Nothing quite compares to the feeling of stepping on to the slopes and carving or tucking your way down the mountain. But unless you’re lucky enough to earn your living as a ski instructor, it’s not something most of us can do every day. However, staying in shape and keeping in the habit when off the slopes is possible, using inline skating for ski training.
Of course, you can also go to your local dry slope or ski centre to work on your form but if you’re not doing it every day, it will have minimal effect on the muscles you need to ski. That’s why many skiers choose to use inline skates during the off season to stay in shape and build the strength they need out on the slopes.
Physically, there’s quite a lot in common between inline skating and skiing. Both require the strength and flexibility to get down in the knees and keep the upper body tall. Inline skating helps to improve the balance and coordination, building core and leg muscle groups that you’ll also be using out on your skis.
Skating also involves carve-like turns that are similar to those you make on skis. It’s all about balance and body position and how your body moves in the air, which relates directly to skiing.
The fitness aspect and intensity of inline skating is also very similar to skiing. Go skating three of four times a week in the off season, varying short interval training with longer endurance sessions, and you’ll keep your stamina levels high. You’ll really notice the difference when you get back on the slopes, when compared to coming into the new season cold and unprepared.
Of course, although similar the two sports are not identical. Turning may be similar but on blades the turn is led with the top half of the body rather than the lower half. If you skate regularly before the start of a ski season, these subtle differences can affect your technique. In fact, the next time you’re sitting at the mountain bar, have a look at people’s technique and you can often spot those who’ve spent a lot of time skating in the off season, or those who are more comfortable on skates.
However, it must be said that the similarities are far more striking than the differences. While not identical pursuits, there is little doubt that inline skating for ski training improves fitness, balance, coordination and strength – all key tenets of good ski preparation. While skating might not be comparable to the feeling of careering down a slope at top speed, it’s an unfair comparison to make. But for those looking to hit the ground running when the new season starts, it’s a great way to prepare.
The only way to know for sure if skating works for you (and it’s not for everyone) is to give inline skating for ski training a go. Fortunately inline skates are not expensive, you can pick up a paid for £60 on sites like Skatehut. There are also specially adapted inline skates that claim to offer a more realistic ski experience, but you’ll pay a lot more for them so we recommend starting with the more classic models first.