When you gaze upon the slopes at any mountain resort, you’ll see both skiers and snowboarders zooming downhill, throwing out the occasional trick, and just generally having the time of their lives. Both sports look like a blast, but you only have the time or money to try one of them this winter and must now figure out which it’s going to be. To help you decide, let’s take a quick look at the biggest differences between the two.
The most obvious difference between skiing and snowboarding is the kind of equipment used. Skiers have to have skis, poles, bindings, and boots, while snowboarders must have a board, bindings, and boots. As a beginner, you’ll definitely want to rent these items until you make up your mind which sport you’d like to invest in.
Regardless of whether you choose to ski or snowboard, you’ll need to dress for the weather and conditions, which typically means wearing waterproof snow pants, jacket, and gloves, as well as breathable socks and perhaps a battery-heated vest for extra warmth.
Skiers face forward as they move downhill, and are able to use their feet and poles either independently or together to generate momentum and provide balance. Snowboarders, on the other hand, are turned sideways on the board and move downhill perpendicularly. Moreover, they must use their entire body for navigation and balance, which is a skill some beginners may have trouble with.
Both snowboarding and skiing can take place on a variety of slope styles and terrain, including mountains, hills, and manmade features. Skiing can also be done on highly technical courses and wooded areas requiring excellent control and tight turns, as well as across flat ground (cross-country). As a novice, however, you’ll likely stick to gentle or intermediate slopes until you develop the skills necessary to advance to more difficult terrain.
Although simply reading about the differences between skiing and snowboarding might allow you to make a decision in a pinch, we recommend trying both sports at least a few times before committing to one or the other!