Skiing or Snowboarding?
28th September 2021
Last modified on October 2nd, 2021
If you are a beginner or you are going with someone who has never been on the slopes before, then should it be skiing or snowboarding? Our good friends over at Crystal Ski Holidays have some advice.
“There’s an old saying that skiing is easier to learn, but harder to master, and boarding is harder to learn, but easier to master,” says Crystal in its blog post: Ski Buzz.
At PlanetSKI, who are we to disagree?
Crystal has rounded up some of the main differences to help you decide:
• As well as having comfier boots, boarders also have just one bit of kit to carry while skiers have two skis and two poles.
• It’s good news for boarders if there’s new snowfall too. Snowboards are better in powder because they float on top of fresh snow, whereas skinny skis sink below the surface.
• But it’s much easier for skiers to maintain their speed on long, flat sections – and if you do run out of momentum, you can always use your poles to push yourself along.
• You’re always facing the direction you’re going on skis too, so you’ll usually be able to see what’s ahead of you. On a board, you’re facing sideways or even uphill when you’re turning, which can make it tricky to see things lower down the run.
• Skis also have brakes to stop them sliding away downhill if you need to take them off on the mountain, and boards don’t.
• When it comes to chairlifts, boarders will need to stop and unstrap one foot from the board before they can sit down. If you’re on a pair of skis, you can just slide straight into the queue and onto the lift.
• As for the cost, the prices for equipment hire are about the same whatever you choose. If you do fancy investing in your own gear later on, ski equipment tends to be more expensive.
The Crystal Blog goes on to detail what it is like learning to ski and what it is like learning to snowboard.
Learning to Ski
Starting off on skis?
Here’s a run-down of what it’s like learning the ropes on the slopes:
• Being able to move each leg separately means you can have a wider stance, so you should find your balance pretty quickly – and you’ll have a pair of poles to help keep you steady too.
• There’s usually a separate nursery area just for beginners, away from the main runs. The slopes are wide and gentle, and there are often conveyer belt-style lifts called magic carpets to make it easy for you to get to the top of the hill.
• The first skill to learn is controlling your speed by making a pizza-shaped wedge with your skis – in ski jargon terms, that’s called a snowplough.
• It normally takes just a couple of hours to get the hang of slowing down, and some people even start turning by the end of the first lesson.
• Making parallel turns, with your skis side by side, is a big goal for beginners. It can take several weeks to learn, and as your feet are closer together than they are in a snowplough, it’ll be harder to balance at first. Keep practising on gentle runs before you try it on steeper terrain.
• As you start to explore longer runs away from the nursery area, you’ll be using lots of button lifts – a kind of lift where a plate-shaped disc goes between your legs and pulls you to the top. These are much easier to tackle on skis than a board, so you’ll be able to spend more time working on your technique rather than learning how to ride the lift.
• Make sure you keep working on the basics, like the general position of your body. That won’t change even as you get more advanced, so sticking with ski school in the early days will help you improve later on.
Learning to snowboard
If you pick boarding over skiing, you might be on the nursery slopes a little longer than skiers – but all that practise definitely pays off.
Here’s what to expect when you’re just starting out:
• It’s tricky to balance when you’re standing still on a snowboard, so try sitting down instead or unstrap one foot from your board if you’re on a flat section. If you’re stopping on the slopes, remember to pick a place where people coming down the mountain from above can see you, or move to the side so you’re out of the way. Once you get going and build up some speed, staying upright is much easier.
• You’ll start off making single turns in each direction, just like the skiers, but linking these turns together is more difficult – moving your weight from one edge of your board to the other is key and takes time to master.
• Lifts can be more of challenge for boarders, even for intermediates. Button lifts are particularly tricky because you need to balance while standing sideways on your board – and skiers also often create ruts in the lift track, which can be hard to ride over. When you’re looking for the best places to learn to snowboard, try to pick resorts with lots of chairlifts in their ski areas.
• Once you’re turning and taking lifts, you’ve ticked the main skills, so you can move onto steeper terrain and explore more of the ski area while skiers are still practising on easier runs.
And our view at PlanetSKI?
“It makes no difference just go with your heart and ideally learn both over time, just get out there and make some turns,” said our editor, James Cove.
“But be warned, whichever you take up you will likely be hooked for life. Whether you are on a pair of skis or a snowboard the mountains are rather addictive.”
And, what about the rivalry between skiers and snowboarders?
Lets just say things have improved since 1985.
There are still a few resorts in the USA that ban snowboarders.
Alta and Deer Valley in Utah to name a couple, but the neighbouring Utah resort of Snowbird welcomes everyone.
Though it is still not so easy take a T-bar together…
The Crystal blog post also has extra tips about taking up either discipline and the best resorts for beginners – whether on a snowboard or a pair of skis.