Focus on different aspects of the technical performance of skating technique on rollerski   by Viviana Druidi                    

24.08.2004 - We have now reached the time of season, that the first two World Cup races have been held in respectively Zagreb (CROATIA) e Cesis (LATVIA), and after having observed the international scene, it is obvious to see some clear indications of different adjustments in the basic theory of skating technique. A demonstration that, the rollerski sport is developing continuously, and is searching for a method which is able to express a total utilization of its equipment.

That means first of all, that the rollerski sport is breaking away from cross country skiing, which is furthermore forced into a double track, and that the increasing willpower on behalf of many nations wishes to confirm it as a sport at a high level. The facts shows that more and more champions from cross country skiing are participating in rollerski competitions in skating, aiming to transfer their technical skills to cross country skis. Just, think of the participation of Pietro Piller Cottrer and Cristian Zorzi at the race at Montebelluna (ITALY) and at their confirming remarks about their needs to compete in rollerski races on flats with equipment fit for impressive speed, just in order to improve their skills on skis.

At the international scene as well, you will find personalities at a high level, taking part in the World Cup (e.g. Carsten Pump GER-biathlon, Dirk Klessen GER-XC-ski, Isabel Klaus GER-XC-ski, Jari Joutsen FIN-XC-ski, Michael Østberg SWE-XC-ski, and many many others). The same way for names less famous (Russians, Ukrainians, Swedes, etc.), who are completing their preparations for the winter season, participating in rollerski competitions. Sometimes it is obvious, that it is not a specific preparation for the actual rollerski competitions. In fact, you will notice a less edging towards the outside-line of the wheel and a more backwards leaned position. All this happens undoubtedly because the skiers reap tremendous benefits of using rollerskis adapted for training; slow and easy to handle compared with race models and certainly more similar to cross country skis, but unfortunately a disadvantage to the technical performance suitable for the racing level on rollerski.

Besides this clear difference between a rollerski specialist and a cross country skier or biathlete, you will also notice that there are several schools of thought about the technical performance of skating style.

There is a theory of the Scandinavian thought which means a full arm swing forward to a high and very closed position nearly like hiding the head, and a kind of jump of the lower limbs before landing every ski steep (in the photo, on the left: Grip, Westman e Magnusson Sweden).


The Russian performance needs a good deal of muscle strength to express a linear motion of the lower limbs, and a distinct motion towards the lateral part of the body (asymmetrical line), which is accompanied with a full arm swing towards the outside, just in search of a certain unbalance of the gliding rollerski (in the photo: Marina Firsova; Russia).


The Middle European thought of technique is lifted into a more closed and forward carried position, kept in a central line of the body with less appropriation towards the lateral part (symmetrical line), and with a high frequency of movements (in the photo: Elsbeth Straub; Holland).

Analysing a rollerski sprint race technically; It really pays to follow a total mechanical precision in every motion, faultless and without any mistake from start to finish while the proper glide phase is respected. Every technique is based on some main principles:

  • a forward motion and a high (upright) position of the body;
  • a properly weight shift of centre of mass on the push-off leg (ski);
  • ankle and knee bended;
  • ankle, knee, hip, chest and nose are kept in one line.

Exactly, in this kind of competition, it is very important to launch right at the starting line and it is really a personal matter and an individual choice, how to make the first steep. Some athletes are keeping the same technique through the whole straight, others are using one technique to acquire speed, and another to increase speed or maintain it.

These choices depend absolutely on the capacity of each athlete, quickness and anaerobic power has a big influence on the technical performance.

The last consideration is about rollerski tracks. During our stay at the World Cup in Latvia, we had to face a real exacting track. We were informed, that the training preparations of the nations of Eastern Europe frequently are taken place on these kind of tracks, specially fit for rollerskiing. The tracks are typically located on stadiums of biathlon and they present notable differences in height and have curved ski runs so that the rhythm of skiing is constantly changing.

In Germany (e.g. St. Wendel) and in Austria there are quite a few tracks to choose, but most of the athletes of biathlon are using slow rollerski adapted for training. Italy has also several tracks; the well known Rapy (Valle d'Aosta), the only one, until now, used for federal competitions, the stadium of biathlon of Anterselva (Bolzano), the stadium of biathlon of Forni Avoltri (Udine) and soon the inauguration of the stadium of Val Pesarina (Carnia). Unfortunately, speaking for our part, they are after all not very frequented.

These are the main aspects of which I have been focused my attention the last few months. Now it is up to you to throw light on others and to add some good advise so that we will continue improving.

Viviana Druidi


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Translated from Italian into English         
by Charlotte Klein                     

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