If you’ve heard anything about wakeboarding, then you most probably have heard people describing wakeboards as being big snowboards. At first glance, this may seem like a pretty accurate description. Both have a similar shape and have a fair share of other characteristics in common. However, does this comparison hold up when you put it into the test? Can you use a wakeboard to snowboard for real?
In this article, we’ll give you the definitive answer to that question.
But before we delve deeper into the subject, you might be asking yourself as to why anyone would ask such a question. Why would you want to use a wakeboard as a snowboard in the first place?
Well, for starters, snowboarding can be a very expensive sport to get into, and snowboards aren’t particularly cheap. Furthermore, snowboarding can only be practiced during the winter. What this means is that you’ll basically be investing a heft amount of money only to be able to practice the sport at a certain season. Wakeboarding is a little bit less limited but it also suffers from a similar issue where it’s at its best during the summer.
Since both sports have a fair bit in common, it wouldn’t be completely out of the realm of reason to consider using a wakeboard to snowboard at first. And now, without any further ado, here’s the answer to the question “Can you use a wakeboard to snowboard?”
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Can You Use a Wakeboard to Snowboard?
Snowboarding and wakeboarding can look very similar at first glance. With that said, further inspection will show that each sport is very different and has its own philosophy and feel, especially when it comes to the equipment.
For instance, snowboards tend to have a thinner and longer shape when compared to wakeboards. Snowboards look more like skateboards without wheels than they do wakeboards. Another major difference is that wakeboards, aside from having a wider base, have fins on the underside of the board to improve stability.
In a nutshell, snowboards wouldn’t make for good wakeboards since they won’t be able to displace enough water to keep you above the water. You also won’t be able to perform any kind of turn at high speeds.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, snowboarding can only be done in cold weather. The climate needs to be cold enough to support having packed snow on the ground at all times. Basically, the best time to go snowboard is after a snowfall when temperatures are at their lowest.
On the other hand, wakeboarding isn’t as restricted when it comes to climate. Technically, you can go wakeboarding even in cold temperatures as long as the water isn’t frozen. With that said, the optimal time to go wakeboarding is in conditions with minimal wind speed and warm temperatures.
This is probably the biggest difference between the two sports. Obviously, you can’t go wakeboarding on mountains and hills. You need a lake and a boat with enough engine power to pull you across it. You can also go to a wakeboard cable park. When it comes to snowboarding, you need mountains and hills so you’ll be able to quickly descend and get the best experience.
When it comes to equipment, snowboarding usually requires more gear since you’ll have to deal with the low temperatures and harsh conditions. For instance, you need to wear boots when you’re snowboarding whereas wakeboarding is meant to be practiced without boots. You also need goggles, winter clothing, and gloves when you’re snowboarding to keep yourself from freezing.
As for wakeboarding, you don’t much in the way of equipment. All you need is a swimming suit, a life vest, bindings, and your board, of course. Another thing you need for wakeboarding is a strong rope since you’ll be pulled by a motorboat at high speeds so you need something that can sustain that force without breaking, and lastly, you need a motorboat with enough power to pull you with enough speed (or maybe a bowrider or deck boat?).
Can You Translate Snowboarding Skills In Wakeboarding?
This question can be a bit tricky to answer since there are many variables at play here. The answer can vary from one person to another. For instance, whether or not you can already perform well in both sports can make a difference. In order to answer this question, we have to divide it into two separate ones.
- First of all, will wakeboarding improve my snowboarding skills and vice versa?
- Secondly, do these sports translate between each other?
Snowboard and Wakeboard Seasons
This can vary a bit depending on where you are. For example, the Midwest has short seasons for each sport. There are committed people who would start to practice water sports starting in mid to late March with Dry Suits and continue until late October and early November. As for Snowboarding, the length of the season can vary from one year to another. For instance, a good year might allow you to snowboard starting from mid-November until March.
Translating Wakeboard Skills into Snowboarding
If you’re decent at wakeboarding but don’t have any prior experience in snowboarding, then you probably won’t be good at snowboarding from the get-go.
Unless you practice both sports already, you can’t really benefit directly in both sports by just doing one. As a matter of fact, Snowboarding is very different from wakeboarding. Each sport requires a certain state of mind and has a different feel to it. It is possible to improve in snowboarding when doing wakeboarding, but you can only do it if you know exactly what sets each sport apart.
There are universal skills that apply to almost every sport and only an experienced wakeboarder or snowboarder can improve in both sports by doing just one. However, even then, the difference is only minor so don’t expect any major improvements. Nothing beats doing the real thing
Snowboard Park and Cable Park
When it comes to riding in the cable park on a wakeboard, this is one of the few places where you can actually improve your snowboarding skills. If you’re already used to riding in the cable park, then you’ll benefit a lot from it. Even though the two parks are different in some areas, they are also quite similar in other aspects. Both parks will have you hitting features and going off-ramps. Even the landings are similar in fashion.
The biggest difference here lies in the pull from the winch in cable parks as opposed to the downhill speed in snow parks. Other than that, there are a lot of similar features and elements that are shared between both parks. Here are just a few examples of such similarities:
- Jumps, ramps, and kickers
- Different landing positions
- Rails, pipes, boxes, and wall features
Once you get the hang of these in either wakeboarding or snowboarding, you’ll be able to translate those skills into the other sport with ease. What this means is that you can actually gain benefits in one sport by practicing the other. With that said, the transition between both sports won’t exactly be easy. You’ll still have to practice a lot and get the hang of both sports beforehand.
Will It Help?
Now, it is time to answer the million-dollar question. Will you become a better snowboarder by practicing wakeboarding and vice versa?
Well, if you’re talking about cable parks and snowboard parks, then the answer is yes. Both parks share a lot in common and you’ll actually be practicing both sports at the same time just by doing one, which is neat.
Now, when it comes to riding behind a boat or riding down a mountain, the answer still remains the same. Some universal skills apply to both sports. One of these skills is balance. By mastering balance in one sport, you’ll actually be building the proper muscle memory and technique that will help you in the other. This is especially great since each one of these sports has its own season and time period. What this means is that you’ll still be able to hone your snowboarding skills and wakeboarding skills at the same time through almost the whole year.
With that said, it is still important to note that this doesn’t mean that you’ll instantly be a better snowboarder by practicing wakeboarding. The process is slow and the most improvements will be implicit. You’ll never become a skilled wakeboarder or snowboarder if you never practice the real thing. Each sport has its own techniques and tricks that you can only learn and practice when you practice it.
Conclusion: Can You Use a Wakeboard to Snowboard?
To sum up what has been said, no, trying to snowboard using a wakeboard can be a really bad idea.
That said, while the wakeboarding and snowboarding can be very different, they still have enough in common to make the transition between each other a fun one. If you already love snowboarding, you’ll probably also love wakeboarding all the same, and vice versa, so why not try both?
- Does wakeboarding help with snowboarding? As mentioned above, snowboarding and wakeboarding have a lot in common, and being good at one will certainly help with the other, but that doesn’t mean that being a skilled wakeboarder will make you a pro snowboarder from the get-go.
- Is wakeboarding harder to learn than snowboarding? Not really. Both waterboarding and snowboarding require continuous practice if you want to hone your skills for real.
Before you fully embrace wakeboarding, you might want to understand the difference between wakeboarding and other water sports through the following articles: