SRB and DMS Provide Top Quality Rollerskis at IBU Summer Biathlon World Championships

25.09.2010, Duszniki Zdroj / IBU Inf. Dept. TO/JK
Interview with IBU Bronze Supplying Partners
This year, for the first time, the IBU Summer Biathlon World Championships consist of only rollerski competitions. In order to guarantee fair and even conditions, all of the rollerskis used in the competitions are provided by IBU and its Supplying Partners, DMS and SRB. All of the male athletes are using rollerskis provided by SRB, while the female athletes use those made by DMS. talked to representatives of both companies about their involvement; Lars Schlegel is the owner of DMS, Arno Barthelmes is the owner of SRB who works with the former German biathlete Robert Wick.


BW: Why did you decide to become a partner of IBU and what is most important in it for you?

Schlegel: I do this in order to support biathlon. It’s my real, my former sport that I have done myself for years. Thus I can use my knowledge as an athlete and a coach to make training in the summer effective and similar to skiing in the winter. I think I did a good job with that in recent years; so well really that many athletes who had solid training in the summer and, among other things, used our rollerskis, won Olympic medals. That’s something I can bring to IBU and I have done this ever since the first IBU Summer Biathlon World Championships. The second part is event service which we have provided for the past 10 years, which includes everything concerning a rollerski before, after and during a competition.  

Barthelmes: It is very important to me that this is really a partnership, a give and take on both sides.  As a relatively young partner, we have achieved that so far. We provide material and our service on the one hand and on the other hand, the recognition of our rollerskis is promoted through IBU. That has already bore fruit. We would never have gotten in contact with so many teams over the last two years without the IBU.

BW: What makes a good rollerski in your opinion?

Wick: There are several things that are important in a good rollerski. We used to have problems with the longevity of the wheels, with the stiffness of the bar, and the general feeling when going downhill. We have now tried to optimize that in our rollerskis now and already achieved that in the SR1 almost to the optimum. It has low abrasive wear on dry and wet ground; the stiffness is reached by the aluminum bar. The features during running are very similar to skis and exactly what you want in the summer when preparing for the winter. It also rolls so straight that there is hardly any need for adjustments.

Schlegel: An ideal rollerski has to be very light, it must roll very straight, and it has to be adjustable because the bones change when aging.  In order to get a good feeling during the run, the feeling that they run straight, they have to be adjustable. It has to be extremely similar to skis; the bindings have to be perfectly positioned on the bar. The wheels have to have good grip on the ground during rain or any kind of bad weather. The production process has to be extremely similar each year, so that the ones from this year are the same as those from next year or last year. That way, I can guarantee even conditions during competitions. The athlete has to be able to rely 100% on the material!

Is similarity to skis the most important criteria for an athlete?

Wick: That depends. There are rollerskis for training and different ones for competitions. For training it is more absorbent, with a good feeling during the run and it is flexible, like a ski in the winter. For a competition the SR1 transmits the power from the leg directly onto the ground, without the rollerski keeping or absorbing any of that power.

 BW: What is your main task during the IBU Summer Biathlon WCH?

Schlegel: In principle, to provide rollerskis that do not have a single technical flaw. That’s it. At the moment there’s not that much to do because all rollerskis are adjusted in the way they have to be and we check this before, after and somewhat during the competitions. So far things went as I wished and there were no problems except with a few bindings. The athletes were able to try the competition rollerskis during training and can get them adjusted so that they get a good feeling on them. Some like it better when they run slightly to the outside, while others prefer it when they run completely straight. In the winter that does not matter much, it gets lost in the snow but in the summer everything has to be absolutely accurate. However, only very few brands of rollerskis allow that kind of adjustment.

Barthelmes: We are responsible for the service. The drawing, handing out, and collection of the rollerskis are all done by the organizers. We also are here to make individual adjustments or corrections for the athletes. Of course we can talk to athletes and coaches in order to tell them about new developments and get their feedback, which is great for us.

BW: How important is this feedback for you?

Barthelmes: Of course that is very good and we get new ideas. Now we have to see how much of that we can realize but it is definitely important to not just develop new things but to get feedback from athletes in the process.

BW: How often does an athlete have to replace their rollerskis?

Schlegel: We have top athletes from cross country skiing who replace their rollerskis approximately every three years. Of course the wheels and bearings have to be replaced more often, since they wear out. But there are some hobby rollerskiers who brought their 15-year-old rollerskis for a check-up.

BW: The wheels of the rollerskis look a lot like the wheels on inline skates. What are the most important differences?

Schlegel: That’s true, but this first view is misleading. Here, the wheels are behind the heel, and thus behind the center of gravity. That allows the athletes to stand on the rollerskis very straight. If you would try that on inline skates you would fall backward. In addition, there are only two wheels and not four which alleviates the pressure on the wheels significantly. The stress on the area that touches the ground is even higher for rollerski wheels than for wheels on a Formula 1 car and this requires a very high quality of rubber. Only very few rubber producers can supply this kind of quality. The bar also allows you to bring more pressure onto the wheels compared to inline skates and the poles allow for a faster speed. If I would use inline skate wheels in the rollerskis a normal athlete would break them after skiing only half a kilometer, that’s how high the pressure is.

In addition, the wheels of rollerskis are often made from polyurethane and they slip on rainy ground. Rollerski wheels are made from rubber and the harder you step on the ground, the better you stick, except during icy conditions or so when you would also slip with a bike.

BW: What improvements do you plan for your rollerskis in the coming years?

Barthelmes: For us, the only possibility is to reduce weight so that we get closer to skis in this area as well. But for the other features and the rubber of the wheels we achieved what was asked of us by the athletes, a speed close to skis. This speed can be regulated by using different rubber mixtures or wheel types. Everything else is just small details.

Schlegel: We definitely want to make some changes on the design and we will change some things on the wheels. Currently two different kinds of wheels are being tested by the German National Team in cross country skiing. Both wheels lasted for over 2000 km already and will run another 1000. Previously, wheels had to be replaced after about 500 to 1000 km. Now we can double the life of a wheel.