has been taking the Nordic ski team from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail to stretches of smooth and relatively flat terrain for training purposes.
“There’s not a ton of flat bike paths around here, but we’ve found some good places to go throughout the region,” said Weiland, who is the Nordic programs director for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
The team trains on paths along Big Horn Road in East Vail or on the path between Avon and Edwards near Highway 6, or on the new path near Horn Ranch outside of Wolcott, CO. They have also ventured out to paths in Glenwood, Aspen and Summit County.
Roller skis are the same width as Nordic skis but are much shorter. The same bindings, boots and poles are used on the pavement. There are classic and skate roller skis. “The classic roller skis have wider wheels and a ratchet so it only goes forward in direction. The skate roller skis have narrower wheels that help mimic the lateral push movement you do while skate skiing,” Weiland said.
No one wants winter to come more than the athletes at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, but in the meantime, these athletes say roller skiing mimics the movements of the sport quite well.
Izzy Glackin is a freshman at Vail Mountain School and has been on the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Nordic team for eight years and has been roller skiing for four years. “I love roller skiing, it feels so much like the real thing, you’re just not on snow, but when I first started I was sort of scared to try it,” Glackin said. “The consequences if you fall are much greater on the path versus snow.”
Glackin’s advice if you fall? “Brace yourself.”
Roller skiing is not for the novice, Weiland says. “These kids have a keen sense of balance from all their training on snow and they handle the roller skis very well. Some can even do 180 degree turns while they are going down the path,” Weiland said.
Cole Flashner is also a freshman at Vail Mountain School and has been Nordic skiing with the team for two years and said that this is his first summer on roller skis and he’s seen improvement in his skills.
“Doing this over the summer helps because you don’t have that gap of time where you forget what you’ve already learned and you can enhance what you’ve learned last winter,” Flashner said. These athletes will be on snow soon enough, but in the meantime, if you see them on the paths give them plenty of room as they zoom on through. To see them in action, watch today’s video.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.