Roller skiing is a non-snow equivalent to cross-country skiing. Emulating skis, elongated inline skates, with wheels at the ends, are used on tarmac. The skating/skiing action is very similar to actual cross-country skiing on snow.
First created as a summer training alternative, roller skiing has now grown into a competitive sport in its own right. Annual championships are held in various locations around the world. Most, if not all, national cross-country ski teams around the world roller ski during the off-season to simulate the ski motion.
The skiing technique applied on roller skis is very similar to the technique used on snow conditions. The back kick in classic technique is slightly different because the roller skis does not slide backwards.
Roller skis for "classic" and "skate" style skiing are used. Also another type of roller ski is added called an off road roller ski. This type of roller ski is designed to take harsher conditions.
For classic style roller skiing the skis usually have wider wheels, and a rachet mechanism on one of the wheels, normally the front. This front wheel only rolls in the forward direction and provides resistance on the "kick"—comparable to grip wax on snow.
For skate skiing, the roller skis usually have narrower wheels (similar to those used on inline skates), with both wheels rolling freely.
There are also types of roller skis that have both thin and thick wheels, with a thin one on the tip, a slightly thicker wheel in front of the binding, and two thick wheels at the very back.
Roller skis with pneumatic tires are also available for rough pavement and off-road use.
Most roller skis don't have bona fide brakes, except for a relatively new calf-activated brake pioneered by Len Johnson of V2 Jenex. Speed reducers, available on some models, work by providing different levels of friction against the wheels. There are also techniques for slowing down without the use of speed reducers. The most common of which is a motion similar to a snowplow on snow skis where pressure is applied to the outside edge of the roller ski and the skis pointed in an inward fashion.
Popular manufacturers of rollerskis are: V2 Jenex (US), Marwe (Finland), Start (Finland), Pro Ski (Norway), SkiSkett (Italy), Eagle Sport (The Netherlands)
Roller skiing is most popular in Europe (France, Italy, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Russia) where there are many serious races and even a World Cup Circuit In North America, rollerskiing is popular in areas with many Nordic skiers such as Canmore, Alberta, Alaska, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin.
Roller skiing requires balance, flexibility, upper and lower body strength, good condition of lungs for breathing. Just like other extreme sports you are subject to proper body coordination. Safety equipment should be worn always while roller skiing.
It is recommended to wear reflective clothing and flashing red lights to increase visibility in dark areas. Safety equipment such as a helmet is recommended.