We have tried out rollerskiing in Hyde Park, London, for the first time last summer. We’ve already been back, since, and were about to book more sessions when London was placed under the current lockdown.
Prior Experience Inline Skating and Cross-Country Skiing
Both Ellie and I have done a fair bit of inline skating. For Ellie it’s been several years since she last put on her skates, I usually go inline skating several times a year. As a kid, growing up close to the Bavarian Alps in Germany, my parents regularly took me cross-country skiing. One popular track started just behind our backyard. As a result of our different backgrounds, I found it a lot easier than Ellie to learn the basics of rollerskiing. I am still very much a beginner, but I feel comfortable on the rollerskis and can easily and safely get from A to B.
Two Techniques: Classic, and…
There are two main techniques: classic and skating. Classic is very similar to the standard level-ground, steady-speed cross-country skiing technique. Your two skis are always parallel. You push yourself off one leg, slide, then push yourself off the other leg, slide, and so on.
Skating is much more similar to the standard inline skating technique. Your skis are never parallel, but always in some kind of V-shape. Most of the time only one ski touches the ground. Your left ski moves towards the front left in the direction of travelling, then your right ski moves toward the front right, then front left again, front right, and so on. What’s very different from inline-skating is, that you make plenty of use of your sticks to push yourself forward, normally using both sticks in parallel for each stride left and each stride right.
Which one to choose
Our teacher recommended classic for all beginners, so Ellie chose this option. I tried both techniques, classic during the first session, skating during the second session. I discovered that skating is much easier for me. On the other hand, classic has a nice feel and touch to it and is also more energy-efficient. I will probably continue to alternate the two styles.
It is worth noting that each technique requires different equipment. For example, for classic style, your skis will have a set-up that prevents the ski from rolling backwards, while this is not the case for skating. Sticks have to be much longer for skating than for classic. This means you cannot just switch between styles during the session.
Over the past few years when we walked through Hyde Park, more often than not, we saw at least one or two roller-skiers. During one of our walks last August we spotted a bigger group with instructors and asked for their names and contact details. This is how we ended up booking our sessions with Rollerski.co.uk. They provide training, sell and rent out equipment.
They have been around for about 15 years and consist of a very experienced team of cross-country skiing athletes who share a passion for rollerskiing during the warmer months of the year. Several of the trainers have competed on national and international level. All instructors are Snowsport England qualified. Our trainer, Jordan, has been teaching rollerskiing since 2014. He competed in the British National Cross-Country Ski Championships in Ruhpolding in 2015 and became GB Men’s Series Rollerski Champion the following year.
How much does it cost?
A one-hour lesson for up to three people, including equipment hire and an instructor, costs £90. This means that our lesson for two was £45 per person. Pretty good value in my opinion. Once you have reached a basic level, you can join the group sessions which consist of up to 20 people and several instructors. They are much cheaper. You usually have to become a member. Best to check the website for more details.
We will be back for more rollerskiing fun as soon as the lockdown is over. 5 out of 5 in our book.