There was a time when skiers and snowboarders would debate over which of their respective sport is cooler. One would say that snowboarding looks much cooler than skiing, while the other would argue that skiing is much safer and allows you to travel longer distances and at faster speeds. So as a neophyte to both winter sports, which one should you do? Which one do you buy: ski or snowboard?
To answer those questions and help you make a better decision as to your choice of snow sport and equipment, we have below a breakdown of the different factors that make skiing better than snowboarding and vice versa. We’ll take a look at the differences (both the obvious and not-so-obvious ones) between snowboarding vs. skiing, the sports equipment and safety gear required by both, and other factors that may affect how much you enjoy each snow sport.
Degree of Difficulty
One of the very first things that many people who are interested in skiing or snowboarding have is which between the two is more difficult to learn. Well, the answer will actually depend on a variety of factors like how much of a quick learner the person is, his or her fitness levels, and several others. Nonetheless, most skiers and snowboarders generally agree that skiing is much easier to learn than snowboarding; however, they also agree that skiing is more difficult to master than snowboarding.
Snowboarding presents more of a challenge initially because it requires a complete change in terms of how we normally move about. In skiing, you are pretty much standing with legs apart and facing forward whereas in snowboarding you’ll be balancing with one foot in front of the other in a sideways stance. Beginning surfers and skateboarders should be able to relate to this (on that note, snowboarding may feel natural to long-time skateboarders and surfers so snowboarding should be easier for them than skiing).
Most onlookers think that skiing and snowboarding are not very physically challenging. After all, skiers and snowboarders simply ride their skis or snowboards and slide down the slope. However, both snow sports are actually physically demanding and will require the athlete to have a certain degree of physical fitness which includes leg and core strength, muscle endurance, and stamina.
For instance, skiers will have to support their whole body weight one leg at a time, while snowboarders use their core muscles to initiate turns. And that’s just the basic moves since more advanced techniques will obviously be more physically demanding.
Both skiing and snowboarding are considered by many as an extreme sport, which makes people wonder just how safe these snow sports are.
Some reports detail the specific number of accidents about skiing and snowboarding. Fortunately, these accidents don’t happen very frequently. Sure, you may find yourself falling over a couple of times while learning how to ski or snowboard, but the pains and pangs will end as you get more practice and experience.
Besides, when you go skiing or snowboarding you will be required to wear certain safety equipment like a helmet. Wearing these will help you to avoid skiing and snowboarding injuries, or at least reduce any negative consequences when you find yourself in one.
Speaking of equipment, let’s take a look at the different sport and safety gears that you’ll need for both skiing and snowboarding. Each activity will require a different type of sports equipment, though the safety gears needed for both will be pretty much the same.
- Skis. Skis are available in a variety of types, styles, and sizes. Some skis are designed for specific types of snow and terrains. For instance, some skis are bowed slightly in the middle which is great for soft and powdery snow, and carving skis that work best for hard-packed snow and groomed ski runs. There are also all-mountain skis which are great for all-around skiing, though being all-rounders means that they don’t have the benefits offered by certain design-specific skis. These all-mountain skis are usually the types of skis for beginners and casual skiers. An important thing to remember is that you should always get the right size of skis which can be done by matching your height and weight with the ski you intend to purchase. As a newbie to the sport, you’ll want to consider getting shorter skis as opposed to the longer ones since shorter skis are easier to maneuver.
- Ski Bindings. Ski bindings are what connect your ski boots to your skis, so you must get the right size. That is the width of your ski binding should match perfectly with the width of your skis. Also, make sure that the tension is set for easy release. This is because ski bindings (although fitted tightly and securely) have a certain tension limit which when exceeded (as is the case with falls and collisions) will release the ski boots from the skis to minimize skier injury. Ski bindings can be pretty heavy, so you’ll want to look for something lightweight for the sake of comfort and ease of movement.
- Ski Boots. As with any other type of shoe, comfort should be your primary consideration when it comes to choosing a pair of ski boots. Your ski boots should fit you snugly and should have ample space between your foot and the inner shoe lining since you’ll be wearing thick socks when using them. Another thing consider is the boot’s stiffness and flex. Beginners or those who want a softer boot should opt for one with soft flex, while intermediate and advanced skiers who are looking for more responsiveness should go for boots with medium to stiff flex.
- Ski Poles. Ski poles are used to propel yourself forward and help with making turns are you ski down the mountain. Choosing the right length of ski poles is important since this will affect how well you use them, your balance, and mobility.
As you can see with all the skiing equipment mentioned above, choosing the right size to compliment your body size, weight and height is important. You can always look at the manufacturer’s guide for the right sizing or you can ask for help from shops the rent out or sell skiing equipment.
- Snowboards. Just like skis, snowboards are also available in a variety of sizes and lengths. Naturally, you’ll want to choose a size that fits your height and weight. You can always check the manufacturer’s website for their size chart pairings. Also, snowboards come in various styles that cater to different terrains. There are stiffer boards with more pronounced side cuts, fatter snowboards for powdery snow, and softer and more flexible snowboards which are perfect for doing tricks and park riding. There are also all-around snowboards which are recommended as beginner snowboards, as well as snowboards for women.
- Snowboard Bindings. Snowboard bindings serve the same purpose as ski bindings and are also available in different types and styles. For beginners, it is generally recommended to start with softer and more flexible options. As for the straps, you can choose bindings with straps that tighten over the tips of the toes or straps that go higher up the foot. Some snowboarders prefer those that go higher up the foot because according to them it provides them with better control over their snowboards. If you don’t like fiddling with binding straps, then you can opt for step-in bindings.
- Snowboard Boots. Considerations for buying and choosing snowboard boots are pretty much the same as those with ski boots. First, you need to make sure that you choose a pair that is the right size for you. They should fit snugly, not too big and not too tight. Beginners are also advised to choose softer snowboard boots over the stiffer models.
Again, you’ll want to visit a shop that sells or rents out this snowboarding equipment and try them out before committing to purchasing your own set. This way, you’ll have a better idea of what brands, models, and sizes will satisfy your personal needs and wants.
Apparel and Safety Equipment
Clothing and safety equipment for both skiing and snowboarding are pretty much the same.
- Helmet. One should never go skiing or snowboarding without a helmet, and you’ll have to make sure that it’s a helmet that is designed specifically for skiing or snowboarding and not biking or skateboarding. Some would say that there really isn’t any difference between snowboarding vs. a skiing helmet and that you can use the same helmet for both snow sports, but you may come across some helmets designed specifically for skiing and another for snowboarding while you’re at the shop. In any case, there are several things you need to consider when choosing a helmet. Number one, of course, would be comforting. The snowboard or ski helmet should fit your head nicely and not too tightly to allow for better breathability as you will sweat a lot while going down the mountain. You’ll also want to look for skiing or snowboarding helmets with Multi-directional Impact features. These features allow the helmet liner to move a few millimeters to reduce the amount of force that goes into your brain during a crash.
- Goggles. Choosing the right pair of goggles is very important. Just imagine going downhill with the cold wind against your eyes and you’ll understand why. Snowboarding and skiing goggles have different lenses, and each lens is suitable for certain conditions. For instance, polarized goggles are great when you’re skiing or snowboarding in sunny conditions, whereas are you’ll want to opt for yellow lenses for darker or overcast days. Also, you should always buy your helmet and goggles together to ensure that they complement each other.
- Gloves. Whether you’re skiing or snowboarding, make sure that you wear a pair of gloves or mittens to keep your hands warm. Some skiers find wearing these can be rather awkward and makes it difficult for them to hold their ski poles. However, the reason why they feel that way is because their ski gloves or mittens are either too small or too big for their hands. That said, make sure that you choose the correct glove size for your hand. Also, look for gloves that go over the sleeve as this will help to prevent the cold wind from entering through your wrists.
- Neck Gaiter/Balaclava. You’ll also want to make sure that you wear a neck gaiter or a ski balaclava to prevent the cold wind from entering through your neck. This is especially true when you choose to go skiing or snowboarding while the snow is falling or in extremely cold regions.
- Base Layers. Base layers are necessary to keep you warm when you go skiing or snowboarding and when doing any other activity like camping or fishing during the winter season. Layering is in fact a necessity since your layers play a crucial role in keeping you warm and comfortable while out there. Base layers will include a pair of pants and a shirt. In any case, choose fabrics that are quick-drying so that you won’t get soaked with sweat while skiing or snowboarding. During colder days, or when wearing a shell jacket you may want to consider wearing a sweater over your top base layer for added warmth.
- Jacket and Pants. Snowboarding and ski jackets are pants are designed specifically to cater to the needs of the athletes or casual skiers or snowboarders. They are thick and prevent the cold wind from entering while at the same time keeps the heat generated by your body inside. These ski pants and jackets also have a waterproof rating to prevent melting snow and moisture in the air from entering. Breathability is also important since you don’t want all your body heat to be trapped inside since this will make you feel hot and sweat more.
- There are skiing and snowboarding socks available and they are very different from your everyday socks. These sports socks have paddings in the heels and balls of the feet and are made from wool (as opposed to cotton) which is both warm and breathable.
Globo Surf Overview
So going back to the question earlier, is skiing really better than snowboarding, or is it the other way around? Which is cooler, the ski or snowboard? As you may have seen above, none is actually better, cooler, or more enjoyable than the other. Each sport has its own pros and cons, but they are both fun and either is a great choice if you’re looking to venture into snow sports. If you’re still caught between snowboarding vs. skiing, why not give both sports a try? In the end, you may find yourself falling in love with both sports and will have no particular favorite.
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- Pros and Cons of Skiing and Snowboarding, The Guardian