I have taken up roller blade training for ski training this summer. Depending on your desired goals roller blade training could be a supplement to your other off-season training or can be a source of extended and specific technical development for skiing and ski racing.
I have skied for 40+ years and will admit I know very little about roller blading. Normally I ride road bike, lift weights and run for off season training. Roller blade training on bike path areas, roads, parks, etc. would be the equivalent to these activities for strength, aerobic/endurance, balance and total body coordination. I would recommend the roller blade training highly for ski conditioning assuming your main focus is skiing. Just be aware that some things about roller blading are different (ie. no dynamic fore-aft movement on blades like in skiing, A-framing of the legs is not good for skiing and can be a bad habit if you let it develop in your roller blade technique, etc.). Like any cross training activity for skiing, the benefit will vary with the intensity, duration and frequency of the work outs.
My goals are specific to race training for slalom and GS. If you or anyone else out there is interested I have learned the following:
1. inexpensive blades are ok, preferably ones with a velco ankle/instep strap and plastic side wall for upper ankle lateral support, buckles or laces are ok
2. wheels hardness of less than 80A will wear out too quickly if you primarily train on pavement....I have replaced wheels when the inside wear is excessive
3. use hiking pole rubber tips on your slalom ski poles; available from hiking shops; or poor man's tip is an old tennis ball slit for the ski pole tip and duct tape the ball to the base of the ski pole
4. full body pads (wrist, knees, elbows, bike helmet) + hockey shorts....this last one is great. Pavement is not the same as snow! After 2 falls on day one just putzing around on the bike path I knew there was a better way...went to the local shop and bought some padded hockey shorts. The hockey shorts work wonders for saving the bod! That was 3 months ago and my skills have improved and I rarely if ever fall any more but I still use the pads as protection.
5. soccer cones work great for simple gates...these are the 8" tall orange cones that kids use for side line markers. You can space as needed and position for flush gates or hairpins or off-sets (I am experimenting with break away gate using a SPM hinge and standard 3/4" PVC irrigation pipe held in a weighted, off-set metal base...will let you know)
1. empty parking lots with smooth pavement and a slight pitch work great...I started on a bike path and w/o roller blade skills this can be scary with dogs, kids, bikes and pedestrian around...trust me that was at least one nasty fall on day one
2. dead end roads or streets that are not through routes work great...again smooth pavement is important....if you can find new pavement this is like groomed hard pack snow
3. a slight to moderate slope works just fine because your focus is on turns and technique....terrain that is too steep results in panic j-turns, to much speed and an inability to focus on ski specific motor skills...the best terrain is a moderate, constant pitch, smooth (re-occurring theme) pavement where you do not have to skate to maintain momentum and you are not doing panic or check turns to arrest your speed
4. if you are on roads (hopefully with infrequent cars), the width needs to be of adequate to continue beyond the SL or GS course and do a pull up turn to arrest your momentum or otherwise you need an extended run out or up hill section to check your speed...based on my bicycle "speed" sense we are traveling about 15 MPH at mid course or on the run out....the secret work out for kids is the up hill skate back to the start gate...if you told them you were doing this for conditioning they would never do it
1. just experiment with spacing, off-set and patterns to simulate race gate patterns; road or parking lot pitch will dictate alot...the focus is on a smooth linked pattern of "race-like" turns...you want the course to flow and have a rhythm just like in skiing
2. I generally use a 24 cone course for GS or SL training...we have tried dual course slalom and this is fun for the kids but less of a technical focus...sometimes we do timed runs
3. taking early lines and cutting cones tight knocks them out of alignment and spacing...course manners are the person who knocks needs to reset...we have also used chalk markers to help with re-positioning
4. digital camera is a great feed back tool....my daughter and I take turns taking pictures and looking at the view finder to give ourselves feedback on technique....I find that giving her the camera to take pictures of me and tell me what I am doing well or needing improvement has done wonders for her technical observation skills...it also makes it easier for her to look at her pictures and develop a self awareness of her technique
5. take water and snacks for breaks in the shade...a broom is useful for gravel and twigs that may be in the training area
PS...my older daughter (J3) has spent several weeks training on glacier at summer ski camps and has broken the bank account....in contrast the roller blade training described above is all that I can afford. The total cost for me and my younger daughter....including the roller blades and body armor (less helmet that I already had) was less than $100 at a second hand sports store....the cones are about a $1 a piece.
Best regards and have fun!
[ July 21, 2003, 01:05 PM: Message edited by: dsgould ]