Snowboarding vs Skiing: A Beginner’s Guide to Picking Your Winter Thrill
The Snowboarding vs Skiing debate feels like it has been around since the dawn of time. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that most ski lodges across the globe have been the host to a heated ski vs snowboard debate. It’s a conversation that has dominated mountain lifts for years and will make first-timers question just how much they really want to ski or snowboard while experiencing the snow for the very first time.
While you may have fallen victim to such a heated discussion, the good news is that no matter how passionate one may feel about skiing or snowboarding, the decision you make on your first time doesn’t have to be the one you stay with forever. However, you want your first time tackling a snowy mountain to be one filled with fun, excitement, and confidence that you made the right choice. To help you with this, we’ve put together a guide that includes all the best (and worst) parts of skiing and snowboarding so that your first trip up the mountain is an enjoyable one!
Are the two really that different?
Yes, and it will only take trying to get off a ski lift for your first time on the mountain to figure that one out. Everything from equipment down to the nuanced subcultures that both skiing and snowboarding entail makes for a different experience on the mountain. So, when deciding on which is right for you when it comes to skiing vs snowboarding, be sure to consider the below.
So, what is Snowboarding?
Snowboarding involves the rider strapping onto their board, standing on the board with two feet and sending it one foot forward down the mountain. If you’re left foot forward, you are regarded as being in a “regular” stance, however, if you’re right foot forward, you are regarded as being in a “goofy” stance. It’s important to note that the goal of snowboarding isn’t to “slide” on the snow but to carve the snow – in a similar fashion to a surfer digging into the wave.
Snowboarding is undoubtedly the king of coolness on the mountain; the subculture of snowboarding is all about maximum style with minimum effort. It’s less about being the best and all about being creative. This falls in line with the uniqueness of board art and the selection of customisation options for your gear.
It is far easier to feel like you are “mastering” snowboarding than it is with skiing. Where skiing has a greater nuance to master the finer skills and micro-movements, snowboarding can take a while to feel like you are getting the hang of it, but once you do, you can immediately build confidence by stretching your limits.
It is far harder to pick up than skiing. The difficulty curve can feel like a real challenge in the early stages of learning, and for many, this can deter them from ever picking up a snowboard again. We don’t say this to push you away from snowboarding but as a warning that it can be very difficult in the early stages to feel like you’re making progress.
There is a heavy reliance on balance and centre of gravity. This catches many newcomers off guard on their first trek down a mountain whilst snowboarding; balance is everything. This comes into play when recognising how to lean into the mountain in order to carve the snow rather than simply “gliding” along.
And what is skiing?
Skiing involves a rider strapping into two separate skis (one for each leg” and using ski poles to propel themselves down the mountain. Skis are designed to carve snow, with the ski poles used as a counterweight of balance and direction. In the early stages of learning, you quickly pick up the skill of turning your skis inward to slow down and opening them up parallel to one another to increase speed.
If you’re wondering, “What’s harder, snowboarding or skiing?” it is safe to say that skiing is far easier to pick up in the early stages of learning than snowboarding. Because of this, your confidence in your ability skyrockets and you will feel much more comfortable pushing yourself, increasing your speed and the difficulty of your run. It’s not to say it is an easy sport, but skiing very much guides you along in the early stages of learning.
Ski poles do provide a greater sense of stability and balance. Unlike snowboarding, which is solely reliant on your core and balance to stay up, ski poles provide the skier with enough help to not feel overwhelmed by maintaining balance through the poles as well as your core. The end result is a balanced experience in the early stages of learning that allows the skier to feel comfortable being propped up to ski without ever feeling too lost for control.
Skiing is a difficult sport to master, and we aren’t talking about becoming a pro-level skier. Moving into the intermediate territory of skiing can be challenging, and the difficulty curve is almost the opposite of snowboarding, where the further you try to push yourself, the more you need to learn. The nature of skiing involves various micro-movements and technical habits that it is key for the early stages of learning to be done correctly in order to progress.
There isn’t a great deal of personality or flair when it comes to skiing. This is not to say there is no skill or beauty in skiing, but when put alongside snowboarding, there is a level of creativity that is missing in skiing.
So, which is faster to learn: skiing or snowboarding?
Wondering how long it takes to learn and master skiing or snowboarding? It’s often said that skiing may be easier at first, however snowboarding, once you’ve got the hang of it, is quicker to master. So, for those only planning on spending a day on the slopes here and there, skiing may be a faster, more comfortable choice to pick up quickly. For those, however, who have more time up their sleeves, snowboarding may be more your thing.
The reason snowboarding often has a steeper learning curve at the start is that you are strapped into a board, which requires balance and learning how to move it whilst controlling the right speed. As skiing allows your legs to independently move, skiers often find it easier to stay up and feel a greater level of stability… which, you guessed it, results in fewer falls.
Is the snow gear different?
Very much so, for snowboarding, you need to look at specific snowboard boots that can fit into bindings made specifically for snowboards. For skiing, it’s similar; there are also boots and bindings that are specific to skis only. When skiing, you also have the additional need for ski poles. Really, the only items that you can use across both sports are your snow jackets, pants and goggles, which will help keep you at the right temperature and fully prepared for a full day on the slopes!
Most importantly, of course, it is vital to make sure that regardless of the sport you choose, safety comes first; this means that helmets are highly encouraged for first-time skiers and boarders. As well as this, making sure you are rugged up with snowproof clothing and fitted with proper equipment that is in good condition is integral.
So, which snow sport wins in the end?
Well, it depends on who you ask, which is why we don’t see the snowboard vs ski debate ending any time soon. So, how do you know what the right choice is for you? In our opinion, pick a sport that you feel the most comfortable to learn and grow in, but above all else, one that you enjoy and matches the time commitment you’re willing to put into it to see your skills expand and grow. Regardless of whether you decide to ski or snowboard, remember the two are made to be enjoyed, and it’s never too late to switch or give the other one a go!
If trying something new is on the cards for your next snow trip, be sure to book a ski lesson or snowboarding lesson that is aimed at beginners. This will give you a true taste of how you adjust to the sport and, with expert tips and guidance, will likely help you quickly pick it up.
If you are planning on your next ski trip up to the Snowy Mountains, why not stay at Eiger Chalet? Home to the renowned White Spider Restaurant and boasting 360 degrees of panoramic snow-capped views, it is a winter treat you won’t want to miss.