Snowblading (Short Skis) Vs Skiing, How It Feels

by Craig Jarvis | Posted On: May 28th, 2020
ski exhibition

We may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.

Skiing has been around for a long time and can be traced back to warfare and hunting from the 18th Century, but they date back to the 12th Century and even further back. Snowblading, however, is new. The earliest examples date back to 1990 – 1995 before it really kicked in as a popular snow pursuit. Snowblading, in essence, is skiing on two small skis, that resemble mini snowboards, and with no poles.

When it comes to the bigger question, of either snowblading or Skiing, it’s quite a simple answer in that Skiing is so much more accessible, but snowblading is fresh and exciting, with a band of dedicated followers. Snowblading comprises skiing on two small skis, that have twin-tips, and in snowblading, you do not use poles. It is difficult to master, but it is highly rewarding and exhilarating once mastered. More suited to groomed slope and runs, snowblading tends to bog a little in deep powder. Snowboarding is one a single, surfboard-like board, and is focused on rail turns and carving on powder.

Many skiers and snowboarders decide to have a go on snowblades, and before they know it, they are hooked on it all for several reasons. The sport is fun and different, and the actual equipment – the skis under your feet – makes it a straightforward sport and past time to excel at. It has a very short learning curve. People quickly become proficient enough to approach more advanced slopes than what they could have previously, either on skis or snowboards. 

Distinguishing Snowblade Elements

Several elements make up a snowblade, which we will quickly take a look at.

1. Length

Snowblades come in at between 30 – 55 inches, and they look a lot more like mini-snowboards than they do skis. This shortness has many advantages as opposed to your standard length skis. It allows you to turn sharper, as well as to stop quicker. There is also very little chance of your tips crossing over due to the short length. 

2. No poles

Yes, throw the poles away! Snowbladers to not use poles, although there are a few people who use leashes to prevent losing the skis in tricky conditions. There is no need for poles, and snowbladers can skate across flat ground should they need to, not needing to push from poles.

3. Twin tips

Not every type of snowblade has twin tips, but they are very commonplace, with matching curves in the front and the back. This makes recoveries easy, and it is also a whole lot easier to land backward and continue along your way as if nothing happened.   

4. Bindings

The snowblade bindings are a mix of all bindings, including ski and snowboard bindings. There are quick release options, as well as no release options. Why would someone want a no-release option for any sport, be it Skiing or snowblading? Well, if you can’t slip out, you can jam a rail harder. This is more for super-advanced riders, though. The opposite is that if you can’t release and you fall at the wrong angle concerning your blade, then you might run the risk of popping a knee or an ankle. 

5. Ski Length Comparison

Short, snowboard-like skis are not the be-all though. There are many advantages of having a set of longer skis for your conventional skis. When it comes to massive playing fields of fresh powder, then the effect of longer skis is evident. More significant arcs, long carves, and a sense of flow all the way down. The longer ski has a longer rail line, allowing for these more graceful arcs, but snowblades do the opposite.

The turns on snowblades are short and sharp, comparable to skating, and suited for tricks and ramps, as opposed to carves. 

The Learning Processes

One of the most essential elements when choosing is the ease to learn. There are also two schools here, but the consensus is that snowblading trumps skiing when it comes to the learning process. 

Both disciplines are challenging, and both have their golden moments. 

1. Skiing Parallel

This is way easier on the snowblades than on the skis. The reason is that the snowblades are shorter, so there is less chance of the tips crossing, and it is easier to learn.

2. Stopping and Turning

As skiers progress, they learn to use the edges of the ski trails, both inside edges and outside edges, to turn and stop. It’s a fine art and sensitive skill that takes time to learn, but once you can feel that rail, it’s something that will never go away. On a snowblade, the rail is that much shorter, and therefore it is easier to gain control because there is less rail to control and a more effortless skill to learn. 

3. Skiing In Field Of Powder

This is an area that clearly separates the two disciplines, in that long runs of deep powder are what we all look for, except if you’re on snowblades. Long skis glide over vast tracts of powder with ease, and they make short work of powder mounds. Making your way through such stretches of powder on blades can be tiresome and way more of an effort. Powder runs start to feel like quicksand, and the only way is to really work it, weaving and gliding and moving, and expending way more energy than on skis.  

4. Hitting the Ice

One would think that snowblading, with the constant comparison to skating, would be the winner here when hitting an ice patch. Still, sometimes things are not necessarily what they seem. Skiing over an extended ice patch needs radical control, tight moves, and control over your braking methods. On skis, you have more rail available to extract the power required over ice. In comparison, on snowblades, you have less rail and therefore less control. Skis win on the ice.

5. Speed

The skis are so much more stable when embarking on speed runs, and they barely notice bumps and imperfections, absorbing them and brushing them aside. If you’re travelling at a similar speed on the snowblades, you have to be that much more mindful of the bumps. You have to work them carefully, as they could easily knock you off-route and into the ditch.

6. Recovering

The challenge of standing up and getting going after a fall is getting around skis, their length and their cumbersomeness. The snowblades are so less cumbrous, and you can find your way to your feet a lot easier than on skis. 

7. Moving On Flats

Both skis and snowblades can quickly negotiate flat patches, but remember that the skiers have poles that they use to push off with. The snowblader tends to ‘skate’ across flat spots with relative ease.

8. Jumps and Boxes

This is also a puzzle, because logic will point towards the shorter snowblades having way more stability over the longer skis on jumps and boxes, and to tell the truth, they do. With less rail to control, the snowblader has way more control on the focused part of boxes and jumps when you’re engaged with the obstacle. The problem is in the landing. Snowblades are short and wobbly, and the rider often makes the jump successfully, but then wobbles out after the jump. Skis, on the other hand, are stable and perform better, with more board out front and behind. Adding to the stability. 

Flow

There is an optimal state when skiing, called Flow that can be compared to a Zen state when everything feels aligned. It happens to sportspeople when everything is aligned, and everything feels like it is working. Many people who are skilled at both snowblading and skiing have expressed that they have attained flow far quicker on snowblades than on skiing. Hard to quantify and prove, but the flow is a place when the world feels like it is working with you, and it’s a great place to be. If snowblading can get you there reasonably quickly, then it is a worthy pursuit. 

Simon Naylor, the founder of New To Ski, started skiing in 2005. He has continued to practice his skills and wanted to share his journey and knowledge with other new skiers. He launched New To Ski in 2018 to help first-time skiers have more fun on the slopes and get out and explore the mountains safely.