As the ski season comes to an end, many skiing enthusiasts are already looking for ways to stay in shape during the off-season and be ready for the slopes when winter returns. One popular method that has been gaining traction in recent years is inline skating, which has been recognized as an effective cross-training activity for skiing. I had the opportunity to explore Rollerblade's Skate to Ski Training System, a comprehensive program developed in collaboration with the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and U.S. Ski and Snowboard, designed to help skiers improve their fitness and technique through inline skating.
Unleash Your Ski-Ready Fitness with Rollerblade
Skate to Ski Training System
Inline skating has long been used by skiers as a way to maintain their fitness during the off-season. Many of the team members at Rollerblade are avid skiers themselves, and they decided to take their informal cross-training routine to the next level by creating a program that truly mirrors the movements and skills used in skiing. The result is a series of videos and a companion guidebook that make up the Skate to Ski Training System.
The program is divided into phases, with Phase 1 focusing on building a solid foundation of inline skating skills. As I delved into Phase 1, I realized that basic skating skills are crucial for skiers looking to improve their fitness and technique. Proper balance, coordination, and control are essential in both inline skating and skiing, and mastering these skills is the first step toward ski-ready fitness.
Phase 1 includes learning how to balance on skates, execute basic forward and backward strides, and stop safely and efficiently. I found the drills to be challenging yet fun, as they required me to focus on my body positioning, weight shifting, and knee bending - all of which are key movements used in skiing. The exercises were designed to help me develop the muscle memory and technique needed for skiing while improving my inline skating skills.
Rollerblade's collaboration with the PSIA and U.S. Ski and Snowboard is evident in the program, as the drills are derived from proven methods used by professional ski instructors and the U.S. Ski Team. This adds a level of credibility to the program, knowing that I was learning from experts in the skiing industry.
Consistency is key in any training program, and the same applies to the Skate to Ski Training System. Regular practice is essential to build strength, stamina, and endurance, which are all crucial for skiing. The program recommends dedicating time to inline skating on a regular basis to reap the full benefits of the training.
As someone who is passionate about skiing, I found Rollerblade's Skate to Ski Training System to be a valuable tool for improving my fitness and technique during the off-season. The program's focus on building a solid foundation of inline skating skills, along with specific drills for skiing, sets a strong groundwork for ski-ready fitness. I am eagerly looking forward to progressing to the more advanced phases of the program and continuing my journey toward being in the best shape possible for the next ski season. Whether you're a seasoned skier or a beginner looking to enhance your skiing skills, the Skate to Ski Training System is definitely worth considering as a cross-training option. So grab your inline skates and get rolling toward ski-ready fitness!
Choosing the right terrain
Choosing the right terrain for inline skating is crucial for safety, just like in skiing. Unlike skiing, however, there are no trail markers to indicate what lies ahead, so it's important to be proactive in assessing the road ahead and the variables that may exist. One major factor to consider is the slope of the terrain. Even a slight pitch in a paved trail or road can cause you to pick up speed quickly, so it's essential to be confident in your braking and speed control skills before tackling any sloped surface.
The quality of the pavement is also critical in inline skating, similar to skiing. The condition of the surface can greatly affect your ability to control yourself. Avoid areas with water, sand, or deep cracks in the pavement, as these can pose challenges to maintaining balance and control.
Another factor to keep in mind is traffic. Depending on the location, the paved surface you'll be skating on may have pedestrians, cyclists, or even motor vehicles. It's important to obey any local rules or regulations regarding inline skating, and always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
As you progress through the various phases of the Skate to Ski Training System, you will also advance to more challenging terrain. Here is a guide to how the increasing challenge of inline skate terrain is classified, assuming the pavement is dry, free of sand or debris, and without cracks that can grab your wheels.
- Beginner Terrain: This includes absolutely flat surfaces such as tennis courts, basketball courts, or flat and smooth parking lots that are free of active traffic.
- Intermediate Terrain: This refers to smooth paved paths that are wide enough to make turns, or smooth paved roads relatively free of pedestrians or other traffic. These may have a slight slope and pitch that will cause you to pick up moderate amounts of speed.
- Advanced Terrain: This includes smooth paved trails or roads that may have a moderate slope, but not steep, that will cause you to rapidly pick up speed. At no point should there be a steep slope?
It's important to progress to more challenging terrain gradually as you gain confidence and skills in inline skating. Always prioritize safety and be aware of the conditions and environment of the terrain you choose to skate on. Following the guidelines of the Skate to Ski Training System and being mindful of the classification of terrain can help you safely and effectively cross-train for skiing through inline skating.
Phase 1 Inline Skating Training
The A-Frame Turn drill is designed to develop a balanced stance and learn direction change at slow to medium speeds. This drill is similar to the wedge turn on skis and helps skaters to learn to link turns using the A-frame stance. Proper form includes flexed knees and ankles throughout, calm and upright upper body with hips over heels and knees over toes, feet wider than hip-width apart with 70% pressure on the outside leg and 30% on the inside leg, and making round, smooth, and linked turns on inside edges.
Braking on a Hill
The Braking on a Hill drill is aimed at improving speed control and stopping while going down a slope. This requires more skill and confidence compared to braking on a level surface. Skaters learn to deeply flex their knees and ankles, keep their hands out front, scissor the braking foot fully in front of the back balancing foot, maintain a narrow stance of less than hip-width, and gradually apply pressure to the braking foot until almost 100% of the pressure is applied directly to the brake pad.
Striding for Power
The Striding for Power drill focuses on developing a powerful and efficient stride. Skaters learn to place their striding foot directly on, or slightly past, a center line under their hips, point their striding foot directly forward, and start the stride on the outside edge of the wheels requiring 100% momentary balance on the foot about to stride, and have a gliding moment on one leg before pushing off again on the next stride. Proper form includes flexing the knee of the gliding leg over the toe and using a cadence count of 1, 2, and 3 throughout each stride.
The Parallel Turn
The Parallel Turn drill helps skaters to learn parallel turns, which are essential for changing direction at higher speeds. Skaters practice maintaining a balanced stance, keeping the knees and ankles flexed, the upper body calm and upright, and the feet parallel to each other while making smooth and controlled turns.
The Free Skate drill allows skaters to apply the skills they have learned in the previous drills in a more open and unrestricted skating environment. Skaters can practice combining their turns, speed control, and power strides to improve their overall skating ability.
In summary, Phase 1 of inline skating training focuses on building a solid foundation for beginners by developing skills such as A-Frame Turns, Braking on a Hill, Striding for Power, Parallel Turns, and Free Skating. Proper form and technique are emphasized in each drill to help skaters develop a strong foundation for more advanced skating techniques in later phases of training.
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