There is something to be said about being outdoors in the winter on a mountain. Standing at the top of a snowy mountain and looking down a slope, having the cold wind whip up the face of the hill is special and thrilling. The only way you can experience this feeling of complete exhilaration is skiing or snowboarding. There are many differences between skiing and snowboarding, so here’s a breakdown of what you need to know before you climb up the mountain road.
Starting from the head down, for skiers and snowboarders alike, it is pretty standard to protect your head by wearing a helmet and eyes with goggles. A “neckie” which is a piece of fabric or flannel that covers a skiers neck, is important to keep warm on the hill. They also wear a heavy jacket with layers underneath and snow pants on the bottom. Gloves are worn to keep hands warm and handy dandy hand warmers can be put into gloves for extra warmth.
Snowboarding and skiing differ in the way of what is strapped to mountain enthusiast’s feet. Skiers have skis and poles while borders have a snowboard, but here is a deeper look into some differences
Skiers wear ski boots which at times can be stiff and funky to walk in, but allow for skiers to arc turns on the mountain without falling out of their boots and skis. Skiers are also less injury prone because their equipment allows for easy release if they end up in a tough situation.
Skiers don’t have to wait when getting off the ski lifts. Snowboarders have to sit down and strap in once gliding off the lift, which takes time.
Pro tip: it is also way easier to get off a lift on skis.
Aside from equipment, the culture of skiing is different from snowboarding. When skiers clip into their skis, there is a certain level of community that other mountain goers give to skiers. The sport is everywhere and the culture around skiing is big and full of support. When skiers see each other on the mountain, you can expect a wave, smile, “nice skis bro” or a loud “send it!” coming from other skiers.
Skiing is an “old” sport. It has been around for centuries and caters to those young and old. You will see skiers on the mountain who have been shredding for decades or newbies out on the bunny hill. Debates on whether skiing or snowboarding is easier have been around since the beginning of the winter sports, but I will say, skiing is much easier to learn. This is a large reason as to why you see more skiers on the mountain and why there is a variety of ages.
There are different ways that you can ski. There is downhill skiing, which most participate in and then there is cross-country skiing, telemark skiing and backcountry skiing.
Cross-country skiing is a type of skiing that requires another set of equipment. The skis are skinnier, poles are longer and the need for a helmet and goggles is not there. Instead cross-country skiers wear hats and sunglasses. They “skate” through the woods on different trails, away from downhill skiers.
Telemark skiing is unique and was started in Europe. This type of skiing started to become popular about 15 years ago. Telemark skiers are still considered downhill skiers, but their heel is free. Imagine making a lunge on skis, down the mountain every turn. That is what telemark skiers do. It adds an extra challenge for those downhill skiers who are considered experts.
Backcountry skiing is also a downhill skiing sport, however the phrase “earn your turns” is thrown around every time you go into the backcountry. Going into the backcountry means entering the out of bounds parts of a ski resort. By going into the backcountry skiers are able to ski untouched snow, but there are multiple costs to this type of skiing. Much more equipment is needed to enter the backcountry and only expert skiers should go out of bounds. Even then, accidents happen. Avalanches, risky conditions and uncontrolled runs lead to accidents and deaths yearly in the backcountry. If you are interested in going in the backcountry go with a trusted group of skiers.
Skiing is fun. That is what it simply comes down to. I have never complained about a day spent on the mountain. As an ex-ski racer, a ski coach and someone who has a huge passion for the sport, I can say you will never be disappointed in the hill with skis strapped to your feet. Rain or shine, you can’t help but smile as you stand at the top of a mountain, looking down a slope, having the cold wind whip up the face of the hill. It is special and thrilling.
One of the huge differences between skiers and snowboarders is the situation surrounding the boots. Snowboarders have boots sized correctly to your shoe size and these boots fit in different sized bindings attached to the snowboard.
The bindings are different from snapping into a ski because you strap into the binding. The rider must manually reach down and tighten the straps to fit your boot. The bindings keep you strapped in and can be adjusted for your riding style, no matter the situation.
Some people may think it is a hindrance to take the time to sit down and strap in, but you either get used to it or, after enough practice, you can do it while standing up and get right into shredding the mountain.
One essential thing to know about snowboarding is the social aspect.
Snowboarders are very friendly, and we are all in this to accomplish one thing in the end, to look cool. Every snowboarder chooses snowboarding because of the relaxing riding feel and the ability to show off at any moment.
Snowboarders are always ready to take any run on the mountain and turn it into an amusement park of tricks and they cannot wait to hit the terrain parks.
Each snowboarder admires each other for the things they have learned and accomplished, and we support each other everyday to push the limits and try new things.
Looking from the outside, snowboarding can seem very easy, and it is. Skills from skateboarding, surfing, longboarding and more, all transfer over.
Someone with simple balance and body control can pick up the sport.
In the defense of skiing, it does appear easier to learn, as it looks more natural for the body, but snowboarding is not so bad either.
The main difficulty to learn from snowboarding is tricks. This is why you see fewer snowboarders on the mountain.
Freeriding all day long on a snowboard is much more taxing on the body and that’s why snowboarding is perfect for adrenaline seekers.
There are three main types of snowboarding: freeriding, freestyle and free-carve.
Freeriding is just the combination of the other too. Freeriding involves doing runs on the mountain and involving the huge carving aspect and tricks along the way. This is the nice balance between the two where all snowboarders love.
Next, is freestyle snowboarding. Freestyle snowboarding consists of mainly tricks and the terrain park, this is where boarders show off their aerial skills. This is mainly for hardcore enthusiasts and for experienced riders so build up slowly to this point.
Finally, free-carve, my personal favorite, is the rush of downhill snowboarding. The snowboarder drops in from a high point and just rides fast down the mountain hitting insane carves from each side of the run, the adrenaline is high, and the speed is intense.
Snowboarding is an immense thrill of excitement. Each day on the mountain is a new journey where any snowboarder can have fun, enjoy the runs, enjoy the people and improve their skills.
I have loved snowboarding since I was a child and each day on the mountain presents a new exciting challenge, and each trip I get better and better and so will you. Snowboarding is for anyone looking to get their spirits high and their jumps even higher.