To ski or to snowboard, that is the question, and it’s one that many first-time snow Adrenalists across the globe will be asking themselves this winter as they decide which of the two downhill snow sports to learn. Public perception is often that snowboarding is, for one reason or another, cooler and more hardcore than skiing, which usually catches a wrap for being aristocratic and less extreme. Luckily, we’re here to tell you these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth.
Both skiing and snowboarding fall squarely in the column of extreme Adrenalist pastimes, and each is an undisputed beacon of cool. The skiing Vs snowboarding choice is not as much about “fitting in” with the popular crowd as it is committing to the activity that fits your athletic skillset, your budget and your aspirations.
Assuming you’re at the point where you’ve tried each sport a couple of times and are looking to go from rental equipment to an investment in your own gear and a more concrete definition of your winter identity, we’ve broken down four factors you might want to consider before you start swiping your credit card. If you’re a super athlete with unlimited funds, there’s no harm in making a commitment to both. When it comes to Adrenalists and their sports, there’s no such thing as a monogamous relationship.
Photo Credit: John Lemieux / Flickr.com
Both are challenging, but both are rewarding and exciting. So, which one do you choose? It would be easy to go on about the fantastic elements of each sport, but what you really want to know is, “which one’s harder?” A big part of the answer to that question has to do with personal athletic preference. Those who like bipedal movement and the added balance that poles provide will likely gravitate toward skiing while those who want a more streamlined slope experience will enjoy the synchronization of physical function that snowboarding requires. With snowboarding, both your feet are strapped to a single board, so you must move as one fluid object in order to be successful. Because of the physical restrictions inherent in boarding, beginner and intermediate winter sports enthusiasts usually have an easier time on skis. Using both legs to stand and move is more natural and less labor intensive (at first) than hopping along mountain troughs on a board. As you become a more seasoned snowboarder, though, those frustrations will largely vanish.
Cost should be taken into consideration in any decision, whether we like it or not. Just as snowboarding is often rumored to be the cooler of the two sports, skiing has a reputation for being more expensive. Known colloquially as the “sport of kings,” our cultural zeitgeist has perpetrated the idea that skiiers are rich and snowboarders are mischievous. This is not the case.
The cost to outfit a skiier with mid-level equipment capable of both traditional downhill and trick-heavy freestyle skiing is $599 for skis, $320 for boots, $150 for bindings, $120 for poles and roughly $408 for a 6-day packet of lift tickets, for a grand total of $1,597.
The cost to outfit a snowboarder with similarly mid-range gear is $420 for the snowboard, $120 for bindings and $90 for boots, for a grand total of $1,038, if we add in the same amount for a 6-day packet of lift tickets.
That’s a difference of $559, which is significant, but hardly enough to make any sort of delineation. Figures are also largely dependent on equipment and retail outlet. Depending on the item, the outlet and whether you buy new or used, snowboarding could be more pricey on a given day. Both sports require a significant financial investment, but neither is prohibitively expensive.
Once you’ve snagged your gear and taken a few more lessons, you’re going to want to start experimenting with tricks, right? Of course you are, you’re an Adrenalist. We’re sure the question in your mind right now is, “which sport will allow me to pull off crazier moves?” Whether we realize it or not, half-pipes, rails and ramps seem to be synonymous with boarding culture and our minds usually veer toward snowboarding first, but one look at the ski trick video we’ve provided below should change all those preconceptions.
Virtually any trick that you can do on a snowboard is achievable on a pair of skis, and visa versa. It’s just about mastering your specific sport’s physical methodology for tricking. Rest assured, there’s plenty of room for jaw-dropping stunts in both the skiing and snowboarding realms.
Slopes and Trails
Why do we talk about trails? For two reasons. First, snowboarders often contend their sport is more tailored to fluffy, powdery terrain while skiers tend to do better on icier, bumpier trails. Second, not all mountains allow snowboarders on their grounds and while the number of pure ski locales has shrunk to just three in the United States (Deer Valley, Alta and Mad River Glen), the reality that you won’t have access to some of the best terrain in the country is certainly something to consider. Should you choose snowboarding, though, there are plenty of top-tier mountains that will welcome you with open arms. We wouldn’t be too worried about this part if we were you.
Here’s to a great winter, Adrenalists; let us know what you decide to hit the powder with.