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 at www2.swgc.mun.ca/~knicol/nordic%20main.htm and many popular Youtube videos for improving your Nordic skiing (search k2nicol). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.