Training Tools Are Worthy Substitutes.

“… In winter in the woods alone

Against the trees I go.

I mark a maple for my own

And lay the maple low. …

…I link a line of shadowy tracks

Across the tinted snow …”

Robert Frost

Those of us in the Northern Tier of the U.S. always hope for a snowy winter but as we all know our winters aren’t as wintery as they once were. So cross-country skiing can be often hard to find here in the Northeast. But we can still ski. You can have it two ways, indoors or outdoors.


THE Ski Machine

The best ski machine, bar none, is the NordicTrack Classic (NT). The NordicTrack is a stationary machine that recreates the motion of skiing in the classic stride/style. I’ve used a number of competitors and none compare to the NT. The Classic model is a completely manual machine—no electronics. When starting out on the NT set the platform level with the floor it sits on. Then, as you gain familiarity and confidence raise the front legs for increased intensity. Resistance is increased using a strap system the creates drag on the fly wheel. The cushion at the top of the stem supports and works the abdominals (and makes the machine more comfortable).

Newer models have an electronic monitor. The monitor is not related to how the machine works but with this gauge you can track pulse, time, speed, calories and distance. Using the NT requires at least beginner’s skier skill. If you get out of position or your fore foot is too far forward the NT basically stops.

For overall fitness, a ski machine like the NordicTrack Classic offers a year-round option. So, No snow, no problem.


Roller Skis

Roller skis are interesting contraptions that allow you to ski year-round outdoors. Brands won’t be reviewed here because the market has exploded with brands and styles. According to the differences between the brands primarily have to do with wheel speed, smooth ride, cost, weight, ability to handle rough pavement or dirt roads, tire wear and skate v. classic stride.

For beginners, aluminum frame roller skis are the best choice. They provide a less expensive first experiences. Also, a wider “roller” or caster provides easier balance .

Advanced skiers might like carbon frames with wheels for greater speed and agility for skate skiing and ski racers who use the roller ski for summer training should use carbon frames.

Many roller ski sets are sold a la cart. Once you choose your ski you will need:

  • Boots
  • Bindings
  • Poles

Buying the same bindings you have on your snow skis has some savings and buying rubber tips for your existing poles saves purchasing additional poles.

Some safety equipment is needed for roller skiing including:

  • Helmet (a cycling helmet will work)
  • Knee and elbow pads
  • Wrist/palm pads

As Mark Vosburgh of quipped, “I’ve found roller skis to be a great ski training tool, which I expected.   There’s really no better way to train up all those balance stabilizers, arm, back, core and leg muscles you use when Nordic skiing.

What I didn’t expect, was that my roller skis are so enjoyable to ski on that I love to do it on its own merits.  Cruising along on a quiet country road on a crisp fall day is a blast. I highly recommend them for people who love to ski.”

So, just because there’s no snow on the ground or on the trails, cross-country skiing can still be a part of your active life style.


  1. Normand L. Reynolds says:

    How do you slow down on these on a hill? Can you wedge or hocky stop, or is there a drag system?

  2. Hi Normand,

    Some models have a braking system for downhill slides. Also, some models have a ratchet system to prevent rollback when skiing uphill. Hope this helps.


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