As winter rolls around, it’s finally that time of the year! Christmas, yes, but it’s also the season for winter sports. We only get the chance to have fun with these winter sports a few months a year, so we can’t wait to bring out skis and snowboards.
If you’ve got no experience in either and aren’t sure where to start, you’re in the right place! Here’s all you need to know about the differences between skiing and snowboarding, and some tips to help you get started on this two fun and popular activities of the season.
1. Which is more physically demanding?
Well, both skiing and snowboarding are classified as winter sports, meaning that both actually are quite physically tiring. For both, you can expect to have a jolly good time out in the snow, but be prepared to feel some aches and pains after. However, as long as you wear the right gear and play safely, it shouldn’t be too painful a process.
More specifically, snowboarding is especially hard on the abs, even for beginners. For one, you’ll definitely find yourself making full use of your abdominal muscles just to stand up after reaching down to do your bindings. Once you get up, prepare to exert in staying upright, steering, and stopping. Note that falling may also put a lot of strain on your wrists, elbows, and tailbone, so do gear up properly!
Falling is not as common in skiing, but don’t be deceived by how simple it seems to be. While you don’t have to sit down to do your bindings, ski gear is almost as heavy and troublesome to handle. Because you need to use your legs for steering and balance, there’s a risk of knee and joint injuries. Skiers often complain of ACL tears or hurting knee joints after crashing — so be sure to learn the right falling techniques before setting off a slope. That said, between the two, skiing is slightly less demanding than snowboarding. After all, you have the option to slow down and take a break mid-slope if you feel like it.
2. Which is easier to learn for beginners?
Most people would mention skiing, but the truth is that it depends on your own background. If you have some experience of surfing, for example, then snowboarding is definitely the way to go. After all, the stances are quite similar with one foot forward and knees bent. The only stark difference would be the size of the boards, as snowboards tend to be smaller than surfboards.
That said, skiing is certainly the sport of choice for complete beginners. For one, it’s quite straightforward and front-facing, meaning that it should feel more natural. It also helps that there are two individual planks instead of one longboard. This frees up your feet for movement and safe braking. On top of that, skiing is done with poles that you can rely on and give you that sense of safety on the slopes.
In comparison, snowboarding is done with your body facing sideways, which can be hard to get used to. With both feet strapped to the board, falling and getting up is also much more difficult in terms of effort. Long story short, most people need a whole lot of practice before zipping smoothly on the slopes, so skiing is certainly the easier route if you’re on a tight timetable.
However, if you’ve got plenty of time to spare, snowboarding is actually easier to master compared to skiing. After all, after perfecting your snowboard turns, you’re pretty much free to roam as you like. You can even move on to jumps once you’re confident enough. On the other hand, skiing is easier to pick up but harder to master. Most people never get good enough to ski comfortably with feet in a parallel position. Instead, they stick with the beginner technique of angling their skis towards each other in the front, which is fine for simple movements and frolicking around the resort — but it doesn’t allow you to enjoy the more open slopes.
3. Which is more accessible?
While both skiing and snowboarding are done on the slopes, you might be surprised to know that it’s easier to find places made for skiing. It’s more commonplace for two main reasons.
Firstly, the types of lifts and T-bars tend to favor skiing over snowboarding. For chairlifts, which is the most common type of lift, it does skiing a tremendous favor. Skiers can just hop on and off smoothly, but snowboarders have to do a quick switch that can be scary to try, even for those at a more intermediate level. They have to sit facing forward on the lift, but when it’s time to dismount, they have to skillfully switch sideways. Too fast or slow and they risk falling over before even getting the chance to slide down the slope. It also doesn’t help that in doing the switch, they have one foot tied to the board which can get rather cumbersome.
Poma lifts, a round plastic disk you put between your legs, are even worse as they’re built for skiers with two individual planks.
Secondly, while all ski resorts allow skiing, not all allow for snowboarding. It’s mostly for user experience reasons, as skiers tend to prefer carving down the slopes while snowboarders scrape. While it’s the best way for snowboarders to get down the mountain, scraping also causes the snow surface to be weirdly shaped, with strange chunks that skiers don’t like. As such, some resorts don’t allow for snowboarding or have ski-only slopes.
To conclude, skiing is a clear favorite for most people who are thinking of picking up a new sport. Not only is it arguably easier to pick up, but it’s also less physically demanding and more accessible to the majority. That said, snowboarding makes a good option for those who have surfing backgrounds or are up for a good challenge. Regardless of which you decide on, there’s no doubt you’ll have a good time on the slopes — so give it a whirl today!