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Field Reports


Field Reports : Marwe

Name: Ben Popp
Report Filed: October 16, 2002
Products used: Marwe 610
When: October 2002
Where: St. Paul, North Oaks

Winter in the Midwest can be hit or miss. Realistically, there are only three months out of the year when there's enough snow to ski. In the absence of snow, rollerskiing is simply the best ski-specific training you can do to maintain or build fitness and improve technique. Oddly enough, most gear-obsessed skiers don't invest nearly as much time and research into selecting the right rollerskis as they do their snow skis. The fact is, the roller ski you choose is perhaps more important for good form and function than the snow ski you choose.

Rollerskiing is a staple of my training program. Unfortunately, over the years I've made some poor rollerski selections (I should really listen to my own advice). The result is that I subject my friends and teammates to a recurring barrage of complaints: my skis are too stiff; they mush out; they don't track straight; my feet go to sleep. Currently, I have a pair of alloy shafted skis with bigger soft wheels that wear out fast and aren't stable.

My whole perspective-and continual complaining-changed last week when I skied on a pair of Marwe's 610 skate skis for the first time. The difference between my old metal beasts and the new Marwe's is like night and day. To date, I've logged about a half-dozen skis on them and I'm sold. Skiing on the 610's is as close to skiing on snow as you can get out of a rollerski.

Marwe's wheels are stiff and don't mush out when you push off. The skis track straight as a ruler, making cornering at high speeds no problem. The big difference between the 610's and traditional rollerskis, is that they have a wood/fiberglass shaft. This creates a ski that flexes ever so slightly when you push off-just like snow skate skis. The wood/fiberglass shaft also is great for dampening road vibrations-which, in the past, always put my feet to sleep. The bottom line is that these are a great pair of skis that I'd highly recommend to anyone.

Don't limit your skiing to three months a year. Marwe's 610's make rollerskiing almost as enjoyable as snow skiing. Find an old railroad trail, a quiet country road or a paved river path, and think white. With any luck, you won't be able to tell the difference.

Ben Popp is a member of the SkinnySki.com Race Team and owner of F.I.T. Systems training and coaching programs.

Thanks to Finn Sisu for supplying the Marwe 610s. More details on this and other Marwe products on the Finn Sisu web site.

Name: Margaret Adelsman
Report Filed: May 15, 2001
Products used: Marwe Combis
When: May 2001
Where: Elm Creek, Snail Lake Trails
With the snow now off the ground, it never hurts to keep the memory of on-snow skiing fresh in your legs. I've had the chance to field test a pair of Marwe Combi rollerskis that are helping me to do just that.

The Marwe Combi skis come with a front-end extension or support strut, lengthening each ski by about 8 inches when in place. The struts, themselves, are very light with a small, narrow wheel in the front. The wheel doesn't actually ride the pavement most of the time, until you use the skis with good back extension in the classical technique. Essentially, they serve to help keep your ski true when you classical ski and provide some extra stability. The front wheels contain ratchets, preventing the skis from back-slipping during strides. The skis extend about 26" in length without the support struts, and are about 34" long with them in place.

For classical skiing, I found the skis initially challenging to use properly. However, this comes from not having rollerskied classically in quite some time, even though I have had many years of classical skiing experience on snow. My previous pair of classic rollerskis was a set of 3-wheeler Exel aluminum-shaft babies, circa my high school years. Just for fun, I went back to try those in comparison to the Marwes, and I found that I could barely stand up on my old Exel rollerskis either. The take-home lesson was: practice, practice, and practice. With each subsequent outing on the Combis, I discovered that I was becoming more and more comfortable using classical technique. I would begin by doing predominantly double-poling, finding the balance points of the skis. On gentle climbs, I began to incorporate kick-double poling until I had achieved some level of comfort. Finally, I went into the traditional striding technique, usually on steeper inclines that helped keep the ski speed relatively low. I discovered during these outings that it helped tremendously to relax as much as possible and to focus on the technique that would come naturally to you on snow. It is always a challenge for me to forget the hard pavement under rollerskis, and it causes me to frequently rollerski in a much more timid fashion than I would on snow. For classical rollerskiing, this actually doesn't help, because the needed balance of the wheels requires you to ski without too much sloppiness in your strides. On snow one usually has the set tracks to help guide your skis, but the rollerskis actually do you the favor of forcing you to really focus on your technique and concentrate on driving your legs in straight strides. Particularly for full striding technique, I found long, relatively straight climbs to be very helpful, allowing you to spend a good length of time working on balance and timing. A good headwind actually works quite nicely, too.

The great thing about the Marwe Combis resides in the name Combi: you can use the skis easily for skating as well. I've found that it is not necessary to remove the front support struts in order to skate, but it is pretty easy to take them off and on if you wish. For me, the skis are quite comfortable for skating, although some people may find them a little slow, compared to the Marwe 610's for example. I like this, however, given my generally timid approach to rollerskiiing. I found that I could maneuver comfortably down most hills without feeling out of control. I also think this is very helpful in keeping the ski speed down, allowing you to work on classical technique without spending your entire workout double-poling. The wheel diameter (about 1.5") is also a little wider than the Marwe 610's, providing a bit slower, but very stable ride. I found the skis to be very forgiving for cracks and general road debris, including small areas of sand, gravel and sticks. I usually err on the side of caution, not wanting to take a tumble, but I felt that the wheels were slipping much less than what I was used to on my old rollerskis (both classical and skating).

Although I have not yet incorporated rollerskiing as a major part of my training routine for this time of the year, I have really enjoyed getting out to some of the area parks to reconnect mentally with the snow season. For me, classical skiing does this even more so than skating, and I think spending some time developing the comfort level necessary to use the Marwe Combis for classical as well as skating is really time well spent in helping to prepare for a successful snow ski season. While classical rollerskiing is arguable a little more challenging to learn than skating, I think the Marwe Combis provide an excellent tool for both skilled and more novice classical skiers to practice their technique during the off-season.

Thanks to Finn Sisu for supplying us with the Marwe Combis. More details on this and other Marwe products on the Finn Sisu web site.

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