Is Ice Skating Easier Than Skiing? Is It Easier To Learn?

Ice skating and skiing are wonderful sports to get into, and while it would be great if the body could automatically adapt to any sport we attempt, the reality is that both activities take a lot of skill and practice to master. Thankfully, one of these sports is easier to learn than the other.

Ice skating is easier to learn than skiing. Ice is flat and controlled, and you need less strength to balance yourself and move forward. A novice can choose a speed they are comfortable with as they learn to skate, and they have the security of the rink’s wall to hold on to if they feel unbalanced.

But just because the basics of ice skating are easier to learn doesn’t mean it’s an easier sport overall. Ice skating can be harder at high performance levels, but skills from one can be used to improve in the other. Let’s see how the two sports are related and how they compare in difficulty.

Is Ice Skating Harder Than Skiing?

Ice skating is neither harder nor easier than skiing, but it is different, and it depends on what your aim is. It may be easier for many to learn initially, but this does not mean it is automatically an easier sport than skiing. It takes fierce body strength to become a professional ice skater.

Skating around a rink may be simple, but mastering glides, jumps, spins, and other professional skills is not. Skating backwards, for example, is not that difficult, but it is difficult to do it with grace, speed, and accuracy.

The important thing to remember is that professional skaters have to perform these acts on ice, which is more difficult than on snow, especially when blades are usually just four millimeters wide. And when an individual jumps, spins, goes backwards, or speeds along on ice, any fall can be a career-ender. 

Overall, factors that make ice skating harder than skiing are the ice and required gymnastic abilities. While the latter isn’t relevant to the average ice rink visitor, there are many such skills that professionals have to perfect.

Breaking Momentum

Stopping is a crucial skill for all ice skaters to learn. When an individual learns to skate, grabbing the wall of the rink is the easiest way to break their momentum. It is not, however, the most efficient way to do it, and if there are people in the way, one must know how to break their momentum immediately to ensure everyone’s safety.

The faster one goes, the harder it is to stop. In order to stop, a skater must turn to their side at a 90-degree angle. It has to be a sharp and short turn, otherwise the ice will guide the skater in a different direction instead of stopping them. Learning this skill is typically a painful process, and if you’re learning it, the worst part is knowing you may fall hard onto the ice.  

Spins And Spirals

Spinning is another difficult trick professional ice skaters need to ace. Not only does spinning require a great sense of balance to do in the first place, but it is also a dizzying task. The skater must know exactly when to stop in order to flawlessly continue their routine.

There are also spirals. This move is done when a performer spins with one blade on the ice and one leg extended above the hip. Spirals are difficult and require great flexibility. This flexibility is also needed for such dance moves as the split jump, which is when a competitive skater jumps in the air and achieves a leg split.

Are Ice Skating And Skiing Similar?

Ice skating and skiing are similar to one another. Most obviously, skates and skis come in pairs. In other sports such as snowboarding, the legs are firmly planted on a single board. Skis and ice skates allow for more freedom, which in turn requires a good sense of balance.  

Another similarity is the act of stopping. Stopping can be done with a flourish in both sports. A skier or ice skater going fast enough can spray snow or ice into the air when stopping. However, that’s about where the similarities end! Skiing is done downhill on snow, while ice skating is performed on a flat piece of ice, usually a manmade rink.

Is Ice Skating Safer Than Skiing?

Ice skating is safer than skiing in several ways. The surface is flat, which allows the skater to choose their own speed. Skiers, meanwhile, are almost always going downhill. Cross-country skiing is a different story, but still, the ground is not completely flat or glossy like an ice rink.

Most importantly, ice skating occurs in a controlled environment. A skater in an ice rink never has to worry about trees, birds, cliffs, or other objects found in nature. There are also no unexpected jumps. If an ice skater jumps, it is always by choice and not because they are forced to do so by the environment.

Can Ice Skating Help You Learn To Ski?

Ice skating can help you learn to ski, because balancing on ice skates will help improve your coordination on skis. Even though skiers use poles, they still need to have a great sense of equilibrium. Some alpine skiers even disregard their poles completely, so balance is key.

Furthermore, knowing how to ice skate will give you good edge control, which is crucial when parallel turning on skis. Parallel turning is needed to carve, so ice skating can further prepare you to ski in this way.

Finally, being able to finely control ice skates will in turn help a person who is skiing for the first time. This is because first-time skiers have a hard time controlling the two planks beneath their boots. Small movements on skis can cause your skis to cross and make you fall ungracefully. Minor movements while skating on ice, meanwhile, will perhaps move you along an inch or two.

Can Skiing Help You Learn To Ice Skate?

Skiing can greatly help you learn to ice skate. It’s intimidating learning any new tricks on ice, but a skier familiar with speed and balance could have confidence trying on ice skates for the first time. The surface is harder on the ice rink, but a skier will still benefit from their experience.

One discipline useful to a skier trying out ice skating is slalom. This is a way of moving downhill while taking sharp turns. By bending the knees until a skier needs to turn, the skier can straighten in the direction they want to take and perfectly carve to avoid obstacles.

Moreover, skiing gives an individual a sense of body awareness. Most people who have skied in the past can pick up ice skating because of the awareness they have of their body and the blades beneath them. Skiing may be a completely different sport, but it does equip a person with skills they can take from the slopes to the ice rink.

What Is Ice Skating Like In The Beginning?

Ice skating can be daunting in the beginning. You need to choose your skates, be aware of crowds, and contend with slippery ice. If you’ve never strapped on a pair of skates, you may even find the very idea of moving along said ice on thin blades to be intimidating.

But these problems can be easily solved. First, experts encourage novices to choose hockey skates over figure skates because they’re sturdier. The blades of the hockey skate do not extend much past the boot. Figure skates, on the other hand, have longer blades and are more flexible around the ankles. As far as crowds go, it’s simply best to skate when there are fewer people in the rink.

The ice matter can’t be helped, and a newcomer will undoubtedly hold onto the wall as soon as they step onto the ice. Another option, though, is to hold your friend’s or your instructor’s hand. Don’t worry, it’s common to take anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours to be able to balance on the thin blades.

Learning about skate specifics, dealing with crowds, and coping with slippery ice are just the basics, and how quickly someone adapts to skating all depends on the individual. The most important thing to remember is to get up after every fall without getting discouraged.

What Is Skiing Like In The Beginning?

Skiing in the beginning is not terribly difficult, but unlike ice skates, skis are big and can feel like they are “in the way.” Once everything is snapped into place, it’s time to hit the slopes. When you’re ready to ski down a beginner slope, you’ll learn the Pizza and French Fry positions.

The Pizza stance, also known as the Snowplow, is when you point your feet inward to create a triangle, or pizza slice, with your skis.  This position slows you down when you’re going downhill. The Fry position is when your skis are parallel to each other. Speed picks up according to the decline of the hill.

Be careful, because a small movement can have a great effect. When a beginner stands this way, they catch speed, which can result in a fall. Even so, getting back up is as important in skiing as it is in ice skating.  It’s frustrating, but take a deep breath and keep at it!  

Final Thoughts

Ice skating and skiing are different, so it’s difficult to say which one is harder. It’s easier to learn ice skating basics in a day, but mastering the sport takes hard work and dedication. Trying both sports can help you improve in either one, so you won’t go wrong with whichever sport you choose.