Roller skiing

Last updated
Roller skis Rollski-a.jpg
Roller skis

Roller skiing is an off-snow equivalent to cross-country skiing. Roller skis have wheels on their ends and are used on a hard surface, to emulate cross-country skiing . [1] [2] The skiing techniques used are very similar to techniques used in cross-country skiing on snow.


First created as a summer training exercise, roller skiing grew into a competitive sport in its own right. Annual championships are held in various locations around the world. [3] Most, if not all, national cross-country ski teams around the world roller ski during the off-season for specific physical training simulating winter skiing. In Norway, separate roller ski facilities have been constructed to allow exercise off public roads. [4]


The first roller skis were built in the mid-1930s in Italy and North Europe. In the early 1950s, when cross-country skiing started to evolve to a serious competition sport, the necessity for good summer training grew. Starting in the 1950s people experimented with skis on wheels. In the 1970s, something of a standard emerged and the first races took place. At this time all roller skis had one wheel in front and two wheels at the back. The metal frame was between 70 and 100 centimetres (2'4" and 3'4") long. [5]

Athletes felt they could start to engage themselves in competitions. In 1976, Giustino Del Vecchio, an air pilot, established a record in Monza by doing 240.5 kilometres (149.4 mi) in 24 hours on the roller skis he had designed, using material and technologies from the aircraft industry; narrow solid wheels with hard tread, reverse lock-up ball bearings to enable a forward push off the inactive ski. [5]

In the beginning, the skis were developed with one wheel in front and two wheels behind. The introduction of skating (free technique) in cross-country skiing changed athletes' training needs, which consequently impacted the design of roller skis. New roller skis with two wheels instead of three and much lighter materials could be used both for the classic style and skating. [5]


Roller skiing race--Skating technique. Rollski DM Lanzenhain.jpg
Roller skiing race—Skating technique.
Roller skiing race--Classic technique. Rollski-DM in Seiffen.jpg
Roller skiing race—Classic technique.

The European Rollerski Federation was established around 1985, and the first European Championships were organized in the Netherlands in 1988. [6]

The growth of the roller ski sport attracted the notice of the International Ski Federation, or FIS (Federation Internationale de Ski). In 1992, the FIS recognized roller skiing as a sport distinct from cross-country skiing.

The first World Games were held in The Hague in 1993, and the first World Cup roller ski races later in the same year. In 1998, in Prague, the FIS granted roller skiing an official FIS World Championships. On 30 August- 3 September 2000, these competitions took place in the Netherlands.

Races have a variety of formats with different terrain. Formats include relays, sprints, team races, individual races and pursuit races. Terrain varies from relatively flat to hilly. On flat courses the speed can be as fast as 50 kilometres per hour (30 miles per hour). Average speed on flat tracks in World Cup races can easily be 30 kilometres per hour (20 miles per hour). As in regular cross-country skiing, the skiers compete in classic and freestyle. Helmets and protective eyeglasses in competitions are mandatory.

World Cup and World Championships

Like their cross-country counterparts, the Italian, Russian, Norwegian, Swedish, German and French rollers have been very strong in competitions compared to other nations since the beginning of competitive roller skiing. Note that World Roller Skiing championships are not an officially sanctioned races by FIS or recognized sports governing bodies.


So far, the World Cup and World Championships, have been dominated by a few skiers. Successful roller skiers include Italian Alfio di Gregorio, who has won the World Games three times and World Cup four times; Russian Igor Glushkov, who has won the World Cup three times; and Frenchman Vincent Vittoz, who won the World Championships in 2002.


Mateja Bogatec from Italy has been one of the most successful female rollers since the beginning of the FIS World Cup in 2000.


Roller skis for classic and skate style skiing are used, as well as "combi" skis which may be used for either technique. Off-road rollerskis are a variation designed for rougher surface conditions.

Classic style rollerskis usually have wide wheels to improve balance and better simulate classic ski technique. The wheel diameter is often less than 75mm to reduce the overall weight of the rollerskis. A ratchet mechanism is installed in either the front or rear wheel of each classic rollerski to allow uni-directional travel and simulate propulsion from classic ski strides on snow. The non-ratcheted wheel on each classic rollerski is free-rolling.

Skate rollerski wheels are usually 24 millimetres (0.94 in) wide (similar to those used on inline skates) with a wheel diameter of 100mm. 105mm skate rollerski wheels are a less common standard. Pneumatic rollerski wheels are also available but are especially rare and require pneumatic specific rollerskis. Pneumatic roller ski wheels have significantly greater diameter than non-pneumatic rollerski wheels. Both wheels on skate rollerskis are free-rolling.

Rollerski shafts may be composed of many different materials depending on the manufacturer and model. Wood was originally used, though this has mostly been replaced by aluminum, fiberglass, kevlar, carbon fiber or a combination of these materials. The wheelbase of skate rollerskis is typically around 610mm while classic rollerskis generally have a wheelbase of at least 700mm. The longer shafts of classic rollerskis help provide a better simulation of snow skiing. Many manufacturers sell junior roller skis, with shorter shafts to reduce the overall weight for younger skiers. Longer shafts generally provides straighter tracking and more stability. Rollerskis also feel more balanced when the bindings are properly mounted as close to balance point as possible. The bindings should never be mounted in a place that allows the cross country boot to be attached behind the balance point of the rollerski.

Wheels are connected to rollerski shafts using arms that are either integrated into the shaft design or mounted to the shaft using bolts. Most composite rollerski frames made of fiberglass or carbon fiber have aluminum arms mounted with bolts.

There are also types of roller skis that have 3 wheels, with one on the front and two on the back. These are less common more recently due to extra weight on rear created tail drop.

Roller skis with pneumatic tires (such as skikes) are available for rough pavement and off-road use.

Normal cross-country ski bindings and ski boots can be used with most roller skis, though some manufacturers produce special roller ski versions for the warmer weather use including Alpina, Botas, and Fischer. Cross-country ski poles are also used, with the basket replaced by a ferrule, essentially a reinforced carbide steel spike molded into strong plastic.

Extra protective clothing is recommended: full-finger gloves, helmet, eyewear, and knee and elbow pads. Many ski training programs require the use of helmets while roller skiing.

Roller skiing is most popular in Europe particularly France, Italy, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, and Russia, where there are many serious races and even a World Cup Circuit. In North America, roller skiing is popular in areas with many Nordic skiers such as Ontario, Alberta, Alaska, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Nordic blading

Nordic blading is a sport which uses ski poles with special tips and inline skates or roller skis. The sport has been practiced for over 80 years and is undergoing a revival. The benefits of Nordic blading are similar to that of cross-country skiing if performed correctly. Nordic blading can be more risky than inline skating as the poles complicate balance and coordination.

Types of techniques used

Marwe achieves flex by using a composite frame like a snow ski with aluminum forks bolted on. Marwe.jpg
Marwe achieves flex by using a composite frame like a snow ski with aluminum forks bolted on.

Equipment needed

See also

Related Research Articles

Cross-country skiing form of snow skiing

Cross-country skiing is a form of skiing where skiers rely on their own locomotion to move across snow-covered terrain, rather than using ski lifts or other forms of assistance. Cross-country skiing is widely practiced as a sport and recreational activity; however, some still use it as a means of transportation. Variants of cross-country skiing are adapted to a range of terrain which spans unimproved, sometimes mountainous terrain to groomed courses that are specifically designed for the sport.

Slalom skiing alpine skiing discipline

Slalom is an alpine skiing and alpine snowboarding discipline, involving skiing between poles or gates. These are spaced more closely than those in giant slalom, super giant slalom and downhill, necessitating quicker and shorter turns. Internationally, the sport is contested at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, and at the Olympic Winter Games.

Skiing Recreational activity and sport using skis

Skiing is a means of transport using skis to glide on snow. Variations of purpose include basic transport, a recreational activity, or a competitive winter sport. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Ski Federation (FIS).

Nordic combined winter sport combining the events of cross-country skiing and ski jumping

Nordic combined is a winter sport in which athletes compete in cross-country skiing and ski jumping. Nordic combined at the Winter Olympics and the FIS Nordic Combined World Cup are ongoing.

Telemark skiing form of skiing using the Telemark turn

Telemark skiing is a skiing technique that combines elements of Alpine and Nordic skiing. Telemark skiing is named after the Telemark region of Norway, where the discipline originated. Sondre Norheim is often credited for first demonstrating the turn in ski races, which included cross country, slalom and jumping, in Norway around 1868. Sondre Norheim also experimented with ski and binding design, introducing side cuts to skis and heel bindings.

Thomas Alsgaard Norwegian cross-country skier

Thomas Alsgaard is a Norwegian former professional cross-country skier. Alsgaard is regarded by many as the best performer of the freestyle technique (skating) in cross-country skiing and many of today's best skiers have studied his technique. In total, Alsgaard won 15 medals in the Winter Olympics and FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, making him one of the most successful skiers of all time.

Bjørn Dæhlie Norwegian cross-country skier

Bjørn Erlend Dæhlie is a Norwegian businessman and retired cross-country skier. In the years from 1992 to 1999, Dæhlie won the Nordic World Cup six times, finishing second in 1994 and 1998. Dæhlie won a total of 29 medals in the Olympics and World Championships in the period between 1991 and 1999, making Dæhlie the most successful male cross-country skier in history.

Thomas Wassberg Swedish cross-country skier

Thomas Lars Wassberg is a Swedish former cross-country skier. A fast skating style – push for every leg – is still called "Wassberg" after him in several countries. Wassberg's skiing idols when growing up were Sixten Jernberg and Oddvar Brå. He has described his mental strength and physical fitness as his greatest abilities as a skier, with his main weakness being a lack of sprinting ability.

Lars Berger cross-country skier

Lars Berger is a former Norwegian biathlete and cross-country skier.

Bill Koch (skier) American former cross-country skier and Nordic combined skier

William Conrad "Bill" Koch is an American skier who competed at international level.

Gabriella Paruzzi is a retired Italian cross-country skier who competed from 1991 to 2006 and formerly skied with the G.S. Forestale. She skied in World Cup events, and won the Women's Overall World Cup in 2004.

Paralympic cross-country skiing

Paralympic cross-country skiing is an adaptation of cross-country skiing for athletes with disabilities. Paralympic cross-country skiing is one of two Nordic skiing disciplines in the Winter Paralympic Games; the other is biathlon. Competition is governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

Peter Graves is an American television sportscaster and public address announcer specializing in Olympic, lifestyle and action sports. He was also the former cross-country ski coach for Harvard University.

The women's 4 x 5 kilometre relay cross-country skiing competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada was held on 25 February at Whistler Olympic Park at 11:15 PST.

Alexey Poltoranin Kazakhstani cross-country skier

Alexey Yurevich Poltoranin is a Kazakh cross-country skier who has competed at the international senior level since 2004. He has three World Cup wins, one in 2010 and two in 2013. In the 2013 World Championship in Val di Fiemme he won two bronze medals. Most of his best results are in the classic technique.

LW5/7 is a standing para-Alpine and para-Nordic skiing classification for skiers with upper extremity issues in both limbs that may include double amputation of both arms and hands or dysmelia of the upper limbs. The class has three subclasses defined by the location of the disability on the upper extremities. International classification is done by IPC Alpine Skiing and IPC Nordic Skiing. On the national level, classification is handled by national sports federation such as Cross-Country Canada.


LW6/8 is a para-Alpine and para-Nordic standing skiing sport class, a classification defined by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for people with an upper extremity issue who have paralysis, motor paresis affecting one arm, a single upper arm amputation or CP8 classified cerebral palsy. LW6/8 skiers use two skis and one pole in both para-Alpine and para-Nordic skiing.

LW9 is a para-Alpine and para-Nordic standing skiing sport class, a classification defined by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for people with upper and lower limb function problems, and includes cerebral palsy skiers classified CP5, CP6 and CP7, along with people with hemiplegia or amputations. For international skiing competitions, classification is done through IPC Alpine Skiing or IPC Nordic Skiing. A national federation such as Alpine Canada handles classification for domestic competitions. This classification is separated into two subclasses including LW9.1 and LW9.2.

Nordic cross skating is also called Nordic inline skating or Off-road skating or Cross-country skating or Nordic blading. This sport activity combines snow Cross-country skiing and Inline skating. Typically uses specialized inline skates with two big all-terrain wheels and special poles that the skater pumps like ski poles to make the skates go faster and provides a good workout for the majority of the major muscle groups, including upper body. Nordic skaters use a technique similar to the technique that cross-country skiers and inline skaters use. Nordic cross skating popularity is growing because of the range of fitness benefits.

Cross-country skiing (sport) competitive winter sport category

The sport of cross-country skiing encompasses a variety of formats for cross-country skiing races over courses of varying lengths according to rules sanctioned by the International Ski Federation and by various national organizations, such as the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and Cross Country Ski Canada. International competitions include the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, the FIS Cross-Country World Cup, and at the Winter Olympic Games. Such races occur over homologated, groomed courses designed to support classic (in-track) and freestyle events, where the skiers may employ skate skiing. It also encompasses cross-country ski marathon events, sanctioned by the Worldloppet Ski Federation, and cross-country ski orienteering events, sanctioned by the International Orienteering Federation. Related forms of competition are biathlon, where competitors race on cross-country skis and stop to shoot at targets with rifles, and paralympic cross-country skiing that allows athletes with disabilities to compete at cross-country skiing with adaptive equipment.


  1. Bryhn, Rolf and Knut Are Tvedt (eds.): Kunnskapsforlagets idrettsleksikon. (Norwegian Encyclopedia of Sports). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget, 1990.
  2. Andersen, Inge and Per Nymoen: Langrenn. Trening, teknikk, taktikk. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1991.
  3. Stjørdalens Blad, 23 September 2014 (report from the Norwegian roller ski championship).
  4. Dagsavisen, 26 September 2014, page 12-13.
  5. 1 2 3 "Skiroll - History of the rollerski in Italy". Retrieved 2020-03-28.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Roller skiing at Wikimedia Commons