It’s that time of year again in Fairbanks. The sun is up way past bedtime. The trees have greened up. The mosquitoes are out. The adventurous older kids are heading out onto the bike trails and roads…to ski. Yes, ski. My son joined their ranks yesterday with his first roller ski session. As one long time resident put it, “Those energetic people in bright yellow going like bats out of hell down hills on sticks with wheels but no brakes.”
One of the requirements is that along with a bike helmet, they wear bright colored clothing. For this reason, the ski club sells summer training shirts. Usually they are bright yellow for boys and hot pink for girls.
They use regular cross country boots and ski poles, but have a special pole tip put on that is hard enough to dig into the pavement. Regular tips wear off insanely fast if you try to use them on anything except snow. We went to a local sports shop that sells these tips yesterday afternoon. We told the clerk what we needed. He was clueless. He found someone who knew. We also stressed that we needed them installed right away because practice started in an hour an a half. We came back in an hour and they hadn’t even started yet! We chewed them out, again the clerk was clueless. There were other families also buying tips both times we were in the store. I bet the clerk was confused why the sudden rush on such a specialty item. Anyway, we finally got his tips, and rushed to the site of his practice. He was 5 minutes late. Luckily they were expecting him, so they waited.
He came back scratched and bloodied on both knees, but smiling. He had met his long term goal (finally) of being eligible for the summer roller ski team. You have to be in high school with a high level of cross country ski ability and endurance. Last summer he had the ability, but not the endurance, so they had him wait until this summer.
I like this because it is a Team Alaska skier. It gives you an idea what I’m talking about. He’s doing what’s called classic technique. Those at the end of the video are doing skate technique. This is down in Anchorage.
For those wanting more detail about roller skis, here is a good Fastskiier article reviewing them