If you’ve never taken part in winter sports you may be wondering which is right for you. Skiing and snowboarding are among the most popular, and while similar in some ways, they are very different in others.
While one has you hitting the slopes attached to two planks (skis), the other is carried out on a tray (snowboard). In reality, these are separate modes of travel, so before deciding which you’ll tackle, check out these pros and cons for each.
The initial learning curve for skiing is relatively fast. This mode of transport is much like walking in that your feet move independently of one another. Once you learn the snowplough turn, and even the parallel turn, you can be well on your way.
Though this sport is fairly easy on beginner slopes, you really have to master the technique on the steeper ones in order to maintain speed and control.
Learning to snowboard is more difficult. Unlike skiing, your feet are clamped together, so must move in tandem. Two very important turns to learn are backside (where you edge with your heels) and frontside (where you edge with your toes).
These techniques often take more ingenuity than skiing, which means the entire sport often takes longer to pick up. However, all the effort and time you put into it is worth it in the end.
Skiing requires you to carry more gear while making your way to the lifts. Skis, goggles, gloves and poles are all necessary for the sport.
Once on the mountain this isn’t a problem, and you get used to carrying all of it around between slopes. Chairlifts aren’t problematic and getting the hang of t-bars isn’t too difficult.
Making your way to the mountain with a snowboard is much easier. Simply tuck it under one arm and you’re ready to go.
However, once on the slopes things become a bit trickier. In order to ride the lift it is necessary to remove your back foot, which isn’t always a simple process. At the top, you must then work to strap your back foot in again.
T-bars and other lifts can be quite a pain to maneuver. Then there are the flat sections, which present a whole new set of issues when you can’t move your feet independently of one another. Still, it’s worth it in the end when you’re riding down the slopes.
All sports carry the threat of potential injury, so it’s a good idea to practice safety at all times. Skiing is quite hard on the knees, and injuries can occur from incorrect technique or accidental collisions.
Head and upper body injuries are also common from meeting head-on with other skiers, and of course, trees. The key is to always pay attention to your technique, watch where you’re going and follow any signs or instructions you see.
Snowboarding, on the other hand, is much safer in terms of possible leg injuries. However, it can be hard on the ankles.
Upper body injuries occur more frequently with snowboarding - balance is the key.
Stacking too much on the frontside means you run the risk of breaking your collarbone or wrist. Slamming backwards could result in a broken tailbone. Again, taking the time to learn the technique well will decrease your risk of injury.
Skiing and snowboarding can both be a lot of fun, and once you’ve mastered one mode of transport, you might want to learn the other. When doing so, keep the differences in mind, and be sure to consult fellow winter sports enthusiasts for help and advice.