Here's a classic roller skier, GB's Andrew Musgrave -

And on snow -


Here he is on skating roller skis, the same Marwe 610A model as we have on our rental fleet -


And skate skiing on snow -


Credit: Andrew Musgrave Instagram

Choice of roller skiing:
Classic or skating?

There are two types of roller skiing, based on the two types of cross-country skiing - classic and skating.

Classic is the original type of skiing where the skis run parallel. On snow the skis use a special type of skin or 'grip wax' in the centre of the ski which comes into contact with the snow and grip, when the ski is pressed down. Classic roller skis have wheels with 'ratchets' which stop them running backwards when the skier pushes off, giving much the same feeling as skiing on snow. The classic technique is sometimes known as 'diagonal stride'.

Skating is a form of skiing which came to prominance in the 1980s. In this type of skiing the skis skate out from side to side, in a similar way to ice skating or inline skating. This form of skiing is faster, and is used in all biathlon races (skiing and shooting). The skis have no grip wax, and the rollerskis have no ratchets.

Which to choose?

Most people end up doing a bit of both - certainly all racers do. Skating requires a bit more balance than classic to start off with, and if you have trouble balancing you may want to start with classic first.

However, skating is easy to pick up especially if you have good core stability or have done a little ice skating, Alpine skiing or inline skating - anything which works your balance well. There is a widely held view that classic is easier to pick up but harder to master, while skating is harder to pick up but slightly easier to master.

Certain countries seem to favour classic or skating. In Norway it's unusual for someone to attempt skating before they have first done a lot of classic skiing, while in the Alps skating seems to be relatively more popular. In our view it doesn't really matter which technique you start off with, but we would encourage you to do a mixture of both.

What's the better workout?

Both offer an extremely good, total body workout, and all skiers and biathletes do a mixture of both in training. It's easier to keep a lower heart rate with classic, so that is often chosen as the best means of doing a long slow distance workout. In fact the two styles complement each other well, and work slightly different muscles. You can, to a certain extent, give your body a rest by alternating workouts between classic and skating.

Benefits of roller skiing

For a start roller skiing gives you pretty much the same workout as cross country skiing - one of the best all round sports for exercise.

Roller skis are designed to feel as close to skiing on snow as possible. The roller skis we use are the best we can find for offering a good 'ski feeling'.

* excellent cardiovascular workout
* total body exercise
* great cross training for other sports
* preparation for ski holiday
* prepares you for ski expeditions - used by top adventurers
* prepares you for ski races - cross-country, biathlon, Winter triathlons
* low impact (compared to say running) makes it great recovery training
* it also makes it excellent marathon training - you can go and roller ski for 2 hours with less impact on your joints than, say, running, making it good endurance training


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