Every winter, people hitting the High Country slopes are faced with the same question: skiing or snowboarding? Although the two seem fairly similar, there are some obvious, and not so obvious differences that affect your approach to each.
We took an in-depth look at both of these winter staples in terms of their learning curve, skill, and fitness requirements to help you make a better and more informed decision the next time you’re choosing between snowboarding or skiing at one of the High Country resorts.
Although it’s different for each person, it’s safe to say that, for beginners, skiing is the easier of the two for a lot of reasons. First, using two skis gives you more mobility in terms of leg movement. Second, in skiing your shoulders and feet are in line, making it feel more natural and intuitive. Third, the ability to use ski poles while skiing helps to improve balance and stability on steep or rough terrain.
With snowboarding, on the other hand, your movement and mobility are more or less fixed. Maybe the biggest difference is the board itself: rather than having two individual skis, you’re strapped into a large board with your feet perpendicular to your shoulders and your head cocked sideways . If you’ve never skateboarded or wakeboarded,you might be a little timid about heading down a hill in this way — and you’re doing it without the comfort of two ski poles to keep your balance.
Despite the big adjustments it takes to learn the ropes of snowboarding, it’s actually the easier of the two in terms of gaining expertise and progressing at a faster level. Once you learn how to redistribute your weight on the board and work with your new body position, it’s relatively quick to master the basic turns and be on your way. Having both of your feet on one board helps you move down the slopes faster, which actually helps your balance by decreasing resistance and making it even easier to turn.
When skiing, the fast adjustment to bunny hills and flatter slopes is often replaced with a much longer period of trial and error, and slow progression. Beginner moves such as the ‘pizza’ stop and ‘snow plow’ turn are easy to master, but getting used to skiing down steeper slopes at a faster pace often takes longer than it would to reach an intermediate level with snowboarding.
If you’re looking for something easy and fun to pick up for a day or two on the slopes, skiing might be your better bet; but if you want something easier to improve upon in the long run, consider the challenge of taking up snowboarding.
Both sports require a fairly high level of fitness, but each work very different muscles groups. Skiing, for example, is a sport that relies very heavily on the legs, knees, and feet. If you’re looking to up your skiing game, consider picking up leg strengthening sports such as running or cycling, because it’ll make it easier to turn, stop, and control your speed while you’re on the mountain. Keep in mind that the most common ski injuries occur to the knee, so pay careful attention to your leg movements to avoid accidents. One way to do that is to keep your feet square with your shoulders at all times, and if you have to bail out, try to lose the skis and go with the fall instead of resisting and flailing like a starfish.
Snowboarders use their core and upper body for turning and balancing, resulting in stronger abdominal and lower back muscles. Beginners get a full body workout as they adjust to their boards. If you’re in overall great physical shape you’ll have a leg up in snowboarding, but don’t underestimate the sport!
Everyone has a personal preference when it comes to their favorite winter activity. But whether you’re hardcore slaloming or shredding on your favorite snowboard, the High Country remains a premier destination for both sports. From black diamonds to bunny runs, with the option of custom ski lessons, North Carolina’s mountains have it all.