Snowskating from Snowboarding/Skateboarding

Apr 22, 2018 · 4 min read

Wanted to quickly jot down my first thoughts after trying snowskating for the first time.

For context, I’ve been snowboarding casually for ~10 years and occassionally skateboard on cruiser wheels for transportation for ~2 years. The snowskate I’m using is a Lib-Tech 39" (mainly because I liked Magne-Traction on the snowboard though the serration is super super mellow on the snowskate ski).

It’s not like pushing on a skateboard

Probably one of my bigger surprises since I thought it might be a big improvement on pushing sideways on a snowboard. But it turned out not as easy as pushing on a skateboard. Instead of wheels that turns along one axis, your ski is flat and therefore can slide in any direction and you can’t apply enough torque without bindings to keep one edge of the ski dug in.

For comparison it might feel more like pushing on a skateboard with a sphere instead of trucks and wheels.

Need to pay a lot of attention to stance

Remember that feeling of getting used to the new stance the first few minutes after you re-adjusted your bindings width and angle? You might get to re-live that experience every few seconds :)

The deck is both grippier than I expected (shifting your front foot between a push stance and a ride stance) and looser than I expected (with the foot constantly ended up in a slightly different position when going fast and through bumps).

And as expected, small changes in the stance changes controls a lot. The amount of leverage needed can suddenly go up exponentially if your foot is no longer centered on the board.

It’s probably a bit more dangerous

You fall less since you can just hop off and catching an edge is less harmful since the board isn’t acting like an anchor anymore turning all your velocity into torque, swinging your head towards the floor.

But unlike skis that fall off only after your first (and most dangerous) impact, if you take air time and lose the board, you might eat the blade in your face or on your knee etc. This definitely worries a bit when riding.

There are way more dimensions of control

There’s definitely more nuance (especially on the toeside) where your ankle and toes muscles now control very different things than on a snowboard and on a skateboard.

Mainly, you can now independently control speed by tilting your edge more into the snow and your turning radius by leaning your more or less of your body weight into the tilted edge.

In comparison, on a skateboard, turning the trucks don’t directly affect your speed. The axle width is way wider and your bushing takes up a lot of that pressure anyway.

On a snowboard, it would take monumental force to dig one edge into the snow without the matching speed and the centrifugal force to carry you. Ski boots also make it impossible to twist your ankle sideways to put one edge of the ski into the snow without using your whole body.

Since the snowskate has the narrowest ‘axle width’ equivalent, is top heavy to start with, and can be tilted independently from your speed and your body’s angle using just your feet and ankle muscles, many more interesting things happen. For instance, in the middle of a turn, you can suddenly gain or lose speed very quickly by digging the edge more or less into the snow with your ankle.

It’s possibly more like a forward-swept wing plane. Simultaneously more unstable and more control vs a traditional plane.

It’s easier and harder than I expected

It was easier than I thought to stay on the board at speed. I was surprisingly able to do blues without falling after one day. The shorter 39" ski definitely helps with turns to keep the speed in check. The shorter ski also means the maximum speed isn’t that high which helps. I’d say 75% of snowboarding skills are transferable so it’s possible to get a head start.

On the harder side, I expect the added dimension of controls and the ‘impermanence’ of the stance mentioned above to be a big challenge for getting better. Subtle shifts of your foot from bumps can suddenly make you need to relearn controls every few seconds. Combine that with the difficulty of re-shifting your foot on the fly at speed and the fact that there are more nuances in the control further compounds the difficulty.

Everything feels like powder

Somewhat expected since your whole body weight is on a single ski that’s shorter than a typical skier’s ski. And your front foot is pretty close to the tip of the ski itself too. Might need to stay in an asymmetrical stance in the back to avoid plunging into the snow in the front.


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