What’s The Best Snowboarding Companion Sport?

For many, snowboarding is a seasonal pursuit. One trip each year, twice if you’re lucky, and then the long wait until next winter. So what do we all do in-between? Is there a good snowboard-companion sport? Does it matter? Maybe it does – read on, and as usual, add your own ideas.

Good reasons to find a companion sport

There aren’t any rules here. Just because you’re a snowboarder, doesn’t mean it’s time start surfing, or skating. But there are some reasons why it can be a good idea, so if you’re looking for a new hobby or sport, consider:

  • Balance. Some of these companion sports definitely have similar balance elements to snowboarding. So while you’re surfing, or freeboarding, you’re also improving your balance for snowboarding.
  • Relevant fitness. Snowboarding can be a physically demanding sport, especially if you don’t get to do it on a regular basis. Training in the gym will obviously help – and there are snowboard-specific work-outs to target your exercise. Taking part in a similar sport, may be more fun than the gym, whilst at the same time getting you ready for the mountains.
  • Relevant technique. There’s no real substitute for a snowboard – when it comes to improving your snowboarding. However, some tricks and techniques from other board sports do come pretty close. A proficient skateboarder is likely to pick up snowboarding tricks more easily than someone who’s never tried a board-sport in their life.
  • Nerve/bottle. Snowboarding is classed as an extreme sport – I don’t really think of it like that, but there are definitely parts of snowboarding that test your nerve. If you’re used to tearing down a mountain on a mountain bike, hitting trail jumps on a bmx or sliding rails on a skateboard, you’ll be more accustomed to this element of snowboarding.

Possible Contenders

Surfing. I read once that all snowboarders want to be skateboarders, and all skateboarders want to be surfers. I don’t agree with that, but it’s interesting. Is the soulful connection with the water like being in the mountains? And the search for waves like the search for powder? It’s a board sport with similar aspects, and there’s no denying that a lot of snowboarders really enjoy to surf…

Mountain biking. I’ve heard the opinion that the adrenaline you get when riding fast down a mountain on a bike, is very similar to the rush you get snowboarding. Whitelines magazine did a good feature on this a while ago. I haven’t done much downhill riding, but I’ve done a fair bit of mountain biking; I really like it for the fitness element, and I love being out in the countryside, the hills and the forests.

Skateboarding. Halfpipes. Rails. Ollies. Grabs. Skateboarding definitely has a strong trick element, just like snowboarding. In fact, most of the tricks in snowboarding came from skateboarding. If you look at most of the early snowboard pros (and a lot in the present day), they were skaters.

I love to skate. I really like the feeling of learning a trick and then landing it; and the buzz you get when you can link a bunch of tricks together. It’s accessible too, there’s a skatepark within a mile of my house, making it a good replacement for snowboarding, which is essentially the opposite in this regard. And I’m certain that learning frontside boardslides on a skateboard helped me to do the same on a snowboard…

Longboarding. I’ve never tried it, but this looks fun. Do those turns on a longboard feel just like carving down a piste? It looks rhythmic; it looks fast. The balance and fitness must contribute to snowboarding?

Freeboarding. Freeboards were designed specifically to simulate the behaviour of a snowboard – as someone who’s never tried one, I’d say that’s got to put it in good stead as a companion sport to snowboarding. You can make turns like a snowboard, switch directions, side-slip and jump with your feet strapped on. Check out this video, it does look pretty similar…

Wakeboarding. A board sport that’s fast, has jumps, spins, grabs, and is probably hard on the legs. I’ve tried it once, briefly; I don’t really know much about it.

Have your say

I haven’t tried all of these sports, and some of those that I have, I’ve only tried for one day.

That said, skateboarding is probably my favourite. Learning and landing tricks is addictive and I like the crossover with snowboarding. I like the look of longboarding and freeboarding. If I had to pick one, I’d try freeboarding – being able to jump and get into a side-slip-style position seems to open up a lot of possibilities. I’ve always wanted to give surfing a real go – but like snowboarding, it seems quite inaccessible, I don’t need another expensive hobby!

What do you think? I have missed a sport off? What do you do during the summer? Any that you like the look of? Post a comment…

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Comments
27 Responses to “What’s The Best Snowboarding Companion Sport?”
  1. aalion says:

    Whoa, freeboarding looks sweet but I woulden’t wonna go down on one !
    Guess i’ll stick to skating / Mountain biking whenever I find the time…

  2. Gavin says:

    Yeah it does look nice doesn’t it :) The other thing though, is that you kinda need a hilly area… I’m not sure there would be anywhere good near me for freeboarding or longboarding…

  3. Alf says:

    Couple of other activities that really seem to help:
    Martial arts – I started doing kung fu because two total newbs I rode with had very good balance and they were both martial artists. It gives you balance and flexibilty and a spot of adrenaline. I found it really improved my riding. I expect you could get some of this from doing yoga too.

    The other one was dancing. I met a guy who was a professional ballet dancer who had snuck away to snowboard (he would have lost his job if they found out he was doing a “dangerous” sport). The guy was riding faster and better on day one than a lot of people after 6 weeks of riding.

  4. Gavin says:

    Interesting!

    I once read a comment, Whitelines I think, that some guy started doing yoga and then all of a sudden it really hurt when he slammed. Weird.

    Thinking about it, I reckon I’d be more partial to martial arts than ballet dancing… :)

  5. April says:

    summers used to be so depressing for me…until I started surfing in the summers.
    When you are balancing on the surfboard, its actually quite similar to boarding, especially if you are riding a BTX board. In fact, I think surfing is equally addictive as snowboarding, so it takes my mind off snowboarding.

  6. Gavin says:

    Hey April, yeah I like surfing too. I’ve only tried it once, but did find it real fun, and great exercise! However, here in the north east of England, there aren’t any prime time surfing spots nearby. I’m sure the die hard surfers in the area would disagree, but I’m not in that group :) So it’s a little too like snowboarding in the sense that it’s hard to get to good spots… Shame!

  7. April says:

    Gavin, I know I am very lucky living in CA. Where do you guys go riding at at your part of the world? any good ones? local ones?

  8. Gavin says:

    Local? Not really, we have indoor slopes that are ok for a freestyle session (~150m long) and some artificial slopes, again, ok if they have a jump.

    For mountains, it’s quite easy for us to get to France or Switzerland. Geneva is a bit of a hub, cheap flights and decent access to a good range of resorts, so that helps.

    But a lot of Brits travel much further afield. I’ve been to Fernie, BC, and had I not broken my leg, we were heading to Breckenridge this coming season…

  9. Dan says:

    Woah, ive never seen those freeboarding videos. Insane!! Makes me really want to give it a shot, but i cant imaging taking a digger on pavement going as fast as they were. Plus, like you said, you need a real hilly area.

    I dont have a great companion sport to boarding really, just other hobbies that keep me busy when there’s no snow on the ground.

  10. Gavin says:

    Yeah, stacking it at that speed is gonna hurt – but then again – it will make your snowboarding bails seem much softer in comparison ;)

  11. scrub says:

    I’ve done all of these, and I’m also a big fan of rock climbing, but Freebord FTW! As for the danger factor, just like snowboarding, once you develop a good level of control it’s not so scary. Way safer feeling than downhill skating because you have mad speed control. I did some downhill mountain biking and found it way scarier than bombing hills on my freebord.

    Here’s one of my vids that has a bit of snowboarding in it too:
    http://vimeo.com/8007215

    New-comers should check out the freebord forum for more media and advice:
    http://www.freebord.com/forum

  12. Gavin says:

    Hey mate, nice video! Sick powder sprays at the start, and the freebord action looks really impressive. Cool filming too. I agree about the level of control, and it’s easy to say that without having tried it :)

    Cheers!

  13. joelefoto says:

    I have a freebord, been riding it for almost 4 years now. you dont need a super hill town like san fran, i live in michigan we dont have a ton of hills here. i lived in NH for 2 of those years. there are plenty of places to ride, and i lived by the seacoast.

    There is more control with this board then any other, come to a complete stop. float into switch, its super chill you should peep game.

  14. Gavin says:

    Yeah, it’s sounding like a really good option. Gonna have to look into trying this out. What’s it like for a beginner picking up a board? Is it like snowboarding – there are so many things to choose between, or are the boards all pretty simple?

    Cheers.

  15. Ctanner says:

    Ya man. Freebord.com has a online store that explains it all. I live in a flat area and still find spots to ride. when u get the feel of it and start making it flow u will start turning some heads in your town.

  16. joelefoto says:

    there is a steep learning curve, depends on who your are, might take an hour might take a week, but there is nothing closer to snowboarding then freebord

  17. Gavin says:

    Yeah, it does look pretty close to snowboarding! When I’m back up and in the action next year, gonna take a serious look at getting one of these.

  18. Josh says:

    What about mountainboarding and stretboarding?!?

  19. Gavin says:

    Hey Josh, forgot about mountain boarding. Do you do it, what’s it like? I’ve seen a few videos and watched a few things, defo looks interesting.

    With the second one, did you mean street-boarding? I had to check google for that :)

    Cheers, Gav

  20. Reneator says:

    Hey Gavin,
    I think every kind of Sport is helpful, also sports, that dont have anything to do with boardsports or downhill. Even parkour, jogging, gymnasts or many many others. Even skiing ;)
    The more kind of sports you do, the better you will get in other kinds of sport. The mainpart of the one sport will improve it in all the others and gives advantages !Big Advantages!
    I noticed that, when i began “parkouring”. That was 3 Years ago, and until now my Body control improved, so that i gotten better in Snowboarding and began Skateboarding this Summer :D .
    The Counterrotation thing, i got taught by Parkour. It has many many aspects, so you have something for everything! I think, i just got able to start skating, because of the improvement in body control through parcour! Yeah :D

    Cheers
    Ren

  21. Gavin says:

    Hey Ren,

    that’s really interesting that you picked up counter-rotation from parkour :) Awesome. And I agree, if you do lots of different sports, with different elements of balance, coordination, timing, that kind of thing – then yeah, they’re all gonna help.

    How are you finding the skating?

    Good luck with that, and the parkour, cheers,
    Gavin

  22. Reneator says:

    Hey Gav,
    This one is now nearly a one year later answer^^,
    hope your doing good and maybe already some snowboarding.
    I was testing “some” boards at the Kaunertalopening. Good weather good snow covering, even some deeppow about 30 cm or so. so it was a nice day. Tested the rome mod rocker 158w with some Rome targa bjorn xl, and i fell in love^^.

    Dont know if i answered your skating question, but i think skating is a cool addition to skating, but not my kind of sport. The movements without bindings, the concrete under your feet (autschi), the wind (even cold in sommer sometimes). maybe i will give it a try next summer. (longboard would interest me though). In summary, i think skateboarding by cool people is cool, but not my sport.

    How is your snowboardplaning doing? were able to do some dryland training, or some fridge shreddings?
    Hope your doing good!

    Peace and love
    Ren

  23. Reneator says:

    *Addition to prepost -_- :
    i mean skating is a addition to snowboarding, not skating^^ (that may be right, though)

    cheers and love

  24. Gavin says:

    Hey Reneator,

    so glad that you’ve found a board setup that you really like. Sick!

    About the addition to prepost, I figured that out ;) Interesting about the skating and longboarding. Maybe I’m being short-sighted. When summer comes around I always have the attitude that if I’ve got the time, I will skateboard rather than try something new. Yet, both a long board and a freebord really appeal. I _should_ get my act together and try them. Why not?

    As for my snowboarding… the last 3 Friday nights I’ve spent in the fridge ;) All is going well – check out some of the latest posts in the blog:
    http://www.afterbang.co.uk/blog/

    Hope you’re getting ready for a good season,
    Gav

  25. snowboarding says:

    Great article! I surf during the summer. I think its important to stay active and in shape for snowboarding in the off season and anything sport or activity that does this is great! I also enjoy hiking in the summer too.

  26. Gavin says:

    @snowboard, thanks! Yep, staying in shape during the summer is definitely a good idea, and when it’s something that is related to snowboarding in some way (fitness, or actions) – that’s better still!

    That hiking will also help when you’re hiking for fresh snow ;) Double score.

    Cheers,
    Gavin

  27. Johnny says:

    I love surfing! Living in San Diego I’ve been able to snowboard and surf in the same day (I think I did that twice actually)