Skiing and snowboarding rank among the most exhilarating, fun, and accessible winter sports anyone can experience. Both offer unique challenges and require persistence and practice to master.
Whether you’re swooshing down slopes on skis or cruising on a snowboard, the joy and satisfaction derived when you conquer the snowy mountains is incomparable.
But, if you’re thinking of heading off on your first snow holiday, and you’re undecided which one to try, we’re gonna help you decide. So, which is better for you to learn? Ski or snowboard?
Before we start, a quick note: There are some affiliate links in this post. This just means if you click and buy through them, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.
Which is easier to learn: Skiing or Snowboarding?
When it comes down to the initial ease of learning, many swear by skiing as the quicker sport to get the hang of. With the ability to control each ski independently and a more natural upright stance, beginner skiers can often get moving on skis faster than they can on a snowboard. The steady learning curve allows new skiers to navigate gentle slopes relatively quickly.
Snowboarding, though, requires a different set of skills – which might at first seem familiar if you’ve done any board sports before.
Beginner snowboarders who are new to board sports might initially struggle with the requirement to have both feet strapped to the same board. This can lead to more frequent falls in the beginning, creating a seemingly steeper learning curve.
However, progressing from an amateur to an intermediate level can potentially be quicker in snowboarding than skiing once the basics are mastered.
Those first lessons for skiing and snowboarding often feel unnatural and can result in falls, bumps, bruises and aching legs. Yes, this is for both skiers and snowboarders.
Basically, it boils down to personal preference and perseverance in deciding which sport you’d like to learn first.
When it comes to ski or snowboard, we’ve all gotta start somewhere. And when it comes to learning skiing vs snowboarding, there isn’t much in it at the start, so don’t this put you off.
Will I hurt myself learning to ski or snowboard?
Lets be honest. Both skiing and snowboarding are physically demanding, and you will likely end up falling over whichever sport you do. Every beginner skier will find themselves struggling to stay upright and you can pretty much expect to fall, especially in the beginner stage, quite regularly.
While some people might find snowboarding easier to progress, mastering that body position, keeping the board edge and mastering turns does mean that you will find yourself falling over A LOT.
The first week on both skis or snowboard will be painful. And yes, you will have bruises, most likely.
Most people manage to get away with a few awkward falls. So if you’re worried about broken arms or legs, don’t worry, this is VERY unlikely.
In short, yes, expect some falls.
BUT…. Its a hella lot of fun.
Learning to ski or snowboard is just the first step in what often ends up being a life long love affair.
Looking for beginners ski or snowboard holidays? Check out SkiWorld who offer full learner holiday packages.
What are the pros and cons of skiing vs snowboarding
There are a few things it’s good to know before you start your skiing or snowboarding journey. Both of these sports have pluses and minuses, and while these might not influence which one you choose, it’s good to manage your expectations and understand what challenges might be ahead.
With that in mind, these are the elements and challenges that you’ll encounter when you start to ski or snowboard.
For skiiers, you obviously need to have ski poles, once you’ve learned the basics. And these are all fine and good, but they can get dropped from ski lifts on occasion. A snowboarder just needs their snowboard (plus the boots and bindings of course).
Oh and all skiers and snowboarders should wear a helmet. No excuses! Concussion is not cool.
For snowboarders, you don’t need those ski poles, but then you might wish you had them on flat sections. Snowboarders who don’t pick up speed on the right sections can run out of steam and stall, meaning a bit of a walk plus a strap back into your bindings.
Skiers don’t tend to have this problem as they can either walk their skis or use their ski poles.
There are ways to get moving on the flat while still in your snowboard, but this tends to be a more advanced skill you learn later on.
Ski boots vs snowboard boots
Ski boots are, frankly, cumbersome and uncomfortable. See any skiier walking in ski boots and they’re having to walk like a robot. They’re also terrible for apres ski.
Snowboard boots are much softer and easier to walk in, meaning if you need to walk back from the lift to your hotel, you won’t be cursing the gods too much. And it’s much easier to do the samba in snowboard boots too. Joking. Stick to the hand jive.
However, when it comes to drag lifts (also known as button lifts or t-bar lifts), skiers have the advantage. Simply grab the bar and point your skis up the hill, and away you go.
Snowboarders need to master a new art of managing their direction on a ski lift, which is, frankly, pretty annoying and uncomfortable. While its not impossible, drag lifts are kinda the bane of a snowboarders life, especially in the early days. It does get easier though, honest.
One negative for skiers is that if they do crash or fall, their ski can come unclipped and then make its way down the mountains. You’ll often see a skier on a black run stack it and then watch as their poles and skis fly off in different directions for a considerable distance. A proper pain in the butt.
With a snowboard, you’re strapped in, so if you fall, you’re still attached to your equipment. Just get up, dust yourself down, and go again.
There is also an argument that snowboarders are less likely to break a leg, with less potential for twisting the wrong way. However, both sports do have the potential for some fairly hefty injuries if you’re not careful.
And finally, snowboarders will need to release one foot (usually the back foot) each time they go onto a chair lift and ‘skate’. They will then need to strap back in at the top. This is why you’ll often see boarders sitting at the top of lifts getting their boots back in their bindings.
It is also slightly trickier to dismount lifts with a snowboard, which is a bit of a skill itself.
Skiers can simply put their skis on and not need to take them off until they’re either taking a break or at the end of the day. And it’s easy to ski off a lift too.
Why do snowboarders sit down so much?
When it comes to skiing vs snowboarding, skiers tend to laugh at snowboarders for spending a lot of time sitting down. This is especially true when learning, as snowboarders can lose their balance and fal.
Snowboarders also need to strap into their board quite often. To get onto a chair lift, snowboarders need to ride with one foot unclipped. This means strapping in again at the top of every lift, which can be tiresome.
Experienced snowboarders though can easily strap their snowboarding boots back into their bindings while standing, or even moving.
Which is cooler: Skiing vs Snowboarding?
The “coolness” factor is largely a matter of personal perception and societal trends. Snowboarding gained a reputation for being “cooler” due in part to its roots in counter-culture, similar to skateboarding and surfing. Its creative tricks and freestyle aspects also appeal to a younger crowd, making it view as edgier.
Snowboarding also imported a lot of fashion styling from street culture, especially baggy clothing and a more devil may care attitude. Most of the cool snowsports brands are snowboarding focused.
Skiing, although seen by some as more traditional, has been evolving with modern advancements and increasingly attracting a more youthful demographic. Radical skiing techniques and new freestyle elements like “slopestyle” and “big air” are enhancing skiing’s cool factor.
In fact, skiing has become a lot “cooler” in recent years as the cost of a ski holiday has come down making the sport more accessible.
However, the “coolness” factor shouldn’t be the primary consideration when choosing between skiing and snowboarding. What truly matters is which sport gives you the most joy and fulfillment.
Which is faster: Skiing or Snowboarding?
In terms of speed, skiing nudges out snowboarding. The current world record for speed skiing stands at a whopping 158.424 mph, set by Ivan Origone in 2016. Snowboarding trails with a maximum speed record of 126.309 mph, set by Edmond Plawczyk in 2015.
However, on average recreational runs, the speed gap might be less apparent. Many variables such as individual skill level, slope difficulty, and snow conditions, all impact speed.
Is snowboarding the same as skateboarding/surfing?
While snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing share similar body movements and board design, they differ in terrain and techniques.
Both skateboarding and snowboarding require riders to stand sideways on their boards, and the tricks performed may be similar. Ollies, rail grinds and riding switch are the obvious similarities.
Snowboarding’s culture and freestyle tendencies were indeed heavily influenced by skateboarding.
Meanwhile, surfing has contributed to the fluid, carve-influenced style of riding a snowboard. However, the presence of water and waves makes a significant difference in surfing techniques as compared to snowboarding.
Is skiing the same as inline skating/ice skating?
There are definite similarities between skiing and inline/ice skating. The forward stance, edge control, and leg movements in inline and ice skating can be beneficial in learning ski techniques. However, skiing requires more knee bending and uses poles for motion and balance.
In terms of speed and direction control, skis have a greater surface area in contact with the snow, leading to subtle differences in how you navigate.
Where can you learn to ski or snowboard?
Almost every ski resort in Europe, and probably the world, will have a beginners area. This mostly means a sectioned off area which is designed for beginners with very little traffic from experienced skiers and snowboarders.
Some of the best ski resorts for beginners in Europe are:
- Avoriaz/Les Gets, France
- Val Thorens/Meribel (Les Trois Vallees), France
- Alpe d’Huez, France
- Grandvalira, Andorra
- La Plagne, France
- Obergurgl, Austria
- Serfis-Fiss-Lads, Austria
This is not an exhaustive list, but generally keep an eye out for the amount of blue or green runs in a ski resort and the amount of ski schools.
If you’re looking for lessons, check out CheckYeti which has tons of ski and snowboard instructors in all of the biggest resorts.
Don’t let any preconceived notions about skiing or snowboarding cloud your judgment – both sports have their merits and challenges.
Whether you tackle the terrain two-footed or prefer to ride a board the most important factor in deciding whether to learn skiing or snowboarding should be your own personal preference and comfort level. Anyway, whats stopping you from trying both?
So go ahead, strap on those ski or snowboard boots and hit the snow – there’s a whole world of winter fun waiting for you.