Skiing vs. snowboarding: Which is best for beginners?

Snow Sports

Whether you prefer to ski or snowboard depends a lot on your personality, but skis are usually easier for beginners to learn on.

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Should you start with skiing or snowboarding? 

It’s often said that skiing is easy to learn but difficult to master, whereas snowboarding is difficult to learn but easy to master. That comes down to the difficult time beginning snowboarders have turning, braking, and balancing. If you’ve ever been to a slope, you’ll know just what kind of reputation new snowboarders have, due to their likelihood of sitting down in front of you or failing to brake at all and slamming into you. The skiers pick it up quickly but have trouble as they start dealing with rough terrain.

Skis

Skis are easy to pick up because beginners have fewer problems centering themselves using both skis and poles for balance. The ability to pop the skis off and carry them around when waiting for the lift is an advantage over snowboards, too. Beginners do well with lively skis with camber underfoot for good edge hold and pop. In the beginning, it’s likely they’ll just be doing pizzas down the slopes, but once they get a knack for control, you’ll see them zooming down blues in no time. Skis allow you more freedom of movement than snowboards too because your feet won’t be bound together. 

Skiing pros

Skis are quick, nimble and versatile. They bend and pop to help you make long, gliding curves without losing speed or a hold on the snow. The ski poles are helpful for balance and acceleration and for navigating through treacherous snow. The agility of a skier is greater than that of a snowboarder. Skis have no problem tackling terrain courses and slaloms. Overall, handling is easy, which might prevent injuries and keep your beginner from being disheartened. Skis are friendly for people learning to dismount from lifts as well since you’re facing forward at an easy angle. 

Skiing cons

Skis and the accompanying equipment are often more expensive than snowboards. The boots can be tricky to walk in as well since they’re made of inflexible material with small bases. The annoying part about skis is that they are long and can be awkward when you fall. Beginners might end up getting tangled up and tripping over themselves or not breaking correctly and jabbing their skis into someone’s back. Skiing also means more equipment that you’ll need to carry around with you.

Best skis

Nordica 22 Enforcer 100 Men’s skis

The Nordica 22 Enforcer 100 Men’s skis are the best skis a beginner could ever need. Built with a wooden core and two sheets of metal, these skis are robust, but they float like much lighter skis, thanks to the extended rocker profile. Nordica skis have been the brand to get for years and these skis are a good example as to why. They’re capable of taking on all manner of conditions and terrain in any corner of the world.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Snowboards

Snowboards are cool. There’s no denying that, but there’s a decent skill curve if you want to emulate the high-flying stunts that get broadcast on television whenever the X-games are on. Snowboards are fun and fast, but they take a bit of time to get used to. Unlike skis, which come naturally to beginners because you face forward and get low for stability, snowboards force the user into a shoulder-width stance that takes you horizontally down the mountain. Your ability to turn and brake on a snowboard is dependent on how you dig the edges of the board into the snow.

Snowboard pros

Snowboards are fast and have a lot of trick potential. They glide along with snow easily, whether horizontal or vertical, and are capable of long, graceful arcs and quick braking and turning. Snowboards are better for people who want to learn tricks and go off jumps. Snowboarding boots are also way more comfortable than skiing boots because they have wider bases and a more flexible material. You’ll save time walking around since it’s easier to balance, plus it looks better.

Snowboard cons

Your feet are stuck in place when you’re moving and for beginners, it can feel unnatural. A new snowboarder is going to fall a lot as they figure out how to shift their weight and force the board horizontally to slow and break. A lot of people also have it easy turning on their heels but a hard time turning on their toes. If you over-correct during a turn you can let the wrong edge of the board dig into the snow and faceplant. Snowboards are also unfriendly if you have to walk around, move across a lot of flat snow or uphill. It also takes a bit of getting used to exiting lifts.

Best snowboard

Capita super DOA Men’s Snowboard

The Capita super DOA Men’s Snowboard is the best possible snowboard for beginners. It’s very easy to initiate turns. It has all the pop and response of a cambered board, but it also has zero camber and reverses camber. The board itself is extremely lightweight, making it easy to control. It uses recycled plastics in the core, so you can rest easy knowing it was responsibly sourced. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Should you get skis or a snowboard?

It really depends on your personality. Some people absolutely love snowboarding and they’re drawn to it because of it’s cult status in movies and television. Skiing is probably the better choice for absolute beginners, though. It won’t hurt their confidence or their bodies that much, because they won’t fall as often and they’ll get a better understanding of how it feels to maintain balance while sliding downhill. At the end of the day, beginners should learn what they like best, but most are in agreement when saying that skis are easier to learn on. Because of that, skis are the best to learn on because of the easy way they break you into the experience and help you balance.

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Sam Bramlett writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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