You may be trying to decide between skiing and snowboarding, so asking a snowboarder, “why is snowboarding better than skiing?” is a natural thing to do. But do they have the knowledge and experience to give you the correct answer?
The truth is that snowboarding is better than skiing because it’s more fun, easier to master, and looks cooler. You can even use your snowboard skills when you do other sports. But the most important factor that makes snowboarding better than skiing is the incredible feeling you get riding powder.
Discussing why snowboarding is better than skiing over a few drinks will always provoke reactions from both sides, usually in good humor. But, it’s time to put the debate to bed and get the definitive answer.
Why I Went from Being a Skier to Being a Snowboarder?
Snowboarding wasn’t an option when I started skiing at four, and it was in its infancy and not on most people’s radar. Therefore, my annual trip to the French Alps consisted of skiing with my family.
But one year in the early nineties, my dad hired a snowboard for him and me to share. At this time, my dad was a fully grown adult; I was twelve years old, and we used the same freestyle snowboard.
On top of this, we fitted it with hard boot bindings so we could use our ski boots.
It’s safe to say we didn’t know what we were doing, and neither did the guy in the windsurf shop who had just bought a couple of snowboards to hire out.
Unsurprisingly, we couldn’t get the thing to turn. My dad could be seen trying to make his way down the mountain with a ski pole in one hand in true “Jerry style.”
He proceeded to break three ribs and his wrist, so we stuck with skis for a while. However, my dad bought me a snowboard lesson for my fifteenth birthday.
It was painful and challenging, but I instantly saw the potential of how much fun I could have with a decent snowboard and the correct boot and bindings.
From that moment on, I was a snowboarder, visiting our local indoor snow center every week, going on summer snowboard camps, and snowboarding at every opportunity.
I preferred how natural the sideways stance felt to the forward-facing skiing stance. The way the board carves is addictive, and the endless list of tricks makes every run different if you want it to be.
But nothing is better than the feeling of how a snowboard performs in powder. This led me to eventually leave everything behind to live in the French Alps at the foot of the slopes.
I still get excited when the first snowflake falls. Here’s my list of why snowboarding is better than skiing.
Many skiers and snowboarders consider a day riding powder in the backcountry the ultimate goal.
You first need to get the basics down on the groomers, whichever sport you do, but powder is much easier and more entertaining on a snowboard.
This is because the technique of riding powder on a snowboard isn’t too different from on groomed slopes.
You have to adapt your riding, but it won’t take long for you to look like a pro, taking face shots as you slash through the snow.
Also, the extra width of a snowboard creates lots of float, creating a unique feeling you must experience to understand.
Skiing in powder is almost like a new sport compared to skiing on groomed slopes. So much so that you’ll feel like a beginner the first time you ski in powder.
There will be lots of falling over, digging in the snow for skis that have popped off, and exhaustion. That’s not to say you won’t fall over in powder on a snowboard and get frustrated.
It’s just that you’ll be able to adapt much more quickly and enjoy powder sooner; just keep your speed up, and commit to every turn.
People with a history of sideways standing sports will find snowboarding much better than skiing.
So if you’ve done some skateboarding, surfing, wakeboarding, or other board sports, you’ll find the transition to snowboarding much easier.
A few years ago, I worked a winter season with a guy who had never skied or snowboarded before and was trying to decide which sport to take up.
However, he was a surfing instructor, so I said the natural thing to do was snowboard.
It was sickening to see how quickly he picked it up, as he could instantly ride at the level of someone who’d been riding for years.
We took him off-piste in his first week and rode powder as good as any of us. A water skier may find skiing a bit more natural, but not many sports will prepare you to be a skier.
Following what I said above, your skills go the other way too. If you develop your snowboarding skills, you’ll find other sideways sports a little easier to get into.
Your stance will feel more natural when you finally stand up on a surfboard, skateboard, or wakeboard.
How convenient a sport is shouldn’t be a reason why you do it. However, when you’re in a ski resort, look at the skiers and snowboarders walking around town.
Skiers stomp around in hard plastic ski boots with no grip on the soles. Ski boots are tricky to walk in, even with “walk mode,” especially when negotiating stairs.
However, I have seen a few French ski instructors driving their cars to the slopes in ski boots! Also, skis are not the easiest things to carry.
They don’t stay together, often causing the skier to hug them to their chest as they clump their way to the lift.
Carrying skis properly over your shoulder is awkward, too, as the edges or bindings uncomfortably dig into your shoulder.
This becomes more frustrating when you get to the lift and realize you’ve forgotten your poles. Snowboarders have soft boots that are much more comfortable and easier to walk in.
They also grip snow and ice better, preventing embarrassing slips in front of the lift line. On top of all this, we can carry our boards in one hand, leaving one hand to finish our breakfast on the way to the cable car.
It’s rare to see a bunch of skiers chatting at the top of the snow park. But snowboarders tend to hang out together for a few minutes.
They’re not posing or complementing each other’s outfits. Instead, they’re talking about tricks they’re working on, sharing tips, and encouraging each other.
They’ll also dissect the previous night’s exploits and plan today’s après venue.
OK, snowboarding has a lot of slang and jargon to learn, but you can see why so many kids ski when the first things you learn are “pizza” and “french fries.”
As an adult, having a young ski instructor shouting “pizza” and “french fries” at you seems a bit wrong.
But as a beginner snowboarder, you learned the proper meaning of “heel-edge” and “toe-edge,” which is much more adult.
This may seem like an odd way to illustrate why snowboarding is better than skiing. Still, it’s a significant factor in your snowsports career.
This means you’ll spend the first few days learning to snowboard, rolling around in the snow, and need to pop Ibuprofen every night.
But with a bit of persistence, something will click in your head within a few days bringing it all together. Therefore, you can stray from the green runs and start exploring the mountain pretty quickly.
This is more beneficial if you only get to go to the mountains once a year.
On the flip side, even though you can make your way down the mountain on skis within a few hours, some skiers only ever ski green and blue runs and never progress to more entertaining terrain.
This is a waste of a lift ticket, and they are missing out on what else the mountains have to offer them.
So we’ve established that skiing is easier to learn than snowboarding, but it all starts to change when you want to start carving. This is bad news for skiers who don’t get much time to practice.
Of course, those first few days on a snowboard are challenging, but it’s possible to carve at some level by the end of your first trip.
When you can do this, you can leave the green runs and head for your first powder run. This isn’t likely if you’re a beginner skier.
There’s a good chance that you’ll be practicing your “pizza” and “french fries” on one green run all week.
On skis, your knees are free to twist in any direction, which is further enhanced by the leverage from your skis. This makes knee injuries horrendous. Also, skiing is generally more brutal on your lower body.
When you snowboard, you feel pain in your glutes, quads, and core, but these are muscles. After you’ve snowboarded for a while, these muscles strengthen and don’t fatigue as quickly.
Knee injuries are rare for snowboarders; they only happen with repeated heavy impacts on the ground; it’s your arms, wrists, and coccyx you want to worry about.
Skis are made to go fast or for tricks. If you want to be a freestyle skier, you’ll need to buy some twin-tip skis to ride switch. Skiing switch on regular skis is possible but limiting.
So if you like to mix up your mountain time, you’ll need to buy skis, bindings, and boots for both alpine and freestyle skiing. You may also want a setup for skiing powder.
Most snowboards can be used for freestyle, riding the groomers, and backcountry. There are snowboards designed explicitly for each discipline.
However, there’s a good chance that your snowboard will allow you to ride switch, hit jumps in the park, go fast in the resort, and ride powder.
So, if you’re a snowboarder, you’ll be able to have fun without wishing you’d brought your other setup. It’s also kinder to your wallet, as you don’t need a collection of snowboards unless you want one.
When you see snowboarders sitting in the snow, strapping in at the top of the lift, you may think it looks like a lot of effort, and this is especially true when skiers just get off the lift and ski away.
However, skiers have a harder time clipping in when the snow is deep and powdery. Their bindings get clogged with snow, preventing them from activating and holding the ski boot in place.
Snowboarders may get a little bit of snow build-up underfoot. But this can often be cleared with your finger or scraped with your binding buckle.
You’ll often see skiers smacking the bottom of their boots with their poles, trying to dislodge ice and snow so they can get going.
So you’re charging down a slope but misjudge the snow conditions, or you have to take action to avoid a kid.
This causes you to ramp off a mogul, hit the ice patch you were trying to avoid, or accelerate out of control. No matter how good you are, these incidents will cause a wipeout.
If you’re on skis in this situation, you can twist your knees or ankles, especially if your skis don’t come off.
But if they do come off, they send you sliding down the mountain, giving you time to think about how many injuries you’ll have by the time you stop.
You may come away unscathed, but you’ll need to hike back up the slope to find your skis and poles, which is quite undignified.
That’s not to say you’re invincible on a snowboard, but the consequences are less severe. Most of the time, you’ll brush yourself off and have a little rest to recover before getting up and continuing to shred.
There are many ways snowboarding looks cooler than skiing. Firstly, when you master your turns and dial in a trick, you can make snowboarding look effortless.
There are a few freestyle skiers that can do this, but generally, it’s the snowboarder’s “steeze” that comes out on top.
The next way snowboarding looks cooler is the equipment. Snowboards can come in a wide range of interesting shapes, but the board graphics often stand out on the top sheet and base.
You can customize your setup with boots and bindings that match your snowboard and complement your outfit, enhancing your coolness.
Some skis have cool graphics and colors but don’t stand out like snowboards. But you can tell what snowboard someone is riding from a long distance if you know what you’re looking for.
Skiers often choose a funky design on their poles, but you can only see them when they’re propped up on the après bar wall.
Also, no matter how cool or expensive your ski outfit and equipment is, you can’t look good walking in ski boots.
Putting all jokes aside, the truth about which is better is that it doesn’t matter.
As long as you and your friends are having fun safely, you can have as much fun on skis or a snowboard and deserve the same amount of respect. Unless you’re a snowblader, nobody likes snowbladers.