SkiTrax - - Contents - By Keith Ni­col

by Keith Ni­col

Roller­skis are in­creas­ingly be­com­ing the “go to” sum­mer and fall train­ing tool for cross-coun­try skiers. This is not sur­pris­ing since roller­skis give the sen­sa­tion of ski­ing, but with­out the snow. In this way, ski-spe­cific work­outs can be trained in the off-sea­son. Roller­skis can be used for prac­tis­ing both Clas­sic and skate tech­nique – about the only tech­niques that don't work on roller­skis are skid­ded turns such as snow­plow or Christie-type turns. When I am giv­ing clin­ics on roller­skis, I like to use some of the same drills that I use on snow, and a great one for im­prov­ing skat­ing is the cir­cle skate.

The cir­cle skate aptly de­scribes the man­ner in which this drill is done, and I find it use­ful for get­ting skiers to prac­tise the idea of land­ing on a flat ski and push­ing off an edged ski, both of which are cru­cial to good skat­ing. One good as­pect of the cir­cle skate is that since the leg ac­tion oc­curs re­peat­edly on the same side, if you have trou­ble, say land­ing on a flat left ski, you can re­peat­edly prac­tise this with drill. In photo 1, I am skat­ing off my left ski. I have brought my right ski un­der my body and I am flexed at the an­kles, knees and hips with my arms out for bal­ance. Many skiers are too stiff in the joints and/or fail to bring their feet un­der their bod­ies. Both of these tend to un­bal­ance skiers, and the last thing you need in the sum­mer is a fall on pave­ment.

In photo 2, I have now stepped on to a flat right ski. For any skat­ing tech­nique, rid­ing a flat ski is es­sen­tial to be able to glide as long as pos­si­ble, and it one of the big­gest chal­lenges for most skiers. Next, I bring my left ski par- al­lel to my right ski (see photo 3). This will set me up for re­peat­ing this – the skate-on-the-left, land­flat-on-the-right-ski I skate in a cir­cle. Be sure to prac­tise the cir­cle skate in both di­rec­tions, and in photo 4, you can see me edg­ing my right ski and get­ting ready to land on my left ski. Again, note how I have brought my feet un­der my body so that I can put my left ski down as flat as pos­si­ble.

Another dif­fi­culty for some skiers is the ten­dency to lean or bank into the turn, as shown in photo 5. This may un­bal­ance you, and your roller­skis may slip out from be­neath you. A good drill for cor­rect­ing this is to drag your out­side pole (see photo 6), which puts more weight on the out­side ski, al­low­ing you to push off with more con­fi­dence and power. You want your body to de­velop a “)” shape rather than the di­ag­o­nal line or “/”, shown in photo 5. Another bonus of prac­tis­ing the cir­cle skate is that it is also a great drill for de­vel­op­ing step turns. For help with any as­pect of your Nordic ski­ing, seek out the as­sis­tance of a cer­ti­fied CANSI or PSIA in­struc­tor.

Con­trib­u­tor Keith Ni­col has been on four Cana­dian INTERSKI demon­stra­tion teams for Nordic ski­ing. He holds CANSI'S high­est in­struc­tor rank­ing in both track and tele­mark ski­ing. He has a pop­u­lar Nordic ski­ing web­site at­col/nordic%20main.htm and many pop­u­lar Youtube videos for im­prov­ing your Nordic ski­ing (search k2nicol). He can be reached at

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