There are some clear similarities between snowboarding and skateboarding. But how close are the two sports?
Does being good at one make you competent at the other? In this post, we will discuss the similarities and differences to find out if the skills are interchangeable and if they deliver a similar experience.
- What Are The Similarities and Differences Of Standing On A Snowboard vs A Skateboard?
- The Different Styles of Snowboarding And Skateboarding
- Are They Similar To Ride?
- Are There Similarities With The Boards?
- Are The Tricks Similar?
- Which Is Easier To Learn?
- Which Is More Dangerous?
- Staying Safe On A Snowboard
- Staying Safe On A Skateboard
- Do The Skills Transfer?
- Does Skateboarding Improve Your Snowboarding?
- Which Is More Accessible?
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The most obvious similarity is that both skateboarders and snowboarders stand sideways on a board. The difference here is that a snowboard is strapped to your feet with bindings, while your feet are free on a skateboard.
As your feet are in boots that are held in place by bindings, you can lean forward and backward on a snowboard. Therefore, you can flex the board with your weight, which you can’t do on a skateboard.
Even though a snowboard is longer than a skateboard, your stance is very similar in terms of your foot placement. However, the angles of your feet differ, as your feet are more parallel on a skateboard.
With both snowboarding and skateboarding, there are two stances, “regular” and “goofy”. A regular rider will stand on the board with their left foot forward, while a goofy rider will have their left foot forward.
A common issue for first-time snowboarders is deciding which foot to lead with. Most people that do both sports will ride the same way, but there are exceptions where regular snowboarders will skate goofy and vice versa.
Riding with your unnatural foot leading will add an element of difficulty to a trick called the same thing in both sports. It can be called riding “fakie”, but it is more commonly regarded as riding “switch”.
Over the years, both sports have evolved and sprouted into their individual niches. The reason for this is their increased popularity and people’s varying tastes.
There is a freestyle element to both sports. Some riders love to spend all their time mastering bigger and more complex tricks on both snowboards and skateboards.
A freestyle discipline of skateboarding is the mini-ramp, which is a huge wooden bowl-like ramp allowing skateboarders to perform tricks. They can spend all day jumping at either end of it, getting higher each time.
Snowboarders don’t have the momentum for a mini-ramp, but they do ride halfpipe. A halfpipe is a long purpose-built channel running down the mountain that snowboarders jump out of and land back in it to ride to the opposite wall.
Usually, a halfpipe is only long enough for a snowboarder to perform five or six tricks. However, there are now superpipes, which are higher and longer to give a snowboarder more opportunity to show off their skills.
Snowboarding and skateboarding both have a movement dedicated to turning and riding at high speeds. There are various sub-niches to this, but in general, there are specific boards that make surf-like turns into an art form, both on snow and concrete.
A discipline of snowboarding that is not shared by skateboarders is freeriding. Freeriding is when a snowboarder rides natural terrain in the backcountry, riding powder and dropping cliffs.
There are competitions for all of these disciplines. A discipline in both sports that is considered to be quite old school now is the slalom races.
Skateboard slalom races are usually timed runs, as the rider weaves in and out of a course marked by cones. A snowboard slalom race consists of two riders racing each other on separate courses.
A hugely popular discipline for snowboard competitions is slopestyle. Slopestyle is when a rider hits various purpose-built features to pull off the biggest and most complex tricks.
The closest thing to slopestyle for skateboarding is the park or street competitions. Here skaters need to use the features to get as creative as possible within a specific timeframe.
When you are standing on either board, your natural balance is relatively similar. The main difference is the experience you get as a skateboard rolls on wheels while you spend most of your time on the edges of a snowboard.
The motion of carving on either board is quite similar, especially if the skateboard is a longboard. Initiating a turn on both types of board is done by moving your body weight to put pressure on an edge.
On a snowboard, you don’t need to push with your foot to get yourself moving. The gradient of the slope combined with slippery snow means you can start sliding straight away.
Snowboarders have more control than skateboarders when riding downhill. A snowboarder will be able to ride much faster with confidence than a skateboarder.
When it comes to stopping, you need to turn a snowboard, so you skid to a stop. You can do this on a skateboard in the form of a powerslide. Alternatively, you can brake with one foot or simply jump off.
It may take some time for a snowboarder to feel comfortable on a skateboard. However, they will have something called “board feel”, which will reduce the time it takes to get used to it.
When it comes to the boards, the length of a skateboard is more down to personal preference than anything else. The length of the snowboard you buy is determined by your body weight and the type of snowboarding you want to do.
Short snowboards are easy to spin and do other freestyle tricks. Longer snowboards are ideal for floating on powder.
Another thing you need to consider when buying a snowboard is its shape. Snowboards have different profiles that give them different handling characteristics.
A snowboard can be a twin, making it symmetrical, so it feels the same whether you ride it forward or switch. Alternatively, a snowboard can be directional, meaning it performs at its best when riding forward.
Snowboards have different flex ratings too. A softer board is easier to ride and more forgiving on jumps. But a stiffer board will hold an edge better and ride much more quickly.
When buying a skateboard, you may want to think about its trucks, wheels, and bearings and if they perform to your requirements.
When it comes to tricks, there are many similarities between snowboarding and skateboarding.
When you look at a skatepark and a snowpark, you can see some obvious similarities in the features. You will see rails, boxes, ramps and quarter pipes, etc. in both, and require similar techniques to ride.
Many snowboard tricks are influenced by skateboarding and share the same names. For example, grabbing the edge of the board with your back hand between your toes is known as an indy grab in both sports.
A staple trick in both sports is the ollie. The ollie is the basis of pretty much every trick, as it is what gets you airborne.
To ollie a skateboard, you kick the rear of the board while quickly lifting your front foot in order to pop off the ground. A snowboard ollie is much easier as you shift your weight backward to load up the board’s tail to spring you into the air.
These tricks are much easier on a snowboard, as your feet are strapped in. If you can perform a 50-50 or a boardslide on a skateboard, you shouldn’t have too much trouble learning how to do it on a snowboard.
Similarly, a snowboarder that can spin a 360 competently should quickly learn how to do it on a skateboard.
When a skateboarder tries tricks on a snowboard, they will pick them up pretty quickly. The body positioning and movements are interchangeable.
One of the significant differences between the two sports is that landing on snow is more forgiving and less intimidating than concrete. If you spin off a jump on a snowboard but do not quite make the full rotation, you can often get away with it and ride out.
If you don’t land a complete spin on a skateboard, there is very little chance that you will be able to ride right away. In addition to this, landing on concrete is more daunting as it hurts way more than landing on soft snow.
Everybody is different; some people say that skateboarding is more challenging to learn, while others find it easier. This is because some aspects are easier to learn on a snowboard and vice versa.
A skateboard will instantly roll as soon as you put your weight on it, which can cause it to shoot out in front of you. As a snowboard is strapped to your feet, there is no danger of it getting away from you, so it is initially safer.
When you fall off a skateboard, you land on unforgiving concrete, which is painful even at slow speeds. Falling on a snowboard is generally less painful unless you land on ice.
Even though snowboard tricks are generally bigger and performed at higher speeds, there are more severe consequences for falling off a skateboard.
When you first start skateboarding, you can quickly learn the basics, but it takes time to learn all the intricacies of the tricks. It takes about three days to learn how to link turns on a snowboard.
After a few weeks of snowboarding, you can be pretty competent. However, some novice snowboarders struggle with the fact that the board is strapped to their feet.
Once you have the basic snowboard techniques mastered, the learning curve gets steeper due to the nature of riding in the mountains. There is a lot to take into account, from differing snow conditions to varied terrain.
To be a good snowboarder, you need to learn various techniques to keep you safe while having fun on the mountain. For example, riding powder, hitting the park, dropping cliffs, and riding the halfpipe.
Similarly, on a skateboard, there are various techniques to learn to make you a good all-around rider. Bombing hills, freestyle tricks, grinding rails, and hitting ramps are all challenging things to learn.
We have already mentioned that the consequences of falling off a skateboard are generally higher than when falling while snowboarding. Usually, when you fall on a snowboard, the energy is taken out of the fall by the gradient of the slope and the softness of the snow.
But that doesn’t mean snowboarding is risk-free. When riding freestyle, the speeds and jump heights are much higher than on a skateboard.
Broken bones and other injuries are not uncommon with snowboarding. But the mountain environment can be hazardous too.
When riding groomed slopes, collisions with skiers and snowboarders happen all the time. Therefore, it is a good idea to be aware of your surroundings while snowboarding.
More advanced snowboarders love to explore the backcountry, looking for untracked powder. But this comes with its own dangers.
In the backcountry, avalanches are genuine hazards that take the lives of skiers and snowboarders every winter. Before heading into the backcountry, there are a few things that a snowboarder should do.
To limit the risk of being caught in an avalanche, you need to be educated on avalanche awareness. By knowing about the likelihood of when snow could give way, you can manage the risk and avoid getting yourself into difficult situations.
Part of avalanche awareness is to carry the necessary equipment with you and know how to use it. By taking a transceiver, probe, and shovel, you may be able to rescue your friend that has been buried in an avalanche.
To properly know how to stay as safe as possible in the backcountry, you need to take a number of courses to build up your knowledge. A big part of riding powder safely is to know when to turn back and not ride it at all.
So to summarize, skateboarding is probably more dangerous than snowboarding as a beginner. But, snowboarding becomes more hazardous the better you are at it and the more you explore and push your limits.
When skateboarding, there are some unexpected things to look out for while you are riding. You may be skating along a perfectly smooth pavement, but a stray pebble or twig can stop your board and send you flying.
However, advanced skateboarders also start to experience different dangers. The danger level goes up when you start commuting through traffic, riding steeper hills, and trying more advanced tricks, such as dropping stairs.
Avalanche risk aside, there are a few things that snowboarders can do to protect themselves. There are lots of different items that snowboarders can wear to reduce the chance of getting injured.
The first piece of protection that every snowboarder should wear is a helmet. There is an ongoing debate whether helmets are worth wearing or not, but many people have had their lives saved from wearing one.
Beginner snowboarders risk breaking their wrists, as it is common to put your hand down when you fall. To protect their wrists, snowboarders often wear wrist guards while they are learning, but stop wearing them as they become more competent.
Another common injury beginner snowboarders get is a damaged coccyx. Falling backward and landing on your coccyx (tailbone) is very painful and can cause serious problems for a long time.
To protect your coccyx, you can wear impact shorts, which are padded to absorb the shock from fall. They also make sitting on the cold snow during a snowboard lesson more comfortable.
You can choose to wear body armor while snowboarding, but this isn’t very common. The people who usually wear body armor do so because they don’t want to aggravate a previous injury or they are riding particularly dangerous terrain.
The most important way of staying safe while snowboarding is to get proper instruction from the very beginning. A qualified instructor will ensure you are using the right techniques and give you plenty of information about staying safe.
Most skateboarders don’t bother with wearing protection. Often wearing protection for skateboarding is considered uncool, even though there are significant consequences when you fall.
But skateboarders that ride skateparks and mini-ramps tend to wear a skateboard helmet, as do longboarders. Hitting your unprotected head on concrete is not something you really want to do.
Just like snowboarding, you can wear wrist guards while skateboarding for the same reason. You can also wear knee and elbow pads to protect vulnerable joints and reduce the likelihood of road and gravel rash.
Having the appropriate footwear will help you stay safe while skateboarding. Proper skate shoes grip the board just enough to give you the necessary control for all those tricks and riding down hills.
We have highlighted the similarities, but are the skills interchangeable? There is no doubt that balancing the skills you get from one will help you pick up the other sport more quickly.
Skateboarders that try snowboarding for the first time will often be able to link turns down basic slopes on their first day. The reason for this is due to their similar carving techniques.
However, a skater may find it difficult while they get used to using the snowboard’s edge and putting a little bit of weight on their front foot.
Snowboarders that give skateboarding a try may find the transition a little more challenging. It can take a little more time to feel comfortable for a snowboarder to ride a skateboard while they find their balance.
The main area where the skills are transferable is when it comes to freestyle and freeriding. The tricks in the halfpipe and on ramps are similar, as are carving and sliding downhill.
There is no doubt that skateboarding improves your snowboarding skills. During the summer months, many snowboarders take to skateboards and longboards to keep in practice for when the snow returns.
Skateboarding helps to maintain your balance on a moving board in a very similar stance. It is also great practice for carving a snowboard, especially if you ride a longboard.
If you can master freestyle tricks on a skateboard, you will find them much easier when you transfer them onto a snowboard.
Skateboarding is way more accessible than snowboarding. The main reason for this is that the cost of skateboarding is much lower.
As a skateboarder, you can buy a board relatively cheaply in comparison to a snowboard. Once you have the board, there is nothing stopping you from enjoying yourself.
To be a snowboarder, you need to buy a board, boots, and bindings, which adds up to quite a lot of money. But there are other things you need to buy before you go snowboarding.
When you are snowboarding, you need appropriate clothing. Jackets, pants, base layers, and gloves are all needed, which are expensive.
The weather in the mountains changes quickly, so people that snowboard regularly generally have a range of clothes to suit the conditions. These include different types of jackets and pants, but they will often have a spring riding outfit for milder temperatures.
Another thing you need for snowboarding is suitable eyewear. A good pair of goggles will protect your eyes from snow blindness and stop them from watering as you ride.
Often, snowboarders will have different goggles for different light conditions. Alternatively, they will have a pair with interchangeable lenses.
You can skateboard pretty much anywhere with smooth tarmac or concrete, but you often need to travel to go snowboarding. Driving or flying to the mountains costs money, and not everyone has the time or resources to head to them.
Another cost of snowboarding you may not have thought about is the price of a lift pass. Some ski resorts can be quite expensive in this respect.
We have highlighted the similarities and differences between snowboarding and skateboarding.
So is snowboarding like skateboarding?
From what we have highlighted here, we can see that some techniques are transferable between the two sports, and they complement each other well.
There is no doubt that the two sports are like each other, due to the stances, techniques and jargon. However, they offer different experiences thanks to the environments they are performed in.
But whether you are surfing concrete or snow, the main thing is to make sure you are enjoying yourself safely.
All images taken from Pixabay.