Friday, January 2, 2009

Skiing vs Snowboarding

Answer: Skiing.

Reason: Snowboarding rots your brain.

Having grown up in Colorado and skiied my whole life, certainly I can be a bit of a retrogrump in this regard. Certainly Snowboarding looks very cool, very fun, and I can see how people are drawn to it. What I cannot figure out is why people strap on a snowboard and completely lose their common sense and sense of civility and common purpose. I had a boilerplate speech regarding this but this weekend we went up to Murph's Tahoe to do a bit of skiing at Heavenly and a snowboarder sunk to a new low.

Heavenly is not a very good place for snowboarding (one could argue this holds true for skiing as well) in that it is riddled with long traverses of flat sections in order to get from one section of the mountain to another. Bad on skis, extremely painful on a snowboard - it's just too hard to keep up any momentum on those things, and once you are stopped, you can't push off on one foot as you would on skis, and you don't have poles. What drives me nuts is that the snowboarder, once stuck, decides to take a nap in the MIDDLE of the narrow traverse, typically around a blind corner. Anyone trying to keep their speed up on the annoying traverse will now have to turn around the snowboarder (or two side by side!) in the middle of the road, costing one the speed needed to make it without having to start using the poles. How hard is it, really, to do your nap on the outside of the road?

Next annoyance - snowboarders have an even worse tendency than skiiers to go after runs beyond the level which they can nominally ride with some proficiency. Once stuck on this run, the snowboarder proceeds to turn their board sideways to the slope and slide down the slope, which packs the snow down, screwing up conditions. The next tactic is to find the underside of a mogul or dropoff and take another nap in the middle of the run where nobody can see you. Skiiers who go beyond their limits typically get down the hill, and either learn a few things or decide it's beyond their limits, by either crashing out hard or getting completely tired out. The snowboarder slides down the slope, ruins the run, then high fives his buddy about the two turns he took before crawling down the mountain.

But what happened this weekend took the cake. Coming off the Sky Express chair, I spotted a fairly large opening in the crowd and turned towards the big hill map at the top of the slope. A snowboarder who had just crossed this opening - carrying his board instead of having it strapped on his boots - decided at the last minute to switch directions and flung his board right across my path.

His edge caught me right beneath the knee and gave me a nice little gash. I let out some expletives and he said "Sorry" and moved on to his next victim. Apparently he then walked by my brother in law who overheard him say "That guy needs to watch where he's going". Amusing since HE was "watching" North and "going" South.

Maybe it's because most snowboarders tend to be younger and are thus naturally less wise than old codgers like myself, but this wunderkind was in his late 30's.

Off to the next round of Neosporin. Argh.


Yokota Fritz said...

My worst snowboard encounter wasn't too bad in comparison: I was slowing and approaching a lift at the end of a run when a snowboarder plowed straight into me from behind, resulting in a yard sale. He berated me for not watching where I'm going, when it was his job to do so.

Zac said...

I have lived in Colorado my whole life as well and starting snowboarding when i was five. I dont believe it is either the snowboarder or the skier that is more well known for being an idiot. because i have several stories to tear down either side. I think it is more so an age group. look at the accidents you see this season on the slops and you'll probably agree.

Anonymous said...

I haven't really skied, other than when I was very young and now I snowboard... I'm pretty sure overall its a lot easier to slow down on a snowboard and change direction, such as to avoid someone sitting down, than it is on skis. This is probably why newer snowboarders think that sitting in the middle of the run is no big deal because I don't think it bothers other snowboarders as much, but I agree its stupid and inconsiderate especially for the people on skis.

BikeBoy said...

My observations bear out Murph's -- I see more snowboarders on terrain that is clearly over their ability, and a lot more purely boneheaded moves by snowboarders than skiers (of all ages.) It's not that boarders have a lock on idiocy; there are plenty of dopes on skis. But I seem to witness (or be the victim of) many more stupid near-misses attributable to boarders.

An additional challenge I discovered: beginner snowboarders seem to ride just the heel edge of the board, and zig-zag their way down the hill "falling leaf" style. A perfectly viable approach for someone who's just starting out -- but it makes it nearly impossible to predict which way they are going to go next. Even given a wide berth, it's hard to keep out of their way.

Probably it's all a matter of education: snowboarders need to appreciate how they are perceived by skiers, and skiers need to develop an understanding of the boarders' approach to getting down the hill. But we all know how well that's worked for shared use of the roadway, eh? ;-)

Ryan said...

This is too good. I love going for a Snowboard. It is a great fun.

Margo McCann said...

Snowboarding is amazing. I have only been a few times but watchingsnowboarding videos is a great
way for me to learn some new things without being on the slopes!

James McAllister said...

I'd say it's more the user than the tool that causes the problem - both skiing and snowboarding are great! But if you think snowboarders should stay off the mountain, check out this backyard snowboard - I'm sure you'd support it if it got boarders off the ski slopes ;)