Snowboarding Vs Skiing: Which Is Easier To Learn?

Young male snowboarder after falling on a mountain slope
Christa Burkett
By Christa Burkett
Last updated on February 22, 2021
Table of Contents

Skiing and snowboarding are both extremely exhilarating experiences that can easily grab hold of a person’s sense of excitement and adventure at the same time. And for those who approach either of these two sports with an open mind, they usually just can’t get enough of the rush that they’ll find out on the slopes. 

Even if you’re new to the sport, after your first few runs, you’re almost guaranteed to want to find a bolder run to keep chasing that adrenaline rush. 

However, zipping down the slopes is, obviously, much easier said than done. 

And there’s no question about it; that learning either skiing or snowboarding is going to take a lot of time, dedication, and practice to get to the point where you feel comfortable enough to take on a mountain on your own terms. 

But one super common question that we get from beginners is whether snowboarding or skiing is going to be easier to learn. 

So with that said, I put together the following quick guide on snowboarding vs. skiing in terms of their beginner friendliness. 

It Really Depends On You

There’s no doubt that countless people have faced the difficult decision of having to choose between skiing or snowboarding on their first winter trip out to the slopes. 

Well, the truth is that your choice really boils down to your own personal preference. In the end, each person is different, so for some people, skiing might feel easier and more natural, while others might take more naturally to snowboarding. 

However, there’s also somewhat of a misconception surrounding mountain culture, where some people might believe that skiing is more of a refined sport, while snowboarding is a more extreme sport, ideal for younger individuals with a penchant for adrenaline. 

This is, of course, only a generalization, and completely untrue. The fact is that both sports require a great deal of practice in order to cultivate skill, strength, and stamina on the slopes. 

And while it’s untrue, this misconception does foreshadow some people’s ideas surrounding the two sports, leading them to believe that one is better than the other. 

Which Sport Is Easier?

Again, there is no clear cut answer, and while some people might easily take to skiing, others might be natural at snowboarding. 

So, again, when it comes down to which sport is going to be easier, it really boils down to your own preferences and previous experience.

However, each sport has its own unique positioning of the body, with one facing forward and the other being sideways, which affects your stability and the way that you’ll steer yourself down the hill. 

When it comes to skiing, you’ll be facing forward while going down the hill, which may feel more comfortable for some people. 

On the other hand, you’ll be standing sideways while snowboarding, which doesn’t really affect your field of view or your ability to see where you’re going, but it can take a bit of getting used to. 

Beginners learn to ski

Skiing Is Often Recommended For Beginners

In some ways, skiing is a more natural position, because of the fact that your stance is more similar to when you’re standing or walking. In other words, it’s a bit more natural to keep your balance when you’re on skis

This is exactly why skiing is often recommended for anyone who is just getting into downhill sports. Because your stance is similar to standing upright, for some people, skiing might be easier to get accustomed to. 

Alternatively, it’s much more difficult to keep your balance on a snowboard. Again, it’s just the fact that you’ll be going down the hill sideways, which might seem a bit more intimidating for some. 

Regardless, no matter which sport you decide to learn, always remember that you’re not going to be a pro on your first attempt. It’s going to take some practice, and if you really want to master either of these two downhill sports, you’ll first need to learn the fundamentals.

Getting A Grasp On The Fundamentals

Whether you choose skiing or snowboarding, during the early days of learning, you’ll quickly see that keeping your balance is a lot easier said than done. 

When it comes to skiing, since you’re able to spread your legs apart to widen your stance, keeping yourself balanced is automatically going to be easier. 

On the other hand, when snowboarding, both feet are fixed, so instead of being able to widen your stance for stability, you’ll be bending your knees. 

Skiing Is More Natural At First

Generally, people find skiing to be more rewarding in the beginning since it’s slightly easier to pick up. Remaining upright and steering are much easier since you’ll be standing upright with your legs apart, and with your view facing ahead almost all the time.

When it comes to maneuvering on your skis, especially at a lower speed, it’s done in a way that’s already very familiar to your brain. In other words, if your body starts to feel like it’s falling to one side, you’ll react in a way that comes naturally, by compensating with the foot on the opposing side.

In many ways, skiing is similar to learning to skate on ice or rollerblade. So if you’ve ever done either of these, skiing will probably feel more natural, even as a beginner. 

Young male snowboarder after falling on a mountain slope

Snowboarding Might Take More Practice

There’s really no sugar-coating it; if you’re a beginner snowboarder, you’re probably going to fall down quite a few times before you get it right. 

After all, on a snowboard, your body is going to be turned 90-degree from the direction that you’re moving, and all steering is done by adjusting your weight between your heels and toes. Unfortunately, steering with your heels and toes is a less beginner-friendly stance, which might be more challenging to get used to. 

However, many people feel that snowboarding is slightly more of an intense, exhilarating experience because it tends to feel a bit riskier. So while it might be more challenging to get good at, snowboarding might end up being more rewarding if you enjoy chasing a thrill. 

Skiing Requires More Coordination At Higher Speeds

While balancing on a pair of skis might be easier at slower speeds, keeping your balance and staying in control gets significantly harder at higher speeds. 

This is because the forces involved become considerably stronger, and you’ll only have one leg to control your ski. Therefore, doing maneuvers like a hard turn at a high speed will require a great deal of strength and coordination in order to maintain both balance and control. 

While you may think that this should be largely intuitive after a few days of skiing around, it actually takes a considerable amount of strength and practice to master balance and control at higher speeds.

Snowboarding Is Ideal For Stability At Higher Speeds 

various snowboard stance angles

Many people feel intimidated or unsure about snowboarding simply because of the fact that both of their feet are going to be securely fixed to the same board, which tends to restrict you from making the movements that you normally would to keep your balance, such as putting a foot forward to prevent yourself from falling over. 

However, while a snowboarding stance might feel more restricting when you’re not moving, at higher speeds, this sideways positioning is actually ideal for being able to maneuver on a slope.

Of course, it takes some getting used to, but as you become accustomed to steering with your heels and toes, you’ll be free to let your instincts take over, using your balance, rather than your feet to steer.

Once You Start, It’ll Get Easier

Whether you’re on skis or a snowboard, as you practice and get more comfortable going down a slope, you’ll be able to start picking up higher speeds and pushing your boundaries a bit. 

In other words, you’ll be able to work at developing a technique that works for you. Of course, it’s going to take some time. 

But once you start practicing, it’s guaranteed to get easier over time. 

Skiing Versus Snowboard - Final Verdict

While both snowboard and snowboarding can be a ton of fun, they’re both very different sports that require a great deal of practice in order to master. 

In the end, both sports have their own advantages and disadvantages, and neither of the two is any better or worse than the other. 

Skiing does tend to be a bit easier to grasp for beginners. But still, that’s not to say that skiing is going to be easier than snowboarding for everyone. 

Everybody Is Different

The answer as to whether skiing or snowboarding is easier to learn shouldn’t ever be approached as to which one is better, but more by which sport feels more natural to the individual. 

So with that said, the answer truly is subjective, and depends entirely on the type of experience you want out on the mountains. 

Much like everything else in life, no one thing is going to be for everyone. Some people are going to love skiing, while others are going to prefer shredding on a snowboard. And that’s all there really is to it. 

Christa Burkett

Christa Burkett

Christa is an avid skier who loves to explore the world. She has a particular love for speed and snow which she first found in her adulthood but since then she's made up for it by volunteering at ski resorts and learning from the best.
Published June 29, 2020
Last updated February 22, 2021
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