I must say, I’m a fan of both skiing and snowboarding. They both offer unique (and exhilarating) experiences that are unlike any other snowsports out there.
With that said, while both take place in the snow — usually on a slope somewhere — they couldn’t be more different. For one, skiing is generally easy to start and learn, but much more difficult to master. For beginners, the technique can be broken down into a modular approach, but mastering the sport demands constant technical refining.
On the other hand, snowboarding is a bit more difficult for beginners due to the fact that they need to get on their heel and toe edges. However, once you’ve gotten this part down, you can quickly become an advanced snowboarder, especially if you have the drive to do so.
Let’s explore some other differences between the two sports below to help you figure out which one is right for you:
The Key Differences Between Skiing & Snowboarding
As I mentioned above, skiing is much easier than snowboarding to start and get the hang of. This is mainly due to the fact that skiing is more instinctual for novices. Here’s 2 reasons why:
Because your legs are always separated when skiing, at lower speeds you’re able to throw one of your legs out if/when you start to fall in order to regain your balance. With snowboarding, your feet are stationary and attached to the board itself.
This can make getting on a snowboard for the first time a bit awkward and limiting; causing you to need more time to get used to it. Additionally, if you begin to fall on a snowboard, you probably won’t be able to regain your balance and will take the hit inevitably.
The Body Position
In terms of body positioning while skiing, your going to be using a straight-on, straightforward stance. You’ll have total peripheral vision at all times and be able to see precisely where you’re going along with every object and person that might be in front of you.
With snowboarding, you’re going to have a side-on stance, causing you to have less peripheral vision (around 50%). This is going to take you time to get used to, as you won’t be able to see much of what’s in front of you when you’re cruising down the slope.
Two Different Learning Curves
Learning to Snowboard
As soon as you’ve overcome the obstacles that many beginner snowboarders face (falling, losing balance, awkward positioning, etc.) you’ll be on the road to becoming advanced, and this should happen pretty quickly.
You’ll soon notice that while the attachment of your feet to the snowboard might have felt uncomfortable at first, it is now an advantage over skiing. After all, many skiers find that keeping their skis apart, avoiding crossing them (which is a common issue), to be difficult.
After beginners learn the basics of making a turn — which is typically done using a monoski (a single wide ski) — the next step is to work on improving their balance and increasing their speed. Once you increase your speed, turning on a snowboard becomes much easier, as there’s less contact between the snow and the base of the board itself. This minimizes the resistance when you’re making a turn.
In about a week or so, beginners should be able to ride down hill and make basic turns on a snowboard. The rest of your time will be spent perfecting turns, increasing your speed, and, finally, taking your snowboard and hitting the slopes.
Learning to Ski
Once novice skiers have reached day two or three of skiing, the bulk of their time will be spent learning the basics. However, this process can take significantly longer than it does for snowboarding.
While it might be seen as a benefit to have two individual skis on two separate legs, this can quickly start to present issues, as you may find moving both of your legs in sync isn’t as easy as professional skiers make it seem.
Nonetheless, novice skiers will almost always begin the learning process with the snow plow position. This is where the skis are in a V shape, and is one of the most stable skiing positions. In fact, the position can allow you to break if need be.
Then, skiers will usually try to ski on a small slope to get them acclimated to traveling straight down with some speed. Finally, the skier will be reintroduced to the snowplow position with the snowplow turn. This allows you to position one ski outward, so you can complete a turn in the opposite direction.
It goes without saying, but being successful at skiing or snowboarding will rely heavily on the physical shape you’re in. Generally, skiing can be slightly more physically demanding, especially on the thighs and legs. Snowboarding, on the other hand, usually demands core strength, as you’ll be using your upper body more to balance and turn on the board.
You can use the exercises below to help you prepare your body for both snowsports:
When it comes to snowboarding exercises, anything that works your lower back and abdominal muscles are ideal. These exercises will help you prevent injuries and increase your balance while riding.
There are a variety of exercises you can try to strengthen your core muscles, including pilates and crunches. However, if you want something a bit more intense, I recommend trying paddle boarding.
It’s important to understand that with snowboarding comes falls. As a novice, you’re likely to take a spill more often, and these falls can be pretty hard on the body. This is why ensuring your body is in good physical shape is so crucial.
As mentioned before, skiing can be pretty demanding on the legs and thighs. With this in mind, you should look for exercises and activities that focus on strengthening your leg muscles such as cycling.
One good thing about cycling, beyond offering a fantastic workout for your legs, is the fact that the impact on your joints and knees is significantly lower than what you would expect from other leg exercises such as running.