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Adult Beginner: Ski or Snowboard?

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
So, with our second little guy beyond the stage of needing Mom most all the time, my wife has committed to trying snow sliding this winter. I just kind of assumed that she'd try skiing (I ski and have never tried snowboarding), but some time ago she mentioned to me that she was wondering whether to give skiing or snowboarding a try.

Anyone have opinions as to which one might be more likely to catch a beginner's fancy? Maybe this is just a whatever-you-think-is-likely-to-float-your-boat type of thing, or maybe some of you have opinions as to which one is easier and/or more fun for an absolute novice. She's (soon to be) 34 and never tried any snow sport before or even spent much time around snow except for the last several years on occasional trips with me. Her balance seems to be pretty good ... or, at least, it's way better than mine. (I do some balancing exercises on a Bosu-type ball, one of which involves holding weights while rotating around on top of the ball. I struggle to keep from falling off, but she spins around with no trouble.) She does almost no exercising (other than toting around a one year old and chasing down him and his three year old brother), but her genetics are such that she seems to naturally be in pretty good shape. (Sweet!) As to athleticism, it's hard for me to say: she doesn't play any sports as an adult, but that's as much a consequence of circumstances, I'd say, as anything else. She seems relatively coordinated, not a spaz.

Too much falling on the butt in snowboarding? Easier for a beginner to get around on skis or a snowboard? Too much frustration trying to get across flat sections on a snowboard? How about lift loading and unloading (skis seem easier to me for a beginner)? I don't care one way or the other, except that I'd like her to try whatever seems most likely to lead to fun.
post #2 of 38
A big plus for snowboarding is that you won't be giving her a lot of advice. Wifes hate it when husbands tell them what to do.

She should try either or both. As long as she is renting equipment, she has options. When it comes time to buy gear she may decide she needs ski AND snowboard gear! Probably better than her deciding not to participate in either. I think it is easier to learn skiing, but you don't have to tell her that. Be positive, encourage, don't push.
post #3 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post
She should try either or both. As long as she is renting equipment, she has options.
Both is probably the ticket. We'll hit up a bunch of learn to ski/board deals at various Tahoe resorts, so probably the thing to do is just try each a few times.
post #4 of 38
I've not tried snowboarding so FWIW. My impression is that folks fall hard and fairly often when learning to board. Both feet are in the bindings and once the board goes, you simply go down. I think it would also be easier to get around and negotiate lifts on skis. That's not to say she shouldn't try boarding, I just think skiing might be a litle easier for an older beginner to get going with.
post #5 of 38
I'd encourage her try both but not on the same day. Everyone has their individual preferences. Snowboarding is easier on the knees and requires two less things to carry around or forget (poles).

The myth that people fall hard and often when learning snowboarding is still circulating in skier circles. This is the old school method taught in the 80's and early 90's when teaching methods were still being refined. Not that you won't fall but, any seasoned caring instructor is going to teach using slam free methods.

When starting out, you have only one foot in on the bunny hill. Most programs teach balance, stance, edge control at this stage. The last thing we want is to introduce fear at this stage. Once comfortable, we move on to both feet in exercises. More edge and speed control. Again, at this stage, a seasoned instructor should use methods to prevent hard slams.

I don't think the lift is any easier on skis with the exception of lifts that have really steep exit ramps which no instructor should take either type of beginner on. I've seen equal numbers fall off the lift. I've had many classes with never-ever women in their mid-forties get off a quad lift together and none of the four fell. The natural tendency of beginning skiers and snowboarders is to lean back from forward motion. Most need coaching to get more weight forward. You have to tailor your coaching to each students needs.

The flats on a snowboard are terrible at any level. I've stuck out my thumb and hitchhiked a tow from a passing skier. This could be an opportunity to play the caring gentlemanly husband?

Have her favorite chocolate available at the end of the day/lesson. Women like chocolate.

Find a resort that uses Burton LTR rental gear. No step-ins for this!
post #6 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thanks, daysailer, that is really helpful feedback. For example, as my post indicated, I'm one that thought falling harder on a snowboard would be reality for her as a beginner. It's good to know that beginner lessons are given in a way to mitigate that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daysailer1 View Post
Have her favorite chocolate available at the end of the day/lesson. Women like chocolate.
Screw that. Nobody gave me chocolate on my first day. In fact, my helpful cousin took me down a blue bump run my first time down. Anyway, all my chocolate is for me. I'm selfish like that. I steal my kids' trick-or-treat candy if they're not careful.

Actually, perverse as it is, my wife doesn't like chocolate. Worse, she doesn't like any kind of sweet stuff, either. That's wrong, but I married her anyway. I'm forgiving like that.
post #7 of 38
It sounds like she has good balance and agility. Having flexibility is good too. Keeping up with young children is a workout.

Hard falls don't have to happen. Vail Resorts has published both an adult and children's manuals that give great progressions on preventing hard slams. Unfortunately you CAN get an instructor that doesn't care if their students fall hard or they just don't have enough experience at coaching beginners to prevent it. Not to sound like a commercial or biased, try to screen the school you will be taking lessons at. Seasoned instructors will work to prevent slams and keep it fun. You never know, she could be linking turns in 2.5 hours.

Since she dosen't like chocolate. Do something else she really likes. I guess I'm going for the skiing/snowboarding = pleasure/fun association. You know, brainwash her.
post #8 of 38
A few years ago I met an elderly, truly expert, skier who had given up skiing to take up snowboarding in his 70's so that he could spend more time on the mountain with his wife and friends and hopefully not kill himself trying to keep up with the younger faster skiing guys he had skied with until he took up the snowboard. He said he loved it.

Whydon'tyou take snow boarding lessons together. Misery always loves company and you may progress at about the same pace for the first few lessons. Even if you go back to skiing after a few lessons you will better understand the issues she faces with the snowboard.
post #9 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveturner View Post
Whydon'tyou take snow boarding lessons together. Misery always loves company and you may progress at about the same pace for the first few lessons. Even if you go back to skiing after a few lessons you will better understand the issues she faces with the snowboard.
That's a good idea. I've thought for a while that I wanted to give snowboarding a try some time.

The problem for now, though, is that with one that's three and a half and the other just turned one, somebody's got to stay in and take care of one or both of the kids (the older guy may take to it enough this year that he'll be out on the hill much of the time). So, when my wife is taking a lesson or skiing/boarding on her own, I'm going to be stuck in the lodge (except when we're able to rope somebody, like my Dad, into going with us).

Fortunately (I hope), my younger son gives signs that he may take to skiing (and similar activity) pretty quickly. He's pretty fearless (which has had unpleasant consequences for his head, to the point where we - half-seriously - thought about getting him a helmet to wear). I got out the kid ski stuff a couple of nights ago to try out last season's boots on my three year old (they're too small) and the one year old actually really liked tromping around in them. I figured he'd need my steadying hand to make sure he didn't fall, but he apparently thought otherwise, since he kept pushing it away. He got around pretty well, didn't get frustrated by falling, and was able to get himself back up again ... all good signs.
post #10 of 38
As some have already mentioned...Learning to board can be quite painful. I tried snowboarding for the first time last year. I took a lesson and then spent 3-4 hours by myself trying to get the hang of it. I even went back the next weekend to try again. It never sank in with me and I had more than a few hard falls with my hip, shoulder or my head banging off the packed snow. I learned to ski many years ago and I can't remember walking away sore, except for having used different muscles, not banging body parts off the ground.
post #11 of 38
In New England - boarders sporting broken noses, face rash, dislocated shoulders, sprained wrists, and concussions vastly out number skiers sporting the same. (Don't get me wrong - you can get pretty F-ed up skiing - but it is a little more difficult on easy greens. Your bum/hip gets most of the abuse sparing your arms and head.

On our beloved NE blue hardpack, catching an edge while snowboarding front or backside results in a pretty spectacular face or butt plant including snapping head slam action. Maybe not on the first day under the watchful eye of an instructor...But ultimately inevitable.

Don't get me started on lift mount/dismounts.

I suspect your slim graceful wife would enjoy skiing more. Also - teaching children is easier on skis as you can hold between your legs etc etc. Ski poles are good for whacking them if they misbehave.

Finally - ski clothes are snazzier than boarding clothes.
post #12 of 38
skiing is easier and you don't have to wear plaid
post #13 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by daysailer1 View Post
The myth that people fall hard and often when learning snowboarding is still circulating in skier circles. This is the old school method taught in the 80's and early 90's when teaching methods were still being refined. Not that you won't fall but, any seasoned caring instructor is going to teach using slam free methods.
You might not slam on a board, but you WILL fall. I have MANY never evers make it through their first lesson (and 2, 3+) on skis, with ZERO falls.
post #14 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woodstocksez View Post
The problem for now, though, is that with one that's three and a half and the other just turned one, somebody's got to stay in and take care of one or both of the kids (the older guy may take to it enough this year that he'll be out on the hill much of the time). So, when my wife is taking a lesson or skiing/boarding on her own, I'm going to be stuck in the lodge (except when we're able to rope somebody, like my Dad, into going with us).
You may want to check out the mountain's child care. I have worked at two different mountains since my kids were born and both mountains have had outstanding child care.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
You might not slam on a board, but you WILL fall. I have MANY never evers make it through their first lesson (and 2, 3+) on skis, with ZERO falls.
Let's not confuse "sitting down" or "going to your knees" with falling. With the right instructor, you do not have to slam, and you may not even fall. It is pretty close to impossible to stay standing on one edge for the duration of the lesson, though, so going down to your knees or butt is inevitable.

If you are really against falling, you need two things; the right instructor and patience.
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by bgraves28 View Post
As some have already mentioned...Learning to board can be quite painful. I tried snowboarding for the first time last year. I took a lesson and then spent 3-4 hours by myself trying to get the hang of it. I even went back the next weekend to try again. It never sank in with me and I had more than a few hard falls with my hip, shoulder or my head banging off the packed snow. I learned to ski many years ago and I can't remember walking away sore, except for having used different muscles, not banging body parts off the ground.
I'd agree with that, I have tried snowboarding once, and I must have fallen over 30 times in two hours, on my butt, very painfully, I had a massive headache by the end, which came when I hyperextended my thumb and strained it. Even worse, I couldn't get back up again when I fell.

I would say, have her try both and see which feels more natural, skiing is a lot easier on the body, IMO.
post #16 of 38
Woodstocksez here is the bottom line. If you have one shot with your wife try skiing. Boarding is intitally harder but then easier to progress. Skiing gives a sense of security in the early stages that is missing in boarding.

The real clincher is that children are vastly easier to deal with when you are on skis, especially on short skis. I had to pick my daughter up a lot and tow her a lot and go back up the hill to get a kid sitting in a pile of stubborn tears during the early years. I could not imagine doing that from a board.

On the other hand, if momma wants to dump that responsibility entirely on you, well she should take up boarding.
post #17 of 38
If she chooses snowboarding how will she deal with sitting in the snow? It's kind of undignified and can be wet and cold if the clothing is not right. Some women would have a problem with that.
post #18 of 38
It is easier to try snowboarding when you are young, simply because it is brutal to learn. I tried a snowboaording lesson 3 years ago with my nephew and I think my tailbone still is bruised !!! If you are older, take plenty of advil and count on waking up the next morning feeling like you got hit by a freight train.
post #19 of 38
My son in law teaches boarding and has skied since he was quite young. He thinks the learning curve for boarding is shorter than for skiing BUT the initial tries are harder. When I figure out how to ski well in 20-30 years, I might try boarding, course I'll be about 80 then.
post #20 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulR View Post
It is easier to try snowboarding when you are young, simply because it is brutal to learn. I tried a snowboaording lesson 3 years ago with my nephew and I think my tailbone still is bruised !!! If you are older, take plenty of advil and count on waking up the next morning feeling like you got hit by a freight train.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mkevenson View Post
My son in law teaches boarding and has skied since he was quite young. He thinks the learning curve for boarding is shorter than for skiing BUT the initial tries are harder. When I figure out how to ski well in 20-30 years, I might try boarding, course I'll be about 80 then.
You're never too old to learn to snowboard. Adults interested in snowboarding should check out http://graysontrays.com/ There are lots of people who learned in their forties, fifties, sixties.

Once you get the hang of it, you'll soon be able to ride the whole mountain. It's less strenous than alpine skiing. Easily the most relaxed, flowing way to descend a mountain. Powder is easy on a snowboard.
post #21 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post
You're never too old to learn to snowboard. Adults interested in snowboarding should check out http://graysontrays.com/ There are lots of people who learned in their forties, fifties, sixties.

Once you get the hang of it, you'll soon be able to ride the whole mountain. It's less strenous than alpine skiing. Easily the most relaxed, flowing way to descend a mountain. Powder is easy on a snowboard.

I have no doubt you are correct. It's getting to the 'once you get the hang of it' part that is brutal.

It actually looks quite fun and easy-going. I wish it was around when I was in my youth. I just found out being in my upper 50's my bones just can't take the pounding that is inevtiable when you start - especially learning to get off the lift. After being banged up all day, and despite the assurance of my instructor that it gets easier, I wimped out and gave up on day one at 3PM of my all day lesson my nephew talked me into. On my last run I ended up doing something like a toeside and heelside at the same time, spun around, hit my head hard, flipped over and hit my head again, followed almost immediately by another student boarder running into me and falling on top of my rib cage. :
post #22 of 38
Telerod's right...riding in powder is like surfing a cloud.

Here's a couple suggestions, if your wife chooses to try boarding first.

One - go on a day when there is a bit of fresh powder...not too much, just three or four inches. This can make a huge difference -- not in cushioning falls, but because it gives you a little forgiveness on your edges. On hard packed snow, it's much easier to badly catch an edge.

Two - spend as much time as is needed on the beginner area -- whether it's the magic carpets or the "bunny" slope. Do not try to progress to quickly -- this is a really common mistake.

Three - spend a LOT of time learning edge control using what I only know as the "falling leaf" technique. Maybe there's another name for it, not sure. Basically, you ride one edge...usually best to start toe edge...across and slightly down the hill, then slowly turn up the hill until you stop...it's easy to feel the sensation and movement required to turn up the hill to slow and stop....then, go back acrossed doign the same thing. Go all teh way down the hill doing this, back and forth, like the wide bowl shape made by a falling leaf. Hopefully that makes sense. Do it over and over. Toe side one run, heel side the next. What this does is teach your muscles the feel of how to control the edge...muscle memory. Learn this first, then learn the transition from one edge to the next....you'll fall a LOT less.

I think a lot of people go to linking turns before they have the ability to control their edges. My first day boarding I was linking two or t hree turns, picking up a lot of speed, then catching an edge because I ahd no idea what edge control felt like. My second day (yes, I went back the next day, in pain), I learned the falling leaf thing in a few inches of fresh pow, and I was cruising by lunchtime.

I ski more than I ride these days...but there are days I bring both my skis and my board and make up my mind when I get there. And there are days I go both.
post #23 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone, for the replies. I do check back in on this thread periodically to see what new thoughts have been posted.

The view that skiing is easier right out of the gate, but the progression in boarding is faster, fits with my suspicions. (That skiing is easier initially also seems to be indicated by the fact that all the places I've checked will give skiing lessons to kids at an earlier age than they'll give boarding lessons.) So does the contention that powder is easier on a board: it's always seemed easier to me to plow through powder on a single fat board, rather than two (relatively) skinny ones.

As of now, she's indicated she's going to try skiing first, but we'll probably both try boarding at some point down the road. I'm thinking of having her first attempt be at Soda Springs because then I can take the kids (3.5 and 1) to the Planet Kids area. Sugar Bowl is having a cheap learn-to-ski weekend on December 8 and 9 for kids and adults, but, unfortunately, we've got another commitment that weekend.
post #24 of 38
If she snowboards, it's much more likely she will be able to share the same terrain with you. especially if you ski off trail. Yes, she will probably be heelside slipping alot, but at least she won't be panicking and cursing you for taking her down that "cliff" (blue run). And you won't get into the whole expensive alignment/boot fitting thing.
post #25 of 38
Ski. Humans are bipods, and it's much easier to participate in casual sports that free your feet. I might reconsider this if she has experience surfing or skateboarding...
post #26 of 38
I have skied and snowboarded - and have learned both from professionals..(or attempted to learn with snowboards)...

Okay here is the deal on this..

Snowboarding is harder initially. You fall more and it takes some strength to boost yourself back up. I will say that most falls are relatively harmless whereas a bad ski fall wrenches your knees.

The snowboarding learning curve (and I have talked to both my uncle and sister who have become accomplished snowboarders after being expert or decent skiers) is better once you get past that initial stage.

Skiing learning curve though enables two things which makes it fun for people starting out. First you can get off chairlifts fairly easily and on them too. This is a big deal. It's a drag to be falling down and slowing the lifts and I personally found getting off the lift harder then getting down the hill. But the second one people don't talk about...

SKIING GETS YOU AROUND THE MOUNTAIN SO MUCH BETTER. Whereas snowboarding is designed for fun. Skiing is more rooted in an actual mode of transportation. So scuttling around from lift to lift - shooting back UP the hill to get a fallin friend - go faster on a slow flat part - all this is so much easier on skis.

Skiing overall is just less physically demanding then snowboarding when starting out IMHO. You get around easier and you fall less and don't have to do little squats to get yourself up each time you fall. My poor g/f ran out of STRENGTH in on time taking snowboarding lessons.

In general I recommend skiing. For a real athletic active younger person snowboarding is likely a better choice but it's rare that a woman who has started skiing/boarding at young age falls into that catergory. side note - If the person has extensive experience ice skating though choose skiing but if they have surfing experience well snowboard is the natural choice..

Pete
post #27 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuyClinch View Post
I have skied and snowboarded - and have learned both from professionals..(or attempted to learn with snowboards)...

Okay here is the deal on this..

Snowboarding is harder initially. You fall more and it takes some strength to boost yourself back up. I will say that most falls are relatively harmless whereas a bad ski fall wrenches your knees.

The snowboarding learning curve (and I have talked to both my uncle and sister who have become accomplished snowboarders after being expert or decent skiers) is better once you get past that initial stage.

Skiing learning curve though enables two things which makes it fun for people starting out. First you can get off chairlifts fairly easily and on them too. This is a big deal. It's a drag to be falling down and slowing the lifts and I personally found getting off the lift harder then getting down the hill. But the second one people don't talk about...

SKIING GETS YOU AROUND THE MOUNTAIN SO MUCH BETTER. Whereas snowboarding is designed for fun. Skiing is more rooted in an actual mode of transportation. So scuttling around from lift to lift - shooting back UP the hill to get a fallin friend - go faster on a slow flat part - all this is so much easier on skis.

Skiing overall is just less physically demanding then snowboarding when starting out IMHO. You get around easier and you fall less and don't have to do little squats to get yourself up each time you fall. My poor g/f ran out of STRENGTH in on time taking snowboarding lessons.

In general I recommend skiing. For a real athletic active younger person snowboarding is likely a better choice but it's rare that a woman who has started skiing/boarding at young age falls into that catergory. side note - If the person has extensive experience ice skating though choose skiing but if they have surfing experience well snowboard is the natural choice..

Pete
+1 I am a former boarder, and now 31 I have turned t skiing. I have boarder for over 15yrs and loved it. But it has been stated, boarding is designed for fun not real prctical use. I sold all of my boards and gear and made the witch to skis.

Boarding is slightly harder to learn but is fun all around.
post #28 of 38
My husband taught me to ski and he is the best teacher I ever had. He gave me helpful immediate feedback and we talked about form nonstop and still do. We were both able to laugh at my attempts, and although I will never be the skier he is, I love it. We taught our kids to ski as well. I guess I would maybe suggest that you take both your wife and your child out for a lesson in the magic carpet area? Mom and son can keep it light and fun to start, unless he is too young yet? I think we started ours when they were 5. Make sure your wife is warm and has a helmet on.
post #29 of 38
Learned to ski at a very young age switched to snowboarding in high school and am now back to skiing. If you can get past the stage of slip sliding and catching edges and begin connecting turns, snowboarding can be a lot of fun. Most get frustrated in the first day and call it quits. If you live in CO I'd be happy to teach you how to snowboard. I can prob. get you connecting turns by the end of the day depending on your ability level. Can't really compare it to learning to ski b/c I was so young when I learned but I like skiing more now (I'm 22). I am also not a professional instructor or anything. I just figured out a way to easily teach beginners to connect turns in a one on one setting.
post #30 of 38
Looks like this is a pretty old thread... What did you and your wife decide? How'd it go?

When I was snowboarding, I always wore wrist braces. My wrists are a little flakier than most so a forward fall is a little higher-consequence for me, even with hands fisted and a good recovery, but I highly recommend them to anyone just starting out. And a helmet, of course.
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