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Let him try both and decide which he likes. There isn't much direct skills transfer beyond the more general skills of looking where you want to go and line choices.
As far as unjuries, you can get messed up with either, but tendancies towards certain injuries. Board, more knee, ski more ankle. Ski also more thumb injuries from the poles.
 

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If your based in AR then he will not get benefits from either one. He would need to be on the slopes more often than is available to you unless you have big big money and can fly him weekly to the snow. A fat bike and XC skiing would be the thing to do. The Fat bike will keep the biking skills up and the XC skiing will keep the heart and lungs up. Also if you are in AR then you can ride most of the year anyway. As far as the people that live around here (Missoula MT) they do what ever winter sport they like the most and don’t really correlate it to MTBing. Many go into the back country using the same trails they ride in the summer. That is very relatable from a wilderness and first aid perspective.
 

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I’ve been pretty much exclusively tele skiing for the last 20 years but grew up on alpine gear and did snowboard for a bit too.

Out of all of them, the tele turn most closely mimics the body movements I make on my bike, but they are still very different activities. There are similarities between biking and the other two disciplines as well.

The weird thing is that fitness I gain biking does not equate to starting the ski season in shape— and vice versa. I can be in amazing biking shape, but my first ski day of the year absolutely devastates my quads.

And if I take 4 months or so off riding, I feel terrible on that first week of riding.

Thankfully, I discovered that the answer is to just keep riding my bike on snow all winter. No need for a fat bike either.😉
 

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Backcountry skiing largely mimics most mtb rides (at least around here). Haul your butt to the top, have fun on the descent. The fitness seems to translate relatively well too. Wouldn't really recommend it to a beginner though, but if that's in the cards in the long run, but in the backcountry skiing > snowboarding, if only for logistics.
 

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Not sure if I know a single strong skier that made it to their mid-40's or 50 without tearing up their knees.

I wish I was a better skier but have mainly snowboarded coming from a skateboarding background. With traffic, cost, and crowds I vowed my resort days behind me about 3 years ago and don't really miss it. Backcountry, nordic or nothing...hence wishing my skiing was stronger.

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Not sure if I know a single strong skier that made it to their mid-40's or 50 without tearing up their knees.

I wish I was a better skier but have mainly snowboarded coming from a skateboarding background. With traffic, cost, and crowds I vowed my resort days behind me about 3 years ago and don't really miss it. Backcountry, nordic or nothing...hence wishing my skiing was stronger.

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I've almost made it to 72 without tearing up any part of the body. I ski anywhere from 60 to 80 days a season and was an instructor for 26 years. You need to learn the right way to ski and ski the right way. It saves a bunch of pain in the end.
 

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Skiers fall. Snowboarders crash.
Pretty much. When I wipe out on skis I typically slide out. When I go down on the snowboard I get slammed to the ground. The most common injury in skiing involves the knees whereas in snowboarding it's wrists and ankles. Since I do both I reckon I've doubled my chances of ruining my bike season, hehhh.
 

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If your based in AR then he will not get benefits from either one. He would need to be on the slopes more often than is available to you unless you have big big money and can fly him weekly to the snow.
Hey, yeah. How frequently would he get to go skiing and/or boarding?

Also OP, is this cross-training program your son's idea or yours?
 

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If your kid were a surfer, I'd say get him snowboarding. There's nothing about sliding down a hill sideways that transfers to a bike, especially when picking a steep and slow line where balance is crucial.
He's a biker, so get him AT skiing: maintain aerobic fitness in the winter, develop useful skills, avoid the "lift served" mentality, and most importantly, have fun!
 

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He's a biker, so get him AT skiing: maintain aerobic fitness in the winter, develop useful skills, avoid the "lift served" mentality, and most importantly, have fun!
Lift served DH riding works me out every bit as much as (actually, probably more than) trail riding. Throwing a 40# bike around and sprinting a lot between features can totally fatigue you in a hurry. The kid would still get really fit and strong even if he did nothing other than lift-served riding. It's really fun too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Get him racing BMX. That'll translate to better skills on a MTB than either snowboarding or skiing.
He rides BMX (mainly park and pump track) and DJ already and races enduro and XC. I probably should have been more clear: he’s not really looking for fitness or cross training out of this.
He will be doing a snow sport a max of a couple of trips a year, until he leaves home and moves to the mountains. He’s just trying to decide if skiing would come easier than snowboarding because it’s more analogous in movement, especially for jumps and spins/shapes. When I started thinking of the number of pro DH/enduro MTB riders who were also competitive DH skiers, it made me think there might be a connection there. Of course, you’re right that there are even more current pros who started out racing BMX.
 

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He’s just trying to decide if skiing would come easier than snowboarding because it’s more analogous in movement, especially for jumps and spins/shapes.
As an athletic 13 year old I bet he would learn either one without much difficulty. Why not learn both?
 

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He rides BMX (mainly park and pump track) and DJ already and races enduro and XC. I probably should have been more clear: he’s not really looking for fitness or cross training out of this.
He will be doing a snow sport a max of a couple of trips a year, until he leaves home and moves to the mountains. He’s just trying to decide if skiing would come easier than snowboarding because it’s more analogous in movement, especially for jumps and spins/shapes. When I started thinking of the number of pro DH/enduro MTB riders who were also competitive DH skiers, it made me think there might be a connection there. Of course, you’re right that there are even more current pros who started out racing BMX.
Being a good technical mtb rider i dont think made learning snowboarding easier. Tried ski first, what did help with ski was knowing how to ice skate.
Having better base fitness and comfortable with moving body translates, but applies equally to both.
 

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Snowboarding is harder to learn for the first three days, then you’re an expert.

Skiing is easier to learn for the first three days, then it’s really hard to become an expert.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Snowboarding is harder to learn for the first three days, then you’re an expert.

Skiing is easier to learn for the first three days, then it’s really hard to become an expert.
This was my experience as well. I skied first as a teen then started boarding in college. Within a few trips, I was better snowboarder than I ever was a skier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Hey, yeah. How frequently would he get to go skiing and/or boarding?

Also OP, is this cross-training program your son's idea or yours?
I probably framed the question poorly. It’s not about cross training, as he will probably ride a max of 10 days a year, if that, until he moves to mountains later in life. It’s more about choosing the one that plays into his existing skills best.

In al honesty, I would probably rather him do the one he’s less comfortable with to avoid injury from overconfidence and a false sense of confidence. He’s really skilled on the bike, so I don’t want him to think he’s similarly skilled in a sport he’s a novice at. I could totally see him on skis just turning them downhill and sending it off a jump then plowing to slow down after. The board (the day he did it over spring break) seemed to keep him humble and entertained, so I’m probably going to encourage him to stick with that.
 

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That's a hard one. Whichever gets you out is best.

I will say one thing with complete confidence. Don't let anyone ever tell you snowboarding and surfing are alike. In 55 plus years of surfing, I have never been locked to my surf board and no matter how much I rode, I was always uncomfortable having both feet locked to a snowboard.

My personal choice is the freedom of skiing. I was an instructor for 26 years and still ski anywhere from 60 to 80 plus days a season but if you don't do it often, neither will make much difference so just go out and have fun.

Fun is the goal.
I've been surfing for around 45 years and snowboarding since 1988. I board exactly how I surf. Big carves. In fact, both my snowboard and surfboard are fish designs. I was also huge into skateboarding in the 80's and street skated and hit pools but my favorite thing to skate was ditches and spillways because I could do big sweeping carves at speed.

I live right next to three ski areas, two that are bike parks in the summer and most people are boarding. I was at one yesterday and it was so slushy at the bottom that it was almost like surfing. I even had my trunks on. The resorts are closing on the 11th so it's back to biking full time.
 
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