Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rollerskiing by Matt Liebsch

Matt Liebsch is a member of the CXC Elite cross country ski team and a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BS in Electrical Engineering. He is an Olympic hopeful and had a very successful 2009 season… 3rd Place at US Nationals, Mora Vasaloppet winner and American Birkebeiner Champion. When Matt is not training and racing he is helping out at Gear West or spending time with his wife and one-year-old son.

For me, the rollerski season is about to begin. I know many skiers will wait a lot longer to get out on the rolling boards but I like to get going by May 1st. A good idea before your first roll should include a look at your equipment. Are your wheels falling apart, how is the shaft structural stability, are your bindings working properly, do the wheels and bearing flow or is there grinding? Once you give all your gear a good look over make sure to replace anything that is worn or broken. Also, I highly recommend wearing a helmet in regards to safety equipment, and I will give you my rollerski story about what scared me into always wearing a helmet.

Last summer I was in Marquette, MI at the Olympic Education Center (OEC) for a training camp. For some reason Michigan Law requires rollerskiers to travel into on coming traffic; my guess is they classify roller skiers as pedestrian. Well that was fine because the shoulders were very large and I felt very comfortable.

So… I was in a 25+ mph tuck going downhill on highway near Marquette Mountain. While in my tuck I had a small flat rock kick up and jam in my front right wheel. As you imagine this caused my right ski to act as an anchor and towed me out into on coming traffic. I was starring down a logging truck coming uphill and managed to dive back into the shoulder before getting smashed. I was very happy to have my helmet on as I used it as a break pad.

Moral of the story… use a helmet while rollerskiing.