- What is Snowboarding?
- Types of Snowboarding
- Commonalities Skateboarding and Snowboarding
- Differences Between Skateboarding and Snowboarding
- Can I Snowboard if I can Skateboard?
- How Hard is Snowboarding?
- The Learning Curve
- What is a Snowskate?
- Is Snowboarding Easier than Skateboarding?
- Recommended Products
- Bottom Line
We've all seen it - the newbies with zero riding skills who go up to the top of a challenging slope - and then fall flat on their butt. Just because you're a great skateboarder, doesn't necessarily mean you'll automatically be a great snowboarder. It’s still a great off season board sport to master and cross train yourself for both sports.
Listen skaters, while the two activities are undoubtedly similar, they also have many key differences. And - never forget - practice makes perfect, so you'll need to log just as many hours on the slopes as you did with your skateboard, before you become great with the powder. Also, look out for skiers, cause they don't appreciate being run over.
[See our list of the best beanies, if you want to look rad while you snowboard.]
What Is Snowboarding?
Before we begin, let's take a step back and really understand what snowboarding is. While you may skateboard, and you may have even skied - snowboarding is an entirely different animal.
Similar to skiing, snowboarding involves going up to the peak of a hill (don’t forget your lift ticket!), and going down (ideally without falling). The board is attached directly to your feet with boots and bindings (unlike a skateboard). As such, there are some unique challenges, which skateboarders are likely unfamiliar with. For example: when your waiting in line for the lift, your front foot stays strapped in while your back foot is unstrapped.
The board is attached directly to your feet with boots and bindings (unlike a skateboard).
With roots in the 1960s and 1970s, snowboarding eventually became an official Olympic sport in the 1990s. You can trace its roots to surfing, skiing, and yes - even skateboarding.
Some form of snowboarding has actually been around since the 1920s, but the modern form really started to take shape in 1965. Sherman Poppen (an engineer from Michigan) put two skis together for his daughter, and had her go downhill - essentially inventing the modern snowboard.
[See some gnarly hoodies, to complete your snowboard ensemble.]
Types Of Snowboarding
There are many different types of snowboarding, just as there are different types of skateboarding. In fact, you'll see many similarities between the different types of snowboarding and the different types of skateboarding.
Just as in skateboarding, there are many snowboarders who prefer to ride the half pipe. Getting lots of air, and doing vert tricks is one surefire way to have a good time on the slopes. Your skateboarding skills transfer to snowboarding tricks on a half pipe at a ski resort.
Shaun White is probably the most famous half pipe snowboarders in the world, having won gold in the event for the USA. He's also been featured in major movies, as well as television commercials. Dude is actually pretty good at wakeboarding too.
This is a technical style of riding that involves boxes, rails and other obstacles designed to challenge riders. In skateboarding, jibbing can be compared to grinding or a boardslides. A jib is a box or rail that a snowboarder can grind or "jib" on.
Just as it sounds, freeriding involves just snowboarding around without any obvious objectives other than shredding at high speeds and going hard. If you're just goofing around with your friends, that would fall into the freeriding category, for instance.
Ideally, you'll want to go off some massive peaks as well, but sometimes this is not possible. It should also be noted that this type of snowboarding can be very dangerous, especially in backcountry, as avalanches can occur. Check the the ski resort map for any out of bounds areas and be familiar where your ski patrol building is if you bail and have a hard slam off a big jump.
Just like street skating, urban snowboarding involves grinding handrails, structures, and more already-existing elements. Snowboards are typically more slippery than skateboards, so this poses a unique challenge. There is some overlap with jobbing and urban with the key difference being that urban is specifically using city/town obstacles.
Not that different than freeriding, freestyle snowboarding is basically any type of snowboarding where you are performing tricks. This broad term encompasses all the other types of snowboarding, as well.
Boarder-cross or Race Snowboarding
Not much different than BMX riding, boardercross is also similar to downhill skiing. There are obstacles and jumps, and the fastest (and most flawless) performances will win.
Go ski and snowboard at the same time with a splitboard. This unique board design allows riders to climb and traverse mountains like skis, but shred down the mountain like a snowboard. These are great all throughout your snowboarding season.
Splitboarders can also install climbing skins so they don't slide backward when going uphill.
Things Skateboarding And Snowboarding Have In Common
Crucially, riding a snowboard isn't that different from riding a skateboard. Many of the tricks you can do on a skateboard can also be performed on a snowboard. Except tricks like kickflips or shove its. Your kinda strapped to your snowboard so good luck doing a 360 strapped in.
Additionally, you'll also have the same stance with skateboarding and snowboarding: goofy (right foot forward) or regular (left foot forward). You can also ride half pipes, ramps, and rails in snowboarding - just like you would in skateboarding.
If you're a good skateboarder, it's unlikely you'll have that much of an issue riding a snowboard. However, there are also some key differences between skateboarding and snowboarding.
[What is the cost of snowboarding?]
Differences Between Skateboarding And Snowboarding
Making turns is the first difference we'll point out. Skateboards rely on the trucks to do the turning while snowboards have sharp edges the carve into the snow. The feeling is quite different from one another. Additionally, since you're not riding on concrete, you won't be met with much resistance on a snowboard.
For snowboarding you won't have to push unless you are getting on/off the lift, and most of the time you'll be going much faster. Board size and shape are also very important for snowboarding. Once you get used to your board feel, this will become much easier. In the beginning stages of learning to snowboard, this feels like your just pivoting around the lift line until its your turn to hop on the chair lift.
Smaller boards will let you do tricks and freestyle, while larger snowboards are easier to go faster and handle harsher back country terrain. Braking is probably the biggest difference. Getting on the edge of the snowboard is what slows you down, which is something you can't do at all on a skateboard. If you can powerslide on a skateboard, you will feel some similar movements. However, the feeling is quite different.
[Find out why snowboarding is good for you.]
If I Can Skateboard, Can I Automatically Snowboard Too?
We don't know about 'automatically', but snowboarding is definitely easier if you've skated before. Things will be different, however.
Ollies are totally different on a skateboard compared to a snowboard. Skateboarding requires a lot of foot movement whereas snowboarding has your feet locked in with boots and bindings. Additionally, the stance between a snowboard and skateboard is also definitely different. In skateboarding, stance changes depending on what you are trying to do. In snowboarding, stance is set when you build your board and that's that.
The speed on a snowboard is also greater, so that is one big leap you'll have to make, when adjusting between the two. If you have done more longboarding, snowboarding will come easier since you'll be used to carving and some speed.
Regardless of your background, you will probably enjoy both sports. Don't limit yourself to just one.
[See our complete list of the best snowboarders.]
How Hard Is It To Snowboard?
The short answer here is that it's probably of a medium difficulty to snowboard. The long answer is that, like with anything, you'll need to learn the basics and practice the fundamentals. Bailing and taking slams is all part of the process. Knee pads, butt pad, and a helmet are all recommended especially if your learning.
Just like surfing, surfers fall down many times in the beginning. It's very important to persevere through this stage. Also your butt is probably going to be pretty sore. You're going to end up on your butt a lot your first day at the ski resort. You might want to consider a butt pad to help you get through this learning stage.
The Learning Curve Between Snowboarding And Skateboarding
One of the biggest differences is that falling on a snowboard in the beginning is usually lot safer than falling on a skateboard. When you fall on the skateboard, you hit concrete and get hurt fairly easily.
Snow on the other hand is a lot more forgiving. On the downside though, you can't jump off a snowboard. If you go too fast and start to lose control, you have no option but to beef it.
[After this article, check out some of the best snowboard brands.]
Going down hills on a snowboard is a pretty easy skill to acquire, at least when compared to going up and down hills or vert ramps on a skateboard. There isn't much margin for error when you're going up a massive half pipe on a skateboard. It's a lot more forgiving to go up and down hills on a snowboard.
Overall, the basics are more forgiving to learn on a snowboard and you'll probably be doing some basic tricks faster. But it's a bit easier to just hop right on a skateboard and cruise around.
This is a case where the learning curve is pretty similar for both sports. There are some key differences, but you won't be able to be an expert rider in either sport, within a day (or even a week).
What Is A Snowskate?
A weird hybrid between a snowboard and a skateboard, a snowskate is a way to bridge the gap between skating and hitting the powder.
It's smaller and much closer to the size of a standard skate deck, but it is definitely different. It has a specialized bottom grip (made from plastic), which allows better traction on the white stuff.
Some snowskates have a small ski on the bottom of them. This allows for carves like a snowboard, but ollies and other tricks like a skateboard.
Is Snowboarding Easier Than Skateboarding?
There isn't one answer here that will satisfy everyone. It is definitely easier to start riding a skateboard, but tricks are also easier on a snowboard.
So it's about 50/50 on this one. It's also easier to fall on snow than concrete, so again, there is no real clear winner here.
Recommended Products For Skateboarders Learning to Snowboard
You're going to spend a lot of time sitting and falling on your butt. While it might feel a little stupid looking, your tailbone will thank you at the end of the day.
Helmets are often seen as uncool in skateboarding (unless you are Andy Anderson), but not so much in snowboarding. The additional speed and air that you can get in snowboarding makes helmets a no brainer.
While you can use a skate helmet with your snowboard, the ear protection is something you're going to want. Snowboarding gets cold (surprise surprise) and you'll want those ears covered.
This helmet from Smith offers a wheel adjuster to finely tune the fitment as well as a goggle hook in the back. Both of these things are staying comfortable during a long day on the slopes.
Snowboarding is an expensive sport and goggles are no exception. There are a lot of very expensive goggles out there, but in our experience, goggles are one of the things you can get at an affordable price without sacrificing the quality. You may not look as gucci as your rich friends, but you will be able to shred just as well.
Out of all my gear, my goggles seem to be the piece that takes the most abuse. The lenses are so easy to scratch, etc I don't want to shell out $100+ every time they need to be replaced. I bought some cheaper ones on Amazon and was amazed at how the quality stacked up to those 3x-5x the price. Moral of the story - you pay big for brand name goggles. Often, inexpensive goggles are a good pick for your snowboard kit.
When I first went out snowboarding, I am embarrassed to admit that I fell on my ass a lot and got snow down my pants throughout the day. The wet steamy snow downstairs made things quite unpleasant, so I wanted to get something that would better protect during falls. Bibs or overalls provided that.
Did my friends make fun of my a little? Yep. Did I care? Nope. You can't tell what they are when your jacket is on and you'll be the most comfortable dude on the slopes.
This is a piece of kit that I would opt to spend a bit more on, but these from Amazon worked great for me and lasted a few seasons.
Your snowboard boots are going to make or break your day on the slopes. If they are too small, your toes are going to be smashed and uncomfortable. If they are too big, your heel is going to lift during your turns and you won't have good control of your board. Make sure they are a little too tight when you get them at first because the liners will "pack out" and mold to your feet. However, don't go too tight or your boots will just suck. It's a bit of an art to get it just right.
The BOA system is a great entry for snowboard boots. It takes the complexity out of the lace up and makes getting boots on fast and easy. While experienced riders may prefer the increased adjust ability of laces, beginners are going to have a better time with BOA. It's just easier. I'd recommend getting boots with two BOA adjustments for the upper and lower of the boot.
While you don't have to have a stomp pad, new riders will benefit greatly from having one. It makes "skating" around on your board and getting off lifts so much easier.
As a skateboarder, you could compare it to skating without griptape. Sure you could, but why would you?
I personally really like these pyramid studs because they look rad on the board. Fat plastic stomps just look lame. These studs are not much different in price, function just as well, and look so much better. For a first time rider, a stomp pad helps tremendously when your in the lift line.
Another alternative to the boring plastic stomps are these rad graphic stomps from One Mfg.
The Bottom Line On Skateboarding Helping With Snowboarding
There you have it - all the info on the differences between skateboarding and snowboarding, and if one will help with the other. We love skateboarding, but we also love snowboarding, so we're ultimately torn on which one we like better.
It is true that skateboarding tricks are harder, but there is just something so nice about grinding on a rail then hitting a vert ramp in the hot sun. We may be a little biased though.
Whether you want to hit your local skate park, or hit the slopes, make sure you choose high quality gear. A great skateboard or snowboard can make your life much easier, so have fun, stay active, and keep shredding that gnar!