Is snowboarding like skateboarding? Do the skills transfer too?

Is snowboarding like skateboarding? Do the skills transfer too?

I love snowboarding as much as the other guy, but let’s face it, you can’t go snow cruisin’ spontaneously any time of the year. Even during winter, some seasons are colder than others, and the snowboarding season is unfortunately restricted to the colder winters.

While you can’t go boarding any time you want, there are a few contenders that fall under the “similar” category. But we all know which takes the top spot: skateboarding.

Skateboarding is wildly similar to snowboarding as a board-based sport. The basic stances, dynamics, and many snowboarding tricks (beginner to advanced) are either the same or an edited version of skateboarding techniques.

Of course, not every snowboarder and skateboarder would agree. I’d say the advertised similarities between the two are less than subjective. Some point to fundamental differences like “there are wheels on a skateboard” and “your feet are strapped on a snowboard,” which are valid arguments.

Even I won’t say they’re identical. My first snowboarding experience ended up with me falling in the snow face-first. Why? Because I wasn’t used to my feet being strapped after years of skateboarding. But after so many years, I enjoy both sports equally.

The Ultimate Comparison

Here’s a quick summary of snowboarding vs skateboarding:

CategorySimilar or Different?
Board & PositionBoth boards and positions (stances) are similar.
Ease-of-AccessSnowboarding is expensive and requires ideal weather conditions.
Riding SkillsRequired skills are similar for carving but different for stopping.
Learning CurveSnowboarding is comparatively harder in the beginning but easier once you understand the basics.
DangerSkateboarding is rather dangerous because of the concrete.
DynamicsThe maneuverability and dynamics of snowboarding are easier.

1. Board & Position

The appropriate way of handling these two boards is different right off the bat – a skateboard has wheels that touch the concrete. And, of course, a snowboard touches the ground (or snow) directly and has your feet strapped to the board.

This makes it easier for newbies because they don’t have to worry about their board overturning or slipping away, which is a common problem for amateur skateboarders. But that’s where the differences end.

Skateboards are excellent to give you the “board feel” because the idea behind both is to balance your center of gravity so you won’t fall over. The two basic stances of snowboarding – regular and goofy – are also similar to skateboarding’s surf stances.

You can also maneuver your snowboard more by leaning forward and backward without falling over because your feet are strapped to the board. This makes maneuvering easier in snowboarding.

Is snowboarding like skateboarding? Do the skills transfer?
Professional Snowboarding

2. Riding Skills

The basics of riding these two boards are actually different. You see, skateboarding makes it possible to ride flat or horizontally because only the two wheels touch the ground. But in snowboarding, the entire board touches, creating more resistance.

That’s why you won’t be cruising flat on the snow unless you’re doing something advanced. On the other hand, curving is similar in both activities because it’s just about maneuvering your body except that you can just lean in the direction you want to move in skateboarding. In snowboarding, you move your entire body.

You can make many comparisons like this yourself. Take, for instance, the fact that you need to lean forward and press the board against the snow to slow down, but you’d fall over if you tried something like that on a skateboard.

3. Ease-of-Access

You already know that you can’t just ride the powder any time of the year – you gotta wait for the cold, snowy winter to do its thing. But skateboarding doesn’t have that problem.

Technically, you can skateboard anytime, anywhere. This also means that skateboarding is far cheaper. Unless you live in a ski resort, everything from logistics to fees to rentals will cost you big time. But to skateboard, all you gotta do is pick up your board and start ridin’.

4. Learning Curve

Whether skateboarding is harder or easier than snowboarding depends on various factors. The beginning stage of skateboarding is much easier, but its fundamentals are harder than those of snowboarding — the difficulty of advanced skateboarding skills skyrockets after this.

You see, the most fundamental lesson for skateboarding is standing on the board and pushing forward, which is pretty easy. But skateboarding just keeps getting more challenging after this – to the point that advanced skills almost seem impossible.

In comparison, the first lesson of snowboarding is somewhat tricky because standing on the snow on top of a board feels strange for a lot of first-timers. But after this, cruising through snowboarding lessons is comparatively more straightforward.

5. Danger

The dangers of skateboarding are obviously more than those of snowboarding because you’ll be skateboarding on concrete (or some sort of solid ground).

Now I’m not saying you can’t get hurt in the snow. Because you certainly can and will if you’re trying some crazy tricks or don’t take the necessary precautions. But, in reality, the risk and intensity of injuries on a skateboard are far more severe.

Is snowboarding like skateboarding? Do the skills transfer?

Do skateboarding skills matter while snowboarding?

In hindsight, yes.

Skateboarding skills do matter and transfer when snowboarding. Skateboarding dynamics are more challenging than snowboarding because your feet are strapped to the board in the latter. This gives skateboarders a learning curve advantage because they can progress faster.

The basic picture with snowboarding is that you obviously want a fluid movement when going downhill, right? And that’s precisely what you learn when skateboarding on a slope. Sure, there are some differences, like you don’t necessarily push the snowboard forward, but your positions and fundamentals are identical, including some tricks.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “So then…how easy is snowboarding if I can skateboard?

While the two sports are not similar for every boarder out there, their basic skills are. Your transition will be much smoother if you know one of the two already, preferably skateboarding. 

I’ll let you in on a secret from a fellow skateboarder: Practicing / skateboarding using a longboard is the best way to practice snowboarding. It’ll give you the “feel” you need because a longboard is just a few inches short of a snowboard.

Other Similar Sports

Skateboarding is obviously not the only sport similar to snowboarding. Here are two more sports that could come toe-to-toe with skateboarding in a snowboarding similarity contest.

1. Wakeboarding

When wakeboarding, you stand on a wakeboard (like a longboard) behind a motorboat.  Beginners and many seasoned wakeboarders use ropes but the real ones are able to drop the rope.

Many boarders, including me, agree that wakeboarding is more similar to snowboarding than skateboarding, especially when it comes to the “feel” while cruising the snow compared to cruising the open waters.

Recommend trying wakeboarding if you’re into snowboarding atleast once (or vice versa).

2. Surfing

Surfing, as you know, is an epic water sport where you ride the waves while balancing on a surfboard.

Surfing is similar to snowboarding because you have to balance yourself on a board directly in contact with the “surface” (aka the water or snow). Unlike skateboarding, where the wheels touch the concrete, surfing will give you a familiar feeling.

Should I choose snowboarding or skateboarding?

Why not both?

Skateboard vs Snowboard

You should choose both snowboarding and skateboarding if you love either one of those sports. The all-year-round accessibility and affordability of skateboarding and the snowy delight of snowboarding charms boarders from both sides.

Give wakeboarding and surfing a shot too. They’re popular among snowboarders during the off-season and many skateboarders do both.

But of course, they’re not identical. You’ll find opinions from both sides on various forums, but perhaps that’s a good thing. Think about it, snowboarding and skateboarding are similar enough to give you an advantage when trying either for the first time. They’re also different enough to give you completely unique, face-melting experiences in totally different settings.

Jonathan Spaeth

I got into extreme sports about 20 years ago and am a die-hard adrenaline junkie. Just like in business, I choose my outdoor adventures based on how much they scare me. My goal is to share the lessons I've learned over the past couple of decades braving the unknown to encourage you to do the same.