Trajectory: Downhill bends

Rollo compiled a series of explanative videos on optimal lines for downhill skating. From braking to direction taking, here are some tips to save precious seconds…

Trajectories in downhhill skating

Apprentissage de la prise de virage… par teamrollerenligne

The art of trajectories is essential for downhill skating. Indeed a good line enables you to pass a bend optimally in handling factors such as speed, braking, and turn initiating.

The ideal trajectory

  • a located braking as late as possible so that the trajectory is initiated as fast as possible, i.e. when entering the curve,
  • the adjustment of the optimal speed according to the sharpness of the bend,
  • the initiating and exiting of the bend according to the best curvature angle. 

Videos are worth a thousand words.

Recurrent mistakes in line taking: the ‘braking’ factor

Braking too early

If you bake too early, you lose time. Your speed being decreased, you have to let yourself roll at a low speed before entering the bend.

Apprentissage de la prise de virage… par teamrollerenligne

Braking too late

Too late a brake prevents you from taking the ideal line. The distance covered is more important, and the angle of the bend is proportionally as sharp as the braking mistake and makes you lose time.

The taking of a bend can be divided into two parts: In the first half you can still allow yourself to slide in order to slow down.

In the second half, any slippage will reduce your speed more and, consequently, the speed at which you exit the bend, which detracts from your performance.

In the case of a bend where you should lose a minimum of speed, the braking phase during the first half of the bend is enough to be at the right speed.

In the case of a bend where you should lose a lot of speed, you should add a braking phase before entering the curve.

The ‘speed’ factor

Too slow

If you are too slow, the bend is passed at a slow pace and you exit the bend at a low speed, which requires a more important relaunch. Moreover, all the distance covered in the bend at a non-optimal speed makes you lose time.

Too fast

Entering the bend at too high a speed, will lead to either a supplementary braking during the bend or your exiting your line… and all the consequences to it (falling, exiting the road…)

Apprentissage de la prise de virage… par teamrollerenligne

The ‘turn initiation’ factor

Initiating the turn too early

Passed the rail, your trajectory is too short if you initiate the turn too early. For a 180° hairpin turn, let’s say you already did a 60° turn before the rail, so that you still have 120° to do in oder to exit the bend, which requires a turn too sharp for the grip of your wheel if you are at a good speed. So that you will to brake, which will make you exit your initial line.

Initiating the turn too late

Likewise, you brake too late and you extend your distance covered.

Factors limiting the approaching speed of a bend

Body weight

For physical reasons, a light skater will always take a bend faster than a heavier skater, whose weight makes them exit from their ideal trajectory (centrifugal force). The trajectory remains the same but with a speed, proportionally as low as the skater is heavy.

Wheel state

The wearier the wheels, the less grippy their are in bends. Downhill competitors use new or deglazed wheels in order to get the maximum grip in bends.


That article on trajectories works for all the skating disciplines. Indeed very often speed skaters approach bends with a low speed or without trying to find a good line. However that article appears in a downhill configuration as it is probably the discipline where trajectories are the most important.

Useful links

Descendre en toute sécurité

By Rollo (LRC)
Translation: Chloe Seyres
Vidéos : Rollo (LRC)


Alexandre Chartier


Fondateur et webmaster de depuis 2003. Alexandre est un passionné de roller en général et sous tous ses aspects : histoire, économie, sociologie, évolution technologique... Aspirine ou café recommandée si vous abordez un de ces sujets !


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