So today I rode my snowboard again after a couple days on my new skis. I found myself wishing I was on the skis. Conditions were what I call "fast-running," so the snowboard was not really in its element, but that's one point against snowboarding right away - it seems to have a narrower range of conditions in which it's fun. If I'm riding at speed, surface irregularities mess with the snowboard a lot more than with the skis. Probably at least in part my technique and the size of my board, but I think that the single-edged aspect makes it a lot more vulnerable to that sort of thing.
My board's got a lot more surface area than my skis, and now that I have the binding placement tweaked it performs well in powder, although I have some trouble in choppy stuff. I'm going to hold off on trying the skis in powder until the second day following fresh snow, when I start hiking for powder and I think that I can start getting my equipment to work for me instead of me having to carry it under my arm or something. Of course, skis are better at traversing too, although this pair gets death wobble at low speeds. It occurs to me that the leading edges might need to be detuned.
I have a truly bizarre foot that's actually more comfortable in a hardshell boot with buckles than in a snowboard boot. Weird, I know, but there's another point in favor of skiing.
Skis can do more kinds of turns than snowboard. If I'm doing a nice, clean turn on the snowboard, there's basically only GS and powder turns. If I want to travel pretty close to straight down the fall line, I do longish carving turns and change edges before I get too far from the fall line. On skis, I can keep my chest pointing straight down and my body on one line, and turn the skis under me (OK, my body probably moves laterally a little bit. But it doesn't have to.) Linked turns on skis also seem to be more stable than doing a near-straight wavy line down the mountain on a board, and I can do them through smallish moguls. I think larger moguls are probably a matter of practice for me at this point. Skis can also do GS turns, of course.
For people who are dodging the issue of whether one or the other is ultimately "better," and of course what "better" means, there's always the discussion of which one is easier to learn. In the past my attitude about this has been that with skis you can be sort-of skiing on Day One, but it's a lot harder to get to be a good skier, whereas with snowboards, if you commit to the Three Days of Pain, you very rapidly become a pretty good boarder afterwards. I'm going to stick with this. I think that in learning to be an intermediate skier as a kid and teenager, I learned a lot of technique that I wasn't a good enough athlete to actually do. Since then, I've trained in ballet and done a lot of other things that have made me a better athlete, as well as learned to snowboard. I think all of these have contributed to me being able to get on skis last Friday and discover that I'm actually a better skier now, after not skiing for about six years, than I was last time I went skiing before this recent re-discovery. All this leads me to believe a couple more things about the learning process for the two sports.
Snowboards will teach you how to ride them. If you make a mistake, they dump you on your butt. It's helpful to have a couple lessons, I think, but mostly, it's a matter of feel. The board also forces the rider to learn edging, which I think it's possible to avoid learning for a pretty long time on skis.
It doesn't take that good an athlete to be a good snowboarder. The posture is fairly erect and relaxed, and getting the board up on its edge is just a matter of leaning over.
Skis, because there are two of them, are forgiving enough to allow someone not to learn good technique. They also require a better athlete to learn good technique because getting the ski up on its edge is done in the hip and leg, and requires a pretty deeply bent knee, especially as the slopes get steeper.
I think snowboarding has contributed to my ability to ski, because of the forced learning of edge work, something I don't think I could do when I was skiing in the past.
So which one's better? I'm glad I learned both, and I'll be on my board tomorrow for the fresh snow and the next day for the deep stuff that should be on the way.