The #Nordielist: #1 Rollerskiing


The #Nordielist is a comprehensive list of the objects, actions and characteristics that make up the Nordic skiing world. Whether invented for said world or not, their existence so defines the Nordie experience that they desire a homage, or simply to be made fun of. 

This week, many international competitors will line up to compete in summer’s version of cross country skiing: rollerskiing. Most skiers have a love/hate relationship with rollerskiing. Either way, it’s part of our way of life, a necessary component that appears on our training plans 2-6 times a week, and in the eyes of passers by.

In fact, upon hearing that I ski full time, I generally receive one of two comments: “So you’re training for the Olympics?” or, “Do you do the skate ski thing in the summer?” When on the road, peanut gallery comments rotate between disbelief, confusion, excitement and awe. Like it or hate it, rollerskiing grabs attention. It’s made cameos in movies and television (the best part of 2007’s Catch and Release, ammiright?!), making it one of few things so distinctly Nordie to pervade the mainstream. It is pretty cool.


At least we think it is. In other realities, it looks rather dweeby and unbalanced, perhaps leading to more looks of fear than awe. But it is part of what we do, and, according to the internet, part of our history.

The Italians are the alleged inventors of rollerskiing. They created a three-wheeled contraption designed for summer vineyard and spaghetti travel in the 1930s. Fitted with a ratchet and spring system, the invention became the standard summer training equipment, until the 1980s, when skate skiing demanded a more agile design.

Around the same time as the switch to skate skiing, Alpine skiers decided that they wanted to try their own version of rollerskiing. It didn’t catch on.

For a time during the late 80s and early 90s, rollerskiing was nearly eclipsed by Nordic skating, where athletes used inline skates rather than rollerskis to train and look cool at the beach. (The same source that provided me that information also stated that the sport of Nordic skating is in a season of revival, evidence for which I lack…so don’t quote me on that.)

Although new materials have replaced their heavier ancestors as the shafts of rollerskis, and different speeds developed for racing and training, not much has changed in the sport since the 80s…Other than growing disdain by drivers, neighborhood watch members and Boulderites alike:

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 1.59.27 PM
dang. No toboggans on the CO highway either..

Rollerskiing may be ingrained in our collective conscience as a daily, routine activity, but to people outside the sport, it looks terrifying and dangerous. Hence why we wear helmets and high vis gear: because people do stupid things when they feel scared.

And, sometimes, faced with a steep hill or rocky pavement, even we feel scared. Rest assured, though. We will never, ever, feel as scared as these people:

Thus, rollerskiing seems an apt beginning to the #Nordielist series. It’s difficult, flashy and a little dangerous, just like us.


2 thoughts on “The #Nordielist: #1 Rollerskiing

  1. Pingback: Annie at Altitude

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