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Snowboarding and Skiing: Which Is Easier To Learn?

Winter sports have long held my interest. If you are like me and you grew up in an area without snow, then you are no doubt mystified by it.

Winter sports always seemed out of reach, and this only further fueled my obsession. For someone that hasn’t grown up around snow, nothing is more elusive than winter sports.

As a beginner, I didn’t want to be discouraged or bogged down by a complicated start-up. This is why I gravitated toward two sports: snowboarding and skiing. All that was left for me to do was find out which one was easier to get into.

If you ever wondered which winter sport was more beginner friendly then read on. I will be getting into the specifics of each sport and what they demand of you, and just how demanding they are. By the time I was ready to hit the slopes, I had chosen skiing, and here is why.

Learning To Ski: A Soft Start but Hard Middle.

Through my nascent beginnings in the world of winter sports, I found skiing to be far easier to learn than snowboarding. The reasons can be boiled down into two main parts. The first was that any sport that doesn’t take place on flat ground is going to have a learning curve.

This is because the entire body has to recalibrate to the steeper slopes. Any winter sport requires balance, and it is far easier to gain your balance in skiing than it is in snowboarding.

This is because when skiing, you have a straight on stance. You aren’t looking at the world from a side view angle like in snowboarding.

When skiing, your legs remain separated. You get to move one ski across the snow at a time. Every skier knows that this is the primary reason why it is so easy to stay upright.

It is not just a matter of personal preference, being able to move one leg at a time gets you going within the first week.

snowboard vs ski

Skiing: The Good and the Bad

Pros

  • Two skis, one for both feet, means that the beginner stage is much more forgiving.
  • In most cases, beginners won’t feel awkward, thanks to the forward-facing stance.
  • Easier to get moving down the piste when at a beginner level.
  • A snowboarder has to sit down to attach and remove their equipment, a good skier does not.
  • One session (even on beginner slopes) is equivalent to one session of general leg strengthening exercises.
  • Ski gear such as ski poles provides a beginner skier with additional support.

Cons

  • Skiing is an extremely technical sport that will take several years to master.
  • You have to be in good physical shape in order to handle the more technical aspects of the sport.
  • New skiers tend to have difficulty coming to a halt. You have to angle your skis sideways, one foot at a time.
  • Hauling around two poles can be cumbersome.
  • Skis are not comfortable footwear.
snowboard vs ski

Learning to Snowboard: First Frustrating Then Liberating

Snowboarding is about patience as much as it is about the snow. Beginners find great difficulty in properly controlling their toe edges and constantly being on the back foot.

This great strain to maintain yourself upright results in aching legs but improved core strength.

Boarders tend to fall over because there are no separate skis here. A snowboard partially merges both legs together and forces you to learn this new way of transport.

Not to mention that a snowboarder will have to rely on their peripheral vision.

Even at low speeds, total peripheral vision is all you get to use in order to navigate down the slopes. Snowboarding can be great fun, but for that first week, beginners can expect to fall over repeatedly.

snowboard vs ski

Snowboarding: The Good and the Bad

Pros

  • Injuries are less common due to both feet staying together. A fall when skiing can see both feet tangled up, which raises the risk of potential injuries.
  • No extra gear to hold you down. Just your board, boots, and clothes like protective shorts.
  • Once beginners have the basics down, it becomes easier to improve their boarding skills.
  • Boots are more comfortable than ski footwear.
  • Easier to come to a standstill for a snowboarder than for a skier.

Cons

  • Harsh weather conditions could mean less peripheral vision, putting you in danger.
  • Overall fitness is required in order for you to handle any fall properly.
  • Injuries to the upper body are common.
  • Walking around requires you to remove your snowboard.
  • Snowboarding is much more demanding on your abdominal muscles.
  • The beginning is harder to master than when learning to ski.
snowboard vs ski

Ski Poles or Snowboards? Which One Is More Comfortable?

Skiing vs. snowboarding, in the war of comfort, snowboarding is by far the more comfortable sport. While it is true that a snowboarder has to sit down in order to remove their snowboard, once they do, walking around is a pleasant experience.

On the other hand, skiers typically leave their skis on as they traverse the ski area. This is an incredibly unpleasant experience because ski footwear is stiff and restricting.

Walking around on skis is like walking around with two casts on either foot.

Both skiers and snowboarders can agree that wearing a pair of skis is not fun. As we discussed earlier, keep in mind that your overall fitness plays a big part in your comfort level when skiing or snowboarding.

Is It Easier To Use Ski Lifts on Ski Boots or a Snowboard?

Snowboarders will have greater difficulty in getting off a ski lift than skiers. Of course, whether skiing or snowboarding, it will take some time to acclimate to your new footwear. But nothing beats being able to move each leg independently from the other.

Freeride Snowboards have to hop off the ski lift and retain their balance upon landing. This is not an easy feat, even if you are landing on a smooth piste.

What Is off Piste? / What Is on Piste?

A piste is a marked ski route. Think of it like a road that has been paved onto the slopes in order for skiers and snowboarders to have a smooth and safe predetermined path to ski or snowboard down.

When you are off-piste, that means that you are skiing or snowboarding off of a predetermined trail. To snowboard off-piste is to put yourself in danger. A piste assures skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts that they won’t cause an avalanche or fall into a pit that has been covered by snow.

The couple of times that I went off-piste ended in a collision. This is because I skied over a thick branch that had been partially covered by snow. My skis got jammed, and I slammed face-first into the snow.

Long-time skiers know how painful this is, and even if I had been on a snowboard, the result would have been the same. Staying on the piste would have prevented both of these painful accidents.

Although, when you are on the piste, be careful not to run into any skiers or anyone snowboarding. Most snowboarding collisions occur because one person snowboarding wasn’t paying attention, and they ran into another individual—something to look out for.

Which Is More Fun: Skiing or Snowboarding?

The bottom line is that both skiing and snowboarding are a lot of fun. The reason why I choose to ski instead of snowboard is that I felt like it would have taken me far too long to learn to stay upright on a snowboard.

Whenever I go skiing, it feels like I am flying. Time truly slows down, and that combined rush of not having control of your environment and quickly blazing past it is one of a kind.

In the beginning, skiing is definitely more fun, but once you begin to move into the territory of intermediate skill level, this excitement dies down. It is a sport that is hard to master but easy to learn.

Snowboarding, on the other hand, is a very miserable experience at the start. When you first snowboard, you are constantly tumbling and feeling powerless. I couldn’t stand feeling like a statue. Not being able to control my body like I was able to with skis on.

However, as you acclimate to the snowboard and begin to comb down a fresh piste, the feeling is as smooth as silk. Personally, I prefer to ski, but snowboarding is a satisfying experience.

ski vs snowborading

Final Thoughts: Should I Ski or Snowboard?

When deciding whether to ski or snowboard, focus on your own personality first. Keep in mind how much time you want to spend learning the basics. As well as how much time you are willing to dedicate in order to move past the beginning stage.

Questions To Ask Yourself

Are You Easily Frustrated With Difficult Tasks?

If yes, then first try skiing but if you are mentally resilient, then definitely have a go at snowboarding.

As I have mentioned before, I chose to ski first because I wanted to hit the ground running instead of just plain hitting the ground.

Do You Have Bad Eyesight or Spatial Awareness?

If your spatial awareness is bad, then stay away from snowboarding. It is a fast and dangerous sport that requires constant vigilance. More so than skiing due to the sideways stance that you have to adapt.

Do You Like a Challenge at the Very Start of Your Experience?

Snowboarding is the perfect activity for you if this is the case. From the onset, you will be battling and using your muscles to keep yourself from falling.

Do You Wish To Spend Years Mastering Your Craft?

Everything in life takes years to master, but skiing is unique because you can learn it quickly. This sense of progress will provide you with the momentum needed to dive further into its challenging but rewarding qualities.

Don’t forget to have fun. While it is great to overcome a challenge, learning ability is enhanced when you are having fun while being consistently tested.

Categories: Snowboarding

Adrian Salazar

My name is Adrian Salazar and I have been wrapped up in the world of water and other extreme sports since the first time I went kayaking. When I’m not working hard trying to deliver the best writing that I can, I am usually out on a lake or hiking up a mountain. My world is completely dominated by writing and the mix of adrenaline and peace of mind that can be achieved while engaging in new sports. I will use my knowledge, experience, and mistakes, to inform you about the best ways that you can become a part of the world of extreme sports. You can count on me to give you my informed and unbiased opinion about any sporting equipment you may need. I know from personal experience that extreme sports are something that you need to head into completely and accurately informed. Let my experience guide you.

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