Why Skiers Hate Snowboarders

vampires-vs-werewolvesI have been trying to understand this for a long time. Many of my closest friends are skiers and they make no apology for their vocal hatred of snowboarding and snowboarders. I believe that their reasons are based on “old school” ski culture (resisting change) and various unfounded beliefs about snowboarding (that were created to defend their unpleasant position).

Background: I skied for 20 years before switching to snowboarding. I LOVE skiing, but after trying snowboarding for a few days I switched to snowboarding simply because it felt “right” to me. I honestly don’t feel any idealogical or cultural identity with snowboarding, I just like the sport.

FACT: Skiing is faster than snowboarding. This is simple physics and imo accounts for a most of the problems on the mountain between skiers and snowboarders, as well as the higher death and injury rates of skiers over snowboarders.

FACT: Skiers are 3X more likely to be involved in a collision with other people than snowboarders. https://www.nsaa.org/media/68045…

~FACT: “Snowboarders don’t appear to be making the slopes less safe for their skiing peers … A study presented at the Ninth International Symposium on Skiing Trauma and Safety i… 7.7% of all ski injuries are the result of skiers running into skiers, while only 2.6% of snowboard accidents are caused this way.”

FACT: Snowboarding is safer. Skiing deaths and injury accidents occur at a significantly higher rate than snowboarding (taking # of skiers/snowboarders into account)  https://www.nsaa.org/media/68045…

Common Skier Myths on Snowboarding:

1. “Snowboarders are rude, dangerous, and cut me off more than skiers!”

When I switched to snowboarding, I noticed that 99% of my near collisions & altercations were with skiers. Most of these were due to skiers passing me very closely and far too quickly, and spraying me with snow, and then taking my line (as they shot away down the mountain). My skier friends tell me that they have the EXACTLY OPPOSITE experience (i.e. most of their altercations happen with snowboarders). So, I have concluded:

a. Aggressive/fast skiers and snowboarders alike, show off & taunt their counterparts (e.g. skiers taunt snowboarders, and snowboarders taunt skiers) because of the known cultural animosity. This is mainly done by passing closely at high speed (and noise) levels, often with snow spray.

b. Skiers LOVE to pass snowboarders due to their clear speed advantage and tighter line. They just can’t resist the urge to show off their speed. 😉 Snowboarders probably do the same thing to skiers, but it happens less often (statistically) due to the skier speed advantage.

c. Skiers and snowboarders have different “lines” and movement patterns which lead to more collisions. I hear this a lot and its true, but honestly, I think that its only a problem for beginner skiers and snowboarders. I have no problem managing skiers in front of me or in my line, mainly because they are moving faster.

d. The average age difference between skiers and snowboarders is a primary factor in the cultural tension (mostly coming from the skiers who feel their storied traditions have been ruined by snowboarding). The fashion statement (slacker, sloppy, rebels, skulls) and showboat style of snowboarders riles old school skiers who don’t want to share “their” mountain with these new kids who don’t appreciate the history and blah, blah of skiing. 🙂 So, I believe this has less to do with the equipment and mechanics of the sport, and almost entirely due to age differences and resistance to change that old school skiers exhibit. In general, younger skiers AND snowboarders alike are generally less courteous, faster, and wilder than adults, but that’s not limited to the slopes.

2. “Snowboarders blow all the good snow and powder off the mountain”

I firmly believe that this is a myth created by old school skiers that just don’t like sharing the mountain with snowboarders “renegades.” 🙂 If it were true, we would see large mounds of wonderful snow blown by the snowboarders off the sides of the trails… but we don’t. Also, consider that skiers have two edges with strong pressure on tighter lines and probably move as much snow (possibly more!) as the snowboarder. Lastly, even if snowboards do move more snow (doubtful!), keep in mind that the snow is moved randomly across the run and MOST snow moves down due to gravity. I am open to scientific evidence that snowboarders “blow more snow off the runs”, but need more hard evidence. I believe that the myth is rooted on the observation that snowboards are wider than skis and “look” like they might blow more snow.


I have skied for 20 years and then snowboarded for 15 years. I never hear snowboarders saying the ugly things about skiers that skiers say about snowboarders. This is a classic case of old school resistance to change– they feel that “their” sport and their mountain is being ruined by interloper upstarts (yawn) who don’t appreciate the fine tradition of skiing. And so it goes that they need to create myths to defend and justify their position (since its based on myth and false stereotypes).

We can all share and enjoy the mountain together by using simple, common sense safety, friendly politeness, and forgiveness when people make mistakes (which happens frequently on the mountain). So, when skiers race by me at twice my speed within hands reach blowing snow on me and scaring the daylight out of me, I just try to chuckle, let them have their fun, and remember where I am.


9 thoughts on “Why Skiers Hate Snowboarders

  1. Truthfully, skiers are not actually faster as snowboard tech has advanced. Yeah the average all mountain or twin board is that fast BUT the ones used for racing, those get to more insane speeds then alot of race skis (even said by a gm of ski hill I worked at that was very much into ski racing).
    It’s funny though, you see old people making a big deal of it and I won’t lie, I have followed the stereotypes a few times but now days when a skier talks crap about a snowboarder, they are basically telling families off.
    The best part of the scenario is this, you see places like alta and their sheep, I wonder how many of them are skiing on gear that have tech taken from snowboarding?
    Even without snowboarding, skiing would of eventually resulted more into the freestyle trend as of surfing and skateboarding. Snowboarding just sped the process up a bit and gave a more open mind of creativeness to ski hills that racing would never been able to do. It gave more expresive lines at ski hills, just think of watching powder videos without the tricks between each drop.

    • I could not reply to the OP so I will post here. I’m a skier and really have no problem sharing the mountain with snowboarders. While I am one of those old school guys that doesn’t really appreciate the constant counter-culture vibe these days, I have no right to “wish you weren’t there” any more than anyone else. However, what I really do not appreciate and will not tolerate is lack of slope etiquette. Just like in any sport where multiple participants share a common space, there are rules about sharing that common space. When you bowl, you are supposed to stay back until the person beside you has thrown their ball. In golf, you are supposed to remain quiet while another golfer swings and you wait to hit your ball until golfers ahead are out of range. We have the same sorts of rules on the hill that help promote safety above all but also common courtesy and cooperation. While 2/3 or more of the snowboarders I encounter are plenty polite and display proper etiquette, I have a two part theory about the rest. 1. Kids teaching kids and they don’t ever hear some of these rules except from irate skiiers, at which point we get the finger. 2. Following rules feels too much like conforming and its their way of thumbing their nose at the Man, “I can do whatever I want wherever I want.” Message to those of you in that last group: You’re wrecking it for the rest of the snowboarders. Stay at home until you can grow up.

  2. I’m fine with sharing powder, terrain parks, cliffs, and groomers. But please PLEASE stay off the Mogules. They are very enjoyable to many skiers, and are already scraped clean by intermediates learning mogules. There is no earthly reason snowboarders should be in the bumps. Also for the love of God, slide over to the side of the trail after getting off the chair to buckle up!!

    • I mean, this may have been true when everyone rode 162 stiff camber boards, but with a soft 150-155 hybrid camber board bumps become fun and doable without messing up the lines. I will admit that the learning curve is steeper which will lead to more snowboarders scraping bumps, but the advancement of tech has made bumps fun for everyone…at least before they do get scraped by some weekend hero haha.

  3. I’ve just started skiing and the only thing I wish both parties would do, is not speed past waaaay to close for comfort (especially when’s there’s room not to do it!) and travel in massive groups of 20+ on narrow slopes at ridiculously high speeds.

  4. The problem is there is more total traffic of all types on the hills these days at many resorts and mountains– particularly on weekends, holidays,Christmas and spring breaks. It was not that long ago that ski hills had separate runs for boarders and skiers. There is no question that skiers and boarders behave differently when in close proximity on runs in large part due to the nature of their respective sports. There are some skiers who ski too fast and go into tucks for the conditions present and there are some boarders who without warning or realization decide to plunk themselves in very large groups on hills in blind spots or high traffic areas, block the width of a run, leave garbage on the runs when they arise, or come too close to skiers for comfort.
    The combination of the volume of all types of skiers and boarders of all ages and skill on the hills, their differing snow cultures and manueuvring, and finally the addition of busloads of skiers and boarders who are dumped on a hill for night skiing- many who have little or no previous experience or lessons- is a recipe for disaster. As a result, I stay away from weekends, nights, and holiday outings, wear a helmet, and with my reflective yellow jacket advise the offending the code of the hill. When someone is seriously injured or when deaths occur, it is a reminder that this is a sport you can easily die from if you do not know what you are doing or are carless. I suspect the up to date stats will reflect this. Studies that have been released do show that the rate of injury and or death is more than twice that of hockey. Having said all this, I live to ski. Skiing is my passion.

    John Canada

  5. I don’t care about traffic, speed, or courtesy. I avoid crowded areas. What bothers me most is seeing a beautiful, tight, even, mogul field in the making being butchered by a bunch of punks. I would object equally to novice skiers side-scraping their way down such a section, but the beginner skiers avoid such terrain. Snow boarding is fine where it is appropriate. Off-Piste!

    • As a snowboarder I detest moguls and try to avoid them at all costs. But sometimes you end up on them. It’s a bummer but what can you do? If I knew they were there, trust me, I wouldnt be on that run. Unfortunately I always forget to bring my crystal ball on ski holidays.

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