The FIS racing season is underway, top North American athletes are skiing in Europe, and Thanksgiving camps are just around the corner.
It may not be quite time to put away the rollerskis, but it is certainly the season to be hoping to do so.
And so it seems appropriate to usher out the asphalt and welcome the snow with the results of our “Greatest Rollerskiing Road in the World” contest.
We asked you to submit descriptions and photos of the place to rollerski you deem the finest, the smoothest, the most scenic – simply put, the greatest.
Entries were judged based mainly on the description. Congratulations to the winners! First place receives three pairs of Swix rollerskiing ferules and second and third, one each.
First Place: Central Park Loop, New York, NY – Tim Donahue
In some ways it makes sense that the winner comes from a locale that does not feature immediate access to groomed ski trails, and where the rollerski season is significantly longer than the snow season.
On the other hand all you Midwesterners, Alaskans, New Englanders, pretty much everyone else should be ashamed that you were upstaged by a city boy. New York claims to have it all, and now, with the official “Greatest Rollerskiing Road in the World” they really do. Look for this to tip the scales and ensure Derek Jeter resigns with the Yankees.
Central Park was also the only route to receive multiple nominations – three to be exact. Tim takes the top prize for his evocative description.
Length: 6 miles
On a spring afternoon, when life comes back to Central Park with a million tulips and cherry blossoms, tens of thousands of people spill out of their apartments to share this communal yard. There are children rolling down hills and octogenarians pedaling up them; dogs meet other dogs, hula hoop
instructors hold court, and the roller disco circle throbs. There is no swath of nature more democratically enjoyed, or as vital, in the country. Beside the African drumming circle, the Iranians playing soccer, the Korean wedding, and the thousands of scantily-clad youth sprawled across Sheep’s Meadow, there is the greatest rollerskiing loop in the world!
If you have ever watched or participated in the world’s largest road race, the New York City Marathon (or the 2008 Olympic trials, for that matter), you know the loop already. Just over six smooth miles, it has two significant climbs, ample rolls, and areas for all technique development. With car traffic banned 93 percent of the time, the track is thirty feet wide, fully lit, and always open. Once October hits, it’s dark after work, what beautiful country loop can rival the safety and reliability of Central Park, especially in February. And, our world-class hecklers provide ample practice for your smug retorts.
I have skied, biked, and run around Central Park thousands and thousands of times and though I am easily bored, this loop offers endless variety. If we want more exposure for our sport, let’s consider a world-class rollerski race staged a stone’s throw from Trump’s headquarters.
Second Place: Pine Ridge Trail, Birds Hill Park, Manitoba, Canada – Steve Scoles
The Greatest Rollerskiing Road in the World contest was truly an international affair, and Steve Scoles’ entry from Manitoba helped to keep AMerican egos in check. The route itself sounds spectacular, and a lake for post-workout swimming as well as additional connected rollerskiing options made the Pine Ridge Trail the top Canadian finisher and second overall.
The Pine Ridge Trail in Birds Hill Park, Manitoba is truly a roller-skiing masterpiece. The 6 km rolling loop was built with fresh asphalt last summer. It is wide enough for 2 people to skate side-by-side (it’s like a rollerskiing highway). It is perfectly smooth and seamless throughout it’s entire loop -not a single crack or curb to contend with. On the steep climbs, they’ve added a lot of extra width to comfortably deal with the two-way traffic. It’s never busy and after labor day, you’ll likely see more deer than other (non-rollerskiing) humans.
The trail is located within a park that also offers: a 13 km slow traffic loop with an 8 foot wide shoulder for more rollerskiing; a 1 km 5% grade hill for intervals; and over 40 kms of running/mountain biking trails.
And the final piece-de-resistance – it circumnavigates a pristine lake and beach. Right after you finish your ski, you can be in the lake enjoying clear water and bringing down your body temperature for immediate recovery!
Third Place: Grand Teton National Park Pathway, Jackson, WY – Adam Johnson
In terms of scenery, nothing can top skiing along the base of the Tetons. Add in new pavement and no cars, and you have a true gem.
Length: 7 miles
What makes it great? It is a safe, non-motorized pathway with scenery no one can complain about. Also, the asphalt is new, promising good purchase with your poles every time. The terrain itself is not particularly challenging, but you can easily make up for that by increasing the intensity of your workout. You can DP or V2/V2 alt the whole thing. Start at the South entrance of Grand Teton National Park (Moose, WY). You want to park outside the National Park entrance (go over the Snake River, park on the right by the old visitor?s center).
Pathway users do NOT have to pay a national park entrance fee. There is a hill at the beginning (~300 feet elevation gain over ~1km) which is not super steep but good for intervals. Once you get on top of the plateau there is a very gradual elevation gain but pretty much flat. Currently 7 miles one way with plans to extend the pathway the entire length of Grand Teton National Park–survey flags are staked out already, but not I’m sure when construction begins.
Construction has already begun on the pathway connecting the town of Jackson to the National Park entrance. Also, there are many non-motorized pathways in Jackson to mix things up if you make a trip out of it. Caution: migrating elk herds kick gobs of gravel into sections of the pathway in the fall causing occasional pathway hazards.
Honorable Mention: Myrtle Edwards Park, Seattle, WA – Debbie Kolp
Debbie Kolp’s entry is unique in that one of the main strengths of her rollerski is that it is not that nice. And why is that a positive? Because it makes snow skiing that much better. While the logic is sound, most people don’t need help getting excited about the switch from wheels to snow. But the route is unique and the scenery interesting, and ultimately worthy of recognition.
Length: Not long
The best place to roller ski? Downtown Seattle, Myrtle Edwards Park. The huge Burlington Northern rail yard on one side, fish processing and warehouses and shipyards on the other, opening finally out to incredible views of Puget Sound and, if you’re lucky, Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains. Why is downtown industrial roller skiing, with chain link fences and belching trains and dusty parking lots, so great? Because when winter finally comes back, and you’re skiing silently blissfully through the sleeping forest, it is so sweet you can taste it.