"Look at it as a dress rehearsal," PSIA examiner Debbie Sumner says about in-line skating. "Get a feel for inside-leg movement on skates, and you'll notice a new ability to carve on super-sidecut skis." After a few weeks on the asphalt, you'll be ready to tackle the slopes.
If your old skates are collecting dust in your closet, you need to know what's new in in-line gear.
At 44 ounces (in a men's 9), K2's Catalyst skate is the lightest performance training skate on the market, which means less fatigue and more miles on the road. Its soft-boot construction offers slipperlike comfort and a natural range of motion in the lower leg, ankle, and foot.
$250/K2/ 800-972-4063/ www.k2skates.com
Effortless weight transfer! Sharp, carved turns with less effort! No, we're not talking about shaped skis; Parabolics Outdoor SC Series wheels do for your skating what shaped skis do for your skiing. Each wheel has a different shape, and they're numbered and mounted in sequence to create a pivot point underfoot for greater maneuverability.
Sock slop can hold your skating back, but Thorlo In-Line Skate Socks have a patented fiber-expanding element that conforms to the shape of your foot and fills in the nooks and crannies inside your skate.
$12/Thorlo/ 888-846-7567/ www.thorlo.com
Nike's Dri-Fit shorts and tees are made from a silky fabric that wicks away moisture and lays so smoothly on your skin that it feels like you're skating naked.
Make like Kristina Koznick down your block with Reliable Racing's Street Gates, small, springy foam poles mounted on plastic bases that can be either bolted to the pavement or held down with sand.
$22 each/Reliable Racing Supply/ 800-274-6815/ www.reliableracing.com
Leki's HealthTrek 2000 poles have shock absorbers that can be turned on (for pavement) and off (for powder). They expand from 33 to 56 inches, making them adaptable to all pole-requiring sports.
Salomon's Hydration Set is ventilated to keep your back cool and insulated to do the same for your 72 ounces of water.
Instead of inhibiting movement, Salomon's Trainer protective gear moves with the body. The wrist guards particularly stand out thanks to their anatomical design: Though minimalist, they offer maximum protection. CoolMax linings keep your wrists, knees, and elbows cool.
$22 per pair/Salomon/877-2-SALOMON/ www.salomoninline.com.
Finally, keep your brain off the pavement¿wear a helmet. Any ventilated cycling model will do, as long as it fits.