To Ski or to Board?
(MCT) - They share the same slopes, but skiing and snowboarding have little else in common. And even though the feud has dissipated over the years, key differences remain. Here's the rundown:
- Skiing: Alpine skiing traces its origins to late 19th century Europe when either a Swiss named Odd Kjelsberg or an Austrian named Mathias Zdarsky (depending on whom you credit) turned transportation into recreation.
- Snowboarding: Many lay claim to building the "first" snowboard, either by binding two skis together or improvising out of plywood and cafeteria trays. No one disputes it's an American invention dating to the late 1960s.
- Skiing: With its Old World origins, skiing had a decidedly "Euro" feel until a decade ago. But thanks to snowboarding's influence, skiers have largely ditched those hideous one-piece suits in favor of baggier clothing.
- Snowboarding: The looser and louder, the better. Some boarders wear baggy parkas and pants, while others go for a more "street" look with sports jerseys draped over sweatshirts. Loud graphics are in, but so is camouflage.
- Skiing: When boarding snatched the crucial youth market, skiing became decidedly uncool: "Something old people do." But with the invention of twin tips, more young skiers are venturing into halfpipes and terrain parks. The coolness is back.
- Snowboarding: Taking its cues from skate and surf culture, boarding used to be the epitome of cool. But now that the sport is decidedly mainstream and many riders are approaching their mid-30s, some of that underground rebel chic has worn off.
- Skiing: Since peaking in the 1980s, skiing participation in the U.S. dropped to 5.5 million in 2007, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. But it remains slightly ahead of riding.
- Snowboarding: According to the NSGA, snowboarding at its 2004 zenith actually overtook skiing for a short time (6.6 million to 5.9 million). By 2007, nationwide participation had dipped to 5.1 million.
- Skiing: After a day or two, most skiers can make it down beginner hills and ride the lift without embarrassment. But the progression from quasi-intermediate to expert can take years.
- Snowboarding: The first day of snowboarding can be one of the most painful and frustrating you'll experience. Survive that, however, and improvement comes quicker than skiing.
- Skiing: With two points of contact to the snow, plus poles and stiff, cumbersome boots, skiers have a lot to keep track of. But those poles come in handy in the flats.
- Snowboarding: One great thing about snowboarding is that it's just you and the board. As a bonus, the boots are soft and comfortable. Which is good, because you'll be walking in them a lot.
- Skiing: Oh, my knee! Skiing requires high torsional forces, which is why knee problems make up about half of all skiing injuries.
- Snowboarding: Since snowboard bindings don't release, the wrists and butt usually take the impact. That's why beginners wear wrist guards and butt pads.
- Skiing: One thing every skier needs to know about boarders: They cannot see you from their heel-side edge. Be aware of that when you ski close or notice one veering in your direction.
- Snowboarding: Boarders tend to clog up ski lift exits when they stop to remove or fasten their bindings - leave room for others. And there's no reason to sit down in the middle of a run.
© 2009, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.).
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.