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Which snow-sliding tool is right for me?

 

As an instructor I am frequently asked a question “Which is easier – skiing or snowboarding?” Having answered this question about 5 times this past Sunday, I decided to put my thoughts on the subject in a somewhat structured and organized manner.

 

First of all, without getting into VARIETIES of equipment, I’ll compare skis and snowboards. The differences can be summed up in one easy formula : Skis are easy to learn but difficult to master, whereas snowboards are difficult to learn, but easy to master. Let me expand on this a bit.

 

Skis are perfect for people from, say, Florida, who decided to come up North for a vacation weekend and do something ON SNOW. You will be able to have some fun on a bunny slope in a matter of hours. Pretty much as soon as you learn how to stop using your skis and to NOT try to stop using your poles . . .  It may take up to several years or fairly regular visits to mountains to get good enough to comfortably ski even single-black-diamond level slopes.

 

Snowboarding is perfect for people who live close enough to the mountains to be able to put in 10 or more days on-snow in a season.  First two or three days on snow will be somewhat frustrating as you try to figure out how to turn and stop a board – and more importantly, how to STAY BALANCED on it.  However, once you figured that out and built up some muscle memory, you may be able to tackle black-diamond slope by the end of your first season!

 

Having said that, I present to you this table that categorizes snow-sliding equipment by your goals (in no particular order) :

 

Disclaimer :  I have included the Time to get to Black Diamonds column in order to give an approximate time it will take you to MASTER a given discipline. It is an imperfect measure (and doesn’t even apply in some cases), but it’s there to give you SOME idea.

 

Goal

Type of activity

Time to get to black diamonds (approx., days ON SNOW)

Learning pains

“I wanna be cool!”

Freestyle snowboarding, freestyle skiing

Uhh, never.  You just need to DRESS right, learn the lingo and get the “cool” gear.

Minimal. Throw some snow on your gear of choice and sit in the lodge complaining about how a poorly cut pipe caused you a ‘total garage sale” wipeout

“I want an adrenaline rush!”

Any type of skiing or snowboarding

20-60 (Depends on equipment.)

Heck yes . . . Sore muscles, sprained wrists, sore butts . . . No pain no gain!

“I want to really, really fast!”

Alpine skiing, alpine snowboarding

If going fast is your goal, you’ll probably get to black diamonds faster than the rest. 20-35 days.

You might suffer more serious wipeouts than a regular learner – going fast has it’s advantages, but wiping out at a REALLY high speed may carry a hefty “price” tag. Especially if you go REALLY fast before you know how to CONTROL it.

“I like to do tricks!”

Freestyle snowboarding, freestyle skiing, snowblades.

20-100 days.  If you want to get GOOD at tricks – you will learn how to REALLY ride your chosen tool.  However, you can start hitting small jumps by the time (or even before) you get to a “blue square” level.

I’ll say that THIS permutation will deliver the HIGHEST possibility of hurting yourself.

“I have no particular inclination, I want to go out and have fun on the whole mountain”

All-mountain skiing, freeriding.

20-50 days.

Average learning pains.

“I want to have a getaway that will allow me to forget about stress at work and/or at home for a day or two”

Any type of skiing or snowboarding

20 – infinity. Go out and have fun. It’s all good.

There will be SOME learning pains, but usually just being on the mountain and cruising on easier runs will satisfy this goal.  No need to go crazy and get hurt.

“I want to be different!”

Alpine snowboarding, telemark skiing, mono-skiing, kite-boarding, etc.

20 – never.

Being DIFFERENT will have some additional pains (and expenses) as specialized equipment usually less easily available and usually more expensive. Learning curve may be harder (and hence more painful) due to a lack of organized and easily available instruction.

“I want NO PAIN”

PlayStation 2, X-BOX, Nintendo 64

1 day

As the goal states – NO PAIN.

 

Written by Stan... A Hunter instructor and serious carver!


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