Why Do Skiers and Snowboarders Dislike Each Other?

Skiers enjoy slopes at Glenshee Ski Center on Feb. 8, 2013, in Glenshee, Scotland.

Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

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Answer by Simon Crump, learned to snowboard in 2000 and never put on a pair of skis since:

Of course some snowboarders are jerks, just like some skiers are jerks, some cyclists are jerks, some landscape gardeners are jerks, and some watercolor artists are jerks. There isn’t much of a correlation between how someone chooses to slide down a mountain and his or her overall level of assholeness.

It’s likely that most people who perceive snowboarders as obnoxious are skiers, because historically there has been some friction between skiers and snowboarders. This friction derives from a lack of understanding about each other’s sports and a frustration with the impact it has on other slope users. Skiers complain about novice snowboarders “scraping the snow off the mountain,” and snowboarders complain about skiers turning in the same place to form moguls. It might be more insightful to ask resort staff such as lift-operators, rental shop staff, and restaurant workers whether snowboarders are any more obnoxious than skiers. I wager the answer would be no.

My wife and I were both skiers before we learned how to snowboard, and in the course of going on a number of chalet holidays, we’ve spent quite a bit of our time traveling around the mountain with groups of skiers. Consequently, we have spoken to lots of skiers about their prejudices. Most of them are pretty cool, but a very small minority of narrow-minded (and ultimately obnoxious) individuals have expressed desires not to have snowboarders in their parties. Their principle justification for this is a fear of being involved in collisions with snowboarders, usually expressed by skiers who themselves are not particularly competent. I have educated such skiers that snowboarders naturally prefer wider turns and that they should avoid overtaking snowboarders on their blind sides. It’s amazing how few of them would have thought of that on their own.

The demographic lines between skiers and snowboarders have been blurred over the last 20 years. It is no longer the case that snowboarders are all teenage dirtbags with no respect for authority looking to tear up the slopes or that skiers are just their arrogant, privileged, white, middle-class parents who like throwing their money around in mountain restaurants. Snowboarders are growing up and getting older, and there are lots of crazy youngsters exploring skiing. Skiers and snowboarders for the most part have come to understand each other, and the old stereotypes no longer apply.

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