Snowboarding Vs Skiing – Here’s What’s Right For You

Gareth Simpson

by Gareth Simpson

October 18, 2019

Snowboarding Vs Skiing – Advantages and Disadvantages

Skiing was invented centuries ago. Snowboarding more like decades ago, somewhere in the late 60s and didn’t become popular until the 1980s. It is in those years when the rivalry between skiing and snowboarding begun. A rivalry that kept going until the present day and will remain in foreseeable future as well.

In the 90s, snowboarding was way cooler than skiing. If you were a snowboarder, you were cool and if you were a skier you were old, simple as that. But that assumption faded away as the 90s did. Not that snowboarding is not considered cool or anything like that, just that skiing is not judged as old folks sport.

Which is easier

In terms of learning the basics, skiing is somewhat easier to learn. On the other hand, snowboarding may be a bit more challenging to figure it out, but it’s much easier to master it. Going from zero to being good in snowboarding is much easier than going from zero to mastering skiing. That’s one of the reasons why snowboarding is better than skiing, according to many young folks.

Equipment

The one thing that unites skiing and snowboarding most is the need for quality clothing. From trousers to jackets, here we explain what you need to wear to keep you warm while at the same time it feels comfortable and dry.

Snowboard VS Ski Jackets

Speed is often the main focus of skiing. Because of that, ski jackets are mainly made to be slimmer-fitting. That way they serve two purposes; additional heat retention and better aerodynamics. Ski jackets are perfect for uniform movements which are super important when skiing.

On the other hand, snowboarders use other movements and preserve their balance using their arms. Because of that, snowboard jackets are often baggier as oppose to the slim-fitting skier’s jackets. Snowboard jackets are typically longer, especially at the back. That’s because sometimes in snowboarding is needed to sit while static.

As already mentioned earlier, both types of jackets provide protection and warmth. Even if you mistakenly dress a skiers jacket for snowboarding or vice versa, you don’t need to worry much. Things may feel a bit different, but generally speaking, there isn’t any room for serious concern. You will still be able to ski or ride your snowboard without any problem.

Snowboard Pants VS Ski Pants

Same as with jackets, the biggest difference is in the fit. Skiers pants tend to be slim fit so that the aerodynamic form is maintained. Plus, a tight fit is excellent for heat retention. Fit slim jacket and fit slim pants is what most skiers wear.

Snowboard pants, same as the snowboard jackets, typically are baggier. That way the snowboarder has much more space for different leg movements and crouching. Snowboard pants also have extra padding at the rear and the knees. Those are the areas where snowboarders fall most and where the extra padding is much needed.

Style

Both types of wear have significant physical differences that make them more appropriate to their respective sports. At the same time, style plays its own role in the design of the equipment.

Snowboarding is the sport that draws many followers from the surfing and skateboard community. As a result, the gear is not just baggier, but it resembles surf shorts and has similar colors and patterns. The snowboarding culture is more driven by young folks that are in constant pursuit for something new and are not afraid to experiment with design styles.

Ski gear is more focused on practicality and speed, more relying on tradition than on novelty. There are some skiers that like to experiment with new colors and patterns, but that’s not mainstream. The bigger part of the skiing community is still more into the traditional style.

But then again if you are a beginner you shouldn’t be bothered too much about the style, what you should wear and what not. Very often the differences are very subtle and you can find many skiers wearing typical snowboarders jackets and pants, and vice versa, snowboarders wearing skiers type of jacket and pants. The bottom line is don’t be bothered by that, wear what you have and have fun. The most important thing is to feel warm and comfortable. Everything else is secondary, and not that important.

Learning Snowboarding

Snowboarding has a much bigger learning curve. Snowboarding is all about heel and toe edges. Getting the hang of it is difficult for almost any new snowboarder. Most rookies spend more time on their bum than standing on the board. But that’s just part of the learning process. Some learn the basics in just a day or two, but others need more time. In average, it takes around two or three weeks for most folks to get the confidence to start snowboarding on their own without supervision.

Advantages

  • After learning the basics, mastering the rest is much easier
  • Snowboard boots are quite comfortable and can be used to walk
  • Don’t need to buy ski poles
  • Fewer chances to earn a leg injury
  • Stopping is pretty easy. If you don’t know how just fall backward.

Disadvantages

  • In average it takes more time to learn snowboarding than skiing
  • Beginners spend quite a time on their butt when learning snowboarding
  • Getting on and off a ski lift means that you constantly need to strap and unstrap your boots
  • The fact that you have no poles makes moving on a flat ground much harder.
  • Tailbone injuries are very common
  • It’s very challenging to learn how to make sharp turns as a first time snowboarder.
  • Learning snowboarding requires grit and determination.

Learning Skiing

Picking up skiing is way faster than snowboarding. The reason for this is because in skiing, you can use your legs independently. Then you have the ski poles that help you keep your balance. The straight stance while keeping parallel legs feels natural and is very easy to adopt.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean you get to learn to ski in just a day or two. Plus, there are various skiing techniques and maneuvers that can be only learned through practice. How long will take you to learn depends on many factors. Factors such as personal balance, fitness, agility, confidence, and so on.

Advantages

  • Easy to learn the basics
  • First-time skiers spend more time on their feet than snowboarders on average
  • Skiing feels natural and skiers have much better visibility when rushing downhill than snowboarders
  • Getting on and off ski lifts is pretty straightforward

Disadvantages

  • It’s very easy to trip over the skis, especially if you are a beginner.
  • Learning skiing may be easy, but mastering skiing is extremely difficult
  • Not possible to go off-piste with beginner skies
  • Beginners find it difficult to stop. Leaning back won’t work and can lead to a crash. Turning to the side and angling the skis is very difficult for beginners.

Top factors that influence your learning curve

Whether it is learning snowboarding or skiing, there are some common factors that influence the learning curve. Here is a sum of those top factors.

  1. Age can have a big impact on your learning curve. Generally speaking, younger folks tend to learn faster than older folks. Plus, they are less prone to injuries and even if they catch one they tend to heal faster than older people.
  2. General fitness and strength can go a long way when learning snowboarding or skiing. The rule is the more fit and stronger you are the better. Athletes are the fastest and best learners. It doesn’t matter what’s their sport. What matters is their approach, their physical strength, their fitness condition, and most of all their approach.
  3. Personal approach to fear and risk can make a huge difference. People with less fear and people with huge determination are the ones that learn the fastest. They are not afraid to fall on their butt and embrace that as part of the experience and the learning curve. That’s what makes the fast learners.
  4. Balance is the single most important factor that influences the ability to learn both skiing and snowboarding. In case you have trained another sport that required balance skills than you are in luck. That training and balance will have a positive impact on your learning to snowboard or ski.
  5. Continuity matters. People that tend to skip lessons and appear occasional tend to learn slowest. On the other hand, those that are there every day, trying to absorb anything that their instructor throws at them is essential. Day by day is how you learn fastest and most efficiently.
  6. An experienced instructor can significantly shorten the learning curve. The best one asses each of their students and adapt the lessons to them. The best ones always work with small groups and make sure that each candidate keeps up with the program and learns.
  7. Personal focus and attention is also something that matters a lot. Even the best instructor in the world can’t help you if you are not present with your mind and make an effort to learn. There is no shortcut to being focused and being present in the moment.

Differences between snowboarding and skiing

Body Position

Skiing

The body is faced in the same direction as the feet and you get to use both legs independently. That makes learning skiing pretty easy and straightforward. That body position also gives you a great overview of the slope, much better than a snowboarder.

Snowboarding

Having the feet attached on a single board is not something that comes naturally and can be bit unsettling at the beginning. Getting used to traveling at ninety degrees to the direction of your feet point is a challenge for itself. Plus, snowboarders don’t have the same view of the slope as the skiers. That makes it challenging to be aware of the surroundings. However, after a while, one becomes getting used to that. What was once a challenge will turn into an adrenaline rush that keeps on giving every time when on the snow.

Injuries

Skiing

That fact that the feet are separated it means that it is harder to fall. But at the same time, it increases the risk of ankle injuries that happen as a result of twisting motions. In addition to that skiing is much harder on the knees compared to snowboarding.

Snowboarding

Most injuries happen during the initial training lessons. That’s because both feet are attached on the snowboard. Some of the most common injuries include ankle, shoulder, and wrist injuries.

Lifts

Skiing

Lifts are challenging only for beginner skiers. There is no need to unclip the skis on a lift. Just face them forward and you are set to go. Riding the lift with skis is way more pleasant than riding the lift on a snowboard.

Snowboarding

The trick here is to unclip one foot when riding a ski lift with a snowboard. Plus, snowboarders don’t use ski poles which they can use to get on and off the lift. The biggest challenge is to learn how to get off the lift with one foot detached from the board. But once you get a hang of it, it becomes routine.

Costs

Even though some would argue this, snowboarding and skiing gear cost is relatively equal. In average, ski gear might cost from 4% to 10% more, but that can depend from many factors. Saving a hundred or two hundred bucks over a lifetime is not something that should deter you from the one thing and guide you in the other direction.

Decision

The answer is rather simple – go with your gut, choose the one that you like the most, the one that gives you the most pleasure. Above we have summarized almost all aspects of both sports. There is no need to pile up more information and data on top of what was already mentioned here.

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