Skiing vs Snowboarding: Which is Easier for Beginners?

Ready to hit the slopes for the first, but no idea what on? I went for snowboarding, but, this guide covers which is easiest.


Back when I lived in Bulgaria, I learnt to snowboard. It wasn’t anything to do with what was easier; that was just personal preference.

Below, we’re going to cover whether skiing is easier than snowboarding for beginners. But we’ll also explain which ones easier once you check back for your 2nd trip (which you will, because you’ll be hooked).

It’s only a 3-minute read, and will help you decide which one’s best for you…

Is Skiing or Snowboarding Easier for Beginners?

Snowboarding is harder to learn for beginners. However, it’s easier to master.

On the flip side, skiing is harder to learn for beginners. But, as you grow towards an intermediate on the slopes, it’s harder to master.

That’s the short version…

Does Skiing Require More Fitness Than Snowboarding?

You’ll find both skiing and snowboarding require reasonable levels of strength and fitness. It’s not going to be a cheap trip, so I’d certainly check out some slope specific exercises.

The main thing to focus on is high repetition leg exercises, and some basic core exercises (lower back etc).

Why Snowboarding is Harder Than Skiing for Beginners

There are two obvious things that make skiing easier than snowboarding for beginners. Let’s compare snowboarding vs skiing in terms of stance, vision, and body position.

Stance

If you look at a skier, you’ll see they’re in a similar stance to walking, straight on with leg separation. Because that’s the stance we use for walking, put simply, it feels natural.

If you check out a snowboarder on the other hand, you’ll see they’re side on, it’s an unnatural position.

For some, turning on a snowboard can be difficult given this body position; turning on a snowboard is one of the hardest things to master.

Vision

Leading on from stance, is vision. Again, look at any first time skier and you’ll find they can see exactly where they are going.

The problem with snowboarding, is not only the weird stance, it’s the fact that you’re relying much more on peripheral vision, whether you’re riding heal OR toe side. And, you’ll always have 50% of your vision blocked.

Relying on peripheral vision and knowing you can’t see 50% of what you need to, makes snowboarding feel a lot more unnatural than skiing. And that on its own, makes snowboarding harder to learn than skiing for beginners.

Body Position

With both skiing and snowboarding, you’ll need to try, and then try again; that’s the only way of learning.

However, skiing is generally easier than snowboarding, as you have leg separation.

Why does this matter? As soon as you become off balance, you can shift weight easily, or raise a leg to counterbalance, avoiding a fall in the process.

With your feet fixed in snowboard bindings straight to the board, this isn’t an option. As first time snowboarder, you’re going to find your self bailing in the exact same situation as the one mentioned above for a skier.

More time face down in the snow (for snowboarders), means less time learning…so you’ll see your skiing counterparts learning much quicker within the first few days.

A Note to Skateboarders, Wakeboarders and Surfers

I have experience in all the above, and I wouldn’t say I’m “good” at any of them (that’s not important).

What’s important is I’m used to having to use my peripheral vision, and 50% of my view blocked. If this sounds like you, and boards appeal to you, I would 100% recommend heading straight for snowboarding.

I was nearly put off by how much easier skiing could be, but on the advice of another surfer, I went for snowboarding, and glad I did (you should too if that’s what you’re leaning towards).

Skiing vs Snowboarding – Ease of Progression

We’ve mentioned that skiing is easier for beginners, so that’s your first trip covered. If you’re planning to go on one trip, skiing is for you.

However, if snowboarding is what appeals to you and you plan to make this an annual holiday, or want to progress, keep reading.

Snowboarding (Easier to Progress)

With snowboarding, you need to focus on one thing: turning. Once you’ve mastered turning, it’s easy to improve. I managed to get my turn on the second day, and within a week, I was more than competent on red runs.

On the flip side, I saw skiers who, even by the end of the week, were really struggling even on the blue slopes.

If you like the idea of snowboarding, and plan more than one trip, I’d recommend heading straight for the board hire shop, you WON’T be disappointed.

Skiing (Harder to Progress)

So, why is skiing so hard to progress? Well, you’ll start by learning the snow plough to control speed and slowly turn using it. Unfortunately, this is part of progression, and it’s not the same technique used to carve.

Essentially, you’ll spend a few days learning one technique, only to realize you need to be learning another!

So, Should You Learn To Snowboard or Ski?

This depends on a few things, which I’ll list below. If you like the idea of one or the other, I’d head straight for that (they’re not that much harder than one another), whilst taking the following into account:

  • Skateboarders, surfers and wakeboarders won’t find it as difficult as others as a snowboarding beginner
  • If you want to get going on the slopes straight away, or it’s a one off trip, skiing is easier to learn
  • Prepared for a few days learning? Snowboarding is harder for beginners, but after a few days, you’ll be leaving first time skiers in your white dust (as snowboarding is much easier to pick up).

For me, snowboarding was what I wanted to do. I was prepared to sacrifice a few days to learn, and as soon as I learnt to turn, I picked up speed, confidence, and technique quickly.

Snowboarding all the way!

How To Snowboard

Ready to carve up the slopes and learn snowboarding? Make sure you read our 10-minute snowboarding for beginners guide and starting learning to snowboard today.

How To Ski

Looking to challenge yourself on the slopes? Our skiing for beginner’s guide is where you need to be if you want to master the slopes and learn to ski.

That’s a Wrap!

Hopefully my guide explains whether skiing is easier than snowboarding and has helped you make a decision.

I’m jealous. You’re about to experience the slopes for the first time! Can’t wait to get there and want to read more? Start by reading our cheeky guide to the best ski goggles under $100.

Enjoy!

Grant's a motorcycle geek, outdoor enthusiast & confirmed racing nut. He road tests all the gear he buys, and then gives his feedback here on NoobNorm. He also details any quick fixes he stumbles upon, whether that's to stop brakes on motorcycles sticking, or unusual noises coming from gaming wheels.

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