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Is Skiing Or Snowboarding Easier?




You’ve made the exciting decision to embark on your first ski or snowboarding trip. Perhaps you're guiding friends or family new to the slopes and you want to make their experience smooth and enjoyable. While both sports promise fun and excitement, the question "is snowboarding or skiing easier?" becomes a pivotal point of consideration.

 



Is it easier to learn snowboarding for beginners?

 

Here is what you need to know about skiing and snowboarding when you are just getting started.  


Equipment

 


image of skiing and snowboarding equipment


Skiing


 

Skiing requires more equipment than snowboarding which can be a drag to lug around. The fit of the ski boots is also important, especially for kids. Ski boots tend to be more uncomfortable and generally run tighter than snowboarding boots. After a day on the slopes, carrying massive amounts of gear around can feel a bit soul-destroying.

 

Snowboarding

 

Snowboarding boots are generally more comfortable and do not need to be as tight as ski boots as the body mechanics are completely different. Snowboard boots are closer to your average run-of-the-mill winter boots, whereas ski boots are similar to ice hockey skates. Snowboards are just one piece and can be carried around with ease. For ease of equipment, snowboarding wins.

 

Winner: Snowboarding


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Riding the Lifts


Man riding the lifts


Skiing


In terms of ease and convenience of riding the lifts, skiing is generally considered the winner for two primary reasons. First, skiers remain fully strapped into their equipment, allowing for a stable stance when getting on and off the lift, unlike snowboarders who must navigate with one foot unstrapped. Second, skiers have the advantage of using poles, which can be used for additional balance and to assist in moving away from the lift area upon disembarking.


Snowboarding


For snowboarding, the process of riding the lifts involves a bit more complexity due to the need to unstrap one foot to navigate to and from the lift, which can challenge balance and mobility. This can be particularly true of drag lifts, which can be found many times in the highest areas of a ski resort. While snowboard boots are generally more comfortable and easier to walk in compared to ski boots, this advantage does not aid in the lift-riding process, where the main challenge lies in managing the board with one foot unstrapped. Sometimes, there will be special snowboarding lifts.


For more information on lifts and ski passes, view our Go-To Source for Multi-Resort Ski Passes for 2024-25.



Winner: Skiing


Stance and Movement


Man moving around on snowboard

Skiing

 

In skiing, your body faces forward, similar to walking or running, which feels more natural for most people. This forward-facing stance makes it easier to balance and control movement. Skiers can move each leg independently with their separate skis, allowing for more intuitive adjustments and balance corrections.

 

Snowboarding

 

In snowboarding, your body is positioned sideways on the board, which is different from the natural, forward-facing stance of walking or running. This sideways stance can be less intuitive for beginners, making balance and control more challenging to master initially. Unlike skiing, where you can move each leg independently, both feet are strapped to a single snowboard. This lack of leg independence requires beginners to learn how to distribute their weight and balance using their whole body in unison. The front edge of the snowboard can also feel "hard" due to the fact that it is typically made out of hard metal. Some snowboarders will ride with a normal style, and some will ride a "goofy stance" depending on their preference and their dominant leg. In snowboarding, "goofy stance" refers to riding with the right foot forward, while "regular stance" means riding with the left foot forward.


Winner: Skiing


Stance and movement are important for all levels, and everyone in the family should be aware. View our family guide for the top ski resorts to ski with families.

 

Falling and Getting Up


Falling after skiing

 

Skiing


Falling while skiing typically involves a forward or sideways tumble due to the forward-facing stance. Getting up requires using your skis as a base to push yourself up. Since your legs can move independently, you can position one ski flat against the slope for stability while using the poles to help lift yourself back into a standing position. This process can be more straightforward because you can adjust each leg individually to regain your balance and stand up.


Snowboarding


Falling on a snowboard often results in either a forward fall onto your knees and hands or a backward fall onto your buttocks. Getting up from a fall on a snowboard involves a different technique since both feet are attached to the board. To stand up after falling forward, you place your hands on the snow in front of you and push up while bringing the board underneath you. If you fall backward, you have to roll onto your knees first, then use your hands to push yourself up, aligning the board downhill.

 

Winner: Skiing

 

Learning Curve


Learners skiing down the mountain

Skiing

 

If you’ve never skied before, you can still pick it up relatively fast. The independence of the legs and the more natural stance are conducive to lots of progress in the early stages of skiing. However, skiing can become much more complex, particularly when you incorporate moguls or chutes in which there is much more consideration for balance and movement. More experienced skiers will be able to use their turning and stopping abilities to navigate steep verticals.


Snowboarding

 

After you have fallen multiple times on a snowboard you will swear to yourself that this must be the hardest feat to ever accomplish; just the ability to stand and not fall. However, once you get the hang of the basics, like balance and positioning, you can progress to a more advanced level quite quickly.

 

Winner: Snowboarding


One of the most important things to consider when starting either skiing or snowboarding is finding a solid instructor. We have a roster of some of the best instructors in North America, Europe, and South America. Contact us for a consultation and to start planning your winter vacation.






 

Technique, Turning, and Stopping  


technique with turning

 

Skiing

 

Stopping in skiing is pretty simple; you angle both feet together until your ski tips touch each other in a triangle formation, often called a “snowplow” or a “pizza” formation. Often you will see first-time skiers in an almost perpetual “snowplow” formation who are worried about gaining speed. Simple turns by shifting your body weight from side to side will allow you to traverse down the mountain in control. Ski poles will help to maintain balance down the mountain while the weight is shifting which snowboarding lacks. Skiers will eventually graduate into parallel turns which will allow them to ski steeper and more difficult runs. Parallel turning down a steep is an art and can be considered more difficult than snowboarding at an advanced level. However, for beginners, techniques like turning and stopping can be mastered relatively quickly. If you are teaching your family or significant other, it's important to emphasize the value of turning and stopping.

 

Snowboarding

 

Stopping on a snowboard requires precise control of the board's edges. You need to shift your weight and adjust your stance to engage either the toe edge or heel edge of the board to slow down and stop. For beginners, learning how to smoothly transition weight without catching the wrong edge (which can lead to falls) can be super frustrating. Turning is all about edge control as well, and to safely descend the mountain in control, you will need to rotate your body weight, from edge to edge. However, once these body mechanics are mastered, snowboarders can progress rapidly. If you've ever been paddle boarding, surfing, or skateboarding, then you might be familiar with how body weight is positioned. There is a difference, however, in the ability to ski off the main ski pistes while snowboarding.

 

Winner: Skiing

 

So is skiing or snowboarding easier for beginners?

 

It’s safe to say, for a first-timer, skiing is easier than snowboarding. If your snow sports choice revolves around what is easier for a beginner, then the decision should be to try your hand at skiing.

 

 

Skiing vs Snowboarding on Advanced Terrain: Chutes, Powder, Trees, and Terrain Parks



Skiing vs. Snowboarding In Powder


Easier: Snowboarding


The wider board in snowboarding allows for better floatation in deep powder, making it easier to navigate and maintain speed without sinking. Many people say they love the “surfing” feeling that they get while snowboarding on amazing powder. To really ski powder properly you need to have wide powder skis, and even then it can be more difficult to navigate deep powder.


Skiing vs. Snowboarding In Trees


Easier: Skiing


The ability to use independent leg movements and quicker, more precise turns gives skiers an advantage in tightly spaced trees. If the trees are wide enough, skiers can use quick parallel turns to navigate trees just as they navigate moguls. Snowboarding does not allow for extremely sharp and quick turns as skiing does. You will often find snowboarders “stuck” in the trees, wondering why exactly they ventured in there in the first place. Sometimes it's best to start skiing or snowboarding in trees with a qualified mountain guide.


Discover the best places for tree skiing-in North America with our guide to the Top 11 Gladed Runs in North America.


Skiing vs. Snowboarding in Terrain Parks and Getting "Air"


Easier: Snowboarding


Snowboarding's roots in skateboarding and surfing translate well to the jumps, rails, and tricks found in terrain parks, making it easier for boarders to adapt and excel. It’s easier to maintain balance both in the air and on rails. While jumping on skis, it’s more difficult to maintain balance while in the air and more difficult to land. Rails are also more difficult to ride, as both feet need to be in perfect balance.



Skiing vs. Snowboarding Down Chutes and Steeps


Easier: Skiing


The precise control and stability offered by two skis, along with the use of poles for balance, make skiing through narrow chutes and steeper slopes easier to manage. Managing to ski steep surfaces requires a ton of confidence in terms of your body control on skis, but it's easier to manage than trying to manage with a snowboard, in which there is not as much precise control.


Are you desperate to find those double blacks and backcountry chutes that only the locals will know about? Check out our Top 11 Extreme Runs in North America.


Safety: Skiing vs. Snowboarding


One of everyone's main concerns when considering giving it a go on the slopes is how safe is each one. Everyone wants to steer clear of injuries skiing that will impede their daily lives, and avoid a worst-case scenario Sonny Bono-like fate.

 

Skiing injuries often involve the lower extremities, particularly the knees. The most common injury among skiers is to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Other common skiing injuries include medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprains, fractures, and dislocations. Skiers also face the risk of thumb injuries, such as skier's thumb, which occurs when the ski pole does not release from the grip during a fall, causing strain or tear to the ligaments in the thumb.


Snowboarding injuries tend to involve the upper body more frequently than skiing injuries. Wrist fractures and sprains are very common among snowboarders, especially beginners, due to the natural instinct to break falls with outstretched hands. Shoulder injuries, including dislocations and fractures, can also occur during falls.


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Equipment Cost: Skiing vs. Snowboarding


Rentals: Although they can be similar in pricing bracket, in general, renting snowboards is cheaper than renting skis. You can also leave out the poles as an added cost as well. The make or model of snowboards and skis you rent will also influence the price, and the same goes for buying. Beginner snowboards will generally be less expensive than beginner skis. That being said, as you move in quality the prices tend to equilibrate.


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FAQ


Is skiing or snowboarding more fun?


The fun of skiing versus snowboarding is subjective and depends on personal preference. Skiing is often seen as easier for beginners to pick up, while snowboarding may offer a more thrilling experience once mastered. It also revolves around how you like your body positioned and how much control you want to have.


What is the best way to learn how to ski or snowboard?


The best way to learn skiing or snowboarding is through professional lessons from certified instructors. If you have a friend who you are comfortable with, they can teach you as well. Once you have the basics down, make sure you don't just skip to the blues and blacks right away. Take it easy when progressing, and make sure you master certain aspects, such as stopping/starting, and falling/getting up before you move on.


What do you typically wear when you are skiing or snowboarding?


When skiing or snowboarding, you typically wear layers including a moisture-wicking base layer, an insulating mid-layer, and a waterproof outer layer, along with a helmet and goggles for protection. However, the "style" of snowboarders and skiers is very different. Snowboarders tend to have more "skateboarding" style, with loose-fitting jackets and pants. Each person's packing list will be slightly different, depending on their style and preferences.





 

 

 

 

 

 

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