The difference is in technique. Skiing can be learned in stages. First, get used to standing up, then go to the side and stop. Skiing also seems more natural. We’re two legged creatures after all and being able to balance using both our legs is something we practice all our lives. We can correct ourselves more instinctively.
You’re at the top of a beautiful mountain slope covered in snow. You want to reach the bottom in an elegant, exciting way. Would you rather ski down the piste or hop on a snowboard? This is a dilemma choice faced by many winter sports fanatics since snowboarding started to become popular in the late 1960s. Of course, you can learn to do both but if you haven’t got the time then which is easier to master?
There is a general acceptance that skiing is the easiest sport to learn out of the two. But that’s up to a point. Snowboarding becomes simpler the more you know whilst skiing seems to offer a longer learning curve before you can hit the piste with complete confidence.
Snowboarding meanwhile requires the mastery of one major technique: using the edges of the heel and toe to steer. Both feet are fixed to the board and there’s no real room for rebalancing if we’re heading for a face plant in the snow. You can feel confined and the position might feel a little unnatural. It may take a few days to click but once this initial stage is overcome (and it can take some time) then progress seems to come quicker.
Both sports require a decent level of fitness. Snowboarding’s more about the middle of your body being able to twist and turn to create movement whilst skiers will feel it most in their legs. Snowboarders can also do less about falls, so the slips and slides might prove to be off putting.
With skiing, everything is in front of you and you can see what’s coming, When it comes to snowboarding, you’re sideways on the board without a full view of what's ahead of you. It’s a bit like staring out of the passenger window of a car while trying to steer. It takes some getting used to.
It’s going to take a few days but hopefully, you’ll soon feel more comfortable either skiing or snowboarding. This is when the latter sport starts to reward the beginner for their patience. The balance will start improving and the faster the board goes the easier it is to turn.
With skiing, the beginner has happily mastered the technique of the straight skis and the pizza which has the tips together and tails of the ski apart. They then have to move onto the more complicated snowplough where one ski has to turn in order to change direction. It requires symmetry, balance and quite a lot of practice. Our snowboarder is now zooming ahead while our skier is being left behind, still struggling a little on the beginner slopes.
So which is easier, first-time snowboarding or first-time skiing? Each has an argument for and against but if you only have one week then maybe skiing might be the best option. Whereas, if you’re away for a fortnight the last seven days could be more enjoyable on a board.
The main thing is to have fun when you’re learning. And if you're staying at a Club Med then why not get one of our trained professionals to introduce you to an exciting new sport? Beginners are welcome whatever they choose to do.