The Skier vs. Snowboarder Debate – Is It Still There?

This is old news, nothing new here, move along please. We’re over the skier vs. snowboarder debate, we all use the mountain together, we’re all there to have fun. There are similarities between the two cultures, but some differences too. It’s all good.

Yes, to many, this debate is old news. But what do you think? Is it still there?

Is it still relevant?

Old attitudes and attitudes of the “older”

Go to any ski/snowboard resort and take a look around at the skiers. You’ll see a diverse range or ages. Tiny tots to pensioners – you’ll find the young and old on skis.

Go back 5 or 10 years – it’s difficult to say the same about snowboarders. It’s probably hard to say the same now. It’s a younger breed. Of course, that will change with time; we’ll see more, older snowboarders on the mountains.

During the process of snowboarding becoming more and more popular, one key element to the them and us theme has been the difference in the age groups involved. There simply aren’t enough old snowboarders out there to ‘tut’ at you when they think you’re doing something foolish. The older generation of skiers have had to watch as their mountains were infiltrated by reckless youth on “ski boards” (yes, that is a reference to Forum’s That).

That will change with time; it’s changing now.

But do old attitudes remain?

Last season we stayed in a catered chalet in Morzine – we were the only snowboarders, the rest were skiers. They were all nice people, friendly, fun. Yet it was interesting to note the general opinion of snowboarders. Always sitting down on the slope. Making a barrier at the top of a run when they get off the lift. Less refined than skiing.

And I recall a funny moment from a lift queue in Fernie – three skiers moved past us and a women looked at us, smiled, and said “check out this bunch of knuckle draggers”.

Most comments and opinions like this are given in jest – but you know what people say about things spoken in jest…

Lack of understanding

I think there’s often a lack of understanding between the two groups. The “sitting down on the hill” comment is very common. I’m just not sure that skiers are aware that it can be difficult to stand up on a gradient. They’re used to having two skis to prop them up. If you’re waiting, it’s much easier to sit down, as a snowboarder.

I often hear snowboarders complain that skiers are “blocking a jump”, or a hit. Maybe it’s the some useful terrain at the side of the piste and you’re waiting to hit it but there’s a skier stood in the way. A snowboarder wouldn’t stand there – because they’d notice it’s usefulness to other snowboarders… but the skier is standing at the side for a reason, to keep out of the way. They perhaps don’t use features like that, so they just didn’t notice…

You’ve got to be careful that you don’t use one, huge brush to paint a whole load of people in one go, when what you’re dealing with in this case, is one idiot. If you come over a blind rise and find a snowboarder sitting there, out of sight in a dangerous place, that’s not an indication that snowboarders sitting down is a constant menace. What you’ve got is one, dumb, snowboarder.

Likewise, if you’re making a run through the Stash and you find a procession of skiers, zig-zagging their way between all the rails and jumps with no regard for the condition of take-offs and the safety of a drop off… although it might be satisfying to remind yourself that they originally built parks to keep the snowboarders out of the way, but now they’re having this crazy kind of fun in one themselves – you’re better off dropping the they, and just acknowledging the fact that you’re looking at some silly people.

Natural group dynamics?

If you put the old debate to one side and think about how snowboarders and skiers alike will get along on the mountain – it’s only natural that a certain degree of group dynamics will be in play.

People like to be part of a group, a community, to be included and to share in an identity. This happens everywhere. It’s easy for one group to hold a common view of another group, to believe that their group is the better one to be a part of…

Of course there will be many, many groups that are a mixture of skiers and snowboarders. Of course people have friends that are skiers, and vice-versa. Of course there will many a lot of skiers who have respect for snowboarders, and snowboarders for skiers. But from time to time, group dynamics will pop up.

I myself wrote this article, explaining my opinion of Why Snowboarding Is Better Than Skiing. Although it’s just a personal view, it is a piece that reinforces the divide, that adds to the them and us theme.

Similarly, there’s this video, which I can’t help but laugh at, every time I watch it:

Are we still looking at the same old debate? Are snowboarders a minority that aren’t yet accepted in resorts? Is snowboarding lacking in credibility – are snowboarders?

I don’t think so. I think we’re simply looking at one group co-existing next to another. You’ll see friends and mutual respect, and you’ll see some bitching. It might not be clever, but it is normal.

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Comments
6 Responses to “The Skier vs. Snowboarder Debate – Is It Still There?”
  1. Reneator says:

    Hey Gavin,

    With the “Skiers blocking the jump” i totally agree with you. thats what happened when i did the FS-Lessons. And then afterwards they complain about too tight jumps xD

    Your “Natural Groups dynamic” reminds me the “good ole’ time’s” when there were argumentations that white people could have black friends etc.^^

    nice post by the way
    Greetings Reneator

  2. Gavin says:

    Hey Rene,

    glad you like the post. Yeah, there are times when you find skiers blocking jumps, it happens. As for the natural group dynamics – your example is in line with the point I was trying to make, when there are differences between groups, barriers and objections can pop up.

    How’s your snowboarding going? I’m still waiting for some pics aren’t I?
    Gavin

  3. Reneator says:

    Hey Gavin,

    Yes you are, yes you are indeed^^. Ive got the first ever recorded video evidence of me the beginning of that week just randomly. Shot me on a mobile phone. Maybe after this weekend. We are going to go to Austria on a little hut. There will be a hobby photograf with us, who maybe will shoot some pics ;)

    My riding is getting better and better. I did the 2 Days of FS lesson and the 3rd day riding with my friend. in summary i have 5 days riding this year xD (graduation class…) But i didnt count the days, where i was “shredding” in the garden between the two houses here in munich. Where i stomped my first and clean 180 :D
    Also I played around a bit with my board setting, because i had no good feeling with the board. I knew its good, but something was not right, so my riding felt strange, something of indirect.
    I found out, that the highback angle from the 390 is extremly different to the Burton custom. The custom starts with 15°, where the 390 ends :S.
    So my Highbacks didnt give me enough support. So im gonna try it out this weekend.
    It actually snowed in germany despite of the plusdegrees. It came more snow than it could melt away. So i got the possibility to build a little ramp and kicker in the “BACKYARD”

    To tell something about my Rome Manual 162 09/10 (rome 390): It’s a really lively and smooth board. It has a flex of 6 but it is “softer” than my B Bullet with 5. It has lot pop, good control, and perfect allround board for me :D
    Maybe im getting /having some problems with the big width (26.5) but im still playing around with backsetting etc. Probably will be fine this weekend ;)

    I hope your fine, and your legs getting better, It should be maybe about time, that you can make your first new tries on snowboard!?

    Greetings
    Reneator

  4. Gavin says:

    Hey Rene,

    glad to hear that your board and bindings setup is working out for you now, and pleased also that the lessons went well – and you’re off to a good start with 5 days under your belt :) You should write a review for the Burton Bullet :)

    As for my snowboarding – it’s probably going to be around June/July that I’ll try snowboarding… I spoke to the physio about it and he said to leave it until around 12 months after the accident…

    …I’ll know when I’m good to try it – and right now, I know that I’m not ready :)

    Gav

  5. James says:

    Interesting one this…

    4 years ago, on 3rd annual holiday in Les Arc I got taken out by a young british skier as I rode out of a BS boardslide, he collided with the back side of me and dislocated my shoulder (1st of 3 subsequent dislocations).

    At the time I was fuming, and would have quite happily stoved his head in if I wasn’t nearly passing out on the deck and writhing in agony…

    For a long time this strongly affected my views on skiers, and it took a long while for me to accept this as the act of one foolish individual with a lack of snowpark awareness.

    These days though, I snowboard with my GF and her family, who all ski, and I ride La Clusaz, which is a skier dominated resort….I find skiers (in the main) to be polite and courteous to me as a snowboarder, and haven’t in recent times had any issues with skiers.

    I think the key is experience, or lack thereof, experienced skiers seem to have a mutual respect of snowboarders, and I think the stereotypical fued of old is starting to die out… I’ve regularly been sessioning the same rails as a group of skiers out in resort, and had props for landing tricks… That feels like acceptance to me!

  6. Gavin says:

    Hey James,

    I like your view on things. If people are sessioning the same hits in the same park and having fun together, that’s good stuff.

    It can be hard to separate the actions of a small number of individuals from the entire group. At the end of the day, we’re all people out there to have fun. It can be easy, sometimes tempting to carry on the banter of skier vs. snowboarder, but in the end it doesn’t apply to 95% of the people out there on the mountain. Most of us just want to have fun and get along.

    Cheers,
    Gavin