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Differences Between Skiing and Snowboarding

Posted Jan 23 2012 8:25am


So with winter now seemingly in full swing, we're definitely thinking more about getting out into the snow and cold. We went snow tubing and hope to hit the slopes to ski and snowboard before our Colorado trip in March.
I definitely want to try snowboarding, because at my age you don't just hop into a new sport (I haven't been skiing in so long it would be a new sport at this point), and snowboarding seems safer than skiing. But is it?
Here's what I found:
From Snowboarding Essentials :
Skiing and snowboarding are alike in that they are both downhill and are both the source of countless hours of fun and exhilaration Some of the differences, however, that you'll find between them include:
  • Snowboard riders constantly have to sit or exert energy to remain on edge while they are stationary. Unlike skiing, you will not have poles to help you remain upright and standing when you are not moving.
  • Snowboarding is a lot easier on the knees compared to skiing. Knee injuries are not as common in snowboarding as they are in skiing. Snowboarding can, however, be a lot more brutal on your wrists so make sure you wear some wrist guards.
  • You'll start to develop a deep hatred for flats when you're starting out with the snowboard. Again, you won't have your ski poles to bail you out.
  • You will, however, begin to fall in love with deeper and softer snow. Snowboards work nicely in powder and crud while skis are better in bumps and ice.
  • Getting up after a fall on a snowboard is a skill in itself but once mastered should prove to be easier and faster than having to put your stuff together again after falling on skis.

Statistics On Skiing/Snowboarding (from the National Ski Areas Asscociation ):  
Fatalities - According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA): During the past 10 years, about 40.6 people have died skiing/snowboarding per year on average. During the 2009/10 season, 38 fatalities occurred out of the 59.8 million skier/snowboarder days reported for the season. Twenty-five of the fatalities were skiers (18 male, 7 female) and 13 of the fatalities were snowboarders, (12 male, 1 female). Among the fatalities, 19 of those involved were reported as wearing a helmet at the time of the incident. The rate of fatality converts to .64 per million skier/snowboarder visits.
Serious Injuries - Serious injuries (paralysis, serious head, and other serious injuries) occur at the rate of about 43 per year, according to the NSAA. In the 2009/10 season, there were 39 serious injuries. Sixteen of these serious injuries were skiers (11 male, 5 female) and 23 were snowboarders, (16 male, 7 female). Among the serious injuries, 18 of those involved were reported as wearing a helmet at the time of the incident. The rate of serious injury in 2009/10 was .65 per million skier/snowboarder visits.
Since I classify myself primarily as a runner, I'd opt for a wrist injury over a knee injury, as I can run with a cast on my hand, but can't with a bum knee. The statistic that most stood out to me, however, is that 50% of the fatalities and a similar number of those seriously injured were wearing helmets. 50/50 odds don't seem to show much benefit to wearing a helmet. 
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