Good Rolling Safety Practices –


Roadside roller skiing at a 2018 U.S. Ski Team Women’s Camp in Lake Placid, New York (Photo: Matt Whitcomb)

Due to the start of the roller ski season, we are reposting this story to help promote best practices when roller skiing on open roads.

Getting visible on roller skis is a must. And with a recent callback from US Ski Team (USST) World Cup coach Matt Whitcomb, the time of year has come when many skiers are training on low-angle roads of sun as we move away from the sun in the northern hemisphere. Below we include the roller ski safety bulletins and slides from Whitcomb’s presentation on the topic at the recent National Coaches Symposium.

Before that, we recognize that roller skiing on roads open to motor traffic presents risks. For several years, roller skiers have been encouraged to wear high visibility shirts. The next advancement in roller ski safety is likely to come from the cycling community where researchers have studied how cyclists can become even more visible on the road. The safety debate has evolved beyond just wearing a high-visibility shirt to further explore “static versus active dynamic” ways to educate drivers about athletes on the road. In other words, it appears that high-visibility clothing worn over active dynamic parts of the body during cycling, such as the legs and feet, is more effective in alerting riders. The same goes for rear-facing bicycle lights: flashing lights are safer than static lights. (Any light is safer than no light.)

As of yet, we don’t know of any ski-specific water bottle holder made with simple accessories for a light flashing light. We imagine that with a few simple modifications affixing a flashing light wouldn’t be a problem.

Here’s a Wall Street Journal video summarizing some of the discoveries from 2017 to improve visibility for cyclists.

Current USST Roller Ski Safety Recommendations.

The US cross-country ski team is determined to win more Olympic medals. To do this, we all need to train hard and smart. In order for us to move forward as a nation, we seek to ensure the safety of every member of our ski community while roller skiing. Safety should be the primary consideration in every roller skiing session. No exceptions. No mistake.

The following is the Roller Skiing Safety Protocol created by the athletes and coaches of the US Ski Team.

  • Before a skier can share the road, they must be able to clear snow, stop quickly, and maneuver their skis to avoid hazards. The skier should be comfortable skiing off the road in dirt or grass if necessary.
  • An approved helmet in good condition must be worn at all times while roller skiing.
  • Athletes and coaches should wear at least one of the following high visibility items to alert drivers:
    • Shirt, safety vest, shorts, socks, helmet, water bottle holder.
    • Highly visible bike light that can be seen clearly in direct sunlight.
  • Skiers must ski in single file at all times.
  • Coaching support vehicles should use appropriate warning signage – for example, “Athlete training”.
  • Minimize the number of support vehicles, as coach vehicles can be just as dangerous to athlete safety.
  • Limit the size of the group. A small group of skiers in single file is easier to manage for passing cars than a large group.
  • All athletes and coaches should know the course. Avoid or walk in dangerous sections.
  • Train during off-peak hours and avoid busy holidays and weekends when possible.
  • Skiers and coaches must know and obey driving laws. Use hand signals to give direction to cars and other skiers, and make eye contact with drivers at intersections.
  • When not skiing (water breaks or training sessions) all athletes and coaches should be off the road. Wheels in the dirt – don’t hurt yourself.
  • Sunglasses or clear lenses are mandatory at all times to prevent sticks and debris from damaging the eyes.
  • Increase roller skiing awareness in your community, including posting something in the local newspaper each year. Work with local government to have “Athlete training” or any other signage helps alert drivers.
  • Inspect the equipment often. Tighten the nuts properly and inspect the wheels, shafts, poles and helmets.

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