There’s the old belief that skiing is easier to learn, but harder to master – whilst snowboarding is harder to learn, but easier to master. Everyone’s experience learning either skill is different, but there is a slight element of truth in the statement.
Is snowboarding easier than skiing?
Unless you have a background in either skating or surfboarding, most people are going to feel more comfortable keeping their feet separated and facing the direction of travel initially. Whilst ski boots can feel clunky and annoying at first, your progress up the mountain should be pretty quick once you’ve mastered the basics of the snowplough and parallel skis.
Many learners will get to this stage and be confident on blue and even some red runs within a week of having some lessons. The problem is, people tend to stop learning at this point and never reach their full potential – top advice is to keep on having lessons, even if they are intermittent; they get you to properly carve your turns.
Learning to Snowboard
If you decide that snowboarding is just much cooler than skiing, you’ll enjoy the boots but maybe not the bumps. Having both feet strapped to one board means that to begin with, your bum and knees are going to be making best friends with the snow!
Learning to shift your weight to go from zig-zag into more fluid, linked turns is a big step and it can take weeks worth of lessons to learn. Once you’ve nailed it though, the mountain is your playground.
Practicalities of Skiing vs Snowboarding
Ski resorts, ski lessons, ski lifts – there’s a good reason that it’s the default term. These places and things were specifically made for the sport that came first; and as a result snowboarders have to overcome a few specific challenges on the mountain.
Getting on drag or chairlifts means unstrapping your back foot, which then has to be clipped in again at the top of every single run – not to mention the distinctly undignified dismount. Having said that, once off the mountain, snowboarders can saunter round town in their comfy footwear, carrying only one piece of kit, whilst skiers have to master the art of carrying two skis and poles in less than flexible ski boots.
Which is Safer?
From a safety perspective, there’s not really much in it these days, just different common injuries. Given the range of motion and the potential risk of catching an edge on deeper or harder snow, twists and tears in the knee are the biggest risk for skiers. Snowboarders are much more likely to break their wrists or collarbone if they fall forwards, or their tailbone if they go over backwards.
Don’t let this put you off though, injuries are rare. Just make sure you’re being safe and don’t feel pressured into doing anything outside your comfort zone.