One of our favourite kinds – between skiers and snowboarders. Which is easier to learn and to improve on? Crystal explores.

Is one easier than the other?
Does one pose less risk?
Or cause more serious injuries?
Which sport gives you the cooler edge?
These questions swirl around in conversations of snowsports lovers – usually when there’s one outnumbered skier, or a lone boarder in a pack of offending in the pub.
Ski vs. snowboard

Ski vs. snowboard

“The old adage is that skiing is easier to learn, but harder to master,” Crystal Ski surmises.
“Whereas snowboarding is harder to learn, but easier to master.”

The gear makes a big difference, the boots and skis certainly causing more discomfort to wear and carry over the softer boots and lighter board of snowboarding.

Unless you have a background in skate or surfboarding, most people will initially feel more comfortable keeping their feet separated and facing the direction of travel.

“While ski boots can definitely feel clunky, progress up the mountain should be pretty rapid once you’ve mastered the speed-reducing snowplough with your skis,” the pros at Crystal have said.
“And you’ll be linking turns with parallel skis – or French fries – in no time.
“Many will get to this stage and be confident on blue and even red runs within a week of tuition on snow.
“The problem is that people often stop learning at this point and never reap the full potential of their metal edges.
“Our advice would be to keep up the lessons – even intermittently – to get you properly carving those turns.”

Snowboarders vs.

Learning to snowboard
You’ll enjoy the boots, but maybe not the bumps…

Having both feet strapped onto one board means that, to begin with, there’s a fair bit of falling on your bum and knees as you learn to keep balance.

Shifting your weight to go from zig-zags into more fluid, linked turns is a big single step and can take a weeks worth of lessons, or more…
Once you’re there though, the mountain really is your playground.
On hard-packed and icy slopes, two edges will always be better than one, but when the snow is soft you’ll hear snowboarders whooping their way down and gliding through deeper off-piste snow where skinnier skis struggle.
Is the rivalry real?

Is the rivalry real?

The practicalities

‘Ski resorts’ – there’s a reason it’s the default term.
Skiing came first – as a mode of transport, as a way to see the mountains.
Resorts and infrastructure were often designed and made for this.
As a result, snowboarders have to overcome a few extra hurdles on the mountain.

Drag lifts, I’m sure, are something all snowboarders will agree on being an absolute pain.

Chairlifts, even, mean unstrapping the back foot, which then has to be clipped in again each go.
(…Not to mention an undignified dismount, skiers love to taunt.)
Enjoying the runs with skiers means an inevitable amount of sit downs or kneelings, as skiers tend to stop more often – so cold bums and sore knees are part of it.
Then there’s the cat tracks and flatter areas on the hills linking pistes, where a snowboarder is likely to be found unclipping and scooting or walking.
Having said that, once off the mountain, snowboarders can saunter round town in their comfy footwear, carrying only one piece of kit, while skiers have to master the art of carrying two skis and poles in rigid plastic ski boots.
Skis and ski boots are also a fair bit more expensive than a snowboard and boots.
All friends really

All friends really

Is snowboarding safer than skiing? Or the other way around?
Honestly, there’s not much in it.
The injuries are really just different common injuries.
Given the range of motion and potential for catching an edge on deeper or harder snow, twists and tears in the knee are the biggest risk for skiers.
Snowboarders, meanwhile, are more likely to injur wrists or collarbones, if falling forward, or to the tailbone if falling backwards.

Don’t let this put you off though, as injuries are rare.

The main thing to remember is to follow the rules, wear a helmet and don’t feel pressured into doing anything outside your comfort zone.
It’s all fun and games anyway: the good fight.
We all have mutual respect for our fellow mountains and snow lovers, especially if you’ve tried out the other discipline and realised how hard both can be.
Help eachother out up there.
Extend a snowboarder a pole on a flat pass when they’re too tired to boot it, leave eachother enough space on the pistes.
Skier or snowboarder, see you up there!
Check out Crystal Ski’s website for ski and snowboard holiday deals to get you to the mountains this winter:
And our rolling deals page for more of the best ones out there, with Crystal up top in the January deals:
Meet you on the ski slopes

Meet you on the ski slopes

For the Spirit of the Mountains – PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news