The main purpose for thermals is to wick away moisture, as they are next to the skin. This means that if you sweat getting down to the chairlift and the cool down whilst riding the chair back to the top, the sweat won't freeze against your skin, causing you to become extremely cold and ruin your day! They do also help with insulation - as any extra layers would - which is why you get light, mid and heavy weight thermals also. Obviously, you could not wear thermals, but you'd end up with some smelly midlayers or a smelly jacket which aren't so easy to wash, a bit like wearing shoes with no socks!
You can by all means, however you will be quite cold as t-shirts aren't tight to the skin to move sweat away and as soon as you sweat, you'll get cold quickly. Not only that but it means you won't have anything on your bottom half, so you'll be sweating straight into your snowboard pants which clings onto the smell, even after the moisture has gone. Besides, who wouldn't want something you can wear snowboarding, skiing, rock climbing, yoga, cycling and running!
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