I need to report on how a summer of roller skiing helped with today's skiing:
I had my first ski of the season today. Randy groomed the course two days ago, and I stayed off it yesterday to let it set up (well, truthfully I stayed off just because I hadn't prepped my skis yet). This morning I spent too much time scraping off the storage wax Jeff had put on my skis at the end of last season, then applying a couple of layers of new wax. I was anticipating a third application when Randy called to tell me I'd better just go ski before it warmed up too much. So I finished scraping and brushing and buffing the second layer, then drove to the golf course, a little worried that the track wouldn't be skiable. But it was great (I skated on CH7 wax), especially for so early in the season. The base had set up well in many areas, although there were plenty of bare places I had to step around. Do the snow dance, everyone! It won't take much more snow to even out the track.
So for my inaugural ski, I was interested to see if it would take much time to find my ski legs again. Usually it takes me a fair bit before I feel comfortable again at the beginning of each season. Three years ago it was a couple of weeks; two years ago it was a couple of days; last year it was about two hours (improving with age!). But this year I have a whole summer of roller skiing under my belt, and I was really hoping I'd have zero trouble transitioning to snow. Well, I think roller skiing helped because today, although not zero minutes, it did only take about 15 minutes on the snow before I felt stable. However, I was still surprised at those first 15 minutes. I slipped and slid and caught my tips and wobbled all over the place like I'd never skated before. I had to relearn to lift my ski higher than a roller ski and remind myself what it feels like to skate on slippery snow rather than skate on bumpy asphalt (I prefer snow any day. It doesn't hurt when you fall). I had to practice skating without poles, and then with poles. Then the most bewildering moment was when I wanted to stop to adjust my gloves. I leaned back on my right leg and waited for the stop to come. It was a confusing moment as I kept gliding, until I realized I was trying to lean back into a non-existent roller ski brake.
Roller skiing is not the same as skate skiing. The motions are extraordinarily similar, but there are still differences, even if only subtle ones. Anyway, when I stopped acting as if I was roller skiing on the snow today and started skating in earnest, I had a great time. There were some really good, long stretches of fast track (mixed in with some patches of grass and gravel). I can tell I am not as strong now as I was at the end of last season, but the fitness will come back. Still, I was pleased that roller skiing has made me better at V2, and also doing V2 Alternate on my right side. Last season I spent probably 90% of the time doing V2 Alternate, pulling only on my left side, and never felt entirely comfortable switching sides or switching to V2. Roller skiing also made me better at pulling on both sides of V1 when climbing hills. Finally, I noticed that roller skiing has helped my arm and core strength go from negative to just-barely-positive (I'm a wimp!). Previously, I've skated with most of the power coming from legs only, even skating pretty much the same speed with or without using my arms. That's not good. So although I felt like my legs weren't as strong today, I think my whole body was more balanced. Improvements in form, and yet a loss of fitness, made for a moment of mixed feelings. But then the euphoria of just being out there trumped everything.
Roller skiing was a ton of fun this summer, and like skate skiing, it makes me feel like I'm flying. It helped me get ready for winter, and it was fun, but nothing is as fun as actual on-snow skating. And how nice is it that we have the golf course just a few minutes away? Thanks to Randy for grooming and making this possible.