Skiing and snowboarding have their own lingo, like other sports. Below you will find a number of terms/phrases used in the skiing and snowboarding bubble with definitions to help you understand and use them wisely.
All-mountain ski: These skis are designed to perform in all types of snow conditions and at most speeds. Also known as the One-ski Quiver.
Après-ski: The day’s over—time for drinks. Think dancing on tables, listening to live music, while swapping stories from the slopes. Also known as Après Ski.
Bail: This term is used when you majestically fall to the ground and take a tumble, as in “She bailed on that rail.”
Balaclava: A facemask worn to cover exposed skin. A key extra whenever you are caught riding a lift in fierce, driving wind or snow.
Base: Used to describe the underside of a ski or snowboard which can take a few scrapes along the way. Also used in reference to the main area at the bottom of a ski resort, or the overall depth of snow.
Bumps: The term used by novices for anything and everything they encounter such as moguls plus what they have all over their body at the end of the week.
Bunny: A female skier who appears to be more concerned with whether her boots and gloves match than actually skiing.
Carving: A series of clean turns using the edges of skis or a snowboard. Carving turns can vary from tight turns to giant “S” shaped swoops.
Chatter: The vibration of skis or snowboards caused by traveling at high speeds. Excessive chatter reduces contact between the ski and the snow and the ability to stay in total control.
Chowder or chunder: Chopped/skied up snow + powder = chowder = the exact opposite of effortless.
Crust: Refers to a frozen layer either covering softer snow or buried under a fresh dusting of snow.
Edge: The sharpened metal strip on the sides of skis and snowboards, used for gaining control by biting into the snow for smoother carving and cutting. Holding an edge is a key to a good turn.
Glade: Heavily treed areas that are still skiable.
Gnarly: A word for something that is over the top extreme, radical, dangerous and/or perfect. It can be used in both positive and negative contexts. i.e that was an awesome ski run, so steep and gnarly.
Gnar: A shortened version of the word gnarly, meaning high on the scale of dangerousness and coolness. Also an acronym that stands for Gaffney’s Numerical Assessment of Radness.
Grooming: The most common form of trail maintenance, done to spread new snow and to smooth over bumps, icy patches and other obstacles. To groom, tractors drag giant rakes over the snow.
Jib: Riding a snowboard or skis across on a non-snow surface, be it a rail, fun box, or even fallen log. Jibbers are a new phenomenon, those who like to use everything and anything as their playground.
Liftie: A slang term for a ski lift operator. If you want some free local knowledge, these guys have their ears to the ground.
Line: The proposed route down the mountain—“check out that line through the trees.”
Lunch tray (aka “Launch” tray): Snowboard.
Planker (Two-Planker): Skier
Rag doll/tomahawk: The dramatic action when a skier or snowboarder loses control and crashes in a cartwheel tumble, turning head over heels down the mountain side.
Pow (Pow-Pow): Light, dry, fluffy snow referred to normally as powder. The Holy Grail of skiers and snowboarders. But watch out, it’s also hard to get up in.
Schussing: Heading straight downhill without turning. Normally done when a slope flattens out but also attempted anywhere by university types to get “gnar” points.
Scissoring: Crossing one’s ski tips, with edge-to-edge contact, which can cause quite a kafuffle.
Shredder: An accomplished snowboarder who knows exactly what they are doing.
Sick: Extreme, hairy, amazing, dangerous, awesome, radical.
Ski bum: Someone who has discovered the best alternative to working.
Snowplow: A beginner’s technique for slowing down on skis. Done by bringing the front tips of a pair of skis together, pushing the tails apart, and applying pressure on the skis’ inside edges.
Steazy: Style + Ease = Steaz. For example, Olympic athlete Shawn White is the reigning godfather of steaz.
Stoke: Excited for the season.
Stomp: This term is used when you land a trick. For example you would say, “He just stomped that landing.”
Switch: Skiing/riding backwards. For skiing this means backwards along the skis; for snowboarding it means you ride the board with the opposite foot forward of how you normally ride. If you ride “regular” (left foot in front), when you ride switch you will have your right foot in front.
Tracked out: Slang for a slope of once fresh snow that has been ridden over repeatedly and boy are you sad.
Traverse: Skiing across a slope, often in a zigzag pattern, as opposed to straight down; typically done to keep speeds down on steep surface or to cut across a mountain.
Whiteout: When the conditions on the mountain are severely reduced by falling snow or/and cloud cover. The layering cloud can seem to merge into the white snow surface making the horizon and surface irregularities impossible to see. (A good time to stay warm in the lodge.)
Wipe Out: A pretty un-poetic and painful fall.
Although this isn’t an all-inclusive guide, perhaps you can casually slip a few of these words as you ride the lift or converse with friends—to show that you’ve learned to talk the talk. With a little luck, some perseverance, and a lot of steaz, you just might be smashing the gnar by the end of the season.
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