Skiing vs Snowboarding: which one is easier to learn if you are a beginner?

As a beginner, I often find myself asking the same question over and over: skiing or snowboarding, which one is easier? This recurring curiosity led me to ask around my closest friends, family, and work colleagues. However, no answer seemed to convince me. That’s when I decided to take it upon myself to determine which one was the ultimate snow sport.

The article follows the structure below:

  1. Your first lesson: main differences and what to expect 
  2. Progressing on skis vs snowboard 
  3. How to choose your perfect fit 
  4. Which one is more popular?

Comparisons can be odious. Nevertheless, this case may well be an exception that breaks the rule. As the headline suggests, the following article will show you the main differences between snowboarding and skiing, and hopefully, help you get that jump-start into trying one of them. In order to do so, I will analyse these two sports’ characteristics and discuss them in an open and ongoing debate that sets skiing lovers against snowboarding fans.

The following article will try to carefully compare the two sports from a beginner’s perspective. From a beginner’s point of view, I have challenged myself with the task of establishing a single winning part. So if you have never been skiing or snowboarding like me, and want to find the perfect sport for you, I will explain everything you need to know: from the main differences, learning time, equipment, or popularity in the last years.

1) Your first lesson: main differences and what to expect

Two girls enjoy a day out in the snow with their ski and snowboarding equipment.

In the winter sports world, there is a widespread saying that you will frequently hear among skiers and snowboarders: Skiing is easier to learn but harder to master, while snowboarding is harder to learn but easier to master.Although each person has different learning abilities, there is some truth in this saying.

For beginners, skiing will come more naturally, since you can move both legs independently, giving you a better body position with your feet facing forward. Your body is facing forward in the direction that you want to go, so your first moves will come more intuitively. Additionally, some basic skiing techniques, like the Snow Plough, can get you through the first days on the easy slopes without getting discouraged. 

As for snowboarding, first-timers will have a harder time since both feet are attached to the board. This can take some time to get used to and even feel unnatural at first. Plus, only being able to see the slope sideways will also make it difficult to be aware of your surroundings. Snowboarding also doesn’t come with the advantage of having an easy technique to rely on, since you need to learn to control your speed, turn and ride on both edges of the board. So, be prepared for a tough start that will most probably have you lying on the snow the first days. 

Another important consideration to bear in mind is your fitness condition. One thing is for sure: you will burn calories by doing both. However, beginners can get tired faster when snowboarding rather than skiing. Essentially, you will do a push-up every time you fall off your board. Skiing also takes muscle strength, but since you won’t fall down as often, it is more likely you won’t run out of breath. 

You might be wondering (unless you are highly optimistic), what type of lesson do I need? Well, luckily, there are plenty to choose from. Finding your perfect lesson can be really easy, but also depends on your preference, level, or age. Although you will mostly see young kids taking their first lessons, adults are also welcome to attend beginners lessons. 

Even if skiing seems easy, it is a very technical sport that requires the advice and supervision of a qualified instructor, especially if it’s your first time on skis. There are different options you can choose from: from private lessons for as long as you prefer, to group lessons with others beginners. 

As for snowboarding, you can also join group lessons or book a private lesson with an experienced instructor.

2) Progressing on skis vs snowboard 

Snowboarder jumping through air and snow.

When it comes to progressing on your technique and going from beginner to intermediate and advanced, it is the exact opposite. Once you get past the beginner phase, snowboarding will be a breeze. On the other hand, becoming proficient in skiing can be more challenging, taking a lot of endurance and muscle memory to master parallel turns and tackle steeper terrain. Reaching an intermediate to advanced level requires a lot more effort on skis than on a snowboard. 

If you wish to further improve your skills, learn advanced techniques or try the different types of skiing and snowboarding, a private lesson constitutes the best and fastest learning method, together with a qualified instructor.

3) How to choose your perfect fit

A group of skiers and snowboarders have fun together.

Besides the difficulty of learning that both sports can entail, there may be other facts that can help you know which one is most suitable for you. 

Equipment can play an important role when choosing your ideal snow sport. People tend to overlook this aspect in any sport, but the truth is you will be inseparable. Snowboarders often walk around comfortably, while skiers struggle a bit since the skis are attached to their feet. 

Snowboarding boots feel like your average winter boots, while ski boots are heavier, bulkier. For this reason, snowboarding gear is noticeably more comfortable than skiing gear, but it all goes down to getting familiar with it. 

When using the ski lifts, wearing skis is way better. You can simply ski to the line, and it will take you up with minimum effort. For snowboarding is trickier, since you have to take your back foot out of the binding, making it very hard to move around. 

Taking breaks also comes with challenges of its own. You’ll most likely take more breaks when you are snowboarding, considering you can sit down in the snow. If you are skiing, the breaks will for sure be less, but your clothing will stay dry and warm throughout the day.

If you’re an adult getting out there for your first time, or you want to introduce your kids to any of these sports, you will want to know how safe both are. Like any other sport or activity, you do in life, safety cannot be 100% guaranteed, and to a certain extent depends on yourself and those around you

In general, skiers are far less likely to get injured than snowboarders. Even if snowboarders are more likely to get injured, there’s a low chance of having a serious injury than skiers. The reason is that skiers tend to fall less in the beginning, but can pick up a fast speed very easily, which can lead to falling down. However, with the right supervision and guidance, it should be nothing more than enjoyment and diversion! 

4) Which one is more popular?

Two skiers look at the camera while skiing in the mountains.

Skiing has been around for hundreds of years and snowboarding came much later.  During the past years, snowboarding popularity among snow enthusiasts has been growing at an exponential rate. However, skiing still beats snowboarding in terms of popularity. Both sports also carry strong stereotypes: skiing is elegant and refined, and people who practice it are usually uppity, while snowboarders are “cool” and wear baggy clothes. However, both share a passion for mountains and the snow, so this should be more than enough to bring people together, no matter if snowboarding or skiing. 

An easy and convenient way to make up your mind is to join skiing or snowboarding lessons. This way you will not only learn efficiently but also the instructors help you understand what are your strengths, weaknesses, or what you do best. Here you can check out lessons in France, Switzerland, or Austria to help you decide!

As you could see, there is a long list of factors in favor of skiing or snowboarding. After a long debate and research, I find snowboarding to be the winner! Perhaps it’s down to my love for surfing or the comfy snowboarding boots. Regardless, it simply looks so much cooler! 

What about you? I hope my advice has helped you decide which one to try. But, if you are still undecided, you can always try both!

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