Is Skateboarding Like Snowboarding?

Is Skateboarding Like Snowboarding? 2 Epic Sports Compared!

by Tom

So, you’ve shredded the slopes, and are hoping to repeat your success – this time in the skate park.

You might think that because you’ve mastered the art of snowboarding, skateboarding will be a piece of cake. And vice versa. But just how accurate is that assertion? 

In this article, I’ll explore the rules of the two sports as well as whether proficiency in one helps you with the other. 

So, is skateboarding like snowboarding? Let’s dive (or skate) right in.

The Short Answer

Skateboarding and snowboarding share similarities in board design, balance techniques, and tricks, but they differ in terrain, friction, and equipment. Both offer unique experiences.

How Similar are Snowboarding and Skateboarding?

At first glance, they’re both on a board, so essentially the same sport, right? Umm, not so fast.

There are significant differences between the two. That being said, some of the skills you gain from being a regular snowboarder – such as balance – can be replicated at the skatepark. 

So while snowboarding helps you skateboard and vice versa, knowing how to do one is not a foolproof sign that you’ll be able to do the other.

Let’s first take a closer look at the similarities. 

1. Friction

On a skateboard, you’ve got wheels to contend with. Every pebble, crack, or wet patch becomes part of the challenge. With snowboarding, it’s a different story.

Snow offers a smooth ride, but then you’ve got to consider the powder, the ice, and the occasional hidden rock.

Personally, I love the unpredictability of it all. It’s like nature’s way of keeping you on your toes – or should I say, on your board?

2. Board and Position

The type of board and the position you stand in are both similar across snowboarding and skateboarding. Your feet are strapped into a snowboard though, and a skateboard, of course, has wheels. 

For the most part, you can use the same skateboard for different tricks, whereas with snowboarding, you might benefit from using different-sized boards. 

Smaller snowboards are great for freestyle and tricks, while larger snowboards go faster and are more effective on harsher terrain, making the latter potentially better for racing.

As a bonus, the position you adopt for both skateboarding and snowboarding can actually help you with surfing! So, if you’ve ever wanted to ride those waves, you might be better at it than you’d think. 

3. Basic Riding Skills

Your natural position and balance are similar across the two, as is how you initiate turns, i.e., using your head, shoulders, and upper body. 

To stop on a skateboard, you’ll foot brake or bail and outrun. You can’t do these methods on a snowboard since your feet are strapped to the board! Instead, you have to skid your board across the slope to stop. 

4. Injury Potential

Let’s face it, falling off a snowboard and a skateboard is pretty painful either way, but at least with snowboarding you’ll have snow to break your fall. In the case of skateboarding, you’ll fall directly onto concrete, which is painful (to say the least). 

falling on a skateboard

5. Difficulty

Whether snowboarding or skateboarding is more difficult depends on who you ask – it’s subjective. Some say snowboarding has a more challenging learning curve but is easier once you get the hang of it. 

Skateboards can be harder to maneuver because you have to worry about the board slipping away from you. With snowboarding, your feet are attached, so there’s no risk of that happening. 

Personally, I found skateboarding way harder. Especially learning tricks!

Snowboarding vs Skateboarding Tricks

Both snowboarding and skateboarding have a rich selection of tricks, flips, and spins. In fact, many snowboarding tricks were inspired by skateboarding. 

If you’ve ever tried an ollie on a skateboard, you’ll find some familiarity when popping a jump on a snowboard.

One of the key areas of similarity between snowboarding and skateboarding is rail tricks. Boardslides and 50-50’s are pretty much identical!

The Key Differences Between Snowboarding and Skateboarding

1. The Terrain

Snowboarding: Snowboarders carve up the snow-covered mountains, navigating through groomed trails, powder-filled backcountry, or icy slopes.

Skateboarding: Skateboarders ply their trade primarily on concrete, be it in skate parks, city streets, or ramps. They have to deal with curbs, rails, and urban obstacles.

2. Equipment & Gear

Snowboarding: Snowboarders require a massive range of gear including boots, bindings, and specialized winter clothing. A snowboard is broader and is designed to glide on snow, with no wheels involved.

Skateboarding: Skateboards are compact, with four wheels beneath. Skateboarders typically wear protective gear such as helmets, knee and elbow pads, and specialized shoes to grip the board.

skateboarding big air (wearing knee pads and elbow pads)

3. Movement Mechanics

Snowboarding: Both feet are strapped to a single board. Steering involves shifting weight between the toes and heels, using the body’s core.

Skateboarding: Riders have the freedom to take one foot off to push against the ground. Turning typically involves leaning to one side or the other.

4. Tricks & Techniques

Snowboarding: Popular tricks include grabs, spins, flips, and riding switch (the opposite of your natural stance). The soft snow can sometimes be more forgiving for landings.

Skateboarding: Ollies, kickflips, and grinding rails are common moves. Hard landings on concrete can be less forgiving than snow.

snowboard tricks

5. Cultural Origins & History

Snowboarding: Snowboarding has its roots in the 1960s and was initially seen as the rebellious cousin of skiing. It was heavily influenced by surfing culture.

Skateboarding: Skateboarding originated in the 1950s when surfers in California wanted something to do when waves were flat. It has a rich urban culture, with street art, music, and fashion deeply intertwined.

6. Seasonality & Accessibility

Snowboarding: Predominantly a winter sport, it requires snow-covered mountains, making it geographically and seasonally specific.

Skateboarding: Accessible year-round and can be done anywhere with a decent stretch of pavement.

7. Learning Curve

Snowboarding: Some argue that snowboarding has a steeper initial learning curve — the first few days can be challenging, but progression after that can be quicker.

Skateboarding: The initial stages might seem more accessible, but mastering advanced tricks takes years of practice.

Can Skateboarders Snowboard?

Yes, skateboarders can definitely snowboard! While there are clear differences between the two sports, the fundamental principles of balance, motion, and board control are transferable.

Skateboarders often have a keen sense of spatial awareness and an understanding of how slight body movements can influence board direction—skills that come in handy on the snow.

Does Skateboarding Help with Snowboarding?

Skateboarding can definitely help with snowboarding. The two sports share foundational skills, such as balance, core strength, and a familiarity with board dynamics.

Skateboarders benefit from heightened spatial awareness and a clear understanding of the tricks.

However, differences like being strapped to the snowboard, the sensation of gliding on snow, and varying terrains require adjustments. In essence, while skateboarding doesn’t guarantee instant mastery in snowboarding, it offers a great foundation that can ease and accelerate the learning curve.

Snowboarding Rules vs Skateboarding Rules

1. Skateboarding Rules

The rules for skateboarding may slightly differ from contest to contest, but on the whole, athletes execute crazy tricks and must meet several criteria, including speed, difficulty, execution, and style.

The course resembles a bowl, with skateboarders expected to transition from side-to-side while performing tricks. 

skateboarding rules (in competition)

Different obstacles allow athletes to gather speed and momentum to perform tricks mid-air. 

The competition comprises a preliminary round and a final round. In the first, skaters have three 45-second runs, and judges look at the best of three to see who makes it through to the final round. During this round, skaters have another three 45-second runs with the best score overall winning. 

For skateboarding, there are also street competitions, in which skaters compete on a course that resembles an urban environment, with features like stairs, rails, and gaps. 

2. Snowboarding Rules

Olympic snowboarding rules are a little different. 

There tend to be 11 snowboard events at the Winter Olympic Games, including parallel giant slalom, snowboard cross, halfpipe, slopestyle, big air, and mixed team snowboard cross. 

snowboard competition (big air!)

How the medals are given depends on the discipline. Halfpipe, big air, and slopestyle are judged on various criteria, including how much air an athlete gets, their landing, and the difficulty of the move. 

The other competitions are races. The snowboard cross also involves jumps, but there are obstacles on the journey to the finish line.

Is Snowboarding or Skateboarding Easier?

It’s difficult to say which is easier as it depends on your experience and personal skills.

Skateboarding can be easier to start with, as all you need to do is push off and start moving. Skateboarding has a trickier learning curve, though, and smashing the most difficult tricks can be seriously challenging.

Snowboarding might feel difficult at the start, but it gets easier over time. If you’re proficient in one, those skills will likely help you in the other. 

Is Snowboarding or Skateboarding More Dangerous?

While skateboarding has a higher injury frequency, snowboarding poses an increased risk of more serious injury and fatality.  

Snowboarding involves challenges like extreme weather, high-speed crashes and even avalanche. Skateboarding more commonly results in abrasions, sprains, and fractures

Whether you’re starting both or just one from scratch, take all the safety precautions you can to reduce the risk of injuring yourself. Invest in a helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads.

While falling on a skateboard can feel more daunting at first, you can’t jump off a snowboard – you have to (literally) ride it out!

Snowboarding and Skateboarding: Which is Better?

Okay, so being a snowboarding website, I’m going to be a little biased on this one. Snowboarding has been and always will be my number one.

But if you can’t get to the slopes or you’re simply looking for something to do on different terrain, skateboarding provides an excellent alternative. 

Just remember – your feet aren’t attached to the board with this one!

Final Thoughts: Is Skateboarding Like Snowboarding?

Alright, folks, after hours of “intense research” (a.k.a. faceplanting on both concrete and snow), here’s the lowdown.

Both sports seem to involve falling on my backside repetitively. My skateboard rudely introduces me to every crack in the sidewalk. My snowboard appears to be a homing missile for icy patches and uneven ground. 

So, in essence, whether I’m eating concrete or snow for breakfast, the vibe is somewhat similar!

Ultimately though, both are a blast (and a lesson in humility). If you ask me, the real deal-breaker? It’s the crew you ride with. 

But what do you think? Is skateboarding like snowboarding? Let me know in the comments!

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