You may be at a point where you want to take up a winter sport but unsure whether you want to be a skier or a snowboarder.
Both sports are great fun, but you may prefer one over the other. Often it is a case of personal preference, but there are some other aspects that may sway you either way.
In this post, we will go through the differences between skiing and snowboarding to help you decide which is best for you.
You will learn how skiers and snowboarders cope on different parts of the mountain and if there is still a rivalry between them.
Table of Contents
- 1 Which Is Harder?
- 2 Which Is Best For Kids?
- 3 Is There A Difference For Riding Ski Lifts?
- 4 Is Snowboarding More Comfortable Than Skiing?
- 5 Are There Any Limits To Either Sport?
- 6 Which Is Best For Powder, Skis Or A Snowboard?
- 7 Which Is Cheaper? Is Skiing More Expensive Than Snowboarding?
- 8 Is There A Rivalry Between Skiers And Snowboarders?
- 9 Who Is Faster, a Skier Or A Snowboarder?
- 10 Which Is More Dangerous?
- 11 Which Is More Fun? Which is Cooler?
- 12 Which Is Best For Fitness?
- 13 Other Considerations When Choosing Between Skiing And Snowboarding
- 14 Final Thoughts
- 15 Enjoyed Skiing vs Snowboarding – Which Is Harder,Cheaper, Fun, Cooler, Faster? Share it with your friends so they too can follow the Kayakhelp journey.
There has always been an argument over which is harder, skiing or snowboarding. But over the years, it has become widely regarded that snowboarding is difficult to learn than skiing but easier to master, while skiing is easy to learn, but harder to get good at.
The reason for this is that skiing has a more natural feel, as your feet are separated, and you face down the slope. On a snowboard, both your feet are strapped to the board, and you stand sideways to the slope, which feels awkward for most people at first.
During their first week, a skier will likely have lots of fun, as many people pick it up pretty quickly. They will at least master basic turns on the beginner slopes before progressing to skiing on some of the main slopes in the resort.
The first week on a snowboard is more challenging than on skis. For many new snowboarders, the first three days will involve a lot of falling over and rolling around in the snow.
Snowboarding requires a bit more commitment in the early days, as you can easily be put off. But, once a novice snowboarder has got used to their stance, something clicks in their mind, and they start to feel more natural on their board.
By the end of the first week, they should be having fun linking turns on the easier main slopes. As a snowboarder gets used to their board, they will be able to progress quickly as they learn how to carve and perform simple tricks.
However, when a skier starts to try more advanced turns and maneuvers, they can find it challenging to move their feet simultaneously. It is a case of building up your coordination while coping with the changes in the snow.
No matter which sport you choose, it is always a good idea to get some lessons. A good instructor will take out all the guesswork, trial and error, making you progress much more quickly and safely.
Even when you are more advanced, skiing and snowboard lessons are helpful. Lessons prevent you from picking up bad habits, allow you to refine your technique, and unlock more of the mountain, such as the snowpark and backcountry.
Many ski schools will start teaching kids to ski from three years old. However, these lessons are more like child care with ski and snow-based activities, which they love.
By going to these lessons, kids can get used to putting skis on, having them on their feet, and learn that snow is fun. But, it isn’t until they reach five years old until they start to learn how to ski properly.
Some snowboard schools won’t start teaching kids until they are eight years old. But, some schools will introduce kids to snowboarding at a much younger age.
Skiing is much more popular for kids, as it is easier to learn. Many parents start their kids off as skiers and introduce them to snowboarding once they are a little more developed, so they can make up their own minds about which one they want to do.
One of the most daunting things for a beginner skier or snowboarder is riding the ski lifts. Most ski resorts have gondolas, chair lifts, and drag lifts.
Gondolas are the easiest type of lift to use, as you just walk onto them at the bottom of the mountain and walk off at the top. These are usually used to get you to the main ski areas in most ski resorts.
Getting on a chairlift is much easier and more natural for a skier, as all they need to do is sit down and stand up to get off.
A snowboarder has to unstrap their back foot to get on a chairlift, giving them less control when they get off at the top. But once they get used to riding one-footed, chairlifts become less stressful.
The same principle is true for drag lifts. The drag lifts are usually “button lifts” or “T-bars.” Skiers find it much easier to use them due to their design, as the bar simply goes between their legs as they slide along.
Snowboarders generally find drag lifts to be uncomfortable to use, especially very long ones. The button and T-bar need to be tucked behind the front leg, which causes lots of pressure and can hurt after a while.
It is worth noting that older drag lifts can be challenging for beginners, as they can unexpectedly yank you forwards after putting the bar between your legs. This initial jerk can catch you off guard and cause you to let go of the bar and try again.
Snowboarders also have to unstrap their back foot and “one foot it” all the way up a drag lift, which can be challenging when the snow is uneven. But once you are more experienced, this isn’t really a problem.
Beginner slopes are often serviced by “magic carpet” lifts, which make getting up the hill very easy. Magic carpets are slow-moving conveyor belts that skiers and snowboarders stand on to get to the top of the hill. You will use a magic carpet to get the basics down before using a drag lift or chair lift.
Snowboarders definitely enjoy a higher level of comfort than skiers. The main reason is due to the boots they wear.
Ski boots are much more comfortable than they used to be, but they are still stiff and clunky due to the nature of the sport. Snowboard boots are soft and easier to walk in, and all snowboarders need to do is carry their board under their arm.
Skiers need to carry their skis and poles, which can be awkward, especially while walking in their ski boots. Often during family ski trips, the parents will also need to carry their kid’s equipment, making getting around more challenging.
You can go pretty much anywhere on the mountain on either skis or a snowboard. If you are still deciding which one to take up, this won’t be worrying you too much, but as you advance, you will want to explore more.
The snowpark and backcountry do not limit either skiers or snowboarders. But, if the terrain is flat, snowboarders can struggle more than skiers as they don’t have poles to push themselves along.
If you aspire to use touring equipment to access the backcountry when you become more experienced, you can now do this as a snowboarder. Previously, snowboarders had to use snowshoes, while skiers could use their touring equipment.
Splitboards have become very popular with snowboarders. These are snowboards that split down the middle into skis that allow you to hike in deep snow.
Once you have reached the top of the mountain, you can rebuild your snowboard and enjoy riding the untouched powder with your skiing buddies and fellow split boarders.
For many skiers and snowboarders, the ultimate day is riding untouched powder snow in the backcountry. You need to hone your skills on the groomed slopes before venturing into the powder, but once you do, the feeling is unmatched.
Snowboarding is much easier in powder snow, as the technique is quite similar to riding in the resort. There are a few elements you need to adjust when riding deep snow, but a good snowboard instructor will be able to help you do this very quickly.
Your first powder turns on a snowboard are seriously good fun. It is definitely a case of “speed is your friend,” as the extra momentum helps you float on top of the snow. It also helps to lean back a little to keep the nose up while committing to every turn.
Skiing in powder is very different from skiing on groomed slopes, almost to the point where it feels like a different sport. When you first start skiing powder, you feel very much like a beginner again, with lots of falling over and searching for your skis after they have popped off in the deep snow.
To get to the point where you can enjoy powder skiing, you need to put in some time and effort. This can be frustrating if you only ski for one or two weeks per year, but you will reap the rewards with some persistence and coaching.
When you get to the point of wanting to ski or snowboard in powder, you need to book an instructor or guide to take you to the best and safest places. The backcountry is a dangerous place to be, so you should not go there if you have no knowledge of its dangers.
Avalanche awareness is an essential skill to have, as very often, the most inviting powder runs are the most dangerous. You need to have the right equipment and the knowledge on how to use it.
The difference in cost between skiing and snowboarding is pretty minimal. The cost of travel, lift passes, and accommodations are all identical.
Where the cost may differ is in your choice of equipment and clothing. Most equipment and clothing are on a par with each other, but you may find more expensive stuff that suits your personal preferences.
Make sure you get the appropriate clothing and don’t be tempted to ski in jeans, as you will be super uncomfortable and cold.
The altitude of your resort and its typical weather will make a difference to what clothing you will need to wear. Higher resorts are very cold and require more layers and technical clothing; lower resorts will have milder temperatures and may be wet on bad weather days.
Historically, there has been a rivalry between skiers and snowboarders, which is illustrated by retro news reports from the 1980s. Also, there are a couple of resorts in the USA that still don’t allow snowboarders.
The rivalry has pretty much disappeared now, so you should not be worried about it. There are a few narrow-minded individuals that still have a problem with the other sport, but these are few and far between.
There are many groups on the mountain that are made up of both skiers and snowboarders. In fact, it is great to have a mixed group, as it makes it more fun, and skiers can lend their poles to snowboarders when they get to a flat section of a slope.
As long as everyone is having fun, who cares how many planks they are standing on?
Everyone wants to go faster as they progress on their skis or their snowboard. There are many variables when you compare the two sports when it comes to speed.
When you look at the fastest recorded speed of a skier at 250kph and compare it with the quickest snowboarder at 200kph, there is a considerable difference. This is down to aerodynamics, lower friction, and more control.
A good skier will be faster in both a straight line and in the turns than a snowboarder with similar ability. However, when you are a beginner at either sport, your goal is to keep your speed down, so you are in control.
Coming to a dead stop quickly is easier on a snowboard, as the board is shorter than a pair of skis, so you can get it sideways easier. Also, you don’t have the issue of your poles getting in the way.
Every run will feel fast and scary as a beginner, no matter how many planks you are riding. When you think about it, unless you are in a race, there is no real reason to be faster than somebody else.
You should really be concentrating on what you are doing rather than how fast someone else is. The best skier or snowboarder is the one having the most fun!
There are dangers to every sport, but some involve more risk than others. Skiing and snowboarding are fast-paced sports, making them a bit more dangerous, but that is part of the fun.
Even though skiers have more control with their two separate skis, they are susceptible to injuries caused by twisting. Skiing is also harsher for your knees than snowboarding.
The challenges snowboarders experience in their early days mainly come from both feet being attached to the board. Therefore, wrist, shoulder, and ankle injuries are the most common, along with a damaged coccyx.
You can easily manage the risk by understanding the dangers of snowboarding and how to manage them. By using common sense and wearing appropriate safety equipment, such as helmets and impact shorts, you can stay relatively safe on the slopes.
This is a difficult question to answer, as it is very subjective. But, both skiing and snowboarding are extremely fun sports.
Some people love to do both and swap each day. Which sport they choose depends on where they are, who they are with, what the snow conditions are like, and their mood.
Many snowboarders you see on the slopes have started with skiing and have continued to do it for many years before trying snowboarding. Sometimes people stick with skiing, but many people convert to snowboarding as they decide it is more suited to them.
The best way to decide is to try both, but remember the different learning curves of each sport. If you are proficient at one, you need to understand you will be starting from scratch when you try the other.
Many people stick to the sport they are used to, as they don’t want to go through the frustration of being a beginner again. But, with some perseverance and time, it is entirely possible to be proficient in both skiing and snowboarding.
If there is a fresh dump of snow, they will probably break out their snowboards for the powder. When the snow conditions are more firm, they will use their skis and carve up the groomers and get some speed up.
There are many health benefits of skiing and snowboarding. Both sports burn calories and strengthen your lower body muscles and core.
When you are performing dynamic movements when turning and doing tricks, you improve your flexibility. Flexibility is improved more with snowboarding due to the nature of the movements required.
As a beginner snowboarder, you will be spending lots of time rolling around in the snow and getting back up on your feet. This takes lots of effort and will burn off loads of calories.
But once you get to a point where you are a competent skier or snowboarder, you can burn off lots of calories when you are pushing hard.
However, once you start to find either sport easy, you don’t really work as hard unless you push yourself. Still, this luxury is typically reserved for those that live in ski resorts more than holidaymakers.
It is a great idea to start exercising at least six weeks before a ski trip. The fitter you are, the easier it will be, and the more fun you will have. By being in shape, you also reduce your risk of injury, which will cut your trip short.
When you are deciding whether to strap on a board or step into some skis, there are a few other things that you may want to consider. These considerations may help you choose and cut out some trial and error.
The first thing to think about is the location of where you are likely to ski. If your nearest ski resort is in a low altitude area with gentle gradients, snowboarding may not be the best choice.
These resorts tend to have lots of flat sections, which require lots of speed to get past or ski poles to push yourself along. If your nearest ski resort has fairly steady gradients and not many flat sections, you would be fine as a skier or snowboarder.
The next thing to consider is the group of people you are likely to head to the mountains with. Even though skiers and snowboarders can easily mix, there are advantages to a group that does the same sport.
If your friends and family are all snowboarders, you will be able to learn from each other and share your experiences. Doing this will help you all improve and learn new skills.
You may have experience in other sports such as surfing or skateboarding. In this case, snowboarding may be a better choice for you, as there are many similarities to these sports. If you have had experience water skiing, you may want to try skiing for the same reasons.
If you have incurred injuries in the past, they may dictate which sport you can and can’t do. For example, if you have had a knee injury, snowboarding would be the better choice.
After all of this, it is down to your personal preference whether you choose to ski or snowboard. You may aspire to hit the jumps and features in the snowpark on a snowboard or charge the groomers on alpine skis.
Whichever one you choose, you will have some incredible experiences on and off the mountain. You are about to enter a lifestyle with its own culture, jargon, and characters that will create many stories for years to come.
All images are from Unsplash.com