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Rollerskiing 101: Stopping

June 3, 2002

In many ways, rollerskiing is the perfect off-season training for cross-country skiing. However, one aspect doesn't translate well: stopping. The standard snowplow won't work, nor will a 'hockey stop'. And because a rollerski isn't as firmly attached to your foot as an inline skate, many of the inline stopping techniques won't work either.

There are some rollerskis on the market that offer braking systems. These usually involve a rope or wire attached to a level on one ski that when pulled, will apply a brake pad to the pavement. However, these aren't like bike brakes -- they will slow you down, but usually not very quickly. Even with such brake systems, it is still a good idea to learn a few stopping methods.

The following are some examples of the more common methods for stopping on rollerskis. Before attempting any of these, it's best to find a nice, wide, flat surface with no traffic to practice on. Wear all the proper safety gear (helmet and pads), and if possible, have someone more experienced there to help demonstrate and assist you.

Bail out: Also known as a runout. This is the easiest of the stopping techniques, but requires a fairly even off-trail surface. The basic concept is to just glide off the trail into the dirt or grass along the side. The trick is to offset your legs and keep your weight back, otherwise your skis will get pushed out from under you.
   Bail out #1 - Chad Giese
Here is another example, with a little more "extreme" way of stopping:
   Bail out #2 - Brian Olsen
Modified snowplow: This technique looks a bit like a snowplow, but since the skis aren't going to slide, you need to pick them up and reset them. Some skiers may find it easier to do with this just one ski, rather than alternating between skis.
   Modified Snowplow - Beth Kolb
Ski drag: Also known as a t-stop. This one is very similar to the inline skate t-stop. It is generally harder to learn and requires the ability to balance well on one ski. It also can wear the wheels out a lot faster, but when used properly, can be one of the faster ways to stop.
   Ski drag - Per Nelson

Thanks to Chad Giese (Subaru Factory Team), and Beth Kolb, Brian Olsen, Sonne Nordgren (Minnesota Biathlon), and Per Nelson (Skinnyski.com Racing Team), for their gracious assistance in demonstrating these techniques.

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