Home » Skiing or snowboarding? Why skiing is easier to learn

Skiing or snowboarding? Why skiing is easier to learn

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So you’re about to embark on your first winter adventure in the mountains and want to get the most bang for your buck.

And maybe you’re wondering, “which sport is going to get me the most riding time?”

You might also consider bringing your kids for their first time on the slopes. What is the best choice for them?

No one wants to spend their whole week with their noses buried in the snow.

Well, a common claim goes, that skiing is the easiest to learn, but the hardest to master. And – vice versa – that snowboarding is the hardest to learn, but the easiest to master. But it is really true?

Here is a list of things to consider before you choose.

Why is skiing easier to learn, but harder to master than snowboarding?

So why is skiing easier to learn than snowboarding?

From we learn to walk as toddlers, our muscle memory has gotten used to being able to move each foot and leg independent of the other. And the reason most people find skiing easier to learn has to do with the fact, that on skies you preserve this independent leg movement.

Being able to move each leg independently of each other has some real benefits when it comes to turning, keeping your balance and adjusting to the terrain because you are able to make small corrections all the time. And if you’ve ventured out to mogul territory, you’re much better off on skis.

You also have more edge with skis, than you do with snowboards. This makes a big difference on icy surfaces since you have a better grip.

Ski sticks – friend or foe?

Ski sticks can help a lot too when it comes to both keeping your balance and practicing drills. But they can also be a hassle when you’re first starting out and get all the places, they shouldn’t be like in-between your legs or getting caught on a surface lift.

But as you progress, ski sticks are excellent when you need to get around on flat traverses or getting up again (or back on the slope for that matter) when you’ve ended up in the deep snow beside the “groomers” (which you will… a lot!).

Tip: if you’re already a skier and want to make the move to snowboarding, you might wanna hang on to the ski poles for a little while longer. They can be a great tool for helping you keep the balance on the board and make the transition from two planks to one a little smoother.

Speaking of ski lifts, people often find it much easier to get on and off lifts with skies, than with snowboards. And you don’t have to unbuckle your boot every time. Most often you can almost ski directly onto your next lift. And when you’re at the top you’re ready to go.

It is hard to move beyond the snowplow

However, because you fairly early on can snowplow down the slopes and get around on your own, a lot of skiers plateau at intermediate levels.

The move to a fluid rhythm and parallel skiing is much more difficult. I’m still struggling with this myself.

Why is snowboarding harder to learn, but easier to master than skiing?

If you wanna take up snowboarding, be prepared for some bruises. Most people I’ve spoken to on subject has confirmed as much – some even threw in a broken tailbone or wrist, to prove their point. That’s why wristguards and even butt pads are highly recommended when you first take up snowboarding.

So why is snowboarding harder to learn than skiing?

When you strap on a snowboard, both of your feet are locked in place on the same plank. This feels unnatural to most people at first, because of the loss of the independent leg movement.

With both feet locked in place, you can’t make the small adjustments to weight and balance in the same way you can while skiing. So a bump in the terrain or a bad choice is more likely to send you tumbling.</strong>

Turning on a snowboard can be a pain in the ass – literally!

Then there is the turning, which is very different from skiing.

First of all the balance points on a snowboard are front to back and vice versa instead of side to side.

Second, you’re facing either up the mountain or down the mountain. And to make a turn, you have to get your body and board to make a complete shift in the way you’re facing. With every turn, the front of the board becomes the back of the board, and your front foot becomes the back foot etc.

Third, while the turns in skiing are basically just the same movement from side to side, the turns in snowboarding a two different entities. In the backside turn, you have to shift your balance to the edge near the heels to get a grip. And in the frontside turn, you have to edge with your toes.

Furthermore, you don’t have as much edge in the snow on a snowboard, as you do on skis. You simply have a much better grip on skis. Skis are like two boards – each with edges that dig into the snow.

Learning to make turns while snowboarding is not only mentally demanding but also physically, as you need to shift both your weight and direction the board is heading.

However, when you first do get a hang of the basics, the transitioning to doing small tricks like jumping and turning is a lot easier for snowboarders, than it is for skiers.

If you have some experience with skateboarding or surfing though, you might actually catch on snowboarding quicker than skiing.

And if you put on some baggy clothes to hide your wobbly legs, you’ll look much cooler doing so, than the skier at the same level as yourself at this point. 😉

Skiing or snowboarding for kids. Which is the easiest for kids to learn?

So you might have been skiing a couple of times yourself, and now you want to bring your kids.

Chances are that you want them to ski as well – because that’s what you already know. And chances are that the kids want to snowboard instead because that’s what all the cool kids do. So what should you choose? Skiis or snowboard?

Well first of, kids are amazing learners without much fear in life and they’ll probably be skiing or riding circles around you (or even worse insist that you go making 540s with them in the snowpark) after the first couple of ski trips. So it might not matter what you choose anyway, cause chances are they’ll catch on fairly quickly.

However, there are some things to consider though, some of which have to do with the age, independence, and mobility of your kid. You should also take into consideration, which facilities are available at the resort for kids.

Think about the mobility of your kids – or lack thereof – while they’re strapped to a snowboard

When it comes to choosing between skis or snowboard, you should especially take into consideration, how your kid will respond to being strapped down a snowboard.

When the kids fall on a snowboard, which they will all the time, they are completely immobile and often unable to get back up on their feet by themselves.

Oftentimes the crashes on snowboards can be rougher than on skis too. So consider how your kid will respond to this. Always invest in good protection gear for your kid.

You should also consider the non-riding time involved. As a beginner, you are in a lot of fairly flat terrains. On skis, your kid can waddle around or easily take off one of the skis and scoot along.

You can’t do this as easily on a snowboard. How will your kid respond to having to unbuckle from the board before every lift or on every traverse? In other words be helpless and immobile?

Getting on and off a chair lift is also more difficult with a snowboard.

Check out what the ski resort has to offer for kids before you go

Do your homework, before you book your next ski trip and make sure the resort has good ski or snowboard schools for kids, which instructors who speak your language, easy terrain, and a good surface lift like magic carpets.

If your kids a certain age, the above-mentioned problems don’t need to be problems at all. And I’ve seen a lot of small kids just killing it on snowboards on the slopes. But it is definitely something to consider.

Some resorts even have boards, where your kid can just put a strap over their own boots for easy buckling and unbuckling. You can always ask if they have this.

Some of the places where you rent skis, they have a deal, where you can swap your skis and boots for snowboards and boots instead for free.

Skiing or snowboarding? Which should you choose?

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference.

For me personally, it is also a matter of time and money. I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to ski – and I’ve invested money in instructors on several occasions so that I can now get around fairly steep terrain and still have a good time.

If I’m lucky I might get to go on an eight-day ski trip a year. The thought of starting over again and not being able to get around as I’m used to is just too much to bear.

The thought of starting over and taking the time to learn how to snowboard probably, I just don’t think I can afford.

I have thought about maybe spending half of the time of my next ski trip on learning how to ride properly because I think it looks so cool when people are just floating down the mountain on their boards. And I get really envious when I sit in a chairlift and watch the riders glide through the fresh powder in the off-piste.

I’ve promised myself, that if I can ever afford a two-week trip, I’ll spend the first one skiing and the last one on learning how to ride. From what I’ve learned from riders and my research, that is probably the wisest order to do so. Because I’m not sure, that I’m able to move after a week of boarding.

Two years ago I became a father myself. And if my son insists on becoming a rider, I’ve promised myself, that I’ll spend the time together with him in order to learn how to ride properly. I think it could be great fun to go “back to school” together with him and both be beginners.

In the end, it comes down to having fun. So my best advice would be to always consider, what will make the ski trip the most fun experience for yourself and for your kids?

What do you think? Do you have any good advice for someone new to either skiing or snowboarding? Or do you disagree, that skiing is easier to learn but harder to master compared to snowboarding? What is your experience? Let me know in the comments. Be safe 🙂

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