Are Skis Faster Than Snowboards?

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Which is faster, skiing or snowboarding? It’s a topic that has been discussed in many ski resorts and one that often leads to some heated debate.

Fortunately, we know the answer. If you’re currently in the midst of a skiing vs snowboarding argument and desperately need an answer, check out the following guide.

Are Skiers Faster Than Snowboarders?

If you’re on the side of snowboarders in this argument, it’s time to eat some humble pie, as skiers are faster.

The fastest speed on skis was set by Ivan Origone of Italy in 2016. He moved at an astonishing 158MPH, just a little faster than the quickest female skier (Valentina Greggio) who recorded a speed of 153 MPH.

For comparison, most Formula 1 cars have a top speed of just over 220 MPH, giving you an idea of just how blisteringly fast these two skiers were going.

As for snowboarders, the fastest speed was set by Edmond Plawczyk, who was recorded at an astonishing 126 MPH. It’s still very quick, but it’s not quite as fast as the aforementioned skiing records.

Incidentally, Plawczyk beat the previous record by a fraction, even though it had been set 16 years earlier. This suggests that snowboarders are not going to get anywhere near the speed of skiers anytime soon.

It should be noted that these speeds are rare and attained by experienced professionals under very specific conditions. Just because you moved very quickly down a steep slope at your local ski resort doesn’t mean you got anywhere near these speeds.

In fact, both of these records put all other winter sports to shame, including the average speeds set during the bobsleigh and skeleton events. Athletes in these events move down steep slopes at lightning velocities and yet they only reach average speeds of 100 MPH.

Are Beginner Snowboarders Faster Than Beginner Skiers?

We have established that world record-breaking skiers can reach faster speeds than world record-breaking snowboarders. But what about beginners who aren’t riding the fastest slopes with the most aerodynamic equipment?

Skiers still come out on top. It’s much easier to maintain your balance and keep your center of mass between the skis. As a snowboarder, you have to deal with it shifting to the edge and if you don’t have good edge control, you will create more friction and slow down.

Beginners also tend to feel more comfortable on skis and, as a result, they are more inclined to go quickly.

Why Are Skis Faster Than Snowboards?

There are several reasons why skiers move quicker than snowboarders.

Firstly, skis are longer than snowboards, giving them more surface area. This helps to create an even weight distribution, which produces more speed.

When skiers move, they place their weight on multiple edges as opposed to a single surface. This reduces drag and allows a pair of skis to reach greater speeds than a snowboard.

Are Skis Quick Through Turns?

Some people have argued that snowboarders look more effortless when turning and, as a result, must be retaining more speed.

Firstly, it’s all relative. A professional snowboarder might look pretty effortless when carving, but the same can’t be said for a complete beginner who looks like they are always one wobble away from wiping out.

Secondly, while skiers might not look like they are moving as quickly, the reality is that they are.

As noted above, snowboarders place their weight on a single surface when turning. Skiers have two skis and so they are not placing all of their weight on a single edge.

It’s also easier for skiers to maintain their balance and this adds to their overall speed.

Does it Effect Jumps?

As you might expect, skiers can jump higher than snowboarders. Not only do they move quicker, but the improved surface area and control means they can launch faster and jump higher.

The world record ski jump is 832 feet and was set by Stefan Kraft. That’s the equivalent of over two and a half football pitches!

Does it Matter?

The most important question in all of this is whether any of it matters.

The answer? Of course not!

Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or professional, it’s unlikely that that extra MPH will make much of a difference to you.

On the off-chance that you find yourself stuck in a 1980s movie and you’re challenged to a straight line race at a ski resort, remember to choose the skis over the snowboard.

For everyone else, just choose the one that feels right to you.

And remember, it’s not all about going as quickly as you can. Skiing and snowboarding injuries become more common at greater speeds. If you don’t have the skills or experience to handle those speeds, stick with a leisurely pace.

Are Skis Better Than Snowboards?

Are skis better than a snowboard? Not really. It’s not all about speed, after all.

To some, it might be about burning more calories. To others, it’s all about looking cool or emulating a certain winter sports idol. To others, it’s about tackling the biggest mountain, making the biggest jump, or embracing the biggest challenge.

It all comes down to your style, preference, and how you like to have fun.

Regardless of your chosen sport, remember to buy the right equipment, learn the basics, stay safe, and have fun!

Summary: Skiers vs Snowboarders

To summarize:

  • Skiers move faster than snowboarders in a straight line and through turns
  • The fastest-ever speed set by a skier is a good 20% more than the fastest speed set by a snowboarder
  • A pair of skis have more surface area and utilize two edges through turns
  • Both snowboards and skis can move very quickly in the right conditions