Spending the day in the snow is always a good idea and promises a good time no matter what activity you have planned. It sure beats hibernating indoors and watching it snow outside. The winter day spent outside gets even better if you try one of the snow sports. And of course, when it comes to winter and sports, two options top everyone’s lists – skiing and snowboarding. Practicing each of these sports will bring you an abundance of fun, excitement, and do wonders for your health and fitness.
But, while you can’t go wrong with either of them, you may get a different picture if you talk to skiing or snowboarding enthusiasts. Skiers will tell you that skiing is the most stimulating, challenging, and enjoyable experience you can have don’t the snow as confirmed by the centuries-long tradition of the sport. They will quickly write off snowboarding as a passing fade and superficial trend that lacks the sophistication that skiing brings. On the other hand, anyone with their feet strapped to the board will swear that snowboarding is the coolest thing since the beginning of the world. They’ll quickly add that skiing is a nice thing if you’re older and lack the freedom of spirit.
The truth is, both sports have their own benefits and downsides. While they’re similar in nature, they do have some significant differences, the most obvious being the different equipment. In the end, which one you decide to take ultimately comes down to personal preferences. Still, if you’re a beginner and set on trying your luck at the slopes for the first time, there’s one thing you want to know first – is skiing easier than snowboarding? For a lot of people, the decision depends on which sport will they be able to master sooner and which will require less effort to participate in.
And, that’s the tricky part. Answers to these questions depend on a lot of factors and are not a simple yes or no. We’ll dive deep into the matter and try to provide you all the necessary to make an informed decision you will not come to regret.
Snowboarding or Skiing – Which One is Easier to Learn?
The general rule which applies to most of the people just getting into winter sports is that skiing is initially much easier to get a hold of. Novice skiers can hit the milder slopes after only two or three classes. On the other hand, getting started with snowboarding is much more challenging, However, after mastering the basics, getting to the proficiency level is much harder in skiing. With snowboarding, once you learn the basic principles, it’s pretty smooth sailing as you continue to improve your skills.
Think of it as two triangles. One, the snowboarding, is in the normal position, while the other, skiing, is upside down. When learning to ski, you start at the bottom where there’s only one point, the tip of the triangle. But, as you move upward, the area of skills you need to master widens and gets harder and harder. With snowboarding, it’s the other way around. You begin at the bottom with the long side of the triangle representing the overwhelming task at hand. Still, as you progress, the required field of knowledge narrows and things get much easier.
While you may be anxious to hit the slopes, the first training steps are mostly stationary. You need to get yourself acquainted with the equipment and learn how to remain balanced while on skis or snowboard. As mentioned, skiers will have much fewer problems going through this stage.
There are few reasons why the learning curves for these two sports are different. The first time you strap yourself up you’ll understand what are talking about.
- Familiarity – a lot of first-time skiers find it easy initially because it imitates in a way movements from other sport they might have practiced before. Running, rollerblading, ice skating all feature movement that can be replicated to some point on the slopes. It makes learning the basic controls easier. As far as snowboarding is concerned, you’ll find it much less intuitive, unless you rode a skateboard before.
- Separation – When skiing, your legs are separated and can be controlled independently. This means that if you feel that you’re losing balance while going down the slope, you can easily readjust one leg to keep yourself from falling down. When you snowboard, your both feet are attached to the board allowing no independent movement. For beginners, this feels a bit unnatural and clunky and it takes some time to get accustomed to. It’s also a little frightening for inexperienced riders due to the inability to stop falling down once you lose balance. Be prepared to spend a lot of time picking yourself up from the snow as you get started with snowboarding.
- Body Stance – While skiing, you’re in a natural, forward-facing position. Your body position basically emulates what you do in real life. This allows for a full peripheral vision and total awareness of objects, including people and trees, around and in front of you. This makes novice skiers feel more secure and end allows them to focus on the skiing technique. Riding the snowboard doesn’t provide this sense of awareness and a field of view this wide. While riding, you’re in a side-stance that drastically decreases your peripheral vision. As you ride more and more, you’ll get used to it. However, in the beginning, it feels a bit awkward.
After a couple of classes, you should be getting a hang of the fundamentals. Once you learn to keep your balance and get used to side-stance and having both feet attached to the board, your snowboarding skills will progress rather quickly. On the other hand, as you figure out the basics of skiing, the real work just begins.
Snowboarding mostly isn’t just about speed. It’s more about reform and creativity, which makes it easier to learn as well as less monotone to practice once you’re done with the basic training. The core of skiing, however, going fast and mastering the technique that will allow you to ski the whole mountain. This involves having total control over your body and ski while making turns at a high speed.
Learning to Control Your Snowboard
As you start to feel comfortable with both feet attached to one board, it becomes an advantage rather than a nuisance. One of the main issues for novice skiers is the possibility of their skis crossing up. With just a board under their fee, snowboarders don’t have to worry about that.
The next step for beginner snowboarders is learning how to turn. As we said, this is where things are starting to get easier compared to skiing. Turning your board is not as difficult as you may think. You start with turning your shoulders, which, in return hips, making your ankles and feet also turn, and, finally, the snowboard turns too, along with your body.
As you master turning, the next things to focus on are balance and speed. Learning to move fast will make turning even easier. At higher speeds, the base of the board makes less contact with the snow, creating reduced resistance to turns. You’ll quickly notice that your board is following your moves much smoother. At this point, you should be ready to move to the larger hills and steeper slopes.
All this basic training shouldn’t take more than a week or two at the most. Everyone has their own pace, but this is the average time needed. All that’s left after this is perfecting your skill. Now it’s time to concentrate on increasing speed, mastering how you perform the turns and your balance. Like with any other skill, you learn as long as you live, but this point is where the real fun begins.
Mastering the Skiing Techniques
Opposite to the snowboarding training, for skiers, the hardest part is just beginning. After spending a couple of days learning the basics, it’s time to further build up the basic skills you’ve learned. The separation that was an advantage at the beginning now turns into an issue. You need to learn to move both legs in perfect sync. You’ll see that it’s not as easy as it may see when you watch skiing on TV and it takes a while to master.
This stage of learning to ski begins with learning the techniques that will get you through the first couple of days on the easy trails. The Pizza, aka the Snow Plow, is a technique where you position in a V-shape. Your heels and legs are pointing outwards, so the tips of the skis are together, and tails are apart. It’s important to learn not to cross the skis. This way you can balance the skis on their inside edges. This makes the skis plow through the snow and slow you down. The other technique you learn at this stage also has a delicious name. The French Fries, aka Straight Skis, implies keeping your skis parallel to each other. Using this technique, you’ll be getting down your first nursery slopes and get the feel for the speed.
Once you figured this out, you’re ready for the Basic Turn. It begins with the Snow Plow position. From there, you reposition your body so one ski is pointing outwards. This will enable you to make a turn in the opposite direction.
Learning the Snow Plow and turning usually takes more than a week. It may seem slow, but it’s important to properly learn how to do it and get your basics right. The good idea is to find some professional help and work with an experienced instructor. Once you get through it, you’re ready to hit red and blue slopes, and from there, things will get more interesting. You’ll get hooked in no time and enjoy challenging yourself and improving your skill.
Which One is Easier for the Children?
As we already explained, skiing is more similar to the way we naturally move. It’s aligned with our innate coordination and balance, On the other hand, the way our body is positioned while snowboarding may feel unnatural. For these reasons, the kids usually take up skiing at a younger age than snowboarding. A number of skiing schools have programs for children starting at the age of three. Of course, they won’t become master skiers that young, but it’s a great way to introduce them to the basics and get them interested in winter sports. But, from the age of 5 and upwards, they can already start taking proper classes. Starting so young with skiing is also helpful if they later decide to switch to snowboarding.
Until recently, most snowboarding schools didn’t accept children before the age of five. When you think about it, the majority of children you saw on the slopes were on skis. Lately, they’ve begun working with younger kids, even though the debate is still on if they’re still too undeveloped for snowboarding at that age. For long, snowboarding was considered bad for pre-school kids. It was said that it was bad for their bones, and had adverse effects on their knees and their hips. The truth is that there’s no medical evidence to support this.
The issue with small kids snowboarding rather lies elsewhere. As explained, the basic snowboarding training is often difficult to grasp even for grown-ups. The kid who still hasn’t fully developed motor skills, it’s even harder. However, with patience and a hands-on approach, children can overcome these limitations and learn the fundamentals of snowboarding. What helps is that due to the technological advancements, you can now purchase the snowboarding equipment intended for the kids. Most of the major manufacturers now have product lines designed specifically for children as young as 3.
All being said, it’s still recommended that you start off your kids hit skiing. If they want to keep it up, great. If not, it will certainly help them develop the fine motor skills needed for snowboarding.
Snowboarding vs Skiing – Practicality
The debate is skiing easier than snowboarding doesn’t only include the skill itself. We also talk about which is more comfortable -skiing or snowboarding, which equipment do you need, and hot to even get to the slopes.
When it comes to comfort, it’s not really much of a debate. The clear advantage is on the side of snowboarding. You’ve likely never had footwear as uncomfortable as ski boots. The snowboarding boots are softer, less tight around the ankles, easier to walk in, and way lighter. When you take into account you’ll often have to walk around town or ski resort in these boots, it’s clear that snowboarding is the decisive winner.
Skiers also need much more equipment. Besides boots, you also have two skis and two poles. A Snowboarder only has to think about his board and his boots. When not on the slopes, you can easily pick up the board and carry it. Carrying two long skis and two poles is awkward and can be a drag even for experienced skiers, especially if you have to move through the crowd of people. It’s also worth noting that skiing equipment is much more expensive.
We’ve listed practical advantages of snowboarding, but skiing also has some benefits. Skiers are in a much better position when faced with a flat spot on the mountain. They can “skate” with their skis or simply use their poles to push themselves forward, nordic skiing-style. They don’t have to take their skis off at any point. With snowboarding, things are not that simple. They can try to jump with both feet still strapped to the board and gain some momentum that way. Or, they have another option of unstrapping one foot and using it to push and propel themselves. This is not as simple as it sounds and more inexperienced snowboarders can have problems pushing.
To enjoy skiing or snowboarding, you first have to get to the top of the slope. And, to do that, you need to use a ski lift. No matter what type of lift you’re using -chair lift, drag lifts, or gondolas, using them is much more convenient for skiers. Getting on the chair lift requires simply sitting down at the start, and standing up at the end. This simple task is much more complicated for a snowboarder. They have to unstrap their back foot and then clip it back against at the top. When repeated several times during the day, this can be rather annoying. The matters are even worse with a drag lift. It often takes a couple of tries just to get on and start moving towards the top.
Which One is More Physically Demanding?
As you progress in mastering each sport, you’ll learn that at a higher level both of them are rather physically demanding. How successful you’re going to be as a skier or a snowboarder is a great deal dependent on what physical shape you’re in. Of the two, skiing is probably a little more challenging in this respect. Particularly if you’re still a beginner.
Skiing can be really demanding on thighs and legs. At the same time, good core strength is necessary to successfully practice snowboarding. This is because you’ll invest a lot of effort using your upper body to balance and make turns. Plus, as you learn to snowboard, you’ll often find yourself falling in the snow and spend a great deal of time just getting back up again. Also, snowboarding requires more energy to get through the flat spots you’ll run across while on the mountain. Still, progress in training and mastering either of the sports will result in less work and effort required. You’ll learn to use your body in the right way and with minimal load to your body and muscles.
While physically demanding, both sports are a great workout and a way to get in shape and burn some calories. They will also make your core and lower body muscles much stronger. As skiing and snowboarding demand constant dynamic movements, over time you’ll greatly improve your flexibility. This is especially true for snowboarding, as it involves more twisting and turning. Skiing, which requires more side-to-side pushing movement workers your glutes harder and may get them burning. In addition, while skiing, your hands are much more involved especially on the flat parts when you have to use them to propel yourself.
When it comes to injuries, both sports come with a certain risk, although proper training and caring about your safety will minimize those. Skiing will result in less falling than snowboarding, but it can lead to more serious injuries. Separated legs give you more chance to balance yourself and avoid fall. Nevertheless, skiing usually involves higher speeds son if you fall down, there’s a greater risk of getting injured. Besides, all twisting motions increase the injury risk, particularly to the knees. The most common snowboarding injuries involve ankles, wrists, and shoulders. The best way to minimize these potential risks is to get yourself fit and always use the proper equipment.
As you can see, there’s no clear answer to the question is skiing easier than snowboarding. While learning both sports is a challenge on its own, they do feature different learning curves. You can say that skiing is easier to begin while more difficult to master, while snowboarding is the other way around. However, this is not written in stone and still depends on your individual traits, preparedness, fitness, and willingness to learn. In the end, deciding which of these two sports to take on depends on personal preference.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from trying both and then deciding which one is right for you. But, be warned, you may easily fall in love with both of them. One thing is certain, though. Not matter which way you go, you’re in for a great time and will get addicted to the sport in no time. Before you know it, you’ll be anxiously awaiting to hit the slopes again and refine your skills even further.
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