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Guide to Roller Skiing in Colorado

Tips & Ideas Thursday, July 27, 2017

Roller skiing is a preferred dryland method of training for beginner, expert, and professional Nordic skiers. Unlike an elliptical, treadmill, or rowing machine, roller skis are designed to mimic the motion of cross country skiing. Choose from either classic roller skis or skate roller skis to simulate the corresponding cross country technique.

University of Denver ski team member Jasmi Joensuu cross trains on roller skis for the Nordic season back home in Tuusula, Finland.
Anna Martin is a member of the University of Denver’s Nordic Ski Team. She explains the difference between the two types of classic roller skiing: striding and double poling. Striding compares to a running motion and double poling is more relatable to an upper body workout, using mostly arms and core to push the body forward, rather than legs. Martin roller skis throughout the offseason because, more than any other workout, it most closely resembles the technique used in cross country skiing.

“You really need to have the technique to be effective and roller skiing allows you to work on that throughout the summer,” Martin said.

Roller skiing can be difficult for first-timers, especially for those who do not know which type of equipment to use or where to train. Below is a compilation of expert advice, including tips from Martin, on how to choose your equipment and where to ski.


Popular roller ski brands include Marwe, IDT, Pursuit, and Fischer. Remember to always ask questions about the specific function of skis before making a purchase.

  • Ask questions concerning a brand and model’s wheel speed.
  • Ask how smoothly a brand rides on pavement.
  • Ask which roller ski weight is best for your level or expertise.
  • Ask how well a brand handles on certain terrain.
  • Ask how quickly a brand’s wheel wears down.

Skis will also vary based on their technology. Shock systems, brakes, and speed reducers are all considerations skiers will want to think about because Colorado has a variety of paths and trails. Those who already have a comfortable pair of boots for cross country will not have to purchase a new pair for dryland training. Roller skis are made to fit the same cross country ski boots used in the winter. Before dryland training begins, invest in a light, breathable pair of gloves to prevent blisters from holding the poles.


Pavement and low traffic areas are ideal for roller skiing. Also ideal, wide shoulders (or paths) and good visibility. It is unsafe to maneuver hills and curves you are unfamiliar with, so if conditions do not allow for visibility, know the terrain ahead of time. The smoother the pavement the better, but some skis still perform well if a paved path has some gravel.

“A lot of times we roller ski on bike paths because there isn’t a lot of traffic. They’re safer,” Martin said.

Subdivisions, frontage roads, bike paths, even empty parking lots for beginners, are all viable options to roller ski on.


Colorado is not only a winter ski dreamland, it’s the perfect destination for dryland training! In the summer any of these scenic routes will cause roller skiers to feel the burn.

Bike Path to Frisco

The paved 19-mile out and back path is suitable even for children. Roller skiers may begin in either Breckenridge or Frisco, but let it be known the path travels slightly downhill to Frisco, and is a slight climb back to Breckenridge.

Road to Maroon Bells

Twelve miles round trip to the spectacular Maroon Lake, this paved road is perfect for roller skiing because cars have restricted access between 8 am and 5 pm. The paved road is a steady climb to the lake, but entirely worth the view!

Bear Creek Lake Park

The Bear Creek Trail and the C-470 Trail are both paved. Bikers and pedestrians are the only obstacles roller skiers have to be concerned about, making this location a safe place to work on technique and challenge your muscle endurance.

Washington Park

Located in Denver, Washington Park is a popular recreational location. The perimeter of the park is a 2.6-mile loop. Wash Park consists of 155 acres with two lakes and vibrant gardens, and it is a popular roller ski destination for the DU Pioneers because it is conveniently located in the city.

Roller skiing can be difficult to transition to at the end of a long cross country ski season. Above all else, safety is most important. Wear bright or reflective colors. Always wear a helmet. Knee and elbow protection is highly suggested, as well as wrist guards for beginners. After all, it’s really about having as much fun as possible training in the offseason, while anticipating the snow and the fun to come!

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