People have their opinions on which winter sport they think is best, especially someone who has only tried snowboarding or who has been skiing since they were 4 years old. If you ask someone if you should try skiing first or snowboarding first, you won’t get an unbiased answer .
Lucky for you, we don’t play favorites. We love all snow sports. But for this article’s purposes, here’s what you need to know to decide if you should learn to shred some “pow” or become a ski bum.
Snowboarding vs. skiing is a classic debate, and the universal answer for which one is better for beginners is that skiing is easier to pick up but harder to master, while snowboarding is harder to learn but you can master it quicker.
It’s more natural for your body to start out skiing. Your legs are separated on two skis, so you can move your legs independently and rebalance yourself similar to how you get around when you’re not on a mountain (aka walking). You face and move forward, and you have complete peripheral vision.
With snowboarding, both feet are attached to one board. This is unnatural for most people. You feel restricted in your movement. And, if you start to fall, you can’t use one of your legs or ski poles to rebalance and keep yourself upright.
If you get off balance, you’re going to fall. And since you’re sideways, you can only see about half of what’s in front of you while snowboarding. For some people, this isn’t a problem. But for others, it takes a while to get used to not having total peripheral vision traveling down the slopes.
If you only have a few days to learn, try skiing first. Many winter sports enthusiasts refer to the first couple days of skiing as the honeymoon period. Since your body is in a natural position and you have two poles to help with balance, new skiers can usually move around a ski resort after a day of trying.
If you have a longer timeframe to learn, try snowboarding. Once you get over the initial awkwardness of both feet being attached to a snowboard, this becomes your advantage.
Keeping skis apart and crossing them isn’t as easy as it looks. Moving both legs on separate skis at the same time is a skill that takes time to master. Most beginner snowboarders are able to ride down the slopes and make simple turns within 1-2 weeks.
Age and Fitness Level
You can take up skiing and snowboarding at any age, but keep in mind that skiing is harder on your knees, while snowboarders experience more shoulder, wrist, and ankle injuries.
You also will be doing a lot of crunches that first day learning to snowboard because you fall – and fall down hard – a lot. Snowboarding is more forgiving on your body if you’re a little younger and in good physical shape. But don’t let your age stop you. When learning to ski or snowboard, you’re going to be sore no matter your age or fitness level.
Previous Sports Experience
Are you a skateboarder or a longboarder? Do you spend your summers surfing? Then snowboarding may come more naturally to you than skiing.
Gear + Costs
For many people, choosing which winter sport to take up comes down to cost. Typically, the price for a day or season pass is the same for skiing and snowboarding. The price difference comes in the cost of buying or renting the equipment needed.
Snowboarders need snow boots, a helmet, a snowboard and bindings. Skiers need ski boots, a helmet, skis, poles and bindings. If you’re committed to learning the sport, buy the gear. If you’re not sure yet, then rent ski and snowboarding equipment.
Since we’re on the subject of ski and snowboarding gear, it’s worth noting that snowboard boots are easier and more comfortable to walk in than ski boots.
It’s also easier carrying one snowboard instead of two skis and two poles. But it’s easier getting on and off ski lifts with ski gear. Snowboarders have to unclip one foot before riding a ski lift, and you have to learn to ride off the lift with one foot off the board.