The conversation of skiing vs. snowboarding has been around for decades now. There are those who love the idea of outdoor winter sports and activities who are wondering whether they should learn how to snowboard or how to ski… or maybe both. You can’t simply ask a skier which the best option is because they will tell you that it’s skiing. Similarly, you can’t ask a snowboarder because they will tell you that snowboarding is the superior option. You need to do some of your own research when making a decision, and the information below can help.
Most of the time, people who are trying to decide which of these they should learn will want to know what the differences are before making an investment. When it comes to skiing vs. snowboarding, there are some major differences that you need to be aware of before making a decision. Let’s look at those differences, as well as learn a bit more about the history of these snow sports, so you can get a better idea of which type of winter activity is right for you.
Table of Contents
- 1 Skiing Is Older than You Think
- 2 The Development of Snowboarding
- 3 It Is Easier to Ski or Snowboard?
- 4 Skiing Starts Out Easier
- 5 Snowboarding Becomes Easier Later
- 6 When Skiing Gets Harder
- 7 Skiing or Snowboarding for Physical Fitness?
- 8 Which is Best for Tricks?
- 9 Which Is Easier to Use on a Lift?
- 10 Tips for Staying Safe on Skis and Snowboards
- 11 What Does This Mean for You? Should You Ski or Snowboard?
Skiing Is Older than You Think
Skiing has been around for a lot longer than people realize. In fact, there are early examples of skis found in archeology date back to about 6000 BCE in what is now Russia. There is evidence that there were skis used in what we now know as China about 5,000 years ago, as well. The use of skis helped people to get around in the winter, and even to hunt during winter months, which would give them an advantage over their prey, as well as over other predators.
Of course, skiing as a recreational activity is still relatively new, having only been around since around the middle part of the 1800s. Today, countless millions of people enjoy skiing during the winter season, and there are Olympic competitions dedicated to skiing.
The Development of Snowboarding
Snowboarding is much newer. The genesis for what would become snowboards started in 1965 when an engineer named Sherman Poppen created a toy for his daughters. He fastened together two skis and added a rope that would give him some control over the device as the kids were coming down the hill on the board. It was popular with his kids and their friends, and he licensed the idea to a manufacturer called Brunswick Corporation. He dubbed it the “snurfer”, a combination of the words snow and surfing, and they ended up selling more than a million of them.
Over the years, the designs changed substantially until we had what we now know as snowboards. It was in the early 1980s when snowboarding truly became a sensation. Many snowboard competitions developed during the decade and many of these were televised, showing millions how fun snowboarding could be. The sport grew and it was added as a winter sport in the Olympics in 1998 at Nagano, Japan.
It Is Easier to Ski or Snowboard?
Naturally, those who have not done much in regard to skiing or boarding in the past are likely going to want to know which one is easiest when it comes to skiing vs. snowboarding. Most people will readily tell you that skiing tends to be the easiest to get the hang of when you are starting out, but it is also difficult to become a master. Snowboarding, on the other hand, has a larger learning curve in the beginning, but once you have the basics down, it is easier to become good at the sport.
Let’s look at a breakdown of what it’s like for people who are just starting out in the sports. This can give you a better idea of what it will be like when you are first learning.
Skiing Starts Out Easier
During the first few days of skiing, it really is going to be easier to learn than snowboarding, and there are a couple of main reasons for this. For starters, when you are skiing, each of your legs will still be able to move independently. When you are learning and going at low speeds, you can put out a leg when you start to fall, which can help you to keep your balance.
Compare this to snowboarding, where your feet are both attached to a single board. This tends to feel less natural, and it can take some time to get used to. Those who are learning how to snowboard are likely to fall quite a bit more when they are starting out. In fact, during the first three days or so, there are likely to be quite a few falls. Expect for this to happen, and do not become frustrated if it does.
In addition, the stance that is used for skiing is more natural. You are facing forward and looking ahead. You can see everything that is going on in front of you and around you with relative ease. The stance on the snowboard will feel more awkward at first since it is a side stance. It also means that you are likely to have less of an idea on what’s going on to your sides, and again, it takes time to get accustomed to this.
Snowboarding Becomes Easier Later
Once you are able to get past those main sticking points, though, you will find that learning the snowboarding basics starts to become much easier. After about a week or so of practice, snowboarders will learn that having their feet together on the single board is actually helpful to them. They do not have to worry about keeping their skis from crossing, as those who are skiing do.
Snowboarders will start to learn how to turn their board, which is easier than many think. When you turn your shoulders, the other parts of the body – hips, ankles, and feet – turn along with it, and the direction of the board will change. Once the rider starts to gain confidence in these types of turns, they will be able to move from the tiny hills to larger and larger hills and slopes. They will work on improving their balance and then increasing their speed. Increased speed can actually help to make the turning and control faster and easier.
The majority of the time, people will get the hang of snowboarding and will be able to ride downhill with confidence and make turns within a week or so. Of course, everyone will learn at their own pace.
When Skiing Gets Harder
The basics of skiing that were easier to grasp actually start to become harder to master. Even though it was nice to have those two legs separated when you are first starting out, it starts to become more of an issue. The more you learn about skiing the more you realize that you need to learn how to move both of your legs at the same time and in harmony with one another to achieve what you need. This takes time to get accustomed to and most will find that it takes even longer to really get “good” at skiing.
Of course, this is one of the reasons that people love to ski. They like the challenge, and they love that they can continue to learn new techniques and get better at skiing. Many will find that it is very satisfying to continue to improve like this.
Skiing or Snowboarding for Physical Fitness?
When deciding whether you want to learn how to snowboard or ski, you might also want to think about which one is the most physically demanding. To be honest, being fit is important if you want to ski or snowboard well. These activities are physically demanding, and they can be fantastic for physical fitness. They both have the potential to be tough on the body, too.
Whether you are skiing or snowboarding, you will find that it can take quite a physical toll. Even though you might be going downhill, that does not mean that you won’t be exerting yourself. Whenever you go over any bumps, your legs will be absorbing the impacts. When you are steering, you will be using the muscles in your lefts, as well as your abs. In fact, snowboarding is considered to be a great ab workout by many.
If you would like to get yourself into better shape even before you head out to ski or snowboard, it’s a good idea. In addition to simply getting in better shape in general, there are certain exercises that have been found to be helpful for improving at skiing and snowboarding.
Those who are interested in skiing and boarding might want to start cycling, which can help to improve the strength of the legs. Using weights and machines for leg exercises is a great idea, as well. In addition, it is important to make sure that you are strengthening the core. This is especially important when it comes to snowboarding. By strengthening the abs and the lower back, it will help to improve your fitness, and it will make it easier to balance.
Ultimately, being in better shape will help to prevent injuries and make you healthier overall. It’s a good idea to add fitness options in addition to just skiing and snowboarding.
Which is Best for Tricks?
Maybe you want to do more than just have a casual day out on the slopes. You might be looking for a way that you can eventually do some tricks and you might be wondering whether skis or a snowboard is the better option. The truth of the matter is that they tend to be equal in terms of the types of jumps and tricks that you might want to do.
Still, the methods of the tricks are somewhat different, and you will need to learn how to do them slowly and incrementally. You are not going to learn how to snowboard this week and be flipping through the air next week. It takes time, dedication, practice, and training. These are long-term goals.
Most people will not even want to get to the point where they are performing tricks, racing, or competing in any way. They just love getting out into the fresh air and enjoying the snow. Both of these activities can be a lot of fun, even if the only thing you learn is how to turn and stop.
Which Is Easier to Use on a Lift?
Another one of the questions many want to be answered in the debate of skiing vs. snowboarding is which one is easier when you are getting onto and off of a ski lift. Depending on the type of lift, there might not be any difference at all. The big difference will come with chairlifts and drag lifts.
The chairlifts, which were designed with skis in mind originally, are naturally easier for skiers. You can ski into the line, and it will pick you up and take you to the top of the mountain again. Getting on the chairlift is easy with a snowboard but getting off is hard. A trick to make it somewhat easier is to take your back foot out of the binding. The same is true when you are using a drag lift. This can make it very difficult when you are getting out of the lift, and even those who have boarded for a while can still have trouble getting off without falling or bumping into others.
Related: Snowboarding vs Skateboarding
Tips for Staying Safe on Skis and Snowboards
Both skiing and snowboarding are fun. However, you have to remember that you are going downhill, and you will generally be moving quickly, which means that it has the potential to be quite dangerous when you fall. Therefore, you want to make sure that you are being as safe as you possibly can be when you are out on the slopes.
First, you want to make sure that you are skilled enough that you can ride on the runs you are considering. Never overestimate your skill level. Start out slow and take the time you need to get better and more comfortable whether you are using skis or snowboards. It is also very important that you have all of the proper safety gear. Even though helmets might not be required at ski resorts and lodges, they are a very good item to have and to use. It can help to reduce the severity of injuries that you suffer in the event of a fall or a crash.
You should wear layers and be sure to steer clear of cotton. This helps to make it easier to keep your body temperature at a safe level. You do not want to be too hot or too cold. Wear quality gloves and goggles. Have sunglasses available when you are not using your goggles, as they will help to protect you from the glare of the sun and the snow. Be sure you use lip balm to avoid chapped lips and that you have sunscreen with you. It is easier than you think to get a sunburn in the winter since you are getting the sun from above, as well as the sun’s reflection from the snow.
You will also want to check the forecast and the ski conditions for the day. The weather up on the mountain can change quickly, so you will want to make sure you are always aware of the latest weather conditions. You don’t want to get out on the slopes when there is a blizzard starting. Along the same lines, you should check with the professionals at the ski resort to double check the weather and to ask about the daily avalanche bulletin.
Always make sure you are aware of your surroundings. Even though you might be paying attention and abiding by common sense safety rules, it does not mean that everyone is going to do the same. Keep an eye out for what others are doing, so you do not end up running into them, quite literally.
What Does This Mean for You? Should You Ski or Snowboard?
One of the great things about this question is that there is no real right answer. When it comes to skiing vs. snowboarding, there are differences, as you have seen. However, this doesn’t mean that one of these activities is better than the other. Both are great fun, and either of them or both of them could be activities that you want to learn.
Take some more time to think about what it is that you want to achieve when you are out on the slopes. Which of the activities sounds like it will be the most fun for you?
If you aren’t quite sure which one is right for you, and you do not want to go out and buy all of your snow gear right now, you may want to rent some equipment this winter and take some basic lessons for both skiing and snowboarding. Then, you will be able to make up your mind and purchase your snowboard or your skis depending on your decision.
Lindsey grew up on the snow in Colorado. Lindsey is an awesome snowboarder who loves exploring new places and riding. Lindsey’s favorite snow spots are Aspen, Mammoth, Park City, Vail, and Lake Tahoe.