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The Never-Ending Ski Season Provided by the CAT Ski

Dale Niggeman demonstrates the CAT skis.

Dale Niggeman demonstrates the CAT skis.

As an avid skier, it was always a sad day when that last patch of snow melted. I knew that this meant untold months of training on hard roads with traffic on roller skis. The outlook was bleak. I couldn’t even count on the snow’s return; the effects of global warming were making its arrival less and less reliable. It was just a matter of time before I would long for my ski trails, the wildlife and solitude of nature. Unfortunately for me, running was no longer an option. Years of racking up the miles had led to painful back and knee injuries. What I needed was a way to continue my non-impact skiing on the trails that I loved, no matter what the conditions.

The problem was, no such ski existed. Calling on my engineering skills and a lot of dogged determination, I went to work. Today, some 20 prototypes later, I have perfected the design of a Classic All Terrain ski – the CAT ski. These skis have not only put me back on the trails, they have enabled me to get off-road as well – crossing grass and even sand. Now, I can realize the first half of every cross country skier’s dream; I can actually ski right out my back door.

The CAT skis can be adjusted for your desired level of effort and you can improve your classic ski technique at the same time. The skis are designed so that you learn how to self-correct; if your technique is off, the skis will not perform correctly. This can be frustrating at first, but patience and a trip to, to watch the instructional videos, will soon have you moving smoothly. Once you understand how the two work together, you can continually make any needed adjustments.

So, what exactly are these skis that require no snow, no hills and not even a real trail? The Classic All Terrain ski is a hybrid of snow ski and roller ski. Imagine a snow ski with grippers attached to the bottom. This is the part of the ski that makes contact with the ground. Mounted on top of this is a modified mini roller ski that runs back and forth on a track. Although there are modified rollers used in this portion of the ski, they do not come into contact with the ground. Using a cross country ski boot, you clip into a binding that is part of this roller system, then you just start walking.

It all begins by putting one foot in front of the other. You make a complete weight transfer and push the mini roller forward on the track. This creates the short glide portion of the cycle. A high-grade bungee cord creates resistance as you glide forward. When you lift your foot off the ground and fully shift your weight from one foot to the other, you naturally release the stored energy in the bungee. The ski then moves forward under your foot, readying it for the next weight shift and glide.

The skis have some limitations. It is not possible to double pole or kick double pole on the CAT skis. They are designed to simulate classic striding techniques only.

In the following three drills will we will focus on one of the things that the CAT skis do the best – they teach. They provide immediate feedback about your ski technique. The technique work transfers directly to snow and the drills can also be done on snow.

 by Dale Niggeman