With the winter holidays just around the corner, there’s no better time to hit the slopes with friends, family, or even just yourself. Snow sports are getting more popular with each passing winter season, so if you’re not already a ski bunny or snowboarder, then this season might finally be your time to shine. While snowboarding and skiing may seem rather similar in terms of sliding down a hill with lots of things strapped to your feet, they are actually very different. When you get to the lodge, you’ll want to be prepared for whether to rent skis and poles or a snowboard. Depending on past sports experience, agility, and balance, one might be better for you than the other.
Skiing is a sport that is way older and established than snowboarding. People have been on skis for nearly 7,000 years, though the skis back then were not nearly as nice as the carbon fiber type that retail today. Generally at a lodge or resort, downhill skiing is the only type of skiing available. If you’re looking to try cross-country or freestyle skiing, you may need to hit the slopes at a more niche mountain. Downhill skiing is the easiest skiing, but consists of a few materials, including the skis themselves, boots (which attach to the skis with bindings), and poles (note: some resorts/lodges do require a helmet for liability and safety). The types of skis and poles you get vary by your skiing ability, usually ranging from beginner, intermediate, and expert. The size of the poles and skis you get depend on an individual’s height and weight. There are sizing experts at resorts and lodges that will help first-timers get the correct setup. Once you are geared up, hitting the slopes on skis is generally easier for first timers when compared to snowboarding. The “bunny hill” or “beginners hill” is a great place to start. Though the hill is usually filled with children, don’t let that stop you from learning on it at the age of 30, because it will make your first time down a real run much easier once you have the technique and feel of the skis down. Skiing is a bit easier compared to snowboarding for first timers because they have the ability to move their legs separately, a similar feeling to ice skating or rollerblading. The “pizza” technique is usually the first technique that is learned, which consists of pointing the tips of the skis together to form a triangle or “pizza” shape, which is the most elementary way to break down a run. Once some technique is learned, advancing one’s skiing skills make take quite a while. Mastering the sport of skiing is very time consuming and takes a lot of commitment. Not to say it cannot be done, just don’t expect to be a master by the time you finish your first day on the mountain. Also, be prepared for sore thighs the next day.
Snowboarding, frequently referred to as “boarding” in the snow sports community, is a much newer sport compared to skiing. Snowboarding has only been around since about the 1960s and was made very popular by Jake Burton, the founder of Burton Snowboards who played a massive role in the development of modern day snowboarding. Snowboarding requires a bit less equipment than skiing. While there shouldn’t be a huge price difference in rentals (if one at all), you will only require the snowboard, boots and a leash at most resorts. A leash is the first thing new riders forget or are not educated about. Ski bindings come with brakes that pop out if you were to come out of your bindings while ripping down the hill. These prevent the skis from sliding recklessly into other skiers. Skis and snowboards are very fast and very sharp while on their own, it is important to protect those around you by being responsible for loose gear. A snowboard leash attaches to your boot or leg from your binding. Snowboards are measured similarly to skis but it is important to get the input of an educated ski tech. Once you have your gear it’s time to hit the slopes. Don’t expect to be landing a double mctwist on your first run and take things slow. Snowboarding, in terms of skiing, is much harder to learn. Once you get the basics down and build your confidence, you will be carving deep turns in no time.