The hardest thing about snowboarding is a much-debated topic among the snowboarding community and one of the first questions a newcomer to the sport will ask.
Asking about the hardest part of snowboarding will likely get you a different answer each time. When asking this question, most snowboarders will agree on a few things: the expense, the steep learning curve, and mastering specific techniques. But the specifics will vary from person to person.
Below, we’ll look at some of the most common answers to the question, “What’s the hardest thing about snowboarding,” and see which answer comes up most often.
If you ask ten snowboarders what they think the hardest part about snowboarding is, you’re more likely than not going to get ten different answers.
In fact, when we surveyed our team at Snowboarding Help along with a load of our boarding pals, that’s exactly what happened.
Below, you’ll find our survey results, building up to what most snowboarders find most challenging about the sport.
Although most folks didn’t think that the physical exertion required for snowboarding was the most difficult thing about it, there’s no denying that a day on the slopes is normally pretty exhausting.
You’ll be putting in a massive lower body workout as you’re constantly using your hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves to turn, and your core will be engaged as you try to keep balanced.
You might also find yourself trekking through deep backcountry snow, hiking around the mountainous ski resort while carrying your board, and scooting one-footed across flat sections of the piste.
Experienced snowboarders may look completely at ease when riding, but they still get a ton of exercise.
As you get better at snowboarding, standing up is not much more than a brief core workout. However, when you’re starting out, it can be one of the most frustrating things to get the hang of.
Before you become attuned to the amount of pressure you need to put on your board’s edges and where your body weight needs to be centered to stand up and stay up in one swift movement, you’ll likely find your board sliding away when you attempt to get upright.
What’s just as frustrating as a newbie is when you haven’t started linking your turns and need to choose which edge you’re about to practice.
Most beginners find it easier to stand up on their toe edge, which means rolling onto your front every time you’re on the ground.
Ironically, riding on the toe edge also tends to be harder than riding on the heel edge when first starting out.
The world would be better if snowboarders could wake up to blue skies each day after a fresh dump of snow the night before, but the reality is much harsher.
You might have booked your trip and turned up to find there’s been no fresh powder for days, and you’ll need to avoid runs with thin snow coverage and icy patches.
Alternatively, maybe you get your powder, but it’s coming down in the middle of your riding day, and you can barely see a few yards ahead of your own nose.
Or it’s a particularly cloudy day, and you don’t have the right lenses in your goggles, making it harder to make out the details of the snow-covered ground ahead.
Unfortunately, snowboarding means you’re always at mother nature’s whim, for better or worse.
No snowboarder will ever tell you it’s a cheap hobby to get into, and it doesn’t really matter whether you’ve bought your own gear or prefer to rent.
Flights, transfers, food, accommodation, lift passes, snowboarding lessons, resort tax, gear rental, insurance…the list goes on.
While there are ways to snowboard on a budget, there’s no denying that a ski or snowboard trip will burn a hole in your wallet pretty quickly, even more so if you don’t have the advantage of living close to a rideable mountain.
The “paradox of choice” is when having too many options to choose from can make your life more stressful than when you only have a few, and it definitely applies to snowboarding.
If you’re fortunate enough to have the cash to buy a new board, you’ll soon be faced with the problem of deciding what board to pick.
Should you go for an all-mountain board that can handle powder, groomed pistes, and hold its own in the park? Should you pick a shorter or longer board?
Do you want a traditional camber profile, a rocker, or a hybrid of the two? What design do you want on the base? Decisions, decisions.
There are very few occasions where a snowboarder feels jealous of a skier, and hitting a long, flat section of a ski run without the speed to carry you through to the next downhill section is one of them.
Skiers have poles that make it easy to push themselves along the flat sections to “skate” across the snow, whereas snowboarders don’t have this luxury.
Instead, your choices are to unclip your back foot from your bindings and push yourself along or unclip both feet and hike through the snow. Neither is particularly fun.
This is one of the few benefits of having a skier in your group; if you ask very nicely, they may take pity on you and lend you a pole until the next descent.
No beginner snowboarder has ever looked cool getting off a ski lift, and they never will.
Where skiers can just slide up to the bench at the bottom of the lift and slide right off at the top, it’s normally a different story for snowboarders.
First, you have to unclip your back foot to scoot up to the lift and take a seat.
If it’s a lift with footrests, you can rest your board on one of these; however, if there aren’t any footrests, you’ll have to put up with your board dangling uncomfortably below you.
Then, when it’s time to alight, you have to be able to stand up and place your back foot on your board in front of your binding, making it down the exit slope with only one foot securely strapped in. Fun times.
Once you’ve got the hang of riding on your heel edge and your toe edge, the next step in the learning process is swapping from one to the other as you head down the mountain.
The practicality of this isn’t actually too difficult, but it’s one of the trickiest techniques for a beginner to master.
This is usually a matter of confidence. Linking a turn involves letting the board take over and point downhill before you can engage the opposite edge.
This brief increase in speed and loss of control can be pretty scary for a beginner and tends to result in a fair few crashes before linked turns are mastered.
Voted equally as hard as learning to link turns, finding the balance to stay on one edge of your board while in full control is one of the first things a new snowboarder has to master.
It’s also usually the point where a rookie realizes that snowboarding isn’t as easy as it looks and that there’s a tough journey ahead of them, especially as it relies on muscle memory and real-life practice.
Snowboarding is highly, highly addictive, and once you’ve had your first trip, there’s a good chance you’ll be hooked for life.
For most of us, the hardest part of the sport is coming to terms with the fact that it’s seasonal and that your time on the slopes will be limited.
Even if you’re fortunate to live right by a ski hill, you’ll have to spend half the year waiting until you can get back on the board. Having said that, it’s always winter somewhere.
As you can see above, snowboarding comes with plenty of challenges that can be different for everyone, depending on their circumstances and ability level.
However, the one thing every snowboarder can agree on is that despite the costs and frustrations, they’re all worth the trouble of being able to ride.