The last of the leaves have fallen, and the wind is getting that nice, icy chill. As the holidays are getting enticingly closer and closer, you may be thinking of getting into a new hobby. Perhaps a winter sport? And why not? It’s great for your health and it’s also a lot of fun!
When thinking about winter sports, there are two that reign supreme: skiing and snowboarding. Both are almost similar, yet at odds with each other.
Indeed, the skiing vs snowboarding debate is an argument that has been here for a long time. If you’re a newbie in both sports, how do you choose?
First, let’s look at the key differences between skiing and snowboarding.
- 1 What is Skiing?
- 2 What is Snowboarding?
- 3 Skiing vs. Snowboarding: Which is Easier
- 4 Other Things to Consider
- 5 Some Final Words
What is Skiing?
Skiing is the act of gliding on snow using skis. While we think of it mostly as a sport, skiing has been the primary method of moving through snow throughout history.
In fact, the first depiction of skiing the way we do it today (with two poles), dates back to 1741.
Learning How to Ski
While the experts may make it look easy, learning how to ski can be a challenge. Here are a few steps to get you out on the snow.
- Put on Your Skis
Before you can put on your skis, you will have to figure out how to get them apart.
When you get them, your skis will be locked together using snow brakes. This is to make the skis easier to carry, and to protect you from detaching from your boots.
To unlock your skis, set them upright, and gently shake off the ski with the break on the outside.
When stepping onto your skis, make sure that it is firmly attached to your boots. You will hear a lever click into place when done right. Clicking on this lever will release your boots.
- How to Stand
The correct default stance for skiing is creating a V-shape with your skis. This is to give your stance a larger center of gravity.
To move, slightly bend your knees and hold the poles to your sides while keeping your arms to your sides.
- How to Stop
Stopping on skis is pretty easy; all you need to do is to turn your toes toward each other, widening the space between your skis at the back. The wider this gap, the slower you will go.
This method is also useful if you want to slow down, rather than stop completely. Don’t overlap your skis, though, or else you’ll fall over.
- Parallel Turns
Moving in skis is pretty straightforward; just point your skis in the direction where you want to go. This isn’t always as simple as it sounds, however.
Parallel turns are a faster way of turning, but require you to master distributing your weight. This means you have to push the outside of your skis away from your body while putting your weight on the direction you want to go.
While this is happening, you will also need to turn both feet in the correct direction.
What is Snowboarding?
Unlike skiing, which could refer to a way to move around in the snow, snowboarding is defined as a recreational activity and a sport.
It takes its roots from skateboarding, sledding, surfing, and skiing. While skiing has been with us since the 18th century, the snowboard was invented in 1965.
How to Snowboard
Snowboarding is a very cool sport to learn. While learning it can be harder compared to skiing, with enough practice, you’ll be out in the snow in no time.
- Your Forward Foot
Unlike skiing, you have both your feet bound together. Therefore, you’ll need to figure out which foot you’re supposed to put forward. This foot is also called the forward foot.
To determine your forward foot, think about the foot you put forward when in a fighting stance.
If you really want to make sure, get a friend to push you from behind; the foot you use to break your fall is your dominate (or forward) foot.
- How to Walk
Before learning how to snowboard, you’ll first have to learn how to walk with them. While it may feel awkward, you’re going to have to do it often, from unmounting lifts to walking up hills.
To walk in a snowboard, you’re going to have to unstrap one foot, and use your free foot to shift yourself forward while sliding with the other – just like you would on a skateboard.
Your stance should be relaxed and balanced, with your feet wider than your shoulders for a balanced center of gravity.
To practice balancing, hold out your hands parallel to your skiing surface, or rest them on your fronting knee.
Practice looking in the direction where you want to go. It takes a bit of practice, but looking in the direction you’d like to travel is crucial for steering.
- How to Move
Moving requires you to gain momentum by pushing off with one foot and then leaning forward on your board, just like on a skateboard.
While it may seem scary at first, the more momentum you have, the easier it will be to maneuver your board.
Here’s a video showing some tips on snowboarding for beginners.
Skiing vs. Snowboarding: Which is Easier
If you’re a complete beginner, the first thing you may want to consider is the difficulty level for each sport.
Off the bat, skiing requires less energy and generally takes less of a toll on the body. However, it should be noted that both skiing and snowboarding are demanding sports; each requires a good level of fitness to learn and master.
Fitness Levels Required
For both sports, you will need to have a good work-out routine so that your muscles won’t feel like spaghetti immediately after. However, less preparation is needed for skiing.
Skiing takes a toll on the feet, the legs, and the arms. For snowboarding, this is also true, with the added toll on your core muscles. You will also fall more often with a snowboard, which means far sorer muscle.
If you’re on the younger side or want something challenging, and don’t mind a lot of sore muscles as you go home from your trip, then snowboarding is for you.
If you’re not the most athletic type, or if you just want a relaxing vacation out on the snow, then skiing may be more up your alley.
How Quickly Can You Pick It Up?
Probably the most important thing you have to consider is the learning curve. The biggest question then is: Is skiing or snowboarding easier to learn?
Off the bat, skiing is much easier to learn. It’s more intuitive than snowboarding since you still have control over both feet.
Snowboarding is less intuitive since you have both feet bound. You also don’t get the balance and momentum that poles provide. As a matter of fact, your first few skiing lessons can teach you enough to get you going on beginner slopes.
On the other hand, you may need to take a few trips to the hills before you can learn to snowboard at the same level. Because of this, snowboarding for beginners can be a frustrating experience.
However, snowboarding is an easier sport to master. While it is easy to learn the basics of skiing, you will be stuck at that level for a long time. Mastering skis will take a much longer time than it would take to master a snowboard.
While the learning curve of snowboarding is steeper, mastering it is just around the corner once you have learned to do it well. In this way, snowboarding is an all or nothing type of sport.
This is the allure; while you could learn skiing quickly, it’s disappointing to feel stagnant for a long time. Snowboarding, on the other hand, promises pay-off – and a huge one at that.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that one is better than the other. As someone choosing between the two sports, think about the amount of time that you want to dedicate to your chosen sport.
Do you want a casual activity, something fun for the holidays? Or do you want to really apply yourself to your new skill, dedicating time and effort to mastering it?
If you chose the first, skiing may be more up your alley. After all, there’s nothing wrong with something new and fun on your winter trip. If the challenge allures you, however, snowboarding is the sport for you.
Here’s a video explaining more on which sport is harder to learn.
Other Things to Consider
Other than the difficulty of learning it, however, there are a few other things to consider before you choose one sport over the other.
More Ski Resorts Than Snowboarding Parks
If you choose to snowboard, you may be disappointed by the fact that there are more places for skiers than snowboarders.
When you think about it, it’s mostly business. Because it’s easier to pick up, there are more people who take up skiing, and so there are more places that cater to skiers. (There is also stigma surrounding snowboarders affecting this phenomenon, which we’ll talk more about in a bit).
While there are locations that cater to both skiers and snowboarders, there are more locations that allow just skiing than those that allow just snowboarding.
If you want to learn how to snowboard, you may have to go out of your way to find a snowboarding park. If you’re going with family, chances are you’ll also have to compromise as well. Most would rather ski than snowboard, so if your ski resort doesn’t cater to snowboarding, you’ll have to change your plans.
Snowboarders Are ‘Annoying’
There’s this stigma around snowboarders that say they’re annoying. They cut people off on the slopes, they aren’t polite, they push all the snow off the tracks, and many other things.
As with any stereotype, these claims don’t hold water. Talk to any skier or snowboarder, and they’ll tell you that most of the snowboarders they know behave no worse than skiers do. However, the stigma still remains.
And as with most stereotypes, this can be explained by looking at history. While skiing has been here since practically the beginning of time, snowboarding has not.
During its infancy stages, you would have seen snowboarders trying out the new sport. Most of these would have been teens in what is probably clothing not suitable for cold weather, trying out an entirely new sport – an experiment of sorts.
In the background are skiers, most likely older folks during their winter vacation.
This age gap could explain the stigma surrounding snowboarders today. While the gap is pretty much non-existent now (the sport has been around for decades; most snowboarders today aren’t exactly teens), the stereotype of irresponsible teens still remains.
While skiers and snowboarders can (and should) get along on the slopes, you may come across the effects of this bias.
However, if you do find yourself in the company that judges you, whether you’re in the skiing or the snowboarding camp, perhaps it’s best to move along and find a group with nicer, more respectful people.
Finally, you can’t choose a sport that you can’t afford. Both skiing and snowboarding are expensive hobbies in their own right.
There’s a lot of stuff you need to pay for, like the cost of going to the park or resort, the lift ticket, lessons, and, of course, the equipment.
Compared to snowboarding, skiing equipment is more expensive. Most agree that it’s because there’s one more board to manufacture and that there is a greater demand for skiing equipment.
Whatever sport you decide to take up, though, there are still ways to save money.
Some Final Words
While the debate between skiing and snowboarding isn’t going to stop anytime soon, choosing your sport doesn’t have to be that big of a deal.
It all boils down to the experience that you want to have and how much you’re willing to spend on it, both in terms of money and energy.
So, whether you pick a ski or a snowboard, remember to be nice, courteous, and, most importantly, remember to have fun.
What do you prefer? Skiing or snowboarding?