Skiing vs. Snowboarding for Beginners


A guide for beginners on which sport and resort to choose.

Skiing or Snowboarding? It’s a tough decision, so we’ve outlined some important things to consider and which resorts are best suited to each sport.

Gliding through the snow, regardless of whether using a snowboard or a pair of skis, is one of the most liberating and exhilarating activities that anyone can experience. It’s no wonder why so many people from the UK flock to the French Alps year on year to hit the slopes.

The stunning French Alps are enjoyed by skiers and snowboarders alike
The stunning French Alps are enjoyed by skiers and snowboarders alike

Which do I choose?

Is one easier than the other to pick up? This is an important question for beginners because spending more time falling over than riding comfortably can be discouraging.

It’s thought that skiing is easier to learn but harder to master, whereas snowboarding is harder to learn but easier to master. So, those heading out on their maiden winter holiday might want to grab a pair of skis. Although, some find snowboarding easier to pick up if they have a background in surfing or skateboarding because of the similar stance and type of balance required.

Some of the basics

An integral part of learning to ski is learning to stop. An easy way for beginners to stop is to ‘snowplough’, by turning the front of the skis in towards each other, and although it’s not as smooth as a ‘hockey stop’, it serves its purpose. When snowboarding, it can be difficult to learn to stop dead, but once mastered it grants an unparalleled sense of control over the terrain and an ability to traverse the thicker, off-piste snow, where some of the best fun is to be had.

Using the lifts is considerably easier for skiers than for snowboarders, as well as riding on the flatter areas that link the pistes together. Although, once off the mountain and après ski commences, snowboarders can walk around easily in their comfy footwear and only have to carry their board. Skiers on the other hand face the difficult task of walking in stiff boots and carrying two skis, along with two poles, which can be a little awkward.

Be sure to stop and enjoy the views regularly
Be sure to stop and enjoy the views regularly

Considering the cost

Choosing to ski or snowboard doesn’t really have much effect on the cost of hiring equipment. However, those keen on buying all their own gear should note that ski equipment is sometimes more expensive to purchase than snowboarding equipment.

Which is safer?

There’s no need to be worried about safety, as long as beginners are sensible and visit the beginner’s facilities within their chosen resort. France has some rather stringent health and safety laws in place, meaning every resort has ample trained staff that keep an eye on visitors at all times. Beginners should wear a helmet, not try anything beyond their ability and read the International Ski Federation’s rules of the slopes.

Which resort to chose

Ski resorts cater to both sports equally, but some are favoured by skiers, and some by snowboarders.

Val Thorens comes to life at night
Val Thorens comes to life at night

Val Thorens is one of the most popular ski resorts within the French Alps and is our suggestion for those looking to hit the slopes for the first time on a pair of skis. The resort has been a favourite for British skiers for decades because of its reliability when it comes to snowfall and the ample facilities it provides that help to make beginners’ experiences as much fun as possible.

We recently sent vlogger, Saunders Says to Val Thorens via our service to enjoy the best skiing conditions the French Alps have to offer. Check out the two videos he created on his YouTube channel. To get a further understanding of just how expansive the resort is, visit our page on ‘How to make the most of Val Thorens’.

Snowboarders are rather fond of the half pipes in Avoriaz
Snowboarders are rather fond of the half pipes in Avoriaz

Beginners looking to find the ideal snowboarding resort should head to Avoriaz. The resort is regarded as the snowboarding capital of Europe because of its ample facilities built with snowboarders in mind. It’s was the first resort in Europe to feature a snowboarders-only section and now boasts three major snowboarding parks and a super pipe, as well as acres of off-piste terrain to explore. Also, veteran snowboarder Johann Baisamy runs a snowboarding school from within the resort, making it perfect for those in need of a few lessons.

Whether a beginner skier or snowboarder, everyone looking to hit the French Alps can do so on their own terms by travelling with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. Book a ticket with us now to take advantage of the best fares.