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The Impact of Skiers and Snowboarders on Snow

There’s an Associated Press article out on Alta,
a ski area in Utah that still doesn’t allow snowboarders on its slopes.
There were a couple of lines in the article that caught my attention:

“At the risk of offending my snowboarding friends, I have to say this is
another reason why I like skiing here — I love snowboarders, but
without them, the loose snow doesn’t slough off the mountain as quickly.”

On one hand, that sounds like total bullshit to me. Do
snowboarders really have a more negative impact on a slope’s snow than skiers?
I don’t think so, but it made me realize skiers and snowboarders
probably have different effects.

I have no scientific evidence, but here are my general observations on
the different effects skiers and snowboarders have on a snowy hill:

– Moguls are created more by quick-turning skiers than quick-turning snowboarders.
– Snowboarders are more apt to plow over the top of moguls, flattening them out and pissing off skiers.
– A snowboarder plowing down a hill scrapes more snow away than a skier, pissing off skiers.

But aside from my half-assed observations, what is the real impact of a snowboarder on a snowy hill vs. a skier? Who cuts it up more? Who throws around more snow?


  1. The beginner snowboarder or someone in over their head who slides backside down a slope will def. take out snow the quickest. I’ve yet to meet a snowboard who likes moguls?
    When is a resort owner going to see the light and ban skiers?

    Posted by Anonymous | December 27, 2006, 5:09 pm
  2. Ive never really seen the big deal other than regards to moguls. Bunch of crybabys if you ask me. It almost a form a racism. The resort hills are so clicky too. Screw em’

    Posted by Anonymous | December 27, 2006, 5:31 pm
  3. Come on bro. Alta does it for a specific reason. I met with Tyler Jackson who is one of the media folks at Alta. Here is the deal–SLC has about 15 resorts within 45 minutes of downtown including Park City’s three, Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude, Sundance, Snow Basin…
    The resorts need to differentiate and provide a unique selling point in order to compete. Alta removed their terrain park this year and their hook is that they are an authentic old school ski experience. You go there for 2000+ feet of vertical on the Collins lift and for the epic conditions of between 500 and 600 inches of lake effect snow annually. Plus Snowbird is literally right next door and offers snowboarding as well as has a tram.
    This week, we got a powder dump and I watched first time snowboarders backslide and ruin the powder day. They tear up moguls. It is just fact. Plus lots of skiers just plain don’t like them squatting 20 wide and sitting blocking runs so that they can hit a small jump.
    A form of racism? Get a grip, bro. Just that resorts have to compete for skier/snowboard visits. It is simple economics. Don’t make it about some us versus them issue. It is business and skiers (about 350,000 per year) go to Alta because it is Old School skiing at its best and because the ski school and the entire mountain is tailored to skiing which provides the best opportunity to improve your technique. Alta is Mecca. There are all of 4 or 5 resorts in the country that are still skier only including Deer Valley and Alta in the SLC area. So don’t complain about it.
    BTW, common bumper sticker in SLC at the resorts is “Free Alta” – A message the boarders want the powder covered slopes and epic steeps and deeps open to them.

    Posted by Anonymous | January 3, 2007, 3:20 am
  4. Cool…

    Posted by Sophocles | January 20, 2008, 12:57 am
  5. Taos Opened to Boarders on March 19:
    They’re just grubbing for out money. I’m gonna keep riding mountains and spending money to support the resorts that have always supported snowboarding.
    Now they need our cash now, so snowboarders are magically “good enough” to spend money there. Not me. No thanks. There’s plenty of powder all over the rest of the southwest. I don’t have to sell out for a good place to ride.

    Posted by taos opened to snowboarders | March 23, 2008, 8:38 am
  6. I’ll enter into this discussion by stating some level of experience. I’ve only enjoyed snow riding for about 40 years. From the day’s of “head-high mogals” to today’s “multiple use” with boarders, alpine and telemark skies curving up the slopes. here’s what I have noticed. 1. the learning curve of boarders is faster. Knowing that boarders tend to go into areas i.e. treelines, chutes etc. and try to ride slopes and condition perhaps they shouldn’t. Beginning alpine and tele folks are still “snowplowing” on the bunny hill never thinking of skiing trees and powder. 2. Boarders can and do move more snow down the slope than others. Look at and the shape and leverage a board has compared to a ski. Am I the only one that skis tight trees and notices mogals in these areas. Thirty years ago you could ski the same “Tree shot” three times to ski it out. Now it takes one boarder to plow the area by sideslipping it 3. Boarders explore the mountain by “traversing” until the mountain resemblies a Zebra with lines cutting across the slope rather than down the fall-line. Skiers tend to reuse the same path across a slope. Pick their shot down and keep the turns/curves tight down the fall line. Bottom line(no pun intended) If you can’t ski the terrain down the fall line/tree line etc. stay the hell on the groomed slopes. Know you abilities and stop side-slipping through powder caches…..

    Posted by TeleD | January 28, 2013, 8:33 am