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Why Some Snowboarders Are Switching to Skis

Why Some Snowboarders Are Switching to Skis

For years, particularly in the decade just before and just after the Millennium, there was great deal of friction, if not downright animosity, between skiers and snowboarders at Mt. Wannabe.

“Dark Side knuckledraggers,” spat the skiers, who tended to be older, suburban and a bit conservative in the eyes of snowboarders.

“Dinosaur two-plankers,” sneered the snowboarders, who tended to be young, urban and more rebellious in the eyes of skiers.

And rarely did the twain meet.

Over time, however, there became an awareness, grudgingly at first, that both sides were simply using different means to enjoy a day on the snow-covered slopes, and that each side had its respective merits and pleasures.

A truce eventually emerged; skiers and snowboarders started to ride together in harmony, and all was rainbows and unicorns once again on Mt. Wannabe.

In fact, it’s become so copacetic that there is a small movement afoot that would have been deemed blasphemous a few years ago and no one is batting an eye.

The movement? Some snowboarders are switching to skiing.

 Factors in Crossing Over

It’s not a large segment of the snowboarding population, but it has become noticeable, probably because those who are switching from one plank to two are usually among the more proficient snowboarders.

The reasons for the crossover are many, but two factors predominate: The urge to try something new and exciting, and snowboarding is now mainstream.

In the first instance, the addition of skiercrosss, halfpipe and slopestyle competitions to the Winter Olympics and X Games have shown snowboarders that skiers can go higher, faster and farther than their single-plank brethren (it’s simple physics and aerodynamics that make it so). So why not try something that amps up the “wow” factor a bit.

In the second instance, the younger generation of snowboarders, like any young generation, are “revolting” against their parents and elders, who have been snowboarding since, well, forever, by taking up skiing. That’s what happened 20-30 years ago when teens and young adults “rebelled” against their skiing parents by going snowboarding.

What comes around, goes around, I guess.

Skis Wider, More Playful

Another factor is technology. A snowboarding friend of mine who also works in a ski shop says that the ski industry took a page out of the snowboard technology handbook and made skis wider and more playful in the powder. Like snowboards. And that’s the big reason he’s starting to strap on two boards instead of one these days.

Other considerations that may make skiing more appealing to a snowboarder are that moguls are a bit easier to negotiate; it’s easier to navigate lift line mazes; getting off the lift is less fraught; your bum doesn’t get as wet and cold, and ascending that ridge to the pow-filled side- or back-country is less of a hassle (sidestepping sure beats post-holing).

And oh, yeah, because ski resorts were designed for, um, skiing, getting across the flats and long cat-tracks and riding drag lifts (i.e., Pomas, rope tows and T-bars) are much more conducive to people on two boards than those on one.

This is not to say that these snowboarders are ditching their boards for good; they’re simply becoming multi-dimensional and seeing how the other half lives.

Dan Giesin

Dan Giesin

Dan Giesin has spent most of his life poking around the mountains of the American West, especially in his backyard Sierra Nevada range. It has been -- and still is -- an uplifting experience
Dan Giesin