Skateboarders and snowboarders will tell you that they have little in common, but their sports are quite similar in many ways. In fact, knowing one can help you learn the other easier. They also have similar balance and basic riding skills, although the learning curve might be a bit different.
Many riders enjoy both sports, and some have even used one to learn the other. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of being able to snowboard regularly, so skateboarding is naturally more popular. If you’ve been curious about how similar these sports are, you’re in the right place. This guide will delve into the various aspects of each sport, including what they have in common and what’s different, as well as what you can expect as a newbie to either sport.
There are some pros and cons to each, and they both have their place, but they are definitely not the same. Whether you’re interested specifically in one or the other or you’re just trying to figure out where to start, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Read on to learn the facts about snowboarding vs. skateboarding once and for all.
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Is Snowboarding Harder Than Skateboarding?
The biggest question most people have is about the difficulty of skateboarding and snowboarding, respectively. The short answer is that it’s different for everyone. Some people may find that snowboarding is more challenging because their feet are locked in place. Others may find that skateboards are more difficult to control. It’s a matter of personal preference as well as what you end up being most skilled at.
Some people find them equally challenging, or equally enjoyable. One reason that people often cite skateboarding as being more challenging than snowboarding is because of the concrete—the snow and board are much more forgiving than the wheels of a skateboard on concrete or other hard surfaces—most people can learn basic snowboarding skills within a day, while skateboarding will typically take a lot more practice.
Typically, skateboarding is the one that presents the harder learning curve for first-timers. It requires control of the board and wheels, as well as regular interaction with concrete, hard surfaces, and bumps and cracks. Snowboarding is done on snow, which is much more forgiving, and controlling the board without wheels is a bit easier to catch onto.
Ultimately, skateboarding is harder to learn than snowboarding because the risks and consequences are greater on wheels than they are with a board on the powder. It may also take longer to learn tricks and board control, but again this comes down largely to personal ability and skill.
Is Snowboarding Like Skateboarding?
Snowboarding and skateboarding are similar in several ways. Although there are many differences, here’s a basic rundown of how they compare.
- General skills transfer for balance, stance, rails, and ramps, and carving tricks
- Similar tricks, as many snowboard tricks are the same as or inspired by skateboard tricks
- Similar basic riding skills aside from preferred stopping methods
- Similar balance and stance, especially with a longboard, except for snowboard bindings
The common “surf stance” is why most people want to assimilate the two sports. Any board sports, including surfing, use this sideways stance with a forward-facing body position. Balancing is also quite different because your feet are strapped to the snowboard, whereas they’re free moving on a skateboard, which means you may lose your balance more frequently when learning the latter.
The body motions are similar even if the riding styles are slightly varied, and even the stopping motion of a snowboard is similar to powersliding, so skateboarders already know this one if they’ve been on the board for a while. The “goofy” style adopted by many street skaters has even seen its transition into the snowboarding scene, creating a new type of boarder and broadening the sport for those who aren’t necessarily in it for the technical gains.
Put simply, snowboarding is kind of “like” skateboarding, but they do require slightly different skill sets in the end.
Can You Use a Skateboard for Snowboarding?
While you could take the wheels off of a skateboard and use it for snowboarding, it really wouldn’t be that effective. Even with a longboard, a standard snowboard is typically at least a couple of feet longer, and therefore you’ll only get a sense of what it’s like and may not have the skills to control the longer board until you get on one. Plus, snowboarding requires your feet to be secured to the board, so if you’re trying it out with a skateboard, again you’re not getting the full experience.
It might be a fun way to play around or test the waters, but using a skateboard is best left for the streets or the skatepark. Snowboards are easy to come by and even if you’re just getting started or taking lessons, you can rent them until you’re ready to make a purchase. Either way, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right equipment for the sport if you’re going to enjoy it properly.
Another consideration here is that a skateboard deck is typically much thicker than a snowboard deck, and it’s usually made of wood. Snowboards are sometimes made from wood, but they’re also made from composites, resin, and other materials. They’re thinner and designed to be more flexible since there are no wheels and the board itself has to bend and give to ride correctly.
Snowboarding with a skateboard is about as effective as sledding on a piece of plywood—it works, but it certainly doesn’t give you the same experience as having the equipment that’s designed for riding the snow.
Does Skateboarding Help with Snowboarding?
As we’ve mentioned, there are some ways that skateboarding can help people learn to snowboard, and vice versa. Since the sports share similar styles and skills in many regards, it’s generally fairly easy to transition from one to the other. Plus, if you’ve already mastered the concrete, you’ll find a lot less pain and potential damage in snowboarding.
The biggest adjustment is usually the board size, lack of wheels, and the lack of foot movement since you’re strapped to the snowboard. Some people struggle to make the transition because they are so accustomed to the skills of one sport or the other. For example, some skateboarders just can’t get the hang of having their feet strapped in. Some snowboarders constantly feel wobbly and out of control on wheels.
Skateboarding can help with snowboarding in the sense that it’s more accessible. People who may only be able to hit the slopes a few times a year can practice their board skills or try their hand at skateboarding as a way to get the same type of enjoyment without the big investment of time or money. Unless you live in the mountains, snowboarding generally requires a “trip” of some kind. Skateboarding just requires a board and a road, sidewalk, patio, hardwood floor, or other hard surface, so it really can be done anywhere.
There are a lot of comparisons and contrasts, but there’s also a huge element of personal preference, style, and ability involved. No two people are the same, so naturally, everyone is going to have a different experience. If you’re new to these sports, you should keep this information in mind but also keep an open mind because your own experience might be different than what you’re reading here. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Skateboard vs. Snowboard: A Hard and Cold Comparison
Now that we’ve discussed a variety of different aspects of skateboarding and snowboarding, let’s break down the cold, hard facts.
- Sport: The two sports are very similar, sharing many tricks and fundamental skills. They’ve adopted each other’s styles and many professionals engage in both sports as a way to diversify their enjoyment and their abilities.
- Skill: The skills for each are a bit different when it comes to balance and control. It’s typically more difficult to balance and control a skateboard on hard surfaces than a snowboard on fresh powder. Again, though, this is all a matter of personal ability and preference so it may be different for everyone.
- Learning Curve: Snowboarding can be learned (basically) in a day or so. Skateboarding could take months to develop to enjoy fully. Thus, the former typically tends to be more popular for those who want a shorter learning curve.
- Accessibility: Skateboarding can be done anywhere, really, and boards aren’t hard to come by. Snowboarding requires snow, hills or mountains, and a much bigger equipment investment.
- Cost: Skateboarding is much cheaper than snowboarding, which also has added costs like the lift ticket, traveling to the snowboarding mountain, and other expenses.
- Difficulty Overall: Overall, the general difficulty of these two sports will depend on your skill level and ability. Some people feel that skateboarding is easier because they have wheels and foot freedom, while others like the ease of gliding through the snow.
The bottom line? These sports are very complementary, and a lot of people will cross-train by engaging in both. Skateboarding and longboarding are usually available year-round, offering an affordable alternative during the off-season for snowboarding. Skateboarding may be a bit more challenging or risky with its potential hazards, but both can be enjoyable for their own reasons.
More importantly, anyone who wants to learn these sports can do so, as long as they put their mind to it. Even if you think that you’re not that good at balance or that you won’t be any good strapped to a board, you should give them a try and see which one you like best. Don’t give up if you don’t catch on right away. Ask fellow riders for tips and pointers—and if you want the easier path, learn snowboarding first. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to have a great time once you get the hang of it!