Skiing or Snowboarding: Which is Better for Beginners?
FRONT-FACING OR SIDEWAYS RIDER?The most recent figures show that 18.1m US Americans ski versus 7.96m who snowboard. So which is it to be? Skiing or snowboarding? One of the most important decisions you'll make as a beginner in a ski resort is choosing between skiing and snowboarding. Both winter sports offer unique experiences on the snow, and each comes with its own set of challenges and rewards. Here are the differences between learning to ski or snowboard with insights to help beginners make an informed decision.
THE STEEPEST LEARNING CURVE, SKIING OR SNOWBOARDING?
There's a general consensus that skiing has a gentler learning curve for beginners. Most people find it easier to balance on skis as it is more natural for your legs to move separately as on skis than to have them strapped together as on a snowboard.
When you take ski lessons, the basic techniques, such as turning and stopping, can generally be grasped quickly so manoeuvring around the resort using the lifts and wider, less steep runs is possible within a week.
When you fall, standing up is not an issue if you are fit and since your legs are independent of each other so long, of course, as both skis are pointing in the same direction. If they're crossed or still aiming downhill then, oops, there you go again. It helps if your skis are parallel to the slope below your body so raising yourself upright is less of an effort.
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The learning curve does gets steeper as you progress because as they say skiing is easier to learn but harder to master. From sliding confidently down baby blue runs to mastering deep and steep powder in the backcountry, there's a world of learning in between. Advanced skiing skills can take years of practise with lessons thrown it at varying stages to progress further in ski mountain craft.
Snowboarding, on the other hand, is generally more difficult - and painful - for beginners. Learning to balance with feet anchored on a single board and mastering the technique of linking is less natural - and falling is more prevalent in the early phases of snowboarding making it a physical challenge for most beginners.
So the learning curve is steep at first but, hey good news, it is also short. Once you've learnt to link turns and can stay upright sliding off icy chairlifts you basically have snowboarding nailed. And progressing to fresh powder can actually be easier than riding on icy groomed runs.
Both toe turn and heel turn fails are inevitable when you start snowboarding, so there's the potential for head, bum and wrists taking the fall. It is so body-challenging when you are learning, that body armour is highly recommended, including padded pants and wrist-guards to help reduce the pain and potential injury.
Getting up from a fall is more challenging for snowboarders with both feet attached to the board. Beginners often need to unstrap out of at least one binding to get back on their feet. And, then, there are chair and drag lifts to master without falling with one foot out of bindings.
WHAT SKI OR SNOWBOARD GEAR DO YOU NEED TO START?
Ski boots may seem mighty strange and stiff to walk in but they do provide good ankle support when on skis. The poles, also, help for balance, standing upright from a fall and assisting with forward movement when skiing on flatter terrain.
Clicking into your ski bindings is simple so long as they're not pointing down an icy hill at the time.
Style-wise, ski gear tends to be more streamlined, with layering to create warmth.
We've known some people take up snowboarding just because the boots are so ridiculously comfortable. While they offer less ankle support compared to ski boots, snowboard boots provide more flexibility, which certainly helps when it comes to navigating as in walking around the ski resort - or dancing on tables at après.
Getting into snowboard bindings does take practise and can mean sitting on the cold snow unless they are Burton's Step Ons. Then, from sitting down, you've got to stand upright, which is another skill to master.
Snowboard jackets and pants tend to be looser/baggier mostly because of the younger market with a more urban style. Also it's practical for a snowboard jacket to be longer because of the time spent sitting on the snow and the same for snowboard pants to have baggier reinforced knees for time spent kneeling.
A helmet for both skiing and snowboarding is a no-brainer.
UPSIDE OF SKIING OR SNOWBOARDING
Skiing is a whole lot easier when it comes to getting around a resort on ski lifts, especially drag and T-bars. Also when backcountry skiing, touring skis can be adapted for climbing uphill with touring bindings and skins, then quickly transitioned for skiing down.
Snowboarding is well-suited for terrain parks and halfpipes - and, if you're a skateboard pro then you'll be in your element. Steep or narrow slopes on a snowboard are more of a challenge as, indeed, are drag lifts. You, also, need a split board for the backcountry, as in a snowboard that can be divided into two halves for climbing uphill and then put together for the descent.
WHERE TO LEARN TO SKI OR SNOWBOARD
Best resorts in the US for ski and snowboarding lessons:
Steamboat Snowboarding Lessons
Killington VT Ski Lessons
Mammoth Mountain Ski Lessons
Alpenglow Snowboarding Lessons
Copper Mountain Resort Snowboarding Lessons
Alpine Meadows Ski Resort Ski Lessons
Learning how to snowboard and ski is a great way to enjoy not only a new sport but also the beauty of the mountains. Book your ski or snowboard lessons online in advance and get ready to unleash your winter potential.
If you're still unsure, whether skiing or snowboarding is for you then many resorts offer rental equipment and lessons for both sports which makes it easy to explore and find the one that you prefer.
IS AGE A FACTOR FOR LEARNING TO SKI OR SNOWBOARD?
Well, we've seen toddlers who can only just walk, mastering skiing and snowboarding skills. But how old is too old to learn either skiing or snowboarding? And does age affect whether you should learn to ski or snowboard?
Sure, snowboarding appeals to a younger demographic stomping it in the park and skiing is generally easier for more mature learners to master but, yes, you can choose either so long as you are fit. In fact, fitness is key whatever you age with both cardio and weights beneficial for skiing and snowboarding.