The Trouble With Snowboarding


A few weeks ago the NSAA came out with a study suggesting that snowboarding is in decline. This is big news in the ski industry. A segment of the population that was in double digit growth for many years is now declining, or as some commenters pointed out, at the least flatlining. I wrote a post here reflecting my personal thoughts on why that might be the case. Based on the comments both here and elsewhere I can see that the snowboard community is thriving with a vengeance.

I’ve taken down the original post, although I’m sure it’s still out there somewhere. I didn’t intend to offend anyone, only to spark a debate on why fewer people are snowboarding now. I’ve left the comments below, but closed further comments. I think we just need to let this one go. While the debate started off as lively, it quickly degenerated into name-calling and vitriol. By taking it down I’m not apologizing for my opinions only trying to put an end to what’s become a vicious, unhealthy debate. Some might react negatively to me taking down this post, saying that I’m backsliding and not owning my opinions. I can already hear it now. But like I said above, I’m just trying to stop what’s grown into a tool to fuel the skiing vs snowboarding debate, and no one wants to go back to the bad old days. Instead, I think we should stop hating each other in front of our computers and get out in the mountains more.

My personal opinions don’t reflect those of Crystal Mountain. This is my personal blog, where I write about my experiences and opinions. That’s the point of a blog. I’ve also been known to use sarcasm and hyperbole in order to get my point across and spark debate. I did that here and the results got out of hand. I tried to explain my original intentions in the comments. But you can’t squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube. Therefore, I decided to just take it down so we can all move on and everyone can stop taking this personally. It was not an attack on snowboarding, but rather my observations as to why the sport is apparently in decline.

Sliding on snow in any form is a worthwhile activity. Regardless of how efficient or difficult the sport, being out on the mountain is a great way to spend the day.

92 responses

  1. Kim, you make some excellent points here, I would like to start off by agreeing that i see a decline in snowboarding, and I think the “Dadboarding Effect” is real. More and more kids are going to skiing now because it’s rebellion against their Snowboarding parents, it’s come full circle! I’ve been skiing since I was 5, switched to boarding at 15 and would ski 1 or 2 days when I was getting over 30 on my board every season since then. I couldn’t agree more that skiing is more efficient than Snowboarding, it’s just that simple, but I also have to say that without snowboarding, there would not be these awesome ski shapes that we have today. It’s amazing how much the two have actually pushed each other in the last 5 years to come up with better tech to make us that much more rippable out there! However, strapping in my board takes me all of about 10 seconds, while standing on it, not sitting in the middle of the run like a lot of gapers do, which is about how long I see it take most skiers to re strap their boots from letting their puppies breath on the chair (let’s just face it, snowboard boots rock!). Albeit snowboarding takes better planning, smarter runouts, and a bit of “Just Point it and hope for the best” , they are both a blast, and I’m currently splitting time between the two, but my heart is in ripping fresh pow lines on my board, hands down, skiing will never give me that same surfy, floaty feeling, but hey, why not do both?!?! Appreciate your articles, hope to see you up there sometime, keep on truckin!

    • Thanks Blake. Great comment. I agree that expert snowboarders can strap in faster than I can tighten my buckles. And I think we both agree on riding powder. Although I was never a good enough snowboarder to rip much pow. But the few tastes I got were sweet indeed.

  2. Hi Kim,

    I’m a skier, snowboarder, and snowboard writer.

    I’ve heard the points that you raise in this article many times before from skiers. There’s just one problem with them — they’re not true. They’re the ignorant talking points of people who know nothing about snowboarding.

    They’re just like the points of the ignorant old man who says gays shouldn’t marry. “It’s unnatural”, he says. “They can’t make a real family.”

    We all know those to be a crock of shit, and that the man simply doesn’t understand gay people. Your points are the some.

    You’ve only tried it once. No matter how “broad minded” you claim to be, your mind is not broad enough to appreciate an experience it’s never had.

    I’ve spent most of this season snowboarding with and photographing professional skiers.

    I agree that many snowboarders don’t learn how to traverse well. Many also don’t learn how to carve well, or how to push efficiently. Many snowboarders prefer to hang out in the park, and hit jumps and rails — and that’s fine.

    Many skiers suck too. Lots of skiers hate the uncomfortable boots, fall down trying to skate, and spend horurs searching for skis lost in deep snow — but you rarely hear snowboarders preach about why skiing is such an inferior sport or ‘inefficient tool’.

    Skiers don’t understand is that big-mountain boarders like myself have learned to overcome many of the obstacles you’re talking about.

    I’ve spent most of this season photographing professional big-mountain skiers, so I am very aware of how my abilities compare to theirs. I’ve done plenty of hiking and traversing with them.

    What you guys don’t understand is that snowboarders can traverse very well. We learn to maintain our speed, to carry every last bit, and to pump it out of the bumps in the trail. Skiers, however, waste their momentum because they have the ability to skate. Many times I was forced to stop and unstrap because the skier in front of me was going to slow on the traverse.

    Even in that case, it’s not a big deal. Unstrapping from modern bindings is as simple as two swipes of your hand and, for a good snowboarder, strapping in takes seconds.

    There are only two circumstances where I’d rather be on skis than a snowboard:

    1) Traversing rocky terrain. With only one edge in the hill, when a snowboarder hits a rock on a steep traverse they will slip down the hill, whereas a skier can compensate for the ski that hits the rock using the other.

    2) Standing on an icy slope to take a photo. If I need to stand on an icy slope, it’s too difficult to balance on a snowboard. If there’s at least an inch or two of snow, however, it’s not a problem.

    That’s it. That’s all there is.

    I hope you believe me when I say this. I actually know. I practiced both sports for more than decade each.

    Yes, snowboarding isn’t as popular as it once was. The industry may continue to shrink. That’s fine. Snowboarding doesn’t have to dominate the world. It may end up becoming a small niche sport.

    That’s fine.

    What’s not fine is ignorant, condescending arguments like those above.


    • Hey Matt,

      Thanks for the comments. I was hoping a snowboarder would offer his or her .02 to the conversation, and I’m glad you did. Of course, name calling is never very gentlemanly. I have some friends that are sublime snowboarders and yes their pumping and skating abilities are quite impressive. I just think that the snowboarding promise of skiing big powdery lines (much like what you get to do for work, it sounds like) isn’t happening for many of the average joe boarders I see at the ski area. This is why, in my opinion, many are turning to skiing.

      • I’d just like to point out that I did not call anyone any names. I used two accurate adjectives to describe your taking points.

        Pardon my language. I get upset when I hear skiers who have never snowboarded talk ignorantly about all the problems with my sport of choice.

        I’m believe it’s a feeling similar to that experienced by my gay friends, when they hear straight people explain the problems with the gay lifestyle.

        It’s very condescending when you say “Maybe we should let snowboarding go.”

        Who is this we? You are not a snowboarder.

        I think what you mean is, “Snowboarders should just give it up, because I don’t think it’s practical.”

        • Since you’re so into the business of giving feedback, here’s a little for you. If you call yourself a writer, you may want to edit before you press send.

          Okay that’s my snarky comeback for the day. Like I said, you make good points. However I snowboarded for an entire season, so I’m actually speaking from my own experience.

          • Zing. You got me!

            I apologize for my poor comment editing, I know that properly editing blog comments, text messages, and Facebook status updates is an important part of my job as a writer.

            Seriously though, I apologize for my strong language. I’ve heard these arguments in person many times before. They often spoken with a droll, holier-than-thou attitude by BMW-driving skiers who then go on to talk about the laziness of their Guatemalan maid and how immigration is ruining the country.

            I’m sure you didn’t mean to come off that way, but that’s the attitude that I associate with these kinds of arguments. So, perhaps I overreacted a bit.

            That being said, I still don’t think that you understand both sides of the issue, and that most of your arguments are those of a person who obviously doesn’t understand the sport.

            I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

          • Well Matt, you’re right. I don’t know the other side of the argument. My boarding experience is very limited. This is why I’m glad you chimed in. A little passion for your sport is always a good thing. Cheers.

      • Don’t forget that releasable bindings are important for the backcountry. Many folks switch to skiing for safety reasons.

        • Two of the boarders I ride with have been stuck in holes, head up, (non slide related) and required partner, or multiple partner, rescue to extricate them. I am certain they would have preferred a releasable binding and a shovel to the convoluted board and rider extrication that ensued.

  3. There were some boarders at the heli ski operation at which I spent ten days in December. Even some of the guides occasionally guide on boards just for something different, so there must be something fun about it (not that I could find it when I tried it). The shredding part looked fun, but the endless slogging and hiking did look awful, as did the flailing to stand up when a boarder fell over.

    Every day we had occasion to feel sorry for the boarders in our group; there was always a traverse or a hike to meet the heli. That said, they didn’t seem to mind all that much (they’re probably used to it), aside from the one day there was simply too much snow for one boarder in our group to slog through. He got grumpy, and we had to change our objective to be more boarder-friendly (which I admit was annoying; the skiing was fantastic where we were).

    So, I’ll pass on boarding, though I’m enjoying telemarking a lot. You’re right that it is excruciating for the first few months though.

    I’m totally entertained by the angry boarder response to your article though. You’ve a knack for pissing people off sometimes πŸ˜‰

    • I tele skied for ten years. My quads and butt were in the best shape of my life. Still it made skiing harder and since I do it every day I eventually went back to alpine. And yes I have a propensity for negative comments, but I expected it this time.

      • I am always impressed/awed by the patrollers who work on tele skis every day. They must have legs of iron. Then again, tele boots are so much more comfortable than alpine boots; maybe they’ve got the right idea?

  4. Kim, first I love the blog. I’m a Crystal pass holder and have been a regular for years. Started skiing as a kid at Crystal, switched to boarding in my 20s (late 90s) when a lot of my friends were switching and skiing technology just wasn’t there for powder. Broke both my wrists on the cat track above Lucky Shot the first time I went boarding actually and rode to the hospital in an ambulance. (Thank you Ski Patrol) But it didn’t matter. I was hooked and came back as soon I could. There is just no comparison in terms of the freedom that comes from effectively surfing down a line. I’ve never looked back…until recently. Have to admit fat skis look fun and I as get older the thought of switching back has crept in. But honestly, its probably Crystal that is affecting my thought process. Its a skiers mountain. Its an amazing place, but unlike Baker, Hood, Stevens etc., there is so much traversing and cat tracking necessary to reach some fun spots, or get back from them. I-5 on a board is probably one of the most annoying things on the mountain but its almost unavoidable when you want the goods that are above it. Southback is a pain for boarders to get to from HC. You just don’t have as many run outs in my opinion at a place like Baker, in fact I can’t think of any. So the points you make above, are somewhat limited to Crystal’s set up I think. Not trying to nag on Crystal but its one of the least friendly places for boarders in WA, both in terms of the terrain, and the attitude. I won’t even get into the Arcteryx skier dad attitude toward boarders that I’ve experienced over and over there, but you could (almost) argue its the Alta of WA. But thats besides the point. Skiing still has a lot of inefficiencies that haven’t been totally solved either. How many backcountry boarders have to go back the next season to find their board after a bad fall? Pole straps are handcuffs in a tree well, etc. and a lot of weekend warriors don’t think to unstrap those before venturing into sidecountry like Northway. These articles (and I’ve noticed them too) are sort of reheating the old war between skiers and boarders that has been dormant for years. Maybe I’m just defensive, maybe its a trend, maybe fat skis have caught up, who knows. Its snow. Its fun. I just hope it means prices for splitboards come way down!


    • Ian,
      Thanks for chiming in. You make a great point about losing skis and pole straps. I never saw those as inefficiencies but you’re absolutely right.

      • I can’t count the number of times I’ve been a deep snow situation and had to wait for my skier friends to find their ski that popped off or whatever. Another thought on the “dying” of snowboarding is that snowboarding introduced a lot of people into the mountains that probably would not have gone otherwise. It only makes sense that as they’ve gotten older they are no longer going. If they’ve had kids, of course those kids are skiing. Skiing is cool/fun again. I’d like to see that headline on a blog post some day! And unless a kid already has the edge and weight placement dialed from skateboarding, I would argue its much easier to learn on skis.

        • I’ve talked to a number of snowboarders recently that are switching to skiing or at least adding skis to their quiver. One big argument I’ve heard is backcountry access.

  5. Mt Baker/PNW et al. on a heavy thick 18″ of ‘fresh’ day, I’d like to have a snowboard on once or twice a season for about 3 runs. Nothing is more fun, (note I am not strong enough to catch a wave on a surfboard).

    But when those 3 runs are over, and the thick foot has become 3.5 inches of cascade quik-crete, I am left with a lot more work to get around the mountain. Your assessment, though clearly and admittedly from a skier’s perspective, is really good.

    Thanks for putting it out there.

  6. Greetings My Surf Buddy…Love the post, and agree with most of the points made. I do see how the advancement of ski technology has reinvigorated the sport, and led to more enjoyment of skiing. However, riding the trees with a side facing stance lets me go places I never could on skis. Also, when faced with a close-out of trees or rocks ahead, I can stop so much faster with a simple lay-back turn. On skis I have to pole plant, life both skis free from the snow and dig in with independently working edges. Lastly, being a life long surfer, wake-boarder, windsurfer, skater…cross training is an year-round activity. I hope we surf again soon…Pura Vida

    • Great points Chris. I’m sure as a surfer you probably feel way more comfortable on a snowboard– that makes total sense. My main point is this. Snowboarding took off because it was an easy way to get onto the slopes. It was cool and a little rebellious and inline with other board sports. But sometimes I wonder if all that extra work is worth the effort. What I didn’t acknowledge is that really good riders probably expend less energy than most.
      Also I hope to get to Costa Rica again soon and surf with you. What a beautiful place!

  7. I like the snowboarders that go on the steep slopes and side slip the mogul fields, rounding and smoothing out the bumps, especially early season they do a good job of side slipping, packing in the snowpack on runs that don’t get machine groomed.

    I’m old school and like to slow down and crank out as many turns as possible in powder, but rather than figure-eighting another old schooler I’d much rather dollar sign a snowboarder’s straight line track.

  8. I’ve only tried skiing once, in a state far far away from my folks. I recall when my brother and I escaped to the pass (without warning the folks), I looked at his snowboard and he looked at me. “Remember the skateboarding in front of grandma and grandpa’s,” he asked. I nodded. “You’re not getting on this board.” So, have yet to try it, if ever. Heard snow-shoeing could be my speed.

  9. I would like to point out that crystal is a very traverse needy mountain that requires more side motion than other mountains. I can snowboard all day at the summit without traversing but to get to green valley that’s a traverse. Without doubt skiing rocks sideways cross country skiing rocks on the flats snowboarding rocks straight downhill. Depends on your interests.

  10. Maybe snowboarding has actually reached it’s apex. I respect all those sb’ers that have survived the jokes and broken wrists, but their blind side turns scare this aging skier. I welcome them back “home” to the wonderful world of parallel turns, carving down chalky double blacks, and hiking the King with reasonable ease.

  11. Snowboarding is fun. Skiing is fun too. Parts about either sport can be a pain in the ass, or just a challenge to learn to handle effectively. I think you are great Kim, and I enjoy your writing and admire you for what you do in your day job. And I am a bit annoyed and saddened by your comment regarding not attempting CPR – it is arrogant to me. I love Crystal, it is beautiful, and big and well developed, the Summit House has very good food, most of the people working and playing at Crystal are nice, and it’s where I spend almost every weekend.

    My friends here ski, snowboard, or both. That ‘war’ between skiers and riders is a story from the distant past, people generally get along, and idiots or beginners on one or two planks sometimes try to run you over.

    Whether you and others LIKE snowboarding, or want to do it yourselves does not matter to me, but your post makes me feel a touch less wanted at my Happy Place by one of the people with clout. So my discomfort is related to ‘who is saying it’ in this case.

    … Second class member of the Crystal family. Not here to stay. That blemishes a tiny bit that Shiny Happy Family feeling that I have at Crystal. And now I wonder in the back of my mind how much your position of ‘not attempting CPR’ (for a continued growth of the snowboarding industry? – heck, if I cared) could bleed over into decisions made around Crystal that leads to considering snowboarders’ specific needs and wants even less, or pass on improvements that would benefit snowboarders. Hmmm.

    • Thanks for chiming in Katja. I appreciate what you’re saying. Obviously I’m not saying people should stop snowboarding. Any type of sliding on snow is good. I am simply trying to understand and articulate why so many people are switching over to skiing. This is my perspective that snowboarding seems inefficient. But skiing can be that way too.

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  13. Kim, I am a long time reader of your blog and enjoyed many well written articles. I am an expert level snowboarder and advanced skier. For me there is nothing better than surfing in powder in one plank. 3″ of fresh is enough for me to bring out my powder board and hit pretty much anything. If there are more than 6″ you can think your board as painter and mountain as a canvas. Your imagination is only the limit. As other snowboarder mentioned traversing and strapping/unstrapping are not an issue once you get fluent with board. However there are limits with snowboard, one edge and facing your fall line sideway. You cannot make precise tight turns like skis. You cannot stop as quickly as skis. When mountain is tracked out you cannot charge with no fear like skiers. All the fun factor is gone 90%. What I am doing on regular days is to bring my skis to the mountains. No one says you cannot do both. For me traversing to south back or hiking up to the King on snowboard isn’t an issue because the reward afterwards is well worth the effect. For people who are hitting mountains just a few time a season I would think skis are a better choice. For people who can time powder or go backcountry snowboard definitely wins out. For people who want to jump bigger or charge steeper go with skis. Another thing is that snowboarders don’t have to worry about knee injuries.

    Crystal has such beautiful terrains. There are so many lines that you can hit during powder days. Snow is usually drier than most other resorts in WA. I feel so lucky that Crystal is just 1.5 hours away from my home. Thank your Crystal.

    • Thanks Luke. I can appreciate your perspective, especially about the effort vs reward in Southback. The terrain at Crystal is not very board friendly, simply because of the traverses. But I avoid the traverses even on skis so it’s possible to get around them. Looks like snow is back in the forecast. Will you be on skis or your board this weekend?

      • The trick is to keep the speed and a little bit planning. Even if I have to unstrap or walk it’s not the end of world. I would take my time and enjoy the mountain views. There is no need to hurry and you can always find fresh stashes. For me having one perfect run is more fun than 10 mediocre runs. I will take my time and hike up to the perfect spot before drop in. There are only fewer runs that you can remember for life time.

        I am in Kicking Horse resort now and will be back just in time for Saturday powder. I don’t think Crystal is board unfriendly. Talking about board unfriendly come here to Kicking Horse. There is no way to traverse over the mountain ridges on board. Once you take off board you are in great danger falling into no fall zone.

  14. I’m a homebody. Crystal is my mountain and I’m a season pass holder. I’ve been snowboarding for 21 years, and I’m 45 years old now. I’m a high school teacher. I AM that guy who kids look at and say “YOU snowboard???” Additionally, I don’t know enough about other mountains to mouth off about whether Crystal is better or worse for snowboarding than some other place.

    I’ve also considered skiing in recent years, knowing that the gear is so much better and able to make my time on the snow fun. I made my wife upgrade and it multiplied her fun enormously. But every time I think about trying to ski, I find it so much easier to simply strap on that board and go. The problem is that I hate feeling incompetent (which is why I’ve never been attracted to golf, for instance) and so I can’t say when I’ll actually start skiing again. I’ve got a limited schedule and don’t want to deal with a learning curve, and even on the I-5 traverse I’ve just accepted the suffering as the way of things. (BTW, in the Southback, just climb the Thrown and ride off the back on your way to the King…WAY simpler!) I guess when I’m old enough and infirm enough that snowboarding is too physically demanding, I’ll put skis on. Until then, I ride.

    With all that said…I don’t take offense at Kim’s article. I actually get it. Snowboarding isn’t for everyone, and there’s enough bad unathletic riders out there that it’s obvious that some of them really should try something easier (and there are days, believe me, when I AM one of those bad unathletic riders, but most of the time that’s due to being the kind of idiot who didn’t cinch down his left boot or something stupid like that in a hurry to keep up with Wife and her new awesome ski gear.)

    Snowboarding couldn’t be the hot new thing forever, however, I do suspect news of its demise is premature. None of it matters as long as they continue to allow me to ride.

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  16. Despite your creative writing this article is so perfectly inline with the anti-snowboarding vibe that Crystal Mountain has had since day 1 it’s comical.

    I’m guessing you won’t approve this comment. πŸ˜€

    • NW Bro,

      That’s a common opinion. But not true. Crystal is owned and operated by the same company that runs Brighton and The Summit at Snoqualmie–two very snowboard-dominated areas. Crystal does have snowboard-challenging terrain, but much of the staff rides.

      • What made you guys decide to stop enforcing leashes a couple years ago when everyone else in the world realized they were pointless 10 years ago? I remember getting hassled so bad for that.

        Most bindings don’t even come with leashes anymore.

        That in itself was an “anti-snowboard vibe” indicator.

        Thank god you guys are on USFS land or i’m sure you would have shut’er down for us knuckle draggers long ago.

        For all you shred heads out there new to the NW, Crystal is sick. Definitely worth putting up with the formerly frequent, now occasional old school, anti-snowboarding BS.

  17. OK, lets start this ish out…. Read your article and my first thought was this chick said wha. Riding sideways will always be second nature to many considering theres a grip of other off season preps sand,wake,skate,kite,surf,freeboard,longboard,paddleboard(does that count though cause ur forward) wutever u get the point its a lifestyle and some of us live it like chuck norris on a total gym. skis are faster no doubt but i can mob and pass some skiers with ease who are in total tuck formation(priceless). Ive never got the if it were easy call it snowboarding line, who came up with that must have been johhny mosley huh, were not the ones holding bright construction orange saftey poles hmm. Sking will always be number one cause it was first no doubt, but what do you do in the offseason besides rolling blading and or roller derby? Anyways this could go on for days, and it will cause true riders aint going NO where yo and you can spell check that to the bank … I agree some of the things you point out do affect allot of snowboarders, mostly newbs,but with time,pain, and practice those lilttle flowers will prosper into lil rippers lol..By the way the coolest thing in the world to me is seeing the 2 yr olds riding down the hill ripping on a board taller than them, give them 10-15yrs and they are going the be shredingggggggggg .The slopes are over crowded as it is so it dont bother me, i dont know why people dont start taking up water polo or racquetball or something.. Maybe you should set up a course and test kinda like a drivers license so some people can operate on the snow, but we all had to start somewhere rite?. Ive met some cool skiers and some not so cool middle aged man fanny pack wearing rain gear skiers and ive chilled with some rad riders and some not so click in hard boot riders. I saw a board patroller the other day,i was like wtf did you steal that jacket oh gotta love it…its all about the passion as ive heard before, im wraping this up like kate stacks or im gonna be out like dave chappelle.

    this just my rant nothing personal, i appreciate what all the ski patrols do day in and day out, we all got the same passion..and in the end are all brought together for the same reasons.

    • Westcoast,

      Thanks for your .02. I enjoyed reading your comment; I can hear your voice through your writing. Sounds like you’re a dedicated snowboarder, and that’s awesome. I think most of the riders I’m talking about are intermediates. They haven’t yet figured out how to keep their speed going. For them, the board seems like a bad fit.

  18. Sounds like some bitter old skier who tried snowboarding once, fell, and threw up. You also forgot to complain how snowboarders make moguls. Without snowboard punks there wouldn’t be any moguls. Just Sayin.

    • Bob,

      You have me pegged. I am a skier (although not too bitter, and not admitting to being too old, not yet anyways) who fell and threw up. Am I part of a larger demographic that I didn’t even know about? If so, that’s awesome. Maybe there could be a support group for people like me. But first we’d need an acronym. I wonder if BOSTTUS is taken? Bitter Old Skiers That Threw Up Snowboarding. It’s catchy, isn’t it? BOSTTUS’s Unite!

  19. Uh-oh, the name-calling is starting. ***fetches some popcorn***
    I laughed when I read your ‘poking fingers into other people’s eyes’ line.

  20. my 02 cents,

    I think the down turn to snowboarding is more based on incomes, technology, and families that wear turtle necks. I’ve been sliding on snow in Washington my whole life on both skis and snowboards. I have worked in the ski industry since 92′ working a few of those years at Crystal. During the biggest growth of snowboarding, the average cost of a snowboard setup was a lot cheaper then a ski set-up, lift tickets were more reasonable in price too. The learning curve on a snowboard was leaps a head of learning on a pair of 205 straight shooters. And once you get past the concept of how edges work, you could go from whiplash to slashing in no time. You didn’t have to change the way you ride in variable condition like you would have to with straight skis. Learning to ski on hard pack groomers was a lot different from learning how to ski in 2ft of powder, I used to ski with a lot of hard chargers on hard pack, but once they got in the soft stuff they looked like it was their second day on the hill. The simplicity of a snowboard set-up and the fast learning curve really made it that much more appealing to start, that and you don’t look like a robot when you walk.

    I think one of biggest changes to the growth of snowboarding was when snowboard shops started asking manufactures for the same margin on products that ski shops were getting on skis. Then you have bigger resort companies buying smaller ski resort increasing the price of lift tickets to pay for upgrades at their higher end resorts(pass money goes to crystal), making it that much harder for the average income family to enjoy riding lifts. At the beginning snowboarding wasn’t a super gear oriented sport making it the cheaper option for riding lifts. In the last 10-15 years prices for snowboard gear moved into the realm of the turtle neck families that already were anti-snowboarding and in no way were they going to let their children drag knuckles. So if you add the turtle neck factor in and the overall increasing cost of snowboarding equipment it easy to see why snowboarding is on the decline. Now if you look at the changes in ski technology and how much easier it is to ski in all condition plus the turtle neck family factor no doubt that snowboarding is down in sales.

    Snowboarding is still hands down the closest you can get to the snow you’re sliding on. The robot factor really limits the connection you have with the snow and if you never got to that level of riding then I could see why you went back to skiing. The efficiency gap is a lot smaller with people that understand how to work with the terrain on a snowboard. Unfortunately, we are a society of sheep that like trends, I think the new shapes in skis, the cost of sliding down a hill and the families that are driving up to the slopes these days has really change the landscape back to a the elitist foundation the sport was founded on. But I would rather have to unstrap a foot to get to the goods then ski with plastic vices on each foot making perfect wiggles down the hill. I would trade a thousand ski wiggles in powder for three good snowboard turns in the same snow. I guess the one good thing about the decline to snowboarding is that most skiers still don’t ride terrain the same and are more worried about making perfect wiggles down a blank canvas then riding the mountain and all it features. I can still make some turns that make memories even if I don’t get first chair on a snowboard.


  21. looks like you’ve figured out how to get your comment count up. nice work. blog post itself not awesome. stay on the clown wire (ie lift) where you can maintain your elitist attitude. perfect for you and hubby’s work.

    i’ll be lapping your hard boot skiing kin on the skin track. how’s that for inefficient?


  22. Hahaha, the classic story of crashing on a cat track. πŸ˜‰ Everytime I watch a snowboarder crash on a cat track trying to riding straight I want to explain him/her how to get it right. I can’t remember how often I made a face plant when I started to figure out the reasons. The problem with going straight with a board is that you are standing sideways on it, so your upper and lower body tend to be twisted and this tension tries to turn the board when layed flat on the snow.
    So here are the solutions: keep your shoulders as parallel as possible to the board (turn your head instead of your upper body), counter rotate your hips against the shoulder rotation, load your back feet and keep it pushing to the back side. I never crashed again since I realized this. To maximize speed I’m laying the board flat and make myself small by putting my butt down to the board.

    After snowboarding for over 15 years I was looking for something new and as I tend to mostly hitting the groomers / slopes I decided to learn to ski this season. After one week of learning it starts working for me and I can now say that for most slope conditions the skis are more suitable and especially on hard pack and ice it’s more fun. Although I’m good at keeping the speed with the board there are several situations on flat parts were only a few pole pushes help you out on skis whereas you are stopping on a board. There is only one thing I miss: the comfort of soft boots!

  23. Well Kim. I will take my snowboarding and skis to Stevens Pass aand Alpensmall and free your burden of sharing the slopes you own. You represent skiers very well I might add.

    • Sharing the slopes with boarders is not a burden. I’m just offering my .02 on why this segment of the Snowsports industry is on the decline. But of course you’re welcome to take your business anywhere you please.

  24. Pingback: This Proves it: Skiers Make Better Lovers | Kim Kircher

  25. Wow. The higher ups at Crystal will probably love this story bashing a significant amount of your paying customers. Way to go Kim. I am all for bringing back the war between skiers and snowboarders. It was cooler when you all hated us. Thanks for firing the first shot!

  26. Old people are mean. Sounds like you used to be cool, now your just an old fuddy duddy. Even with all the strapping in and out of my snowboard it still more fun than skiing. Our crew usually have a skier or two, and they don’t complain like you. I take umbrage at this type of attitude and writing, it serves no one, only your ego. Everyone is entitle to their opinion, so here is mine: you should move to SLC and patrol at Alta.

    I can mail you all of my leftover hardware (ACL screws) from my 2 ski related knee surgeries if you need to check my credibility. I used to ski race and still think DH & SG racing is the best thing on the mountain (resort).

    You can also thank us for saving the Ski Industry in the 1990’s and bringing twin-tips, wide boards, deep side-cut and stylish tricks to skiers.

    • Ouch Pedro. Once again you’ve misunderstood my original post. You guys are so touchy. Sheesh. I like snowboarding. But it isn’t easy. The entire industry seems to be questioning why snowboarding is on the decline. This post is a reaction to the studies recently discussed in the media. My point is that maybe the promise of an easy way to get on the slopes is false. All that strapping and unstrapping and crab walking actually is pretty inefficient. Of course this doesn’t apply to experts, only beginners and intermediates.

  27. Seems kind of a pointless article. Skiing was on the decline in the late 80’s and throughout most of the 90’s. It didn’t wither up and die, neither will snowboarding. It’s a sport reaching it’s maturity level. There was bound to be some pull back at some point. It’s not going anywhere. It’ll have it’s ups and downs just like skiing has had throughout it’s history.

  28. the trouble with blogs..

    is that they’re unprofessional. They can be written, published, read and circulated without any due diligence on the part of the author.

    I think we should let bad blogs slowly decline and not attempt CPR.

  29. Perhaps snowboarding took off because it was easy to learn. The joke was always, β€œIf it were easy, it would be called snowboarding.”

    This is the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard. I’ve done it all… Skied, surfed, sled dogged, skateboarded, long boarded, inline skated, you name it i have done it (and done it at a high level). None of those things were more difficult to pick up then snowboarding. With that being said none of the previously listed sports has been as rewarding either.

    I don’t believe any of those numbers quoted but lets say hypothetically they are true. What are you missing from your life that would make you write a blog post attempting to dance on the grave of a very popular sport??

  30. Yeah. He just told you that he did.

    Skateboarding saw a decline in the early 90’s, then it came back bigger than ever. The recent drop off that you cite may very well lead to a massive explosion of riders in a few years.

    One thing is for certain, the mountains don’t care, they’ll be here long after you’re gone, and so will snowboarders.

  31. Snowboarder here. Your arguments are wrong in almost every way, but there is a specific reason why – you haven’t snowboarded! You may “think” you have snowboarded, but if all you did was strap on a board for a few hours ONE TIME, then you have not snowboarded. Snowboarding takes weeks, months, YEARS to master, and your problem was you let your ego get bruised because you were used to being a good skier and wanted to be good right away. Your experience with falling and immediately giving up for good just points out you didn’t give snowboarding a fair shot. Nobody is saying it is easy. When you learn, you need to accept the fact that you are going to fall many times until you get the hang of it. If you can’t deal with the learning curve, the very least you could do is not open your mouth and pretend to have opinions on experiences you know nothing about.

    Of course there are downsides to snowboarding, and I hate traversing long, flat cat tracks and such, but it’s also a ton of fun. Fun that you haven’t had on a snowboard because you never gave it a real chance to begin with. You had preconceived notions about what snowboarding “is”, who snowboarders “are”, and how snowboarding should “work”. I have seen this exact attitude many times and it ALWAYS comes down to the person in question not giving it a real commitment.

    If you spend an entire season snowboarding and actually commit to learning it properly, I would be curious to hear your revised opinions about the differences, rather than just wild speculation about what it “must be like” to snowboard. Have some journalistic integrity.

    Also, please don’t mistake this post as an attack on your person, this post is not ad hominem and I’m sure you’re an otherwise intelligent human.

    • Brennan,

      I probably wasn’t very clear in my original post. I spent two seasons snowboarding, before I took that fall. Even then, I thought I would give it another try. But then fat skis came on the scene, thanks to snowboarding, and I was back in love again. What is interesting to me, is how so many of the readers of this post are taking it the wrong way. People seem to think this is an attack against snowboarding. It is not. It is merely an attempt to understand why snowboarding is a declining sport. Thanks for adding that you’re not attacking me as a person. That’s a nice contrast from some of the earlier comments I didn’t approve, ones that called me some pretty awful names.

      • I think that’s a pretty major omission if you have indeed snowboarded for 2 years. In your original post you say this about your snowboarding experience:

        “I’ve tried snowboarding. I actually liked it. When the snow is soft, maybe even a little heavy, a wide snowboard stays on top, troweling the snow like it’s putty. But then I caught my downhill edge on a cat track, flopped onto my stomach and threw up my lunch. That was the end of my short snowboarding career.”

        The way this is written, it makes it sound like you gave up very quickly (“short snowboarding career”) after a few good wipe outs. I apologize if I missed some details somewhere that said you had been snowboarding for two seasons. Even still, I fail to see why taking a hard fall would end your snowboarding career? Falls happen. I’ve been riding 10 years now and occasionally I wipe out, it just happens. That’s part of the risk/reward that comes with the territory. It just seems like you weren’t really invested and you were doing it more as an experiment.

        I also think your perspective is almost entirely shaped by the mountain you ride. If you get out to the midwest, you will see it’s usually about 60/40 snowboarders/skiers. And of course, there are many mountains that are more suited to snowboarding than the examples you have cited. Does that mean I’m saying snowboarding is not on the decline? Not necessarily, but my point is there is a bigger picture that you didn’t even acknowledge.

        I find it odd that your entire thesis is basically “A snowboard is an inefficient tool”, as stated in your opener. That is a true statement. However this doesn’t take into account the fact that “efficiency” is not the goal of snowboarding and never has been. If snowboarding is truly declining, efficiency is not the reason. I will be the first to say that strapping in/out all the time and traversing flat areas is tedious, and there are several scenarios when I know perfectly well that skiing would be easier, but I also know that I have never matched the feelings I get snowboarding on a pair of skis.

        • Well said. You’re right. It’s not all about efficiency. But I’d looked around recently and saw a lot of people struggling. I’d even spoke to some snowboarders on the lift that loved the powder part, but not the rest. Earlier someone made a comment about skiing in certain conditions being very inefficient, namely deep guanch, breakable crust and buggy whips (little trees sticking out of the snow). I’d want to be on a board under those conditions too.

          As for the confusion about my “short snowboarding career”, I didn’t feel like two years was enough to consider myself very good. I repeatedly admit, I liked snowboarding. But ultimately I didn’t stick with it because of all the flats and traverses at my home mountain. That and I couldn’t snowboard on patrol. We take only skiers because of avalanche control–cornice kicking and ski-cutting to name a few reasons. But we do have boarders on our volley patrol, and they seem to do okay.

  32. You mad eme laugh with your comments. haha Snowboarding isn’t going anywhere, it will have its ups and downs just like skiing. Both skiing and snowboarding have there downfalls, but probably your biggest problem is the mountain you ski at. Crystal is about the biggest piece of crap for a mountain I have ever ridden. The weather is bad more days than not. The snow is as wet as i’ve ever ridden. Don’t get me wrong, the mountain has great terrain, but its worthless if you’re soaking wet and riding the worst snow on the planet. So needless to say snowboarding isn’t going anywhere and crystal is a bad resort/ that is all. πŸ™‚

  33. The sport isn’t really in “decline” it’s maturing. The first or first two generations of snowboarders are in their 30’s and 40’s now, they have kids, families, 9-5 jobs working 40-50 hours per week. Whereas skiing has a 75+ year commercial history in the US, snowboarding has been around for less than half that time, and widely accepted for only about 25 years. Let’s see where the sport is, 30 years from now when my generation’s kids have kids of their own, all of whom were raised on a board πŸ™‚

  34. You fell on a cat track and threw up your lunch, consequently quitting? Pussy. Maybe that’s why you hate snowboarding

    • Ha. You’re right about the pussy thing. But I don’t hate snowboarding. Maybe I should put that in all caps. Followed by ten exclamation points. Plus a few sad-faced emoticons.

  35. Soft boots but opening straps versus hard boots and no strapping ? I’ll take the soft boots please and my feet will thank me for it too. Maybe snowboards are just more durable than skis ?

  36. Hi Kim,

    Interesting article. I dont really agree with what you have to say though. I could be right or I could be wrong.

    I’m a snowboarder myself. I’ve been doing it since I was 24. I’m 25 now ( <—you picked up the sarcasm right? lol)

    I've never been on a pair of skis but I keep pushing myself on the board and never run into the problems you describe in your article (strapping & unstrapping, hiking, etc). They can all be avoided and managed well with experience.

    I think your argument about kids not doing it because their parents are doing it, is total malarkey. Everyone knows snowboarding is a little riskier. Maybe parents are saying "you should learn to ski before you snowboard?" Who knows. But you state your opinion with this essence of 'i can't be wrong', which is why i think you were drawing so many negative comments.

    As for the numbers, maybe they do show that snowboarding has hit a standstill. I don't believe the articles say snowboarding is in decline. I think they say something more along the lines of "snowboarding hit its peak and is now receding". Which makes sense. Keep in mind, snowboarding and skiing are both expensive sports. The economy isn't in great shape so people can't afford to enjoy the slopes as much as they used to. Maybe skiing families are still going strong because skiing has a longer history and more established culture.

    Like I said before I could be wrong. You have your opinion and I have mine. But as a new snowboarder who loves it and is getting all his friends into it, I just think your opinion is a little misguided.

    To me it just sounds like you're excited the sport might be struggling. Personally I think that both sports should help one another out.

    I have more to say but I have to get back to work.

    Ski/ Ride On!

    (sorry if my grammar sucks! I didn't proof read!)

    • All good points Chris. Except I disagree that snowboarding is risker. As a ski patroller, I see more serious ski accidents than snowboard accidents. But I don’t know the stats off the top of my head. I’d guess that the risks are about equal. I think parents want their kids to ski first because they see snowboarding as a fringe sport and skiing as the mainstream sport. I don’t see it that way. Snowboarding is as mainstream now as skiing is. I could have written another post about how perhaps it’s the very fact that snowboarding isn’t as fringe as it once was that’s causing the so-called “decline” these articles and studies are pointing to. What I’m most surprised at is the reaction to this post. I now wish I’d added a little more of my own insight into it, and clarified who I was talking about. As a kindness to the anonymous snowboarder mentioned in my post, I avoided saying she was an intermediate/beginner. Like you said, many of the inefficiencies of the sport are solved with experience. But the reaction from expert snowboarders has been telling. They obviously think I’m talking about them, which I’m not. Dedicated snowboarders are going to continue riding. Perhaps the decline in the sport will be seen by those who got into the sport thinking it would be easy to learn and now realize that negotiating flats and buckling in and out make it harder than expected. These are beginners I’m talking about here. My “opinion” is more like an observation, limited to my home mountain, and lead by the recent stories on the “demise of snowboarding”. If you just scan my post, you might even think I’d written these articles, or think that snowboarding is easy, or that it’s dying. My voice tends to be sarcastic, and those that don’t know me could probably take it the wrong way. Lesson learned.

  37. Maybe you should figure out how to write an article on the efficiency of skiing without slandering another sport. Because you know…going up and down the same mountain constantly is such an efficient use of time when you think about it…zero displacement. Snowboarding is an efficient tool for fun and exercise, we’re not up there looking to commute down the hill in record time and perfect form. My problem with you is that you couldn’t highlight the positive aspects of your sport without slandering another and making ignorant predictions about its demise. I would have thought that a mature female such as yourself would be beyond writing childish troll bait comprised of high school level logical fallacies and errors in critical thinking.

  38. Maybe I’m an elitist but as a snowboarder for almost 30 years I personally don’t care about any “decline” in snowboarding with regard to any sort of measurable metric related to rider participation numbers or rider days. As long as the equipment continues to improve, I’m happy with the state of the sport in general.

    Regarding the inefficiency of snowboards on traverse lines and such, this is a fact that any rider who has felt the freedom of slashing a steep pow line on a board is willing to live with. As a long-time local, I know how to pillage Crystal’s many steep fall-line runs without doing much of the traversing, and I know where all the best entries and exits are for snowboarding. But I sympathize with the girl who got stuck in the flats because when I go to another mountain I am easily facing the same issue if I don’t know the topography.

    Splitboards solve many of the problems with true backcountry access (and from experience they are nice for accessing sidecountry like Avalanche and Silver Basins). As the inbounds runs get beat to shreds on weekends, many of head out to the back basins on our splitboards. But I know from personal experience that snowboarders can have their share of untracked inbounds lines on a deep day. Just watch for me on Monday or Tuesday, if I’ve got a full-blown powderbeard you’ll know I’ve gotten my share.

    One more thing regarding the inefficiency. You mentioned the “strapping, unstrapping, crowhopping, crab walking” as problems but I would argue that these problems are created by the ski industry. On a weekday with no lift lines I could (and sometimes do) lap every lift at Crystal (with exceptions of Northway and Chair 6) without unstrapping. I could do this all day long but the lift operations crew always stops me (and the others of us in the B-Lot Boys crew who do this) at some point and say it’s “not allowed”. So supposedly this is a rule at Crystal? I’ve never seen it posted of course, but overzealous lifties inherently enforce this “rule” at some point if I try to slide through strapped in. Then further to the problem being created by the ski industry, when snowboarding was in its infancy the PSIAA quickly jumped in to “regulate” how snowboarding is taught and they quickly adopted many nonsensical methods that promote bad technique, the worst of which is the idea that snowboarders should sit on their butts to strap in.

    OK sorry longest comment ever. Carry on. πŸ™‚

    • I actually never saw one splitboard going Avi or Silver basin. Just carry your board and boot to the top of the Throne or King.

    • John,

      Your comment is longer than the original post. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I always thought the “can’t-be-strapped-in-on-a-chairlift rule” was industry-wide, but I agree. Not having to strap at the top and unstrap on the bottom would be much easier. Could you imagine if the lift operators made skiers take off their skis before loading the chair?

      • I lived at Mt. Baker from ’90 to ’95 and that’s where the strapping on the chairlift originated. Since everyone at Baker rips, it never poses a problem. Of course, it is midweek behavior and has no place on the weekend when the gapers are on the hill. During the week though, I’m recognizable enough that Crystal’s lift ops should just get to know me and let me slide.

  39. and i quote Ms K…”All that strapping, unstrapping, crowhopping, crab walking takes away from the turning, carving, floating and even jibbing that’s supposed to make the sport fun.But it remains to be seen if snowboarding stays cool….” Really compared to what? Digging around looking for a ski? Never seen a SNOWBOADER look for his board with a stick!!

    If the word is still out on this nearly 30 year old sport I guess its in on the 100 year sport of skiing.. ITS LAME!! It was before yall put 2 snowboards under you plastic moon boots…

    Ms Kircher your comments are ridiculous and everything i expect from a Crystal Patroller.. (the last MTn in WA in enforce Leash laws)

  40. It’s ridiculous you wasted so much energy talking down on snowboarding. Why? You are a skier, not a snowboarder, so stick to what you do and let others do what they do. There is no need to preach your thoughts on snowboarding. It’s not going to change snowboarding. People snowboard because they love the feeling it gives, efficiency doesn’t mean shit. Put away your small, closed mind, and enjoy the mountains for all that they are. Enjoy your personal time skiing in the mountains, and let others enjoy their own time. I don’t understand why you must talk down on others who are just enjoying themselves. Doesn’t matter if someone skis, snowboards, monoskis, whatever, all that matters is that they enjoy themselves.

    • Gray,

      I’m not trying to change snowboarding. Instead, I’m just trying to offer a suggestion about why people are switching to skiing, if, indeed that is the case. For the most part, I’m not talking about experts or even advanced snowboarders, which I venture to guess is the category that most readers here fit into. But for intermediates, the scootching and strapping/unstrapping seems to be a problem. At least that’s what I’ve heard from them.

      Having said that, my tone, as always if you read any other posts, can be a bit cheeky. Perhaps you misinterpreted that. If you know me, than you know that many of my friends are snowboarders, that I don’t care one way or another how you ride down the mountain, just that you do. Have a look a some of my other posts and see if you think I’m still ridiculous. If so, no worries. You don’t have to read it.

  41. Sounds like the writer has some inherent laziness that makes him think that hiking unstrapping is a burden. Some people really enjoy that part of the adventure. Nothing good comes easy.
    Theres lots of great terrain and powder out there for those that are willing to put in the extra effort. Be it skiiers or snowboaders.

    • Scott,

      First of all, I’m a woman. Second of all, thanks for commenting. I’m not lazy; I’m just noticing that intermediate snowboarders seem to have a hard time with the inefficiencies of the sport. Granted, snowsports are not all about efficiency. But since some snowboarders are switching back to skiing (at least that’s what the NSAA report suggests) then I was trying to offer my .02 about why that might be.

  42. This should be more fairly titled “The Problem with Arrogance”. The moment you claimed the very thing that makes snowboarding awesome is basically an illusion, immediately discredited you as a knowledgeable writer. This is not specific to snowboarding, but to claim this for any sport displays the height on one’s arrogance. Keep to statistics & referencing other publications as those appear to provide you with some credibility, but refrain from such egotistical & entitled statements regarding the meaning & benefits gained from snowboarding. Also, realize you have job security because of everyone who pays to play on your mountain & appreciate every paycheck. A word of advice would be to look up some examples of objective writing.

    • CJ,

      If I was writing an article for a magazine, then I would be concerned about objective writing. Since this is a blog, I can include my opinions and observations. My observation is that much of the promise of snowboarding just isn’t getting delivered. Call it mid-season blues. Call it a slow news week. But when I read that NSAA report and looked around at the ski hill, I thought, “Huh. Maybe all these inefficiencies in the sport are driving people away.” Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps my observations do not reflect the majority of the riders out there. That’s fine. It’s not a hill to die on.

  43. Kim,

    My name is Matthew Vanatta I’m the former Associate Editor of Snowboard Magazine and currently one of the head contributors at ESPN Snowboarding. I don’t know why I just told you all of that but maybe a really rich beautiful skier will thinks it’s cool and pay my rent. I really enjoyed your blog post, it’s right on point, snowboarding is inefficient, it sucks. I wish it would just go into the woods with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a crossbow and finish itself off. If you think it’s hard to bend over to strap in and unbuckle you should try to pee while strapped in, it’s terrible you are most definitely going to pee on your board and probably on the front of your pants a little bit. I mean we all end up like smelling like urine, which I heard can attract bears, which leads to bear attacks and the NSAA just released a report that said your ten times more likely to be fondled by a bear if you smell like snowboarder urine. Yikes!

    Snowboarding is totally dying, mostly because snowboards aren’t shaped like weapons, I wish they were and snowboard manufactures are finally starting to put pointer tips on them. I mean how can I hollow out a deer carcass to sleep in with a snowboard? That’s why I duct tape knives to my tip and tail, which has raised my efficiency level at least thirty percent. I wish they would have a MMA fight where the fighters could use snowboards as weapons, this would do two things, make snowboards awesome again, and get us back on Fuel TV! Imagine that. I would also suggest making snowboards that shoot paint balls, there’s no practical application for that, but it would be awesome.

    Before I quit skiing completely I was at Deer Valley, that one place that doesn’t allow snowboarders in Utah, my parents forced me to go and since it was before I bought my first set of throwing stars my step dad could still beat me up. When I was there I watched Tony Danza crash into a tree, it look like it hurt really bad, but luckily everyone there was rich white doctors, so even though the tree was definitely the boss that day he lived. I guess skiing wasn’t that efficient for him.

    Again I really liked your post, keep up the good work. I’m going to submit it for some blog awards, I hope you win.


    Matty V

    • Matty,

      Thanks for this. I think you spent more time on writing this comment than I spent on writing this post. Glad to see I’m not the only one wielding the sarcasm sword. However, I wish I’d spent a little more time crafting my post, as I’m pretty sure it makes me look like a snowboarding hating ass. But oh well. You can’t squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube, apparently.

  44. It’s amazing that this thread going on and on. Nothing seems valuable to readers but bashing the author. It’s a fact that snowboarding is less popular compared to skiing. Just look at the number of ski lessons versus snowboard lessons and you will have a clue. Anyway please just close this one for further comments. Maybe a different topic might be more interesting e.g. which one is easier to get you down steep slopes gracefully, skis or snowboard? or which is easier to reach expert level?

  45. I’m glad we have more snowboarders switching to skiing! Maybe we won’t have some many narrow minded people on the slopes! Remember we’re all out for the same fun and snowboarding will always be around!