There is a common saying among snow sports enthusiasts that “snowboarding is hard to learn but easy to master, but skiing is easy to learn and hard to master”, which people generally accept to be true.
In skiing, the technique adopted by a beginner can be broken down into a simple followable approach, but the perfection of the same will require extreme technicalities. In the case of snowboarding, the technique mainly involves getting on the edges of the feet, i.e., the heel and toe edges. This is the most challenging part, but the sport’s fundamental technique is already done once that is successfully achieved. It is also possible to reach an impressive level very quickly, particularly if the person is brave.
The First Few Days
For the first few days, skiing is much easier to pick up on than snowboarding. This is mainly because skiing is more intuitive for beginners for two reasons:
In the case of skiing, legs need to remain separated so that at low speeds, it is possible to throw one leg out if the person starts to fall to help re-balance. On the other hand, in snowboarding, the feet need to be attached to the board. This can feel restrictive and awkward at first, which can take a bit of getting used to. If the person starts to fall, they will inevitably fall and take the hit.
Skiing requires a straightforward, straight-on stance. Beginners should have total peripheral vision and can see exactly where they are going and everything that is in front, which includes other people and objects. On the other hand, the stance for snowboarding is side-on, and therefore, the beginner has less peripheral vision, seeing only half of what is in front of them while travelling down the slopes. This can also take a bit of getting used to.
Once the above two obstacles are overcome, beginner snowboarders would usually be able to progress relatively quickly. Keeping the feet to the snowboard, even though awkward at first, becomes an advantage as skiers find crossing their skis an issue. Keeping the skis apart is a skill unto itself.
Beginner snowboarders, who will most likely be using mono-skis, do not have to worry about this. Therefore, once they have grasped the basics of making a turn, they are good to go and can start to hit the proper slopes. The next step is to work on better balance and greater speed. Increasing speed can actually make turning easier due to less contact between the base of the board and the snow, decreasing resistance while turning.
For skiers, however, the challenging part is only about to start. It will likely take them a lot longer than snowboarders to build up their level of skill. Two separate skis on two different legs now become a problem because both legs need to be moved simultaneously and in harmony and take some time to master.