Skip to Content

Can Snowboarders Keep Up With Skiers?

Can Snowboarders Keep Up With Skiers?

If you’re a snowboarder about to hit the slopes with a group of skiers, you may be wondering whether you’ll be able to keep up with them or if you’ll be trailing behind the whole time

Skiing is generally considered a more technical discipline compared to snowboarding. Although not all skiers are faster, several factors do get in the way of snowboarders being able to keep up with skiers:

  • Snowboard gear
  • Snowboard tuning
  • Bindings setup speed
  • Edge pressure
  • Carving
  • Momentum

Snowboarders lack the two extra edges and leg separation skiers have. These extra edges increase skiers’ ability to turn acutely, push with each leg to keep momentum, and navigate flatter terrain with ease. 

See also: Why do skiers keep running their skis over my snowboard in lift lines?

Can skiers and snowboarders ride together?

Skiers and snowboarders have been riding alongside one another since snowboarding came onto the scene in 1965. It’s not a matter of whether these two types of riders can ride together – but rather if they want to.

Nowadays, though, there is less of a divide between skiers and snowboarders riding together with the popularity of snowboarding increasing. 

Yet it’s possible for a proficient skier to become bored waiting on a beginner snowboarder, or vice versa. 

Skiing has a its roots in racing, while snowboarding focuses on terrain park. These days, however, many skiers ride in the park while the snowboard racing discipline of boardercross is becoming increasinly popular.

As the two sports merge and begin to understand the different riding styles, skiers and snowboarders have more respect for each other.

Here are the different areas skiers and snowboarders commonly ride on the mountain:

Riding area on the mountainSkiersSnowboarders
Beginner, intermediate, advanced terrain
Terrain park
Ski race course X

Although snowboarders can race, you will most likely not see them on the ski race course area of the hill as it’s typically reserved to ski racers. The only place snowboarders and skiers do not ride together is at the ski race course.

See also: Switching from snowboarding to skiing

Can snowboarders go as fast as skiers?

Given equal skill level, a skier will typically be faster than a snowboarder. Skiers have a lot more effective edge and independent suspension, making it easier to go fast and stay in control.

Going fast on skis generally takes a lot less skill than going fast on a snowboard. A snowboarder will need to be very comfortable on their board to go as fast as a skier.

Here are some factors that can assist snowboarders in being as fast as skiers:

1. High quality snowboard

Board quality depends on a number of things such as the materials it’s made out of, the layering of the fiberglass so the board will flex in certain ways, how the sidecut affects turning, and the overall shape from the side making the board more or less rigid or playful.

These qualities can affect how fast you can snowboard and how quickly you can take control of the board. Beginners will benefit most from a more playful, lighter board whereas advanced riders will spend extra for technical qualities.

2. Snowboard tuning

Ensuring you have fresh wax and sharp edges on your snowboard is a must for achieving maximum speed. A snowboard tune will last approximately 15-20 days depending on how rough the terrain you’re riding is.

Sharp edges will allow turns to be concise and direct while fresh wax will keep your board gliding seamlessly across the snow.

3. Binding setup speed

Skiers can easily hop off the chairlift and go without stopping. Snowboarders who thrive to keep up with skiers need to learn how to strap their bindings fast once they get off the lift.

As a snowboarder, you can learn to glide off the chair and strap in while already beginning to slide down the hill.

4. Edge Pressure

Understanding how your weight distributes on one edge vs the other can make a huge difference in how fast you go down the hill. Applying weight to the edges of the board initiates momentum. 

The faster you can apply this edge pressure in your turns, the more speed you will create. If you try to apply it later in the turn, it will slow you down.  

5. Carving

Linking your turns by shifting between heel edge and toe edge on your snowboard is how you carve a turn. The more turns you link without pointing the board uphill, the faster you’ll go.

6. Momentum 

A snowboarder’s worst nightmare is losing speed in the flats. Pumping the board, bending and almost straightening the knees like an accordion, will help maintain speed in these sections.

If the flats are lengthy and you lose speed, you can always unstrap the rear foot and push to start to gain momentum again. Be mindful of the slope and when it will begin to go downhill again. 

See also: How fast can you snowboard?

Can snowboarders be ski patrol?

There are many mountains in the USA that allow Snowboarders to be hired as a Ski Patroller. 

During tryouts the skiers and snowboarders are given an equal opportunity to showcase the same skills over the same terrain.

Ski Patrol is generally easier on skis, and patrols expect their snowboarders to be able to provide rescue services to the entire mountain. 

If a snowboard Patroller gets stuck on cat tracks or slips out on steep traverses, they do not meet the Ski Patroller standard. 

A snowboarder on Ski Patrol must be capable of assisting riders in getting down the mountain in a safe and quick manner in case they’re injured or cannot make it down. 

Skills snowboarders need to be on Ski Patrol:

  • Ability to keep momentum on cat tracks/flats
  • Side slipping
  • Holding both toe and heel side edges on steep, icy slopes
  • Traversing
  • Proficient in moguls
  • Ability to steer a toboggan down any terrain if called to an accident 

Tips for snowboarders to keep up with skiers

can snowboarders keep up with skiers
  • Wax before every other ride
  • Completely carve your turns
  • Learn how to pump through flat areas
  • Strap into your bindings without sitting down
  • Learn how to ride between the moguls 
  • Get comfortable riding at high speeds in control

See also: how to overcome your fear of speed when snowboarding

Can snowboarders ride everywhere skiers do?

As long as there’s no “closed” sign permitting you from riding, snowboarders can ride anywhere skiers can. 

Whether a snowboarder can ride everywhere a skier does depends on the snowboarder’s level and effort.

Often we hear snowboarders complaining about cat tracks and icy traverses. This is a result of those riders not obtaining proper techniques to maintain speed, such as pumping and working the board, or not understanding how to activate their edge on the slope. 

A technically skilled snowboarder will be able to:

  • Catch up with skiers off of the ski lift within minutes
  • Make speed decisions based on their awareness of the terrain
  • Properly ride moguls
  • Carve turns

See also: Snowboarding is easier on your knees than skiing

Can snowboarders do everything skiers do?

Snowboarding and skiing share fundamental skills, but each discipline also has its own separate skills. Snowboarders cannot do everything that skiers can do, and skiers cannot do everything snowboarders can do.

Here’s a recap of similar and different skills between skiers and snowboarders:

Common SkillsSkiing Skills Snowboard Skills
SkatingKick turnToe side turn 
Speed ControlSide SlippingHeel side turn 
load/unload the lift safelySide SteppingToe side stop 
Get up from a fall Hockey stop Heel side stop 
Upper and lower body separationPole plantingLoad a turn
linked turns For/Aft pressureOllie
CarvingSki on one footNollie
Small, medium, and large turns HerringboneTail press
Ride switch RotationTilt
180 degree jumpPivot

Why are snowboarders always sitting?

When someone first begins snowboarding, they are still finding their balance on the board and tend to fall often. Sitting is common during a beginner snowboard lesson to save energy and reduce soreness from falling.

It is also common to see new snowboarders sitting while they strap into their rear binding or while taking a break from riding somewhere in the middle of a run. 

Proficient snowboarders may also sit to rest their legs after a hard run, wait for slower riders in their group, or to check out a jump or side hit.

If a snowboarder must sit, the best place is at the top of a run, in designated resting areas, or on top of a roller or hump where oncoming skiers and snowboarders can see them. 

Is it safer to ski or snowboard?

Skiing and snowboarding each has injuries and risks they are more prone to. The National Ski Area Association had reported that snowboarding is far less fatal than skiing.

Jasper Shealy, professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and researcher on injuries for +40yrs, says the likelihood of snowboarders to be injured is higher. However, snowboarders are less likely to be killed vs skiers.

This results from skiing having its roots in popular ski racing, where losing control at a high speed can result in a brutal accident. 

Snowboarders tend to move at a slower pace in order to perform trick maneuvers. Although hitting jumps and riding rails can also be dangerous, injury doesn’t occur as often.

See also: Can you snowboard on a sprained ankle?

Common ski injuries:

  • Knee sprains (ACL / MCL)
  • Boot top fractures
  • Concussions / head injuries
  • Wrist injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Skier’s thumb 
  • Spinal injuries

Common snowboard injuries:

  • Collarbone fractures/breaks
  • Shoulder injuries/dislocations
  • Wrist/arm injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Spinal injuries 

Snowboarders experience more shoulder and wrist injuries due to the natural instinct to put the hand/arm out to brace a hard landing.

Skiers typically experience knee injuries or wrist injuries due to improper weight distribution and unnatural twisting of the knee. Pole planting can cause wrist injuries if impacted by another skier or if improperly placed while skiing.

Final Words

Snowboarders and skiers can be equal in abilities. Keeping up with skiers will require extra physical effort in maintaining speed, which makes you an overall better rider in the long run.