It's the Same Only Different


It's the Same Only Different



A lot of things have been written about off season training. Everything from static exercises aka the wall chair exercise, to elaborate schedules involving hours spent on various complicated machines, to the ever popular 12 oz. curls at your local establishment. I say "to each their own". My opinion is that anything, well almost anything, that can interest you enough to keep you doing it is a good thing. I use to spend a lot of time doing the "hours with machines/weights thing", but even with music or a TV it just became to boring. Also having a busy life, like everybody else, I wanted to find something that was fun as well as useful, that fit into what little time I had. I started out doing a lot of mountain biking, something that I still enjoy, but fitting it into that "busy life" just got more and, more difficult. Eventually I settled on inline skating. I think this has several advantages as an off season workout. The first of which is the downhill aspect. It's obvious that you can get a good workout getting to the top of those hills, but going down them is quite interesting, and you can employ skiing skills to make some fun turns.


 The "skills" I'm referring to are the ones I was taught to teach as an instructor:  Balance, Rotary, Edging and Pressure.


Balance-Staying centered over your boots at all times regardless of terrain, speed or position in a turn. This includes fore and aft, as well as side to side


Rotary- Steering the skies consistently through the turn. This is done with the proper body positioning that will allow the legs to direct the skis for a complete carved turn.


Edging- Controlling the angle of the ski to the surface of the snow to the extent necessary to effect a carved turn on various terrains, in different conditions and at any speed


Pressure- Applying the appropriate weight/pressure to the appropriate ski throughout the turn to enable the ski to perform successfully in any conditions. It requires the right touch.



You can use all of these skills to make turns on in-lines, but I have discovered some differences that I needed to be aware of in order to successfully transition from skating to skiing.


One of the most obvious differences here is the "terrain", no matter how much a mountain grooms, a paved road is going to have a more consistent surface, also an obviously much harder one. Pressure Control is not as much of an issue. You don't really have to flex and extend to absorb changes like bumps, ridges or crud. You still need to do it to effect a decent turn, but the consistency of the surface can make you lazy. The first time you get on the snow you can get bounced around quite a bit.


Secondly is the equipment itself. In-lines give you a substantially shorter base or platform. My skates are about a foot from the center of the front wheel to the center of the back one. Even with today's skis that is a substantial difference. This affects both Balance as well as Rotary. The shorter base requires being centered over your boots even more so then with skies. If you are not centered all the time your butt is liable to become one with the pavement. You could call this instant feedback. I just call it painful and if you hit the pavement while miles from home it can be a long slow trip back. So I guess you could say the shortness of in-lines can have a positive for effect on your balance or a negative effect on your butt. The shortness can also affect the way we use the rotary skill. Since they are so much shorter it is much easier to steer or guide them, so when you transition to skis if you're not ready to adjust for the added length your liable to end up one with the trees and not in a good way.



The third difference involves the edging skill, although this skill seems to have the least amount of variance. I don't think you could say in-lines actually have an edge, but in the process of making a turn you do roll them over so that you are riding somewhat on the side/edge of the wheels. I don't think you get nearly the same amount of "edging" but the results seem to be similar. You certainly do not get the same results or feedback on skates as you do on skies, but its there.




I should make a comment about pads and such. I do wear a helmet and pads. In the 12 years I've been doing this, which amounts to about 11,000 miles, I have fallen 4 times. So the survival odds are good, but the falls that I did take were instantaneous, and painful.  I didn't break anything, but there was some substantial road rash, swelling and bruising. Not to mention the difficultly of setting for the next few days. Since I do my skating in the early morning I often wear a reflective vest and a head light as well as a red taillight. It may look silly, but no one has run me over yet. I have gotten some funny looks over the years, but now it's mostly smiles and waves. The fact that I live in a rural area and appear to be the only one doing this does make for some interesting moments. I have had people driving everything from bicycles to pickup trucks, pull over and say nice things to me. My wife however has reported more then one discussion where once it is revealed that the phantom skater is actually that old guy a sort of glazed look comes over the other parties face and the subject is changed. Some folks may think I'm crazy, but that's not new.     



As far as finding an off season activity that comes close to skiing I have to say this is the best I have found. Despite the differences mentioned above, I think inline skating has definitely helped my skiing. I do know for certain that it has helped my stamina, I can ski all day long on the first day of the season and I'm currently 59.

Operations Shots