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Skateboard vs Snowboard: A Hard And Cold Comparison

Skateboard vs Snowboard: A Hard And Cold Comparison

Is skateboarding similar to snowboarding? These two sports are similar in many ways, and knowing skateboarding can help learning snowboarding and vice-versa. There are also major differences between skateboarding and snowboarding that you need to take into account when trying to transfer your skills from one sport over to the other.

Here’s a quick comparison of skateboarding and snowboarding:

  • Stance & balance: similar (longboard) except for bindings
  • Basic riding skills: similar for carving, different for stopping
  • Learning curve: skateboarding harder to learn at first
  • Accessibility: skateboarding easier and cheaper to practice
  • Hazards: basic skateboarding is riskier than basic snowboarding
  • Tricks: similar – many snowboard tricks are skateboard-inspired
  • Skills transfer: general balance & stance, ramp & rail tricks, carving

1. Skateboard vs snowboard: stance & balance

skateboard vs snowboard stance and balance

One of the things that make skateboarding and snowboarding so closely related is stance – which we may refer to as surf stance, standing sideways when facing travel direction.

Even though a snowboard is typically longer (55″-62″) than a longboard (36″-48″), your stance on both types of board is similar in width, about shoulder width. Your feet are closer to the tips on a longboard than on a snowboard.

Where things may differ is that you may not have as much of a “duck stance” (feet pointing 45º in opposite directions) on a skateboard than on a snowboard. Your feet are generally more parallel on a skateboard.

Another key difference is that on a snowboard, your feet are strapped through the bindings, whereas they are free moving on a longboard. As a result, balancing is a bit different, since you can lean forward or backward a lot on a snowboard without losing your board, something you can’t do on a skateboard.

The weight of your boots and bindings on a snowboard also affect your balancing in a different way compared to a skateboard.

2. Skateboard vs snowboard: basic riding skills

skateboard vs snowboard basic riding skills

Your natural balance is similar when riding a skateboard or a snowboard. However, when riding a skateboard you have the 4 wheels rolling on the ground, whereas on a snowboard you ride mostly on the edge of the board – you typically don’t ride on the flat except in more advanced scenarios. Edge riding is a key difference with skateboarding.

The body motion for carving, on the other hand, is very similar on a skateboard and on a snowboard – e.g. using your head, shoulders, and upper body to initiate turns. On both, you shift your body weight to lean onto an edge for turning. On a skateboard, leaning makes your wheels turn whereas on a snowboard, it makes your board edge into the turn.

Stopping on a skateboard is often done through foot braking or bailing and outrunning, which you can’t do on a snowboard since your feet are strapped to the board. Stopping on a snowboard, however, is very similar to powersliding on a skateboard, making your board skid across the slope by shifting your weight off and pushing out.

Sliding on a longboard is also similar to making beginner turns on a snowboard which typically involve constant sliding on the ski run.

3. Skateboard vs snowboard: learning curve

skateboard vs snowboard learning curve

When it comes to learning curve, most people agree skateboarding is harder to learn than snowboarding. The reasons are the following:

  • Stepping on a skateboard on pavement will make it roll immediately, with the possibility of the board shooting out under you. On a snowboard, you’re bound to the board and initially parallel to the slope so you’re pretty safe at first.
  • If you fall of a skateboard, you risk hitting the concrete and hence you can get hurt pretty badly even a very low speed. On a snowboard, you’ll fall in the snow – even if there’s ice, it’s typically not as bad as concrete. Errors in Skateboarding can have greater consequences.
  • Anyone can get on a skateboard and toll a bit, but getting the basics down – pushing, turning, and stopping – requires more time and effort than snowboarding. Learning snowboarders are typically able to ride down a mild slope within a day, whereas safely rolling down a slope on a skateboard takes a lot more practice.
  • Once you’ve got the basics down on a snowboard and you’re able to link turns and ride down the hill without falling, the learning curve gets steeper for riding bigger hills, doing cliff jumps, or riding pipe. Likewise, learning freestyle or dancing tricks on a longboard, bombing hills and sliding, or riding ramps and transitions, are all hard skills to learn.

4. Skateboard vs snowboard: accessibility & cost

Skateboarding doesn’t cost much to get into, typically $90 to $250 for a board depending on type (see my post How much do longboards cost). You may also want to fork out another $100 or so for some safety gear.

A snowboard costs a lot more, including boots and binding. You also need to factor in expensive snowboarding pants and jacket, goggles and gloves. Add to that the cost of traveling to the mountain and the lift tickets, it all adds up to a hefty amount.

You can practice skateboarding anywhere, in flat areas and parking lots for flatland tricks, on bike lanes for cruising, on nearby hills for freeriding, or in city streets and skateparks for street, transition, and pool skating. You can practice tricks such as ollies and kickflips anywhere without having to spend a dime, and access many city skateparks for a very small fee.

In contrast, most people will need to go through some effort and make time to travel to a ski resort to go snowboarding.

See also: what is the best skateboard for cruising?

5. Skateboard vs snowboard: hazards

As I mentioned earlier, skateboarding bears of greater risk of hurting yourself even when riding slow by hitting the pavement with your body or head. Snowboarding is not as bad since you’re riding on snow most of the time and you can slide when you fall. Little falls hurt a lot more when skateboarding due to impact and road rash.

Practicing skateboard tricks also result in constant bruises on knees (unless you wear kneepads), shins, and ankles.

Snowboarding can also result in serious injuries from falling downhill at high speed. The mountain environment can also be very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, particularly on more advanced slopes.

All in all, skateboarding is probably riskier than snowboarding at a beginner level. Snowboarding gets riskier the more advanced you become. Advanced skateboarding also involves significant hazards e.g. if you’re commuting in traffic, freeriding on big hills, or throwing advanced kicktricks.

6. Skateboard vs snowboard: tricks

Tricks on a skateboard vs on a snowboard have a lot of similarities since snowboard freestyle tricks and snowpark environments are largely inspired from skateboarding.

Snowboard tricks are easier to learn than skate tricks since:

  • Your feet are bound to the snowboard
  • Landing in the snow is not as hard as concrete or wood

On the other hand, you can’t jump off a snowboard like you can on a skateboard, which can make certain tricks (e.g. airs) riskier.

Skateboarders tend to learn snowboarding rail tricks much quicker than non-skaters as the body positioning and movements typically carry over. Conversely, a rider who can do a 360 on a snowboard has an easier time performing the same trick on a skateboard.

Jumping is different on a skateboard vs a snowboard. On a skateboard, you do an ollie, kicking the rear of your board while lifting your front foot briefly to make the skateboard pop off the ground. On a snowboard, since your feet are strapped you can simply pop your feet off the floor to get your board up.

7. Skateboard vs snowboard: skills transfer

Do skateboarding skills transfer over to snowboarding (and vice-versa)? One thing is for sure, your balancing skills from one sport will no doubt help you pick up the other much faster.

Unlike “normal” non-boarder newbies, skateboarders who start snowboarding are typically able to link turns and ride down a slope on the first day. As I mentioned, carving turns down a hill on a skateboard is very similar to doing so on a snowboard – a skateboarder mainly need to get used to riding the edge and pivoting on the front foot.

The reverse is not always true: being a snowboarder doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to find your balance on a skateboard right away as riding on wheels often takes more practice.

Where the skills carry over the best from one sport to the other is for freestyle (street tricks, transitions, vert/halfpipe) and freeride (carving and sliding downhill).

Skateboard vs snowboard frequent questions

Is skateboarding harder than snowboarding?

For a beginner in both sports, skateboarding is generally considered harder than snowboarding when starting because it takes more effort to find your balance and because your slightest moves can cause the wheels to turn.

While learning the basics in snowboarding can be relatively straightforward for many people, getting good at it can be just as hard as becoming a proficient skateboarder. The only aspect that can make snowboarding feel easier to learn is the fact that falling in the snow is less painful than falling on concrete.

Does skateboarding improve snowboarding?

Yes, skateboarding can improve snowboarding, namely by:

  • Helping you balance on a moving board while in a surf stance
  • Teaching you how to carve into turns and how to slide to shed speed
  • Helping you master freestyle tricks common to both sports

Final words

Skateboarding and snowboarding are complementary sports, and many riders cross-train for one by practicing the other. Skateboarding (or longboarding) can easily and inexpensively be practiced outside of the snowboarding season.

Skateboarding lets you stay in shape and hone your balancing, carving, downhill, and freestyle skills from Spring to Fall. Conversely, snowboarding, if you have the time and budget for it, can keep you riding when it’s too cold and icy out there to skate!

Photo credits:
– Featured: “snowboard” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by ffosesp
– Featured: “Rainbow Drifting Warrior” by Rob Green (@OhioGreenPhoto); Rider: Avery Wilcox; Permission: Loaded Boards
– “Longboard 5” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Blas Brains
– “Longboard” (CC BY 2.0) by redcreadeporte
– “IMG_4850Jupi_1500” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by macskapocs

Martin Stimpfl

Saturday 10th of April 2021

When talking about Snowboarding actually you would have to take Hardboots vs Softboots into consideration. Alpine Boards with hardboot bindings being the carving monsters on slopes I would say you can compare the techniques and general feeling to longboard carving and surf skating (with a rather longer wheelbase).

Unfortunately alpine snowboards are pretty underrepresented these days as the learning curve is pretty steep. Nevertheless, the learning hints are very similar to surf skating (whiggeling vs. proper technique).

Me, I am totally into alpine snowboard slope carving giving me the total kicks riding the perfect carving turn I imagine it similar to catching the perfect wave when surfing (unfortunately I am no surfer ;) ). So, surf skating is my substitute in summer :D

Rock on!

Big Kahuna

Saturday 10th of April 2021

Hey Martin, thanks for the insights! I do have a couple of posts about alpine boarding (here, here). I like your comparison with surfing, indeed, classic surfing is all about drawing nice lines and feeling the vibe! Ride on, Jesse

Sunday 12th of May 2019

carving on a snowboard is way harder than on along board or on a skateboard