Surfing vs Snowboarding

Surfing vs SnowboardingSurfing vs snowboarding, this post is not a post on whether one discipline is better than the other, but rather and examination of translatable skills.  I would like to examine if being proficient in one of these sports, will translate into being efficient in the other.  Now, there is no scientific evidence that being proficient in surfing, will also make you proficient in snowboarding.  Let’s look into this further.

Personal Experience

I’d like to state that I have never been snowboarding, and I’ve only seen snow twice in my life.  However, I have been surfing for over 10 years and consider myself somewhat proficient in the sport.  My girlfriend’s niece, Berna, had been snowboarding for over 3 years and about 5 years ago she decided to give surfing a shot.

For two day we went surfing, with me, pushing Berna’s board into the wave so that it would be easier for her to catch that wave.  During that two days, we learned two important things.  First of all, for Berna at least, her snowboarding skills did not translate into her ability to surf.  Secondly, she gets nauseous from the movement of the waves.

I’m not saying that what my girlfriend’s niece experienced will be the same for all snowboarders, but it is a small example, that the skills of a good snowboarder did not translate to surfing.

What Are The Similarities

Just like surfboard surfing, snowboarding requires skill and balance and the movement of your body to achieve maneuvers.  Snowboarding, also like surfing, has a one foot forward stance and just like surfing, if you snowboard left foot forward you’re considered a “regular footer” and if you snowboard right foot forward you’re considered a “goofy footer.”

Snowboarding relies on a board, just like surfboard surfing, a much smaller board but still a board.  The snowboarder, just like the surfer, will use the edge/rails of the board to execute turns.  Snowboarders also wax their boards, but unlike surfers, who will wax the top of their boards for traction, snowboarders wax the bottom of their boards to improve glide and allow the board to travel faster over snow.

Surfing vs SnowboardingBased on description of how to turn a snowboard, were you use your head, shoulders, hips, legs and feet to turn your board, you could be describing the exact same body parts you would use to turn and move a surfboard.

Like surfing, snowboarding requires environmental conditions to perform the sport.  In order to snowboard, you need snow, hills and mountains.  In order to surf, you need water and waves.  Neither sport can be perform without the right conditions.

Just like the ramp a snowboarder uses to perform aerial maneuvers, the expert and professional surfer will utilize the wave as ramp to perform their aerials.  Wind conditions can affect both the snowboarders and surfers, and determine whether it is wise for either to go out and perform their sport.  Each sport must be aware of the weather conditions, for they are both strongly affected by the weather.

What Are The Differences

With surfing, you begin in a prone position (unless you’re stand-up paddle surfing) and you need to pop-up in order to get to a standing position.  In snowboarding you begin standing up.  The snowboard is much smaller than a surfboard and the snowboarder’s feet are strapped to the board.  A surfer does not want his feet strapped to the board, not only because you begin in a prone position but also so you can move your feet depending on what the wave is doing.

The snowboarder will always wear footwear and cold weather clothing, while the surfer will most often not wear footwear or cold weather clothing.  Surfers will use their arms and in some cases their legs to get moving, while snowboarders will use strictly their legs.

The biggest difference between snowboarding and surfing is that one relies strictly on land and snow, and the other strictly on water and waves.  A surfer can’t surf unless there are water and waves.  A snowboarder can’t snowboard without snow and some type of decline, be it a hill, mountain, ramp, etc.  Surfers are dependent on swells and tides, while snowboarders aren’t.

Snowboarders, generally, do not have to worry about fauna when they snowboard, while surfers will always have the thought of sharks in the back of their mind.  I would think the typical speed obtained will snowboarding is greater than surfing and the typical wipe-out is much more painful.

Anecdotal Evidence

Based on the many websites, forum and blogs I have read, the majority of individuals do not believe that you can translate the skills you learn from one sport to the other.  Even though snowboarding can look like you’re surfing a mountain, the skills required are not the same.  The skills you learn from surfing a wave, will not translate to carving up a mountain.

In Conclusion

As stated in the beginning of this post, this was not a post to see which sport was better than the other, both surfing and snowboarding are great, but whether the skills learned from one sport could translate to proficiency in the other.  As we discovered, there are many similarities as well as differences between snowboarding and surfing.

So, Surfing vs Snowboarding, does proficiency in one activity translate to proficiency in the other?  Based on the anecdotal evidence, I have to say, without any hesitation that proficiency in one sport does not translate to proficiency in the other.  You will need to practice both activities to be proficient at surfing and snowboarding.

Check out my post: “Waterproof Surfing Watches.”

Thanks for dropping in and if you have any comments or questions, please post it in the comments section of this page.

4 thoughts on “Surfing vs Snowboarding

  1. This was a pretty informative article. I know that both of these sports are quite difficult and provide a great deal of practice to master. I always thought that the skill sets required for snowboarding and surfing were quite similar. However, you’ve done a great job of pointing out where the differences lie within required skill sets. I appreciate you sharing your personal experience with Berna providing further creditably to your conclusion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Hi Ciandress, I thought the same thing too, however, based on the anecdotal evidence it seems it is not true.

      Thanks for the comments and dropping in!

  2. Hi there Stuart! Surfing is really cool and my wife is a great water lover. Me on the other hand, I’ve never been in the ocean and much less on a surfboard. I’ve touched a surf board before! Does that count? I’m definitely new to surfing. What should I do first to start learning?

    • Hi Benjamin, I wrote a page title “Getting started,” this should give a good base for starting your surfing journey. One thing I would strongly suggest, is to take some surfing lesson.

      Thanks for the comments and dropping in!

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