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Why Longboarding is Not Like Snowboarding

One thing I want to make clear, while snowboarding is my first love, I love to longboard too. Even though there aren’t a lot of similarities, there is one important overlap that makes it worth doing both. First I’ll cover the basics of both and then cover boards that have  more crossover to snowboarding, of which I also have a lot of experience.

Longboarding is not really like snowboarding because:

  • Unlike a longboard, you’re strapped to a snowboard. You can’t bail on a snowboard.
  • Even though there are some basic similarities, turning is very different. It’s a completly different mechanic.
  • Being skilled at longboarding doesn’t mean snowboarding is easier to learn.

Most likely if you’re reading this article, you either snowboard or longboard and are looking to get into the other sport, since I don’t know specifically which is the case for you, I’m going to give a brief overview of both.

Snowboarding VS Longboarding Learning Phase

longboard vs snowboard

The basics of snowboarding and longboarding are very different. Both have a learning curve, but snowboarding has a much steeper learning curve compared to longboarding.

Snowboarding Beginning Phases of Learning

  1. Heelside: Sliding down the hill sideways on your heelside edge, leafing back and forth slowly
  2. Toeside: Sliding down the hill sideways and backwards on your toeside edge, again leafing back and forth
  3. Turns and carving: This is connecting your heelside slide to your toeside slide by turning or rotating the board from one edge, to center (no edge), to the other edge. 

This is the crux of snowboarding. Being able to do the above is the foundation for everything else, carving, jumps, rails, air, halfpipe, park in general, rallycross, wherever your snowboarding journey takes you, it starts with the above.

There are plenty of people who get really good at the basics, fall in love with that, and just focus on doing those all day on the slopes, and have an absolute blast doing it, that’s totally fine and a valid expression of the sport. 

Longboarding Phases of Learning

There’s a bit less standardization here, but this is my recommended order:

  1. Pushing: Kicking against the ground with one foot and then placing that foot back on the board until you lose momentum. Repeat.
  2. Turning: Uses totally different mechanics than snowboarding, on a longboard turning is mostly just leaning forward and back with a little bit of foot movement
  3. Foot brake: Once you have the basic feel for your board and know how to push or kick, this should be how you come to a stop, and it is the safest way to do so. While some beginners think the way to stop is by riding into grass to slow down, or by jumping and running, or by slamming the nose of your board into a curb, this is not the right or safe way to slow down or stop, and should be avoided whenever possible.

That’s it, that’s the basics of longboarding. It certainly doesn’t stop there and there are different paths you can take like learning to dance, learning to pump, street tricks, rails, and sliding

Do Longboarding Skills Transfer Over to Snowboarding and vice versa?

As expressed above, not really. Even the skills that you think would be the same like turning/carving, they use really different mechanics on one board vs the other. Despite this, there are plenty of boards out there with similar mechanics. 

What Board Is Most Like Snowboarding?

So as I’ve established above, longboarding skills do not really carry over to snowboarding, with the exception of the ability to balance on a board while it’s moving. 

That being said, there are plenty of boards out there that can help you cross train for snowboarding, the best board for that depends on what you are personally working on and towards in snowboarding. So let’s go over a couple snowboarding skills and what might be the best board for cross training that skill. 

Basics/Carving

I have two recommendations for cross-training these skills. 

The first is the infamous Rip Stick. This is an amazing cross-training tool because the mechanics required to go forward on the Rip Stick is the same exact foot and body mechanics used on a snowboard for turning. Rip Sticks may have a bad wrap in the skate community, but it is absolutely one of the best cross training tools for snowboarding.

The second board that will help with snowboarding basics is a less well known board called a Freeboard. It utilizes 6 wheels, 2 caster wheels in the center, and 4 outer edge wheels attached to reverse kingpin trucks with extra long hangers.

The edge wheels are elevated slightly above the caster wheels so at any given moment you can center your balance so you are on only the 2 caster wheels and spin with ease. This board also has bindings, although they are very different from snowboard bindings. 

The mechanics of riding the Freeboard and the presence of the bindings makes this the closest wheeled board to snowboarding. It also shares one major limitation with snowboarding. It can almost exclusively be ridden down a hill, and is not great flat, for jumps, grabs, rails, or other park stuff. Which brings us into the next recommendation.

Park, Vert, and Street

If your snowboarding progression takes you into the park, then the best cross training board for you is actually going to be a standard street deck (skateboard). Ollies on a snowboard are really similar to the ollie on a skateboard, and the ability to do half-pipe, rails, gaps, rotations, and grabs will all have significant carryover from skateboarding to snowboarding.

Many boarders who snowboard in the winter exclusively skateboard in the off-season because what they love about snowboarding is the same thing they love about skateboarding, park, vert, and rails. 

Powder and/or Trees

If you’re more like me, your snowboarding progression takes you into the tree runs and off the groomers in the search for fresh(ish) powder.

If this is you, you know that the muscles and techniques for riding in powder are different than riding the groomers on a hard pack day. This means the boards with the most carryover are going to be the ones that use similar techniques, like leaning onto your back foot, keeping your tip up, and whipping the tail for carves…

Wakeboarding! If you can ride powder on a snowboard, you can wakeboard (once you learn to get up on the wakeboard that is, which is arguably the hardest part)

Also. . . 

Surfing (probably). I have to admit, I’ve only ever surfed once, and I was terrible at it. The learning curve is a lot higher on a surfboard than a lot of board sports, but from the people I’ve talked to that do both, there’s a lot of carryover between the two.

Conclusion

Buy a longboard! Even though it has some of the least mechanical overlap with snowboarding. Longboarding is relatively cheap to get into, the learning curve is way lower than a lot of the boards described, and the feeling you get bombing a hill is the same feeling you get bombing a hill on a snowboard, even if the mechanics are super different.

Longboarding is also the most versatile of all of the boards mentioned, it can be used for commuting, bombing hills, tricks (to an extent), you can take your longboard most places with you (depending on length) and you can do it almost anywhere.

The other boards mentioned are less versatile and require more specific conditions. So while I think it would be great to get into any and all of the above, I would add a longboard to my quiver before any of the other boards mentioned.

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