Picking Your Preferences on Powder: Snowboarding Vs. Skiing

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As the holidays approach, one of the most heated dinner conversations has nothing to do with politics or religion. It doesn’t even necessarily hint at who will win the Stanley Cup. Oh, no. As many Canadian households know, the dreaded conversations often surround which is better: skiing or snowboarding. There is always someone on either side of the debate, and if you’re lucky enough not to have cranberries in your hair at the end of the discussion, pat yourself on the back. But still, inquiring minds want to know: how do they compare and which sport is best?

How Did Skiing and Snowboarding Originate?

While skiing has been a North American sport staple for generations, the activity actually stemmed from a need to survive over fitness or entertainment. The first skis recorded in history were invented around 8,000 B.C. after the last ice age. Stone age hunters strapped 8 foot long slabs of wood to their feet to help them glide over snow and ice in search of wild game. Each century or era has had its own version and need for skis. Today’s skis are aerodynamic wonders made of lightweight carbon and fiberglass materials. They’re made for fitness and fun as opposed to catching enough wild game to keep a community fed through the winter.

Snowboarding, on the other hand, started off as a toy concept for kids. It all began in 1964 when Sherman Poppin had a dream that would forever change the future of winter extreme sports. The surfing enthusiast dreamed about actually surfing in the wintery Colorado Rockies. A year later, he combined efforts to invent the first ever “snurfer” – snow surfboard. That toy took off, selling low enough at $15 each to find its way under Christmas trees across North America. But in 1977, Jake Burton bought out the company, made his own adjustments, and within a decade snowboarding was up and running as an adult sport.

How Do Skiing and Snowboarding Compare on the Slopes?

Skiing and snowboarding require well-groomed, fluffy snow as a base. They both need to be performed on mountainsides or prepared ski hills. Though both can be performed on either, mountains are best for snowboarding simply due to the wider base and more street-style application. Skiing, on the other hand, is made specifically for smooth, long-term stretches that ski hills cater to.

Nonetheless, a fair amount of the white, powdery stuff is required. That also requires a powerful mode of transportation such as a Jeep Patriot which not only handles whatever Old Man Winter throws its way, but also has plenty of room for all the necessary winter sport gear. As for equipment, the sports are neck and neck. Both require base and boots. Skiers require poles while snowboarders need bindings. Helmets, goggles, pads, and layers can be interchanged or used for either sport.

Which Sport is Healthier and Easier to Learn?

Snowboarding began as a kid’s toy, so it only makes sense that there’s more of a streetwise edge to it. While schools and professional lessons can give boarders an instant edge, shredding is still considered an extreme sport. This is due in large part to the fact that most tricks can be performed on, over, or with the aid of existing structures. Therefore snowboarding is generally easier to learn individually or in a peer setting. In a class situation, however, many ski students can seem to learn quicker with skiing lessons.

Both sports provide cardiovascular fitness, countless health benefits, confidence, and social skills. Accidents are still common in both, but risks drop significantly when helmets and proper equipment are used. Still, skiing fatalities are far more common than snowboarding fatalities. Of course, those comparisons narrow once more when you consider there are three times the amount of skiers to snowboarders on a global scale.

So then which is better, skiing or snowboarding? Well, they’re both fun. They can be performed and enjoyed on the same medium or area. Equipment costs and health benefits run neck and neck. And as long as proper safety precautions are taken, they’re both rather safe sports. So then it seems as though it comes down to personal choice. Why not get a group together, double the fun, and try both on for size?

Albert Driscoll is a sports fanatic who also has a penchant for travel! Whether snowboarding, surfing or soccer he’s all over it! Now looking to live the digital nomad lifestyle he is writing articles based upon his sporting passions.