Monday, March 16, 2009

Skiing vs. Snowboarding Redux

I wrote a blog back in February of '07 comparing my experience of skiing and snowboarding.  That was about two years ago and I hadn't thought about it since then, until now.  Someone commented on it.  The conclusion of the original blog was that I liked skis better for most things, but snowboards were better in deep powder.  The comment was "fool snowboards are good in everything."  I think he provides strong support to my point.

Anyway, since then I've upgraded skis, broken those skis, and bought my current pairs.  Now I have a pair of skis that float as well as my snowboard did, hold an edge on ice, break through crud with aplomb, and generally rock.  And a pair of carving skis that are lots of fun on groomer-only days.

Looking back over my previous blogs, I wrote that one after trying hard boot snowboarding, which I decided wasn't for me.  So the only thing that really happened between when I wrote that and was still seeing myself switching back and forth depending on conditions and now, when I only have my skis at my apartment and my snowboard's in the cabin in Lake Tahoe, is that I got better at skiing.

The difference between what I can do on hardpack depending on gear choice is much greater.  The difference I can do on off-piste terrain with older snow is much greater.  The only area where I was still feeling that snowboards were better at that time was riding powder snow.  I no longer believe that.  While I've had some tip dive with my current pair of skis, I believe that to be a combination of the nature of that particular ski and pilot error.  I think that fat skis float as well as snowboards do but I think it's easier to drop in directly into an aggressive skiing posture off of a windlip or cornice or even just a steep entry, so less of the run is wasted on getting set up, and the experience of skiing powder is much more direct.  I feel more like I'm flying when I ski powder on skis than I did when I rode it on my board.

Before the economy got stupid, I had hoped to buy an alpine touring setup.  I'm looking forward to being able to access some much wilder terrain using it than I'd be able to access on an alpine setup or standard snowboard setup.  As I understand it, the compromises involved in an AT setup are much less harmful to both the ascending and descending experiences than those involved in either a splitboard setup or carrying a snowboard and ascending with snowshoes or ascent skis.  And if a person's already using ascent skis, I can't help asking, "Why not just get a longer pair that you can go down on too?"

So I had a lot of fun snowboarding during the time that I was doing that.  But the changes in how skis are constructed have been game-changing, and I'm glad to be back.  It's interesting to be reminded of that post two years later.

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