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The Trouble with Skiing and Snowboarding

  
  
  

Even before I started writing about snow sport, I was frustrated by the fact that snowboarding and skiing have two different names.  It makes the whole discussion around the two colossally worthwhile ways of playing in the snow so very awkward.

ski snowboard debate Take for example the phone conversation that begins many a day on the slopes:
You want to say, “Hey bro, wanna go skiing tomorrow?”

Immediately it’s hard to know what to say.   He rides a snowboard, but you ski.  What do you say? 

If you say, “Do you want to go snowboarding?” when you’ll be on skis, that doesn’t sound quite right either. 

Then there is the whole discussion around the sport that is unnecessarily difficult.  Take for example the snow sports industry.  One time I was at the SIA Tradeshow, and ended up in a conversation with a representative of a famous snowboard company.  I mentioned “heli-skiing”, and he immediately held up his hand, corrected me with “heli-snowboarding” and gave me a disapproving look.

It seems like things are changing, and many powder hounds, one boarded or two, have come to the conclusion that besides the physics of the ride, experientially there is really little difference between the two.  Sure, skis are better for moving around in the backcountry, and snowboards are better in crud, but both are simply bitchin’ ways to play in the snow.

It was a snowboarder who showed me the light.  My friend Karl, a snowboarder, called me one day to see if I wanted to go shralp some pow.  “Do you want to go skiing?” he asked.  Then, throughout the day, when we scored an especially nice run, he’d say, “The skiing on the left was totally untracked, let’s ski that again.” And at the end of the day, “Killer ski day, thanks for driving!”

Later, I had a conversation about it with Karl.  “Why do you call it all skiing?” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders and replied, “It’s all the same.”

Years later, I met another group of people who felt the same way: the CMH staff.  For them, it is all quite simply, fantastically, skiing.  And why shouldn’t it be; when you’re going out and frolicking in bottomless fluff on some of the most spectacular ski mountains on planet earth, why get too caught up in the nomenclature. 

In snow like the above photo, at CMH Cariboos, half the time you can’t even tell what someone is riding on anyway.  Any of you snowboarders or skiers out there have an issue with calling it all the same thing?

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