Is Snowboarding Or Surfing The Harder Sport?


Surfing and snowboarding have a board in common. Both sports require you to balance on a board while maneuvering on water (liquid and frozen forms, respectively). People who have tried both sports generally believe that surfing is more demanding than snowboarding due to the power and unpredictable nature of the ocean compared to the relatively stable and solid snowbanks. 

Compared to snowboarding, surfing is the more challenging sport and considered the king of action sports. The ocean’s waves are viewed as one of mother nature’s most potent elements. Surfing requires strength, balance, stamina, and a good understanding of the ocean’s behavior at all times. 

Snowboarding is considered easier to teach to a newcomer than teaching a newbie how to surf. With snowboarding, you are strapped onto a board, a ski lift takes you to your starting spot on the mountain, and off you go. Many believe that you can become an intermediate snowboarder after practicing for just 15-20 days on the mountain. On the other hand, surfing requires years in the water to master both the ocean and your skill level.

What Makes Surfing The Harder Sport?

When describing surfing to a snowboarder, the best description that comes to mind is “surfing is just like snowboarding, only the mountain is moving.” That, in a nutshell, describes why surfing is considered harder to master than snowboarding.

Surfing is performed in malicious water, on waves that want to crush you, where snowboarding is performed on an unmoving mountain covered with a layer of solid snow coated with some powder. Due to the unpredictability of this powerful water and the fact that it is constantly moving, it makes surfing harder to learn and practice.

Water vs. Snow

The ocean takes no prisoners. Respecting this moveable mass of water for its unlimited power and dangerous power is a good piece of advice. There is no constant when it comes to waves. The power and weight of a wave are at times hard to fathom for the person who spends most of his time on land.  A wave measuring  10 ft tall and 20 ft long weigh about 410 tons (equates to 315 small cars). Surfer’s surf whatever waves the ocean delivers on the day, and at times the wave mentioned above is considered small.

Learning to surf and practicing this sport is tough; here is why:

  • Paddling out beyond the waves (called the break): This is the part where you paddle on your board to the spot behind the waves to start surfing. Getting there is a sport in itself; you will require upper body strength, the ability to duck dive underneath incoming waves, and knowledge of the local conditions (know where the currents are, where the reefs are, and how the tides work).
  • Catching a wave: Should you manage to get past the breaking waves, you need to try and “catch a wave.” Now you will have to judge the incoming waves, predict what they will do, position yourself in the right area, and then time your entry into the wave by paddling at the perfect time—a bit like hitting a moving target.
  • Surfing the wave: If you are here, well done! All you have to do now is push yourself from a horizontal position onto the moving board while balancing on a wave that wants to crush you essentially. Riding the waverequires you to create speed by using body movement to propel the board through the wave.
  • Fighting for a wave: Waves is the name of the game in surfing. No two waves are the same, and only some are surfable. All the surfers in the surfing spots are waiting for the sound waves to come, just like you. If you are inexperienced, the chances are that the more seasoned surfers will get to the best waves before you. Surfing the best waves is a right that you have to earn.
  • Falling in a wave: I almost forgot to mention this part (which happens to all surfers), the part where the wave dumps you in its impact zone. You will get hammered by the water and the follow-up waves until you get swept out or swim to shore in this zone. Should this happen to you, proceed to paddle out beyond the break (where you just came from) and try again.

Let us compare this to snowboarding:

  • Catching the snow lift: This is the part where you pay for your ticket and wait for a spot on the snow lift that will take you up the snow-covered mountain. You will not require any strength or dodge any avalanches, just a relaxing ride where you can take in the view or have something to eat.
  • Snowboard down the mountain: You have reached the summit of the starting point, and you may now start your descent down the mountain. Your snowboard is attached to your feet. All you have to do is figure out your balance going down, braking and slowing down when the speed gets a bit intense, and trying not to fall. 
  • Falling down the mountain: The hard part of snowboarding is getting your balance right and falling. The snow could be hard in certain areas, and you will have a few bumps and bruises as you practice and fall. It will happen initially, but you could potentially be an intermediate snowboarder after 15-20 days of spills and thrills, and falling will become less frequent.

Surfing takes longer to become good due to never experiencing the same practice settings (the moving ocean). In contrast, you can become efficient much quicker in snowboarding due to practicing in a stable environment (the unmoving mountain).

Is Surfing Easier If You Snowboard?

Surfing is a challenging sport to master, as explained above. Even with a snowboarding background, you will still struggle with paddling, getting behind the break, learning to read and catch waves, surfing the waves, and being content with spending way less time on your board.

What will stand you in good stead is that your balance on the surfboard will be much better than a novice without snowboard experience. Balance is a vital part of both sports. So, you will take some positives with you as you head into the water. The problem is that you are heading into the water!

Snowboarding allows you ample time to practice the sport. Typically, during a three-hour session on the mountain, you will probably spend an hour and a half on your board practicing, leading to better body conditioning.Body conditioning is critical as surfing is an energy-sapping exercise, and you will need to be in shape to survive the ocean.

Any board experience is better than none, so that the actual surfing action could be a bit easier due to your balancing skills. Just bear in mind that when surfing, you will rely more on the back foot. Wherein snowboarding, you will lean forward, spreading your balance between both feet. 

In Conclusion 

Surfing is more challenging to master than snowboarding. The fact that the training ground, the ocean, is never the same on any given day and that conditions will change while you are busy with a surf session makes it hard to gain experience quickly. The snowy mountains will usually stay the same when it comes to conditions, and you are guaranteed more time on your board and a smoother ride in all aspects when comparing the two sports.

Surfing takes years of application to get to a relatively decent level. You have to study the ocean and get used to its patterns and behavior. Catching waves is an art in itself and the fight for wave time decreases the actual time spent on your board accumulating the required experience. Surf spots usually are crowded spaces, whereas mountains offer large areas for most to practice their sport.

Snowboarding and understanding the mechanics involved will take you much less time to learn. The mountain does not move, which allows you the stability to hone your skills quicker

References:

(3) Which is harder, surfing or snowboarding? – Quora

(3) Is snowboarding harder than surfing? – Quora

Surfing Vs Snowboarding (Ultimate Comparison)  HYPERLINK “https://keepitgnarly.com/surfing-vs-snowboarding-comparison-similarities/”– HYPERLINK “https://keepitgnarly.com/surfing-vs-snowboarding-comparison-similarities/” keepitgnarly.com

Ryan Conner

Outdoor enthusiast with several years of snowboarding experience in the winters and watersports activities all summer. Living within 3 hours of 4 well-known ski resorts, I get plenty of board time from Nov-March every season.

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