Skiing Or Snowboarding: Which Is Better?

I've done both for 25 years. Allow me to break down the relative merits of skiing and snowboarding for you, the conflicted beginner

Skiing or Snowboarding? That is the question. For diehard fans of each, the debate can get quite heated but for beginners, it’s just good to know the facts on both sides so you can make an informed decision or one based on which is the coolest…

Why you should 100% ignore skiing and take up snowboarding instead

It’s cooler. No, it is. When all other arguments are spent, this is the one that matters to those who care.

There are, of course, other reasons to take up snowboarding. The outfits are better, for starters, and it has a distinctive and well-funded ‘scene’. Plus, it’s easier to learn than skiing, and less of a strain on the knees – two things that appeal to the older novice.

Snowboarding boots are comfier than skiing boots, and there’s less clutter overall in terms of gear, making for a less fiddly experience. And your position – planted in place like a Subbuteo piece – means there’s less chance of sustaining an injury from having your legs twisted at unnatural angles.

While skiing is more about precision, snowboarding lends itself to a smooth, lazy carve down a mountain, and once you’ve become decent at it, it’s a lot more fun in the deep powder. It’s altogether a more relaxed activity, so it makes sense that it evolved from skateboarding and surfing – both in technique and ‘attitude’.

Downsides? You spend a silly amount of time on your arse strapping yourself into and out of your board, and you basically have to get off and walk when the terrain is flat.

In summation, then: if fun, laidback and relatively easy is what you’re after, and you like hanging with the in-crowd, snowboarding is the best fit for you.

Why you should 100% ignore snowboarding and take up skiing instead

Skiing’s got nothing to do with cool trousers and hip-hop bangerz and everything to do with actually getting around on snow. Unlike snowboarding, skiing allows you to glide across flat terrain, and even go uphill.

Many newcomers don’t realise that a day spent on a mountain consists of more down-time – getting on and off lifts, in and out of queues – than actual downhill-time, and it’s during these moments that skiing’s mobility wins out. You’re always strapped in and ready-to-go, and about as nimble and manoeuvrable as it gets on frozen water.

While it make my knees cry liquid cartilage just thinking about it, skiers are generally safer than snowboarders when going off-piste and taking on moguls (i.e. bumps) and glaciers. If speed is your thing then welcome to the squad, pilgrim.

Skiing’s major downside? Those awkwardly rigid boots, which’ll have you clanking about like a giant Tokyo-bothering robot whenever you have to take your skis off.

The short version, then: If you want to do things the challenging, ‘proper’ way and truly conquer the mountain, learn to ski.

(Of course, the smart money does both…)


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