do snowboarders ruin snow?

Do Snowboarders Ruin Snow? Confessions Of A Snowboarder

by Fraser

Unfortunately, snowboarders aren’t always popular amongst skiers. Amongst their (long) list of complaints is that snowboards damage the slopes. But is there any truth to this? Do snowboarders ruin snow? 

Snowboarders do ruin snow, especially if the rider is relatively inexperienced. This harm can be reduced by avoiding side-sliding for large sections of the slope. Skiers also disrupt the snow, but to a lesser degree than snowboarders.

As a snowboarder myself, I’m ready to hold my hands up and confess to all of the slopes I’ve damaged over the years. Read on for the graphic detail…

do snowboarders ruin snow?

How Do Snowboarders Ruin Snow?

Disgruntled skiers often accuse snowboarders of causing harm to the snow on ski slopes. I’ve had many heated arguments on the ski lift over the years!

It wasn’t until recently that I’ve been willing to admit it. I have finally come clean. Snowboarders do ruin the snow. 

Hear me out! Before my snowboarding brethren disown me forever, let’s take a look at the areas in which we stand accused.

1. Powder.

Picture a beautiful fresh powder field. It’s undeniable that a perfect powder slash on a snowboard is normally bigger (and more beautiful) than a ski turn. 

what is powder snowboarding

However, an inevitable consequence of this is the huge disruption the turn will have on the fresh powder. This can leave deep groves and some skiers would complain that this ruins the pow somewhat. 

Why does this happen? Snowboards naturally cut down deeper into the snow than skis. They have one edge slicing into the powder, compared to two edges holding a skier afloat. It’s not our fault!

2. Groomed Runs (Piste). 

The mechanics of a snowboarder turning and stopping on a slope involves high amounts of pressure on smaller areas (the side of the snowboard). As a result, the snowboard will pack down the snow quicker than a skier pulling off the same maneuvers. 

This admittedly creates firmer groomed runs and increases the risk of exposing ice. Sorry everyone!

This is worsened by riders who side-slide large sections of steeper slopes. This has the tendency to push all of the softer surface snow further downhill, forming intermittent piles and icy patches. 

Spoiler alert: this happens when skiers side-slide too!


3. Kickers/Jumps. 

This is one area in which I won’t accept any liability. Skiers sometimes accuse snowboarders of flattening kickers or “mushing down” the sides. 

This is not solely a snowboarder issue.

This tends to happen when snowboarders or skiers ride over a jump too slowly. It also happens when riding off the edge of a jump (which is weaker than the centre). 

do skiers ruin the snow

Don’t worry, this is relatively inevitable in the early stages of park riding. It’s an accepted part of park-grooming for most resorts. With experience, you’ll learn the right area of the jump to take off from. Keep hitting those jumps!

Not All Snowboarders Harm the Snow!

I can almost hear your disbelief from here. But it’s true. Not all snowboarders are created equal, nor do they use the same equipment.

Some riders use short freestyle boards, while others use longer boards for carving. On top of this, there are vast gaps in capabilities between a novice snowboarder and a seasoned rider. 

Snowboarders with little experience often make more mistakes while riding. This means that it’s more likely that the inexperienced rider will chop up the snow or pack it down faster. They are also more likely to adopt the infamous falling leaf.  

In contrast, an expert snowboarder can glide over slopes without causing significant damage to the snow. 

Different maneuvers also cause different amounts of harm to the snow. Sharp turns at high speeds, sudden stops, and crashes cause more snow damage. Since these maneuvers are common amongst novices, it increases the harm caused by beginner snowboarders. 

Therefore, to avoid annoying anyone whilst snowboarding, it’s worth making sure that you’re experienced enough to ride down the slopes you’re on. 

Do Skiers Ruin The Snow? 

I’ve told the brutal truth about my snowboarding compadres, it’s time we turned the table on our two-planked friends. So, do skiers ruin the snow too?

Skiers do harm the snow, especially when novice skiers are attempting more difficult slopes after fresh snowfall. Inexperienced skiers can cause the snow to chop up and quickly compact as they generally make more aggressive turns and stops. Skiers are also widely blamed for the creation of moguls!

Experienced skiers can also cause harm to snow on a slope. However, advanced skiers will damage the snow at a much slower rate. This is similar to snowboarders. However, due to the mechanics of a snowboard versus skis, snowboarders unfortunately tend to damage the snow quicker than skiers. 

Final Thoughts

Yes, snowboarders do disrupt the snow on the mountain. However, skiers also harm the slopes in a similar fashion. It’s unavoidable! The weight of people sliding over the snow compacts it down into ice and ruins the surface.

What do you do with this information?


Gone are the days when skiers hated snowboarders. Or at least I hope that’s the case. If you’re a skier and really want to escape from your snowboarding counterparts, then these ski resorts don’t allow snowboarders

Personally I’d strongly recommend ignoring the age-old rivalry and joining the fun.

Heck, any skiers out there who fancy riding with some snowboarders are more than welcome to join us. We can ruin the snow together anytime! 

Happy riding!

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Bon Vivant March 10, 2023 - 2:31 pm

Yes, snowboarders do shred fresh groomed runs to ruin…and quickly. but you left out, conveniently, snowboarders worst transgressions. Snow boarders are inconsiderate, arrogant, and reckless guests of ski resorts…it’s in your culture. Every skiing friend of mine including my self has been taken out by a boarder…can you and yours make the same claim about skiers..NO! I’m sick and tired of boarders blasting gangster rap music from their cars as they unload in the morning in the parking lots and then many continue to blast obnoxious music from back pack speakers as they wildly race down the slopes. I’m sick and tired of boarders pushing and cutting into lift lines. I’m sick and tired of boarders lining up like a wall sitting on their asses at the beginning of a run while they ratchet their boards making it almost impossible for skiers to get past them to go downhill. And most of all I’m sick and tired of boarders lack of control and reckless gonzo boarding habits cutting wildly left and right without any concern for skiers near them. My wife’s skiing season ended two weeks ago when a boarder she tried desperately to ski around still managed to make an abrupt turn and slammed her to the ground. Medics had to bring her down hill and she’s now in physical therapy and a lot of pain….I’m praying she will be able to ski next year. I could go on and on about the outrageous behavior of snowboarders at every resort we visit but it would be a waste of time…you know who you are and don’t give a damn so don’t pretend to self reflect. I wish more resorts would go skier only!

Fraser March 10, 2023 - 3:32 pm

Hi Bon. Think these resorts might be best for you 🙂

Hope your wife has a speedy recovery.

Best wishes,

Jones June 8, 2023 - 7:32 pm

Skiers and their crappy snowploughing ruin the slopes way more than us!


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