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Snowboarding Vs Skiing: What Are The Differences?

If you crave a bit of adventure, you might be tempted to purchase skis or a snowboard and start a new hobby.

Both skiing and snowboarding give you the chance to get out into nature and enjoy an adrenaline rush as well as a bit of a workout.

Do you need to be fit to ski or snowboard?

Without a doubt, you should be in good shape before you learn how to ski or snowboard. Skiing requires you to use strength in your legs while you need a strong core for snowboarding. 

However, there are other important differences between snowboarding and skiing that you should know about to help you find the best and most enjoyable sport for you. Let’s start this snowboarding vs. skiing guide by looking at how to define the two.   

What Is Snowboarding?

Snowboarding originated in the 1920s, with the “gear” people used taking the form of wooden planks and barrels!

They would tie them to their feet with the use of horse reins so they could steer themselves down slopes. It took a few decades for modern snowboarding to take a less frightening turn.

In 1965, an engineer by the name of Sherman Poppen invented a fun game for his daughter by putting two skis together and then connecting a rope to one end so she could snowboard down slopes. It’s thanks to him that we can snowboard today

To define it, snowboarding is a winter sport in which you glide down a slope that’s covered with snow.

To do this, a board is attached to your feet and a special boot is fastened onto a mounted binding. Interestingly, the sport of snowboarding was inspired by sledding, surfing, skiing, and skateboarding (via Canadian Ski Council). 

There are different types of snowboarding. These include: 

  • Freestyle: this involves the use of a snowboard to do tricks, and it can be done in backcountry, urban environments, or terrain parks. It’s very popular because it’s so creative and fun.  
  • Freeriding: This is riding in any terrain at your leisure. It’s not limited to making your way down massive peaks. However, it is limited to mountains and therefore puts snowboarders at risk of various dangers, such as avalanches.
  • Urban: this is riding with the use of urban and man-made landscapes. This is also known as street riding and it’s become more popular over the last few years. It’s especially popular among young riders. 
  • Half pipe: You’ve probably seen this type of snowboarding at the Olympic Games and it’s amazing to watch. It involves snowboarders doing tricks while navigating a large U-shaped snow feature at extremely high speeds.  

What Is Skiing?

If you’re interested in skiing, you might wonder where skiing originated from. Well, it might surprise to find out that skiing dates back to the last Ice Age in the Paleolithic period, where cave drawings suggested that men used skis (via BBC).

Some of the oldest ski artefacts originate back to the Mesolithic period, with ski-like objects being traced to 6000 B.C. in northern Russia. 

Of course, skis weren’t originally invented for sport – they were used to make people’s lives easier, such as when they had to make their way across marshes during the winter.

Over time, skiing became fun. In the 1760s, the Norwegian army started allowing competitions that involved skiing down slopes or around trees. The first national race occurred in the 1860s, in Oslo. People in Norway and across Europe started to take an interest in skiing. 

By the 1880s, Nordic cross-country skiing became alpine skiing as it was packed with adrenaline and drew crowds.  

In the early 1900s, things really started to pick up pace. In 1924, the first Winter Olympics occurred in France. Initially only Nordic skiing was on display, but then by the 1936 winter games in Germany, alpine skiing was also allowed.

Around the 1950s and 1960s, the popularity of skiing increased. This period saw the invention of the metal ski and plastic boots to make skiing a much more enjoyable and comfortable experience. 

So, what is skiing, exactly?

Skiing is a snow sport that involves skiers attaching long skis to special boots so that they can move across the snow. Many types of competitive skiing has been acknowledged by the International Olympic Committee as well as the International Ski Federation.

There are some common types of skiing. These include:  

Alpine skiing

This is also known as downhill skiing. It makes use of fixed-heel bindings that are attached to the heel and toe of the skier’s boot. 

Nordic skiing 

This is known as backcountry skiing and it’s actually the oldest type of skiing. It makes use of free-heel bindings that are fastened to the toes of the skier’s boots, but not to the heels. 

Freestyle skiing 

This involves skiing while performing jumps and tricks, and can take place in the half pipe, park, or in the backcountry. 

Cross-country skiing 

This is done on flat ground, usually in the countryside. It’s considered to be one of the most difficult sports to do because it requires skiers to have a lot of strength and endurance. 

Differences Between Skiing And Snowboarding

Now that we’ve defined snowboarding and skiing in clearer terms, let’s look at the main differences between them according to various factors.  


When it comes to skiing, skiers need to wear a pair of skis that are joined to special boots. In snowboarding, a snowboard is attached to the skier’s special boot. 

Foot Position 

Skiers need to look straight ahead, lean forward, and ensure their feet are facing the front. By comparison, snowboarders will be facing sideways and must keep their feet in line with their bodies as well as perpendicular to the direction in which they’re moving. 

Fitness Requirements 

If you’re interested in learning how to ski, it will do you good to take up cycling. Why? It strengthens your legs! It’s also a form of low-impact exercise that’s gentler on the joints and knees.

If you want to enter the exciting world of snowboarding, you’ll want to do more core-strengthening exercises that prioritize the abdominal muscles as well as lower back muscles. These are useful for snowboarding because they improve your balance and can prevent injuries.  


What gear will you need for skiing?

You’ll have to buy skis, ski boots, a helmet, goggles, and ski poles. You might also want to add extra items, such as a ski carrier, ski pack, and sunglasses.

It’s also important to ensure you have the right clothing, which should include gloves, base layers, a fleece jacket, ski pants, a ski jacket, and goggles.

For snowboarding, you’ll have to ensure you purchase a snowboard and bindings (which are basically pieces that attach your boots to your snowboard), boots, a helmet, base and mid-layers of clothing, snowboard jacket and pants, gloves, and goggles. 

While some of the items you need are the same for skiing and snowboarding, it’s important to realize that there are some crucial differences.

For example, snowboard pants are baggier than ski pants and allow you to have more flexibility for jumps, while ski pants offer a snugger fit. Similarly, snowboarding jackets will be loose and longer in length so that you can stay warm when you have to sit to strap on your snowboard.

And, when choosing the right bag in which to carry your gear, you’ll find that most bags for skiing and snowboarding are made out of the same materials but they’ll vary when it comes to their sizes. Ski packs tend to be narrow and long, while snowboard bags are shorter and wider.

Possible Injuries 

Skiing can be quite dangerous for people’s knees if they fall. Snowboarding is gentler on people’s knees but it can cause wrist injuries. However, a study that was conducted by the National Ski Areas Association has found that snowboarding is less dangerous than skiing.

This is because snowboarders are more likely to experience head and ankle injuries but they’re less likely to die in an accident (via Snow Brains). Why is skiing deadlier?

It comes down to how skiing injuries and deaths are as a result of colliding with fixed objects at high speeds (via The Guardian).


Now for the costs. On average, skiing costs include around $350 for skis, $50 for ski poles, and $250 for ski boots. There are other costs to bear in mind, such as when it comes to lift passes.

These are charges you’ll have to pay when staying at ski resorts. Lift passes can cost approximately $60 per day (via Globo Surfer). Skiing trips will also have to include other costs, such as when it comes to traveling to the location, accommodation, food during your stay, and so on. 

Now, what about lessons?

If you want to take skiing lessons, these can cost approximately $70 per hour. 

When it comes to snowboarding, you’ll have to pay approximately $400 for a standard snowboard with soft bindings (via Crow Survival) and around $400 for all your accessories (such as goggles, gloves, and boots).

Generally, a day of snowboarding can cost you around $40 to $150, depending on the location. You’ll also have to factor in costs related to accommodation and travel, just like with skiing. To learn how to snowboard, private lessons will cost you between $60 to $400 or more per lesson. 

There are also long-term costs to consider for skiing and snowboarding. Think about how often you’ll need to replace your main gear.

Snowboards can give you between 150 and 200 days of riding. So, if you use your board on a very regular basis, its lifespan will be shorter than if you spread out its use.

When it comes to skis, you’ll get between 100 and 125 days of optimal performance from your skis before their quality will start to decrease. Of course, maintaining your gear is important to increase its lifespan.  

How Easy It Is To Learn Snowboarding Vs. Skiing?

If you’re a beginner to either sport, you’re probably wondering which one is easier to learn.

Skiing is quite easy to learn, making it accessible to beginners because people learn how to ski by moving both of their legs. By comparison, snowboarding can be tricker to learn and master because you have to be able to use your entire body.   

How Long Will It Take To Learn Snowboarding Vs. Skiing? 

By now you might be wondering how long it will take you to learn how to ski and snowboard.

It will take a few days to learn the skiing basics, and after about two and a half weeks you should be feeling a bit more comfortable and confident out on the slopes. You can become an intermediate skier after a few weeks.

As for snowboarding, it will usually take a few days for you to learn the basics – as long as you stay committed and practice! You can become an intermediate snowboarder after about 20 or so days on the snow. 

Now, there’s a common saying that does the rounds about these sports: skiing is easier to learn but harder to master, while snowboarding is harder to learn but easier to master. 

Is there any truth to this? 

There is, and that’s because in your first few skiing lessons you’ll find it easier to understand skiing techniques than snowboarding techniques. The reasons for this are because your legs have to remain separated so you can put a leg out to regain your balance if you need to.

With snowboarding, your feet are stuck to the board and this can make you feel like your body’s movements are limited. If you fall, you can’t put a foot out to help you regain your balance – you’ll fall down.

The stance that you need to use while you ski also makes it easier to grasp and practice: you face forward and you focus on where you’re headed right in front of you. With snowboarding, you’re at an angle, which makes it more difficult to see what’s in front of you

You might also find that you can progress quicker through milestones when you learn how to ski, with some skiers exploring steeper runs after a few weeks.

After a week or two of learning how to ski, you could be showing off your parallel skiing skills! (To learn more about parallel skiing and how to do it, read, “How To Parallel Ski: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide.”) 

Snowboarding Vs. Skiing: The Pros And Cons

Snowboarding Vs. Skiing: The Pros And Cons

Let’s sum up this article with a few pros and cons for snowboarding and skiing.



  • You’ll find that snowboard gear is sometimes a bit cheaper than skiing gear, plus you need less of it. 
  • You can walk in your snowboarding boots which makes it easy and comfortable. 
  • It’s easier to stop when you’re a beginner because you just fall backwards. 


  • If you use splitboards to help you when you get stuck uphill, these take some time to set up. 
  • Getting on and off lifts can be tricky because they’re designed for skiers to use. 



  • You can make use of poles to help you, such as if you fall or get stuck. 
  • It’s much easier to learn the basics of skiing. It’s said that skiing is intuitive, and that’s as a result of how you can use both your legs.


  • It can take some getting used to carrying two skis and two poles! 
  • Stopping when you’re a beginner can be difficult, especially at high speeds, such as when you’re trying to learn how to parallel ski. 

Related Questions 

Can you practice skiing or snowboarding out of season?

Yes, and you should! This involves taking up sports that are similar to skiing or snowboarding so that you can maintain your skills.

For example, surfing will be good for snowboarding. However, there are year-round skiing and snowboarding resorts all over the world.

Do snowboarders go faster than skiers? 

Skiers definitely go faster!

This is because skis are longer than boards. With more surface area at their disposal, a skier ensures their weight is distributed evenly across the skis and this helps to generate more speed. 


If you’ve been wondering just how different skiing is from snowboarding, this guide will surely have answered some of your questions!

We’ve looked at an in-depth comparison between skiing and snowboarding, such as when it comes to how much it costs to get involved in these snow sports and how easy or difficult they are to learn.  



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