If you’ve been looking to try your hand at winter sports for the first time, you might be wondering what is the difference between skiing vs snowboarding, and which one is easier for a beginner.
You’ll probably hear people say, “skiing is easier to learn, but it’s harder to master, while snowboarding is harder to learn, but easier to get to an advanced level.”
So, in this article, we’re going to be talking you through everything you need to know about the difference between skiing vs snowboarding so that you can decide which is easier and which is better!
Table of contents
Why Beginners Find Skiing Easier
You might find skiing easier at first because your feet are separated and facing down the slope, so it feels more natural.
And this is opposed to snowboarding, where both feet are connected to the board while facing sideways to the slope, which can feel unnatural!
But here’s the thing: As you begin to advance in skiing, the very thing that makes it easier to learn makes it harder to advance.
Having your feet separated while learning advanced turns can become challenging when you’re trying to move both of your feet simultaneously.
The great thing about snowboarding is that once you’ve learned to use your heel and toe, your life becomes much easier.
And the thing is, your first day is never going to go well, so whichever you choose, you’re going to find it difficult at first.
The Differences Between Skiing vs Snowboarding
As you can imagine, there will be some variations between the two snow sports, even though they are very closely related.
And in this section, we’re going to introduce you to some of the differences and break them down:
One difference between skiing vs snowboarding is how your body is positioned while you’re hitting the slopes.
With skiing, you’ll find it much easier because your body moves in the direction of your feet, and they can both move independently. Because you’re facing forwards, you’ll have a better view of the slope than you would with a snowboard.
When you first start snowboarding, you’re going to find it extremely uncomfortable and a little unsettling having both your feet attached. To make it worse: You’re going to be moving at a 90-degree angle to where your feet are facing, which, unless you’ve skateboarded before, it’s going to feel uncomfortable.
And because you won’t be facing the right direction, staying aware of your surroundings will also be challenging. Using your peripheral vision is a learning curve you need to overcome, but when you do, you’ll be flying.
Using Chair Lifts
Another difference you’ll find between skiing vs snowboarding is how you use a chair lift. When you’re skiing, there’s no need to unclip your skis. You simply push with your ski poles and let the lift come along and pick you up.
With snowboarding, things are a little bit trickier because you haven’t got the poles to push you along the snow into position.
This means you’ll have to unclip one of your shoes and push yourself like you’re on a skateboard into position. And then you have to learn how to get off with one foot connected to the board.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s not as bad, but for the first few times, you’ll find it a lot more difficult.
If the resort has a magic carpet, you shouldn’t have too many troubles with that; it’s basically a conveyor belt that takes you up the hill.
If you’re going to be choosing between skiing vs snowboarding, it’s probably worth mentioning the injuries they may cause.
With either winter sport, you can be caught in an avalanche, break a bone, or get head injuries; unfortunately, there’s an inherent risk that comes with winter sports.
With skiing, you have your feet separated most of the time, which is excellent because it makes falling harder. The problem is that the twisting motion also increases your chances of serious injury.
And to make it worse: Skiing tends to be harder on your knees, which can also result in knee injuries further down the line.
It doesn’t really get any better for snowboarders. Because you have both feet attached to the board, you’re more likely to experience an injury when you’re at the beginner stage of your journey.
The most common injuries you’ll see with beginner snowboarders are:
- Wrist injuries
- Ankle injuries
- Shoulder injuries
If you want to limit your risk of injury in the early days, always wear protective gear, like a helmet.
You might not think there are differences between skiing and snowboarding boots, but there really are. Ski boots tend to be very difficult to walk around (even experienced skiers find it challenging) due to their design. And this can make it hard work for people when they’ve packed everything away.
On the other hand, snowboarding boots resemble traditional boots, making navigating ski resorts or villages a lot easier.
Carrying Your Ski Gear
One of the final differences between the two is when it comes to carrying your equipment back to your car or apartment.
When you’ve finished snowboarding, you must disconnect your boots and carry a single board down the snowy mountains.
With skiing, you have two poles, two separate skis, and uncomfortable boots that are hard to walk around on. So it’s easier for snowboarders to carry all their gear around the ski villages than it is for skiers.
Types & Styles
You might not know that there are many different types and styles of snowboarding and skiing for you to explore.
Knowing what you have available to you helps you decide whether skiing or snowboarding is the winter sport for you.
So, in this section, we’ll talk you through some of the different types you can expect to find:
When it really comes down to it, there are two main types of skiing you can expect people to be doing:
- Telemark Alpine: A cross between Alpine and Nordic skiing where you use your back foot to keep balance while pushing on your front foot.
- Downhill/Alpine Skiing: The skis are attached to your feet using fixed bindings while you ski down a hill.
But you’re not just limited to these two styles of skiing; you also have:
- Alpine Freestyle: This skiing style is where you use aerial acrobatics and balance by rails or jibbing.
- Freestyle/Newschool: This is when you use tricks like twin tips, flips, and spins that are associated with skiing.
- Freeskiing/Freeride: This is usually done on steeper slopes and cliffs; you’ll require fatter skis for this skiing style.
And then you have Nordic Skiing, which gives you even more options:
- Nordic Skiing: It’s also known as cross-country skiing, where you can use a multitude of techniques.
- Nordic Jumping: It’s performed on Nordic skis, but you take on jumps similar to freestyle.
There are some other variations of skiing, but they get a little bit niche after that, so we’re not going to explain them here.
Just like with skiing, you have many different variations you might want to get involved in, which can be done recreationally or professionally.
Let’s take a look at a few of your options:
- Free Riding: This is the most common and accessible style of snowboarding and entails riding down a slope of any terrain.
- Jibbing & Rail Riding: This is where the rider jumps over rails and obstacles while snowboarding.
- Freestyle: This is where the rider uses man-made obstacles and terrain features to perform tricks and jumps.
- Free Carve: It’s also known as alpine snowboarding, and it’s where snowboarders ride over packed snow while focusing on carving turns.
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully, this article has given you an insight into the differences between skiing vs snowboarding.
More importantly, we really wanted to help you choose which winter sport is going to be best for you.
Always take the easy slopes if you’re new to the sport; there’s no shame in taking the beginner slopes. And, if you’re really not feeling confident, get a ski lesson; the instructor will have you going down the slope in no time.
And remember, skiing is easier to learn but harder to master. And at the end of the day, it will always come down to personal preference for which one’s better.
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