Ski Terminology and Lingo


What’s the Language?

Have you ever been in a foreign speaking country and felt out of place because you didn’t speak the language? Have we ever experienced trying to order food at a foreign restaurant (pre & post COVID) and stumbled to get the order correct?

Not speaking the language can be a little intimidating. Not knowing the language while you’re skiing is no big deal because you can still enjoy the slope without having to speak the language.

What’s the Lingo?

Is there a benefit to speaking the lingo?

Whether you are new to skiing or perhaps a seasoned pro, the lingo is fun to figure out and share with your comrades. How many times have we been on the slopes or in a bar testing our Apres-skiing technique and heard a word or phrase that baffled us? Skiing is a shared sport and meant to be enjoyed with good friends and family. It’s not an “in-crowd” thing, it’s just fun to be part of a group of people that speak the same lingo to share their joy of skiing from the day’s adventure.

A Reference Guide for Ski Lingo of Terms

Here are some terms and phrases that have been collected over the years.

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  • 180 – An aerial maneuver in which a skier or snowboarder rotates 180 degrees, or a halfturn.
  • 360 – An aerial maneuver in which a skier or snowboarder rotates 360 degrees, or a halfturn
  • 420 – (“Four-Twenty”) Code that signifies acceptance of cannabis or signals it’s time to consume.
  • 720 – An aerial maneuver in which a skier or snowboarder rotates two full turns or 720 degrees.
  • 1080 – An aerial maneuver in which a skier or snowboarder rotates three full turns or 1080 degrees.

“I remember attempting a 360 and accomplishing a 270… Wow that hurt!”

  • Aerial tramway – A ‘tram’ is a large version of a gondola. Typically holds approximately 30 people where as a gondola usually holds 4-8 people.
  • Aerial—In the olympics, aerials are gymnastic maneuvers performed by skiers jumping off jumps. Inverts, twists, etc.
  • AFD (AntiFriction Device)—Teflon® pad or mechanical slider attached to the top of the ski just behind the binding toe unit. The pad reduces friction between the top of the ski and the boot sole so that the boot releases smoothly during a fall.
  • All mountain ski – A versatile ski that performs well in a variety of conditions, including groomers, powder, bumps, and trees.
  • AlpenGlow – The rose coloured hue of mountains glowing at sunrise or sunset.
  • Alpine Combined. The combination of both a downhill and Slalom race where times are added together to produce the Combined-time.
  • Alpine Skiing—Commonly known as downhill skiing. Uses stiff cambered skis, hardshell boots and fixed heel, releasable bindings. Duh?
  • Alpine touring – Alpine touring is a form of skiing in which skiers are able to travel uphill using skins attached to the bottom of their skis. Bindings that allow their heels to lift.
  • Angulation: The angles between torso, hips, and lower joints. The opposite is banking or leaning where the body has No angulation. The result is skis are tilted on more of an edge. Angulation can now be achieved with the lower leg and emphasized with the hip, independent of upper body position.
  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The knee ligament that connects the femur (thigh bone) with the tibia (shin bone) and prevents the forward movement of the tibia on the femur.
  • Anticipation. The skier’s upper body anticipated the direction of the coming turn, acting as an anchor for the lower body to turn against. As the tension was  released (muscles relax) and the skier “let go” of the old turn, the legs realigned with the upper body and started the turn.
  • Aprés ski – French for “after ski,” this phrase describes the food, drink, and other social activities that occur after a day of skiing.
  • Arête – Thin, knife-like ridge that is typically formed when glaciers erode parallel valleys.
  • Arlberg Strap. An old method preventing the skis from running down the hill after a fall. A leather strap that was wrapped around the boot and attached to the ski.
  • Artificial Snow: Manmade snow. Not as fine as real snow.
  • Audio helmet – A protective helmet that includes speakers in the earpieces and a connection, either wired or wireless, to a music source.
  • Avalanche – A large mass of snow, ice, and other materials that suddenly slides down a mountain. Also referred to as avi or avy.
  • Avalanche airbag – Backpack that incorporates an airbag that can be deployed during an avalanche, increasing the odds the victim will float at or near the surface of the slide.
  • Avalanche Beacon – An electronic transceiver to help locate someone lost in an avalanche.
  • Avalanche control – Activities designed to monitor and reduce the risk of avalanches through active measures (e.g., explosives), permanent structures (e.g., snow fence), and social interventions (e.g., educational efforts).
  • Avalanche dog – Specially trained canines that assist human rescuers in locating and digging out avalanche victims.
  • Avalanche Probe – A collaspable rod that’s used to poke through avalanche debris in order to find a buried victim.

“There are places in the world that are close to cities, but just don’t get the high volume of snow like the mountains. These resorts have figured out the Science of making snow.” (Snowmax, DewBulb)

Alpine Ski Club – Ontario, Canada
  • Backcountry – Areas beyond the boundaries of ski resorts. More dangerous due to lack of avalanche control or rescue. Also called off-piste or out-of-bounds. Experience, avalanche knowledge and proper equipment is imperative when backcountry skiing.
  • Backscratcher – An aerial trick in which a skier drops the tips and lifts the backs of their skis, sometimes to the point of touching their back. Old School.
  • Backside – Portion of a ski resort that lies on the other side of a ridge or mountain from the main base area.
  • Balaclava – A snug face-mask worn over the head and neck, often with holes cut out for the eyes, nose, and mouth. “Bank Robber”
  • Balance: A relationship between our base of support (feet) and our centre of mass (core). A harmonious use of both.
  • Banking: Leaning into a turn but not bending any joints.
  • Base – Two definitions: A) Snow depth; B) Underside of a ski C) The bottom of the hill.
  • Base of Support (BOS): Refers to our feet on the skis.
  • Baseplate – The bottom portion of a binding that attaches to a ski.
  • Basket –The piece of circular plastic attached to the bottom of ski poles that prevents them from sinking too deeply into the snow.
  • Bear trap. A binding that did not allow release. It had fixed toe irons, and the heel was often lashed to the skis with a leather strap, long thong or laniere.
  • Beginner trail – A green circle trail that is typically wide, groomed, and not too steep. A very easy beginning trail where novices learn is also called a bunny slope or bunny hill.
  • Berm – A mound of snow, either natural or manmade, than can be used for turns or tricks.
  • Beaver Balls: Clumpy chunks of snow that feels like you’re skiing on ball bearings
  • Bevel. Modifying the edge of a ski so that it forms something other than a perfect 90 degree angle.  The ski edge has two surfaces: the base edge connected to the ski’s sole, and the side edge as part of the ski’s sidewall. A beveled base edge is modified by about one degree. The edge angle comparing the bottom and the side edge. Normally, we think of the edge as 90 degrees, but beveled edge is slightly less than 90 degrees. (ie: Base=1degree, Side=2degrees)
Base Edge Bevels
Side Edge Bevel
  • Biff – A skier nearly falls but recovers without going down.
  • Big air – An aerial in which the skier or snowboarder is airborne for a considerable length of time.
  • Binding: The thing that connects your boot to your ski. The bindings on skis are designed to release the boot in the case of a fall. Snowboard bindings don’t auto release.
  • Black Diamond—An expert level ski slope designated by a sign with a black diamond on a white background.
  • Black ice – A hard to see thin transparent layer of ice that forms on a road.
  • Black Run: An advanced level ski slope designated by a sign with a black diamond on a white background.
  • Blind side: This is the invisible area or spot that skier cannot see immediately. Usually occurs during a mid-air spin or rotation.
  • Blue Run: A gentle slope suitable for beginner and intermediate skiers.
  • Blue square – Symbol for slopes of intermediate ability.
  • Bluebird – Sunny, cloudless conditions. Also called a bluebird day.
  • Boarder – Nickname for a snowboarder.
  • Boards—Another term for skis.
  • Boilerplate – Frozen conditions that are very hard and dense snow requiring good edge control.
  • Bomber – A skier who is traveling quickly down the slopes, usually in a straight line or a little out of control.
  • Bombing – Travelling fast and straight down a slope, somewhat out of control.
  • Boogying. A 70’s form of skiing in the bumps – “Hot Dog”
  • Bowl – A large open basin that is frequently above tree line and no obstacles.
  • Brain bucket – Nickname for a helmet worn by a skier.
  • Bracquage: a pivoting drill to improve the skill of turning the feet back and forth underneath you.
  • Bro – Short for brother, an affectionate term for a fellow male skier.
  • Bulletproof – Hard, compacted snow and ice that requires serious edging and is often caused by thaw freeze cycle or rain falling on slopes.
  • Bumps – Synonym for moguls, the mounds of snow formed by repeated turns of skiers.
  • Bunny slope: The area of the mountain with a gradual decline, perfect for beginner skiers to be taught basic ski techniques.
  • Butt dragger – A novice snowboarder who has fallen and is sliding down the slope on their behind, scraping powder away to the chagrin of skiers.
  • Butter – A skier or snowboarder rocks onto their tips or tails and holding their position while they descend.
  • Button Lift: A ski lift with a round plastic disc at the end of a long pole. The disc is placed between the legs and gently pulls skiers up the slopes. (See Poma Lift)

  • Cable Car: A large aerial lift that transports skiers and snowboarders up the slopes.
  • Camber. The arch built into a ski from tip to tail. Camber was created to generate even pressure on the snow along the length of the ski.
  • Cant – Measure of a boot’s lateral angle in relation to a ski. Adjustments inward or outward are used to modify edging.
  • Canting.  The process of making adjustments – primarily to bindings and boots – in order to improve the alignments of feet, knees, hips and upper body.
  • Cap Skis—Skis designed with a seamless piece covering the top and sides so there are no separate sidewalls.
  • Carving. Turning the skis by causing them to travel on edge with minimal lateral slipping or skidding.
  • Cat skiing – Using a snowcat (cat) to access skiing. Sometimes the cat will travel within a resort’s boundaries, but usually cats are used to access untracked powder in the backcountry.
  • Cat tracks – Relatively flat and narrow trails that traverse ski areas and are used by snowcats, skiers, and snowboarders to get around the mountain.
  • Catching air – Performing an aerial maneuver and leaving the surface.
  • Catching an edge: When the edge of a ski or snowboard accidentally digs into the snow, usually resulting in a fall or a biff.
  • Centre of Mass (COM): This is an area in the centre of a skier’s body that is referred to as the middle or centre of the entire skier.
  • Chair Lift: An aerial ski lift that you sit on and rest your skis on a bar. Originally a 1-person system, but now up to 8 person chairlifts exist.
  • Champagne powder – Light, fluffy, low density snow.
  • Chatter – Sound and vibration made by a ski turning and having trouble maintaining an edge.
  • Checking – Speed reduction technique that involves briefly skidding the skis slightly in order to reset your edge.
  • Chinese downhill – An event in which racers begin simultaneously, usually in a tuck or figure elevens.
  • Chocolate chips – Rocks that poke out of the snow and cause the skier to trip.
  • Chondola: A ski resort lift that features a mix of chairlifts and gondolas.
  • Chowder – Powder that’s been chopped up by the tracks of skiers.
  • Christie – As opposed to carving the turn, the skier skids with their skis parallel.
  • Chutes: Narrow sections of snow between two rock walls typically skied by expert or advanced skiers or snowboarders.
  • Cirque: A bowl shape or amphitheater usually sculpted by a glacier.
  • Cliffhucking: A move done by only the skier jumping off a cliff.
  • Cold smoke – The plume of low, lightdensity snow that trails behind a skier or snowboarder.
  • Corduroy: Named for the ridges in the snow caused by grooming machines, corduroy is another word for groomer or groomed slope.
  • Core – Usually made from wood or foam, the core is primary structure that makes up the center of a ski.
  • Corn Snow—Snow condition usually occurring in spring and consisting of small, rounded “kernels” or balls.
  • Cornice: An overhanging mass of snow at the edge of a ridge or peak.
  • Couloir – A steep and narrow gully, often surrounded by rock walls.
  • Counter rotation. Caused when a skier turns with the lower body and doesn’t turn with the upper body.
  • Crevasse: A deep and sometimes hidden crack in a glacier.
  • Cross-Over/Cross-Under – Where the centre of mass crosses over the base of support or where the base of support cross under the centre of mass.
  • Crud – Slang for snow when it’s lumpy, chunky, and difficult to turn in.
  • Cruising – Traveling downhill making larger turns.
  • Crust – Frozen layer of ice on top of a snow layer. Usually crunchy and painful if hitting the shins.
  • Canadian Ski Instructors Carve it up

    • Dachsteins – A brand of Ski Boot. Dachstein also means roof stones in German. As in Austria 🇦🇹 they put Dachsteins on roofs of houses sheds to hold down the roof in high winds. But if your a ski instructor Dachsteins has an entirely different meaning…. Something to do with ski bunnies haha
    • Daffy – An aerial stunt in which a skier thrusts one ski forward and the other ski backward while they are airborne.
    • Dampening—A ski’s resistance to vibration, usually built into the ski with layers of shock absorbing material.
    • Death cookies – Small frozen chunks on a slope, usually caused by snowmaking and grooming operations.
    • Delamination—The separation of a ski’s base or top sheet from its core, which is usually irreparable.
    • Detachable chairlift – A chairlift that detaches from the wire rope in the loading and unloading stations, allowing it to move faster up the hill and carry more skiers up the hill than a fixed grip chairlift. Usually referred to as high-speed chair.
    • Dew Point Temperature – Tdp The temperature at which water vapor starts to condense out of the air. The temperature at which air becomes completely saturated. Above this temperature the moisture will stay in the air.
    • DIN Settings: Deutsche Industrie Normen in German, this is the tension release setting that determines at what pressure your binding releases the boot on a fall.
    • Disco sticks – Short slalom skis.
    • Double black – A difficulty rating for a slope that is more challenging than expert black diamond trails. It’s usually very steep with cliffs and difficult conditions. (a sign with 2 black diamonds on a white background)
    • Downhill – Synonym for alpine skiing, the side of the sport in which skiers travel down mountains using bindings that fix their heels to the skis.
    • Downhill Edge: This refers to the outside (or downhill) ski that you’re standing on. Technically, it’s the inside edge of the outside ski.
    • Downhill Ski: The ski that is on the downhill side of the slope.
    • Downhill—Highspeed ski racing with tight turns and jumps. Speeds can be in excess of 80 mph (120km)
    • Down-unweighting. A lightening of the pressure of the skis on the snow made by a sudden dropping of the skier’s body.
    • Drag Lift: A lift that simply pulls you up the slope as you stand on your skis or snowboard. Also called a T-Bar, Poma or J-Bar.
    • Dropping in – Beginning a run in a terrain park or launching off a cliff or cornice to enter new terrain. (Merging on the highway)
    • Dry Bulb – Dry Bulb (Tdb)temperature, usually referred to as air temperature, is the air property that is most common used. When people refer to the temperature of the air, they are normally referring to its dry bulb temperature. (See Wet Bulb)
    • Ducking a rope – Illegally going under a rope marking closed terrain at a resort.
    • Dump: An unusually large or heavy snowfall.
    • Dumping – Description of heavy snowfall. Similar to nuking or puking.
    • Dust on crust – When a very shallow layer of fresh snow covers the hardpack underneath.
    DIN—Deutsche Industrie Normen (German industrial standards organization)

    • Eagle – Also called spread eagle, this aerial move involves spreading one’s legs and arms wide apart while in the air.
    • Eat shit – To crash hard.
    • Eat wood – To crash face first into a tree.
    • Edge – 1) The sharp, narrow metal strip along the side of a ski. 2) To tip one’s ski and engage the sharp edge in order to bite into snow and gain traction.
    • Edge Angle – The angle difference between the surface and the tilt of the ski.
    • Edge: A metal or carbon steel strip found on the bottom sides of skis used for carving.
    • Ego bumps: Small, well spaced moguls on an intermediate slope that are generally easier to ski than those found on more difficult slopes. (See hero bumps)
    • Ego snow – Snow conditions, such as machine groomed packed powder that result in a boost to the ego. (See hero snow)
    • Epic: A day characterized by the large amount of powder or other conditions that make it unforgettable.
    • Equipment: Refers to your skis, snowboard, boots and skipoles. 
    • Expert Trail – A black diamond trail.
    • Express Lift—Common name for a highspeed chairlift.
    • Extreme – Generally considered more risky and difficult than “expert” and often used to signify a double black diamond run.
    • Expert Skier: Top level skier with excellent level skills.
    Expert Skiers

    • Face plant – A fall in which you land on your face. Could be fun if it’s on a powder day.
    • Face shot – When powder sprays a skier’s face. The snow must be deep and light enough to pile up against the skier’s face.
    • Fakie: Skiing backwards.
    • Fall Line—The line of gravity or the most direct route down a slope.
    • Fartbag – A one piece ski suit, also known as a onsie.
    • Fat Skis—Very wide skis designed to perform in deep powder snow.
    • Figure 11 – To ski in a straight line down the hill leaving behind parallel tracks that look like the number 11.
    • Figure eight: Tandem skiers whose tracks when viewed from above give the illusion of the numerical “eight.”
    • First tracks – Making your mark on a slope before anyone else hits the trail.
    • FIS – Acronym for the Fédération Internationale de Ski, the body that regulates the World Cup. Also known as the International Ski Federation. Located in Oberhofen/Thunersee, Switzerland.
    • Fixed grip chairlift – The traditional, slower lift in which the chair remains attached to the cable during the entire circuit.
    • Flat light – Cloudy, low contrast conditions that make it hard read the snow and detect features in the terrain.
    • Flex – A description for boots and skis. The stiffer the flex of a boot, the more difficult it is to bend it. The stiffer the ski, the more stable the performance.
    • Flex index – A measure of the stiffness of ski boots, generally running from 50 (soft) to 140 (very stiff).
    • Footbed – Removable insole in a ski boot. Custom footbeds and orthotics can provide better fit and alignment than factory footbeds.
    • Free refills – A powder day in which it keeps on snowing, offering bottomless fun and preventing the pistes from getting tracked out.
    • Free Carving – The relatively new style of skiing in which skiers use super sidecut skis to make extreme, carved turns at high speeds, but without gates or moguls.
    • Freeride—Term given to skis built to handle everything from powdery, groomed slopes to bumps, crud and other challenging terrain.
    • Freestyle – A skiing discipline in Winter Olympics that includes moguls, aerials, halfpipe, and slope-style.
    • French fries – Image used to help kids visualize two skis pointed parallel, as opposed to the “pizza” stance that puts the skis in a snowplow or wedge.
    • Freshies – Fresh, untracked powder.
    • Funitel: An aerial cable lift used to transport skiers. Funitels are more widely found in Europe.
    Face plant

    • Gaper – Referred to someone that has a ‘gap’ between their helmet and goggles. This usually results in an ice cream headache.
    • Garlands – Basic skiing maneuver in which partial or half turns leave behind a pattern similar to a Christmas garland. A teaching drill that improves a skier’s ability to turn with the lower body without involving the upper body. Usually performed across the hill in a snake-like fashion.
    • Gate: A flag or pole in the snow marking a racing area. 
    • Geschmozzle – Race style in which skiers and snowboarders begin together, such as skiercross and boardercross. Also called Chinese downhill.
    • Giant slalom – Abbreviated GS, this style of alpine racing is similar to the slalom but the gates are farther apart and the skiers travel faster.
    • Giant Slalom (also G.S.) A race course with medium to long radius turns around gates.
    • Giant slalom – An alpine ski racing discipline in which the poles (gates) spaced at a greater distance to each other than Slalom but less than in SuperG.
    • Glade – A stand of trees that is fairly open, sometimes found near tree line. Glade skiing and snowboarding describes travel through forests where the trunks are more widely spaced than in tree skiing and snowboarding.
    • Gnarly – Difficult conditions or terrain.
    • Goggles – Worn to protect your eyes against sun, wind and glare.
    • Gondola: A gondola is an enclosed lift suspended from a cable to transport passengers up and down a mountain. Usually much faster than a chairlift.
    • Granular surface – Snow that has been packed down and possibly groomed, causing the surface to have tiny ice pellets.
    • Groomer – A groomed trail at a ski resort that is manicured by machine, often creating a corduroy pattern in the snow.
    Giant Slalom (GS) Race

    • Hairpin – In slalom racing, two gates set vertically down the hill and close together.
    • Halfpipe: A man-made u-shaped channel with smooth walls used by freestyle skiers and snowboarders for aerial tricks.
    • Hard Pack: Snow that has been compressed down as far as it will go, making it firm to ski on.
    • Hard goods – Snow sports industry term for skiing and snowboarding equipment, as opposed to the softgoods category that covers clothing and apparel.
    • Headwall – Precipice at the edge of a glacial cirque, or any steep slope at the head of a valley.
    • Headwall: A steep cliff, usually the uppermost part of a cirque.
    • Heliskiing: A skiing discipline requiring helicopter transportation to the highest slopes and known for providing skiers/boarders with fresh tracks.
    • Herringbone. A technique for climbing the hill by putting the skis on edge in a V-configuration. the skier walks up the hill on alternating feet while edging to avoid slipping backwards.
    • Highspeed chairlift – A chairlift that is relatively fast, usually because the lifts are able to detach in the loading and unloading stations. Also referred to as a detachable chairlift.
    • Hockey stop – Similar to hockey, the skier turns both feet underneath themselves to come to a stop.
    • Hot dog – A skier who shows off, especially their aerial moves or prowess in moguls.
    • Hourglass Skis—Super-sidecut skis, or skis on which the tips and tails are significantly wider than the waist.
    • Huck – To launch off a cliff or cornice.
    Steve Young skiing on hard-packed, wind-swept slope
    Hard Packed snow conditions (Skier: Steve Young)

    • Ice – When the snow on the slopes becomes like frozen water (ice) as it hasn’t snowed for a while.
    • Inbounds – Terrain lying within the boundaries of a ski area that is subject to avalanche control and other safety measures.
    • Inclination: A skier banks or leans into the turn without angulation.
    • Indie grab: An industry term for grabbing the skis under the boot on the outside edge while executing a jump.
    • Inner Boot—Insulating, cushioning ski boot liner that can be removed for drying. Fits inside the rigid plastic outer boot.
    • Inside Edge: The inside edge of the outside ski.
    • Inside ski. The ski that is on the inside of a turn.
    • Invert – To go upside down in an aerial trick. Short for inverted.
    • IOC. International Olympic Committee is headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. The IOC recognizes the FIS as the official governing body for the sports of skiing and snowboarding.
    Milan Cortina - 2026 Winter Olympics
    Milan Cortina – 2026 Winter Olympics

    • J-bar – Surface lift in which a skier leans against a J-shaped seat that is pulled uphill by a cable. Similar to a T-bar.
    • Jetting – When exiting a turn, a skier accelerates by jetting their feet forward.
    • Jib[bing]: Any single or combination of tricks on skis or a snowboard, generally done in terrain parks, but not limited to that.
    • Jibber – A skier or snowboarder who is riding in terrain parks and doing tricks.
    • Jump turn: A method generally used on steeper terrain of turning direction by jumping with your skis in the air.
    Jump Turn (Skier: JF Beaulieu)

    • Kick turn: An about face turn while stationary, by lifting one ski and reversing its direction, followed by the other ski.
    • Kicker: The sharply angled end of a jump, allowing a skier or boarder to gain significant height.

    • Lead Change – Comparing two skis and the new inside ski being a little further ahead than the outside ski. It creates separation between the upper and lower body.
    • Lift Line. A line of skiers waiting to get on a lift. Long lift lines are synonymous with waiting a long time in the lift line. The term lift line also refers to the cut through the trees where the lift ascends the mountain.
    • Lift Pass: A lift pass is a ticket that allows you to use the ski lifts. 
    • Liftie – Nickname for a chair lift operator.
    • Liner – Removable inner boot to the outer plastic shell of a boot. It provides support/padding and in many cases is molded or customized to the individual skier.
    • Linking – Blending one turn into the next turn to have a sequence of turns.
    • Loud Powder: The opposite of powder skiing, more on an icy service hence – “loud”.
    Chair Lift Ride

    • Machine groomed – Description of trail conditions in which snowcats or other grooming machines have manicured the trails.
    • Magic carpet: A type of conveyor or surface lift often found in beginner learning areas for its ease of use.
    • Martin, A – A husband trying to teach his wife to ski, but can’t ski himself. As in “look at Martin teaching his wife, HE needs the lesson.
    • Mashed potatoes – Snow conditions that are wet, slopping, heavy and clumped similar to the potato sidedish.
    • Massif – A compact group of mountain summits, especially when set apart from other peaks.
    • Mid-Entry Boot. A design usually involving an overlap lower shell to provide accurate shell fit and a hinged upper cuff that opens wide for easy entry and exit.
    • Mid-fat ski – Also known as an all-mountain ski, this versatile style performs well both on and off pistes. It’s more slender than a traditional powder ski and wider than a racing ski.
    • Mogul – Mounds of snow and ice formed by repeated turns of skiers/snowboarders (or built artificially). Also called bumps.
    • Mondopoint – International standard for measuring shoe sizes that is often used with ski boots. Measured in millimeters and based on the mean foot length and width for which each shoe is suitable.
    • Monoski – A single wide ski. As in traditional alpine skiing, the rider faces forward and uses the same type of bindings, boots, and poles.
    • Moraine. A ridge formed of boulders, rocks and gravel pushed downhill or aside by a glacier and left behind after the glacier’s retreat. A terminal moraine appears at the end of the glacier; lateral moraines at its sides.
    • Mountain rescue dog – Specially trained canines that assist human rescuers in locating and digging out avalanche victims.

    • NASTAR – Acronym for the National Standard Race, the world’s largest public grassroots ski race program.
    • Never call last run – A superstition that skiers avoid because it’s usually followed by an injury.
    • Never ever – A first time skier or snowboarder. Phrase often used in ski and ride schools.
    • No fall zone – A sign to warn skiers letting them know if they fall, they could accelerate and/or tumble like a rag doll because of the snow conditions and steepness.
    • No Friends on a Powder Day – An expression on a powdery day signalling that the skier wants first tracks and leaving his comrades behind.
    • NSAA, National Ski Areas Association. A trade association of more than 500 U.S. ski areas with headquarters in Lakewood, Colorado.
    • NSPS, National Ski Patrol System Association of ski patrollers.
    Never Ever – First Time…

    • Offpiste—The area beyond the groomed runs of a ski area or backcountry away from developed ski areas.
    • Onesie – A onepiece ski suit. Also known as a fartbag.
    • Onpiste: “Piste” is the French word for trail or run. Therefore, “onpiste” would mean on a groomed trail or run.
    • Out of bounds – Areas beyond the patrolled boundaries of a ski resort. Includes sidecountry, slackcountry, and backcountry.
    • Outside Ski: The ski on the outside of a turn.
    • Overlap Boots—Traditional style ski boot that closes in front with overlapping flaps and several buckles.
    NOT outside ski

    • Packed Powder: The perfect ski conditions where new snow has been groomed or ridden over to pack it down.
    • Parabolic Skis—Shaped skis, or the most dramatically sidecut skis. Easier for beginners and intermediates to turn and control. Also called a shaped ski.
    • Parallel – skis side by side at the same angle.
    • Parallel Turn—A turn in which the skis are parallel to each other (rather than angled, as in a wedge turn).
    • Park – Short for terrain park, an outdoor recreation area where skiers and snowboarders can perform tricks on jibs and features.
    • Park rat – Someone who loves to do tricks in the terrain park.
    • Phat – Synonym for excellent or awesome. Also used to describe the width of a powder ski.
    • Pillow – A snow pillow is a mound of powder created by the wind and provides soft landings .
    • Pillows: The soft tops of moguls after a fresh powder dump.
    • Pipe – Abbreviation for a half pipe.
    • Piste: The French word for “ski slope”.
    • Pistenbully – Brand of snow grooming machines that is popular at many ski areas.
    • Pit zips – Zippered openings near the armpits in a shell or rain jacket used to vent excess heat.
    • Pivoting – The act of turning lower body (legs/feet) to change direction.
    • Pizza – A technique in which the skis are put in a V-shape with the tips close together in order to slow or stop.
    • Planker – Slang for a skier.
    • Planks – Slang term for skis.
    • Pole gripThe handle of a ski pole.
    • Polish doughnut – A freestyle trick in which a skier sits down on the snow while traveling, spins around in full circle, and continues skiing. Also called a worm turn.
    • Poma lift – Type of detachable surface lift in which skiers and snowboarders rest on a platter while being tugged up a hill.
    • Pond skimming: A spring skiing event at ski resorts in which skiers usually dress up and attempt to skim across an icy pond.
    • Pooping –-Sitting way back on one’s skis.
    • Posse –-A group of people who have come together for a common purpose, such as a bunch of friends going skiing .
    • Pow – Short for powder. See also pow pow.
    • Pow pow –Synonymous with powder. See also pow.
    • Powder basket – An extralarge basket attached to the bottom of ski poles that prevents them from sinking too deeply into the snow.
    • Powder Day Clause: A informal agreement that allows skiers to skip out on their job or daily obligation to go skiing for the day.
    • Powder hound – A skier who is dedicated to finding fresh show. Powder leash – A device attached to skis to prevent them from being lost on a deep powder day.
    • Powder pig – Similar to a powder hound, a powder pig is also obsessed with finding the best fresh pow.
    • Powder: Fresh snow that hasn’t been packed down. Found offpiste or just after a heavy snowfall.  The “ideal” ski condition that occurs after a fresh dump of snow.
    • Prejump. A technique for reducing the act of becoming airborne. The skier jumps before reaching the bump or drop-off, skims over its top and lands on the downhill side.
    • Pressure Control – The ability to manage your weight on the snow so you don’t get bounced around.
    • PSIA—Professional Ski Instructors of America. The organization that certifies most ski professionals in the U.S.A.
    Pillow Moguls (Skier: Scott Pritchard: Devil’s Glen Ski Resort – Ontario, Canada)

    • Quad: A chairlift carrying four people.
    • Quads – Quads are short for the quadriceps femoris muscle of the thigh that get a real workout during skiing.
    • Quarterpipe – A smaller version of a half pipe.
    • Quiver – One’s collection of skis. Each “arrow” in the quiver is a different style of ski for certain conditions, such as powder, backcountry, and racing.
    A Quiver of Skis

    • Racing skis – A stiffer more torsionally rigid ski designed for speed.
    • Rag doll – Description of a skier tumbling downhill while limp.
    • Rail – A metal pipe or bar in a terrain park that skiers slide along.
    • Rail slide: A technique performed in a terrain park by sliding skis across a metal or wooden rail.
    • Rear-Entry Boots—A style of ski boot that opens in back with a hinged flap that you push down to open and pull up to close. 
    • Reverse camber – Also known as rocker or negative camber, a style of ski that has its front and back tips raised. Also known as Twin-Tips.
    • Ripper – An accomplished skier who knows how to go fast.
    • Rock Skis—Old skis used for thin snow conditions in early and late season when hitting rocks is more likely.
    • Rocker – Also known as rocker or negative camber, a style of ski that has its front and back tips raised. Also known as reverse camber or twin-tips.
    • Rollers – Also called rolls, these are undulations in a trail or terrain where skiers may catch big air. Woop-te-woops.
    • Rope Tow—A lift that pulls skiers up gentler slopes. Skiers hold on to handles along a continuously moving “rope” and keep their skis flat on the snow.S
    • Runout – A relatively flat area at the end of a race or run where athletes and riders come to a stop or slow down.

    • Schuss, Schussing – To ski without making turns or checking speed. From the German word meaning gun shot, rush, rapid movement.
    • Scraper – 1) An unskilled snowboarder who is scraping away powder by edging straight down the fall line, sometimes while sitting (see buttdragger). 2) A device used to remove excess wax and snow from a snowboard or ski.
    • Screaming starfish – Flailing and cartwheeling down a hill while screaming. Also known as a yard sale.
    • Secret stash – An area of untracked powder that is known only to the skier.
    • Separation (Upper & Lower body): Separating your upper and lower body from each other. They work independently.
    • Serac. A tower of ice, found among glaciers, and often spectacular in appearance.
    • Shaped skis – An hour-glass shaped design also called parabolic skis. The tip and tail are wider than the waist to promote easier turning and carving. See also sidecut.
    • Shaped Skis (see Hourglass Skis)
    • Shaped skis: Relatively new and improved skis characterized by some form of an hourglass shape, and designed for easier turning.
    • Shell – 1) The hard plastic outside of a ski boot. 2) A waterproof or waterresistant jacket.
    • Short radius turns – Quick turns used in steeps and moguls allowing the skier to manage their speed. Usually an 11meter radius
    • Shovel – The upturned front tip of a ski..
    • Shred – To ski with skill and enthusiasm and rip it up.
    • Shred the gnar – To ski with exceptional speed, ability, or enthusiasm in challenging terrain and conditions.
    • Sick – Slang for extreme skiing maneuver
    • Side country – Out of bounds terrain just beyond a ski resort that is easier to access than the backcountry.
    • Sidecut – The difference in millimeters between the ski’s waist (or narrowest part) and the tip and tail. A large sidecut allows skis to carve turns more readily.
    • Sideslip – Skidding down a mountain with skis perpendicular to the fall line. Releasing and setting edges controls the movement.
    • Sidewall—The material along the sides of a ski that covers the structural and core components.
    • Sit ski – Device with a seat resting on a lone ski, primarily designed for disabled athletes who use outriggers for stability.
    • Sixpack: Six seated chairlift.
    • Sketchy – When you land a trick but it doesn’t look good.
    • Ski Boards—Very short, twintipped skis used for carving fast turns, jumping and doing acrobatic tricks.
    • Ski brake – Device on a binding used to prevent a ski from traveling downhill when the boot isn’t engaged.
    • Ski bum – Someone totally dedicated to skiing who arranges their life around skiing full time.
    • Ski goggles – Special eye protection with tinted lenses and antifog features.
    • Ski in ski out: Lodging on or near the slopes allowing skiers to ski in and out of their accommodations. *
    • Ski lift: See Chairlift.
    Ski Goggles

    • Ski Mask – Synonymous with balaclava, it’s a tight fitting garment protecting the head and neck from cold weather. (See bank robbers-haha)
    • Ski patrol – Organization that provides emergency medical services to people on the hill.
    • Ski touring – A form of skiing where both uphill and downhill travel is possible without needing to remove skis. Typically, ski touring is done in the Backcountry or offpiste.
    • Skidding –-In contrast to carving by engaging the edges, skidding involves dropping speed and changing direction by steering the skis to the side.
    • Skier Cross – A giant slalom type race with jumps, bumps and curves where a half dozen competitors start simultaneously.
    • Skier’s left –-Description of the area to the left of a skier as they head and look downhill.
    • Skier’s right – Description of the area to the right of a skier as they head and look downhill.
    • Skier’s thumbCommon injury to a skier’s hand if they fall while still holding a pole. Such damage to the thumb ligament accounts for the majority all ski injuries but can be avoided by properly holding the poles.
    • Skijoring – Winter sport in which athletes are pulled by horses, dogs, or vehicles. From the Norwegian word skikjøring.
    • Skijoring: The Norwegian word skikjøring describes a winter recreation activity of being pulled over snow by a dog, horse or a motor vehicle.
    • Skimeister. German word meaning an allround proficient skier in both alpine and nordic.
    • Skinning – The process of walking uphill on skis using special adhesive skins fastened to the base of the skis that maintain traction.
    • Skins – Adhesive strips that are attached to the bottom of skis with telemark or alpine touring bindings to enable walking uphill without sliding backwards.
    • Skins: Used in Ski touring, they are adhesive backed strips of fabric stuck to your skis and have tiny rearward facing directional hairs to let you slide forward without slipping back.
    • Slab. A layer of compacted snow that is involved in avalanches because it’s sitting on top of an unstable snow mass.
    • Slack-country – Out of bounds terrain just beyond a resort that is easier to access than the backcountry. Unlike sidecountry, the slack-country can be accessed from lift served terrain without boot packing or skinning.
    • Slalom – Alpine skiing discipline in which racers ski between gates which are spaced more closely than in giant slalom and super giant slalom (SuperG).
    • Slalom: An alpine ski racing event which requires shorter quicker turns compared to GS, SuperG, and Downhill.
    • Slopeside: See Ski in ski out.
    • Slopestyle – Event in Winter Olympics and other competitions in which skiers travel down a course with rails, jumps, and other terrain park features. Scores are based on height of jumps, degree of difficulty, and execution.
    • Slush – Snow that has begun melting and causes heavy, wet mess that can be difficult to turn in.
    • Smearing – Skidding a turn in powder, similar to how one would smear peanut butter on bread.
    • Snorkeling: When powder runs up the body and blurs a skier’s vision. This is what powder skiers live for.
    • Snotsicle – A frozen discharge from the nostril. This is when the nasal cavity gets filled with a significant volume of mucus due to cold temperatures and exertion.
    • Snow bike – Any device resembling a bike in which a rider descends mountain while sitting and steers with their hands. Sometimes used to describe fatbikes with oversized, underinflated tires that are actually pedaled over snow, sand, and other soft terrain.
    • Snow Canon/Snow Machine: Machines on the slope that turn water into artificial snow.
    • Snow gun – Equipment used in snowmaking and grooming operations to create artificial snow.
    • Snow plough: A braking maneuver whereby skiers move their ski tips to form a triangular shape also referred to as a wedge or pizza.
    • Snowblade – Also called ski blade and ski board, this style of skiing uses super short skis that are easier to turn.
    • Snowcat – A tracked vehicle with an enclosed cab that is used for grooming pistes and transporting skiers/snowboarders.
    • Snowpack – The layers of snow that accumulate for extended periods, especially in mountains and upland areas. The snowpack is studied for avalanche risk .
    • Snowplough: A beginners technique where the skis are held in a ‘V’ formation with the tips almost touching. It allows for slowing down and turning.
    • Snowplow – A means of slowing or stopping on skis in which ski tips are pointed inward, tails outward, and pressure is put on the inside edges.
    • Snowplow, Wedge – A beginner skier’s method to control speed and enable turning while remaining in a V-shape base of support.
    • Snowslide – A form of an avalanche where snow is sliding down the slope.
    • Snowwater equivalent – A measurement of the snowpack that gauges the water content and describes how much water would result if you instantly melted the entire snowpack.
    • Softgoods – Snow sports industry term for skiing clothing and apparel.
    • Spread eagle – An aerial move involves spreading one’s legs and arms wide apart while in the air.
    • Spring conditions – General description of the highly variable conditions found in spring, in which slopes may freeze at night and melt during the day into corn, mashed potatoes, slush, and other sloppy conditions.
    • Steazey – Style with ease – A not too difficult trick performed flawlessly.
    • Steepness, Pitch. The gradient of a slope’s steepness can be determined by two measures – degrees or percent. Percentage – the figure commonly used by ski areas  is determined by dividing the vertical height of the slope by its horizontal distance. For a hill that drops 20 vertical feet and projects out by 100 feet, the division yields .20 and the hill is said to have a 20% gradient, equal to a steepness of 11 degrees. A hill with a 60foot drop and projecting out 100 feet has a 60% grade and a 31degree steepness. A 100% slope is 45 degrees steep, dropping one foot for every horizontal foot.
    • Steeps – Description of high angle pistes and backcountry terrain.
    • Steering – Act of turning lower body to turn the skis
    • Steering Angle – The angle between where your skis are pointed and where your body is traveling.
    • Sticks –-Alias for skis.
    • Straight lining – Skiing straight down the fall line with excessive speed.
    • SuperG – Super giant slalom, a discipline of alpine ski racing which focuses on speed. Gates are spaced farther apart than in giant slalom.
    • Superpipe – An especially large half pipe with walls rising 22 feet from the bottom of the U-shaped structure.
    • Surface lift – Catchall phrase for mountain transportation systems in which the skier remains on the ground. Examples include rope tow, t-bar, magic carpet, and poma lift.
    Steering the lower body (Skier: Simon Holden)

    • Tail –-The back end of a ski.
    • T-Bar—A ski lift that pulls one or 2 skiers up a slope at a time with their skis resting on the snow. Skiers lean their hips/buttocks against a bar that hangs down between them.
    • Telemark – A style that combines elements of both alpine and Nordic skiing. With free heel bindings, the telemark skier descends with the signature bentknee while making telemark turns.
    • Telemark skiing: A skiing discipline where the heel of the ski is not fixed and requiring a different technique from alpine skiing.
    • Telemark turn. The outside ski of the turn is advanced forward and is stemmed, with the knee bent, causing the skis to change direction.
    • Terrain park: A maintained area with a variety of jumps, halfpipes, rails and other obstacles.
    • Tip Drop. See Backscratcher.  
    • Tip Roll. The skier skis across the slope and jabs both poles into the snow on the upside. Skier then vaulted with stiff arms to pivot on the ski tips to swing the skis in a 180 degree arc so they landed pointing in a direction opposite to the original direction of travel.
    • Tips: The front end of the skis.
    • Tomahawk – To fall end over end down a mountain without any control.
    T-Bar lift

    • Torsional Rigidity – Resistance to twisting. A ski’s torsional rigidity comes from its construction and core materials. A more rigid ski performs well on hard snow, whereas a less rigid ski will be easier to handle in soft snow.
    • Tracked out – A slope groomed or powder areas disappear due to the repeated tracks of skiers.
    • Tracking – Ability of a ski to hold a line in straight running.
    • Tram – A lift with an enclosed compartment that is generally larger than a gondola. .
    • Transition – A change in skiing terrain similar to going from flat to pitch or visible to cloudy.
    • Travelator – Also known as a magic-carpet. It’s a conveyor belt lift where you stand on the carpet and it carries you to the top of the slope. Usually found on beginner slopes and children’s areas.
    • Traversing: Moving horizontally across a slope so as to lose or gain a minimal amount of elevation.
    • Tree skiing – Skiing in a glade or forest is also known as glade skiing.
    • Tree well – A depression around the base of the tree that can pose a potentially fatal hazard to skiers if they fall in and get buried.
    • Tree line – Area on a mountain where trees stop growing due to harsher environmental conditions.
    • Trenching – Laying down deep channels in snow while skiing.
    • Tuck – Aerodynamic position assumed by skiing racers that involves bending knees and holding hands in front of face to minimize wind drag.
    • Tune – Waxing or sharpening skis to improve slipperiness and grip on the snow.
    • Turning radius – The radius of an imaginary circle created by a ski carving an arc. Deeper sidecut skis have a smaller turning radius.
    • Twin tip – Alpine skis with the tip and tail both turned up which allows the skier to easily travel or land backwards.
    Tuning our equipment is key

    • Untracked – Terrain with fresh snow that has yet to be visited and tracked out by skiers .
    • Unweighting – Reducing the downward pressure on skis in order to maintain contact during a turn.
    • Uphill Ski: The ski that is on the uphill side as your traverse the slope. Usually referred to now as the Inside Ski.

    • Vertical drop: The vertical distance from the top to the bottom of the mountain or slope. 

    • Waist width – Measurement of a ski width at the narrowest point under the foot or binding.
    • Waist—The narrowest part of a ski in between the tip and the tail.
    • Wax: Used on the underside of skis to help them glide smoothly over the snow.
    • Wedge – Also known as the snowplow, a technique in which the skis are put in a V-shape with the tips close together in order to slow or stop. Also called a “pizza” in ski school for kids.
    • Wet bulb temperature – It is always lower than the dry bulb temperature but will be identical with 100% relative humidity (the air is at the saturation line).
    • White Out: When visibility drops to almost nothing caused by heavy snowfall or fog. This can cause vertigo or ski sickness.
    • Wind hold –-Stoppage of a chair lift, gondola, or other transport due to gusty winds.
    • Wind packed – Snow that has been shaped and hardened by the wind.
    • Windmilling. Cartwheeling down the hill after the binding releases.
    • Windshield wipers – Skidded turns that resemble the back and forth of wiper blades.
    • Worm turn – A freestyle trick in which a skier sits down on the snow while traveling, spins around in full circle, and continues skiing. Also called a Polish doughnut.
    White Out

    • XC: An abbreviation of Crosscountry skiing.

    • Yard sale –-A major crash in which a skier loses their poles, skis, clothing, and other items, littering the slopes with their possessions.
    Yard Sale?

    • Zig zag: Traversing across a slope in a “z” formation.
    • Zipper line – It’s the fastest line down the mogul run. Usually this zipper line is straight down the fall line which requires quick leg action.

    Some Ski Chuckles

    So remember, when the story comes out at the Après ski bar described as this, you’ll be more prepared to understand what the heck they’re talking about:

    “Ok, so you grab your brain bucket and head up the chondalas to the top bowl. To start out, you check your DIN to make sure Sven set you up right at the ski shop. You huck your carcas of the top cornice into the top freshies where the pow is deep. Off-piste you go hitting your first chunk where you pull a steazey without a biff. You continue down the double-black where you decide to schuss the rest of the slope. Making it to the bottom, your friend high-fives you and informs you have a snotscicle hanging.”

    “WHAT THE …..?”

    Remember, skiing is a complete joy just to get out there and rip it up with your friends and family. Don’t get too caught up in the lingo.



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