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Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

Cross-training on Ice

By Ty Fidler

Ty Fidler training on ice

Ty Fidler training on ice.

The era of the one sport skater appears to be over. No longer are pure ice skaters dominating the Olympic Games. These days, many of the top speed skaters started out as inline skaters.

I expect half of the speed skating medalists at the 2014 Winter Games to have an inline background and virtually all the medalists to be former inliners by the 2018 Games.

This proves one thing: inline skating is great training for ice skating.

But the flip side of that coin is also true: ice is great cross-training for inline.

Inline skating has many advantages over ice. You can pretty much do it anywhere, anytime. And the various challenging conditions faced by inline skaters — hills, winds, bad pavement — helps them build strength, agility and conditioning.

But ice also has its advantages. For one thing, it’s more technically demanding. On inline skates, you can get away with sloppiness. If you are well conditioned, you can enjoy some success as an inline racer even if you toe-push or fail to skate in the low position.

But ice is less forgiving. It let’s you know immediately if your technique is sloppy. If you are pushing with your toe, you hear an awful scraping noise. If you are not sitting low enough (with knee joints at about 90 degrees), you can’t generate power or speed.

What I've learned is that ice forces you to be a better skater. Or, as I like to say: With ice, you can’t cheat the system. You have to master it.

Need another reason to cross-train on ice? How about this: It can help prevent burnout. Doing the same thing all year — even if it's as fun as inline skating — can wear you down physically and mentally. But ice skating can keep things fresh by presenting you with a new challenge.

Things to keep in mind:

Learn the technique.

If you can skate well on inlines, you can skate well on ice. There may be some small differences. But the two sports complement each other beautifully. Ice forces you to be on your edges, push to the side and sit low. This makes you a better inline skater.

Pay attention to your edges.

Similar to inline wheels, ice blades have two “edges” – the outer edge (outer side of the blade) and the inner edge (inner side of the blade). In order to have power and balance on ice, you need a strong grip. And that comes from your edges.

Use ice to get stronger.

If you’re a marathon skater, like me, try skating a 10K — or even a 5K — on ice. It’s tough! As inline skaters, we get to stand up and rest even in the middle of a marathon. But with ice, especially longtrack, that’s not possible. You have to skate all the time — without resting. This boosts your endurance — which will come in handy during those marathons.

Practice turning.

There’s no better place to work on your turns than on the ice. Whether you do shorttrack or long, turning is almost constant. And developing great crossovers will give you another advantage for inline racing.

Help grow the sport.

Inliners have a lot of strength and endurance. And when they show up for the first time at an ice practice, the other skaters notice ... and are often surprised. Come spring, some of those ice skaters are going to wonder if they should be inline skating, as well.


Ty Fidler on inline skatesTy Fidler emerged in 2010 — his first year as a serious inline racer — as one of the top long distance skaters in America, winning three NROC Class A marathons and earning several top 10 finishes at major events, including the Chicagoland Inline Marathon, the New York 100K and the Great Midwest Marathon. He was the overall winner of the inaugural Planet Adventure Indy Racing Series and finished second in the 2010 National Roller Cup, pro open division. A member of the Adams Inline racing team, Ty lives and trains in St. Louis, MO. In addition to skating, he is a chemical engineer and works as a process improvement consultant for the chemical manufacturer Sigma-Aldrich.

Adam's Inline web site




Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating




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