Maybe you are new to the sport of skiing or you have been a ripper for years. Either way, as with any sport, there is a certain lingo or language you have to master in addition to the actual fundamentals, in order to sound like you are in the know beyond being able to “walk the walk”. More skiers and riders are jumping onboard each year leading to ‘ski speak’ phrases and terms being ever-changing. Save yourself the trouble of embarrassment when talking with a local on the lift or in a random conversation après ski.
Below are some terms and sayings – some classics and others newer to the ski lingo list:
Après Ski: Literally speaking it means ‘after ski’, yet it refers to forms of entertainment and nightlife at a ski resort which can be just as eventful as a day of skiing.
Backcountry: Skiing outside the resort boundaries that is not patrolled or controlled for avalanche dangers.
Blue Bird Day: A beautiful, sunny day on the mountain with blue skies after an overnight snowfall – one that many consider a “perfect” day for skiing.
Bombing: Going extremely fast, often recklessly and out of control downhill with no regard for yourself or others.
Bunny Slope: A slope perfect for beginners to learn basic techniques. Typically found at the base area of the mountain and accessible by a magic carpet or tow rope.
Champagne Powder™: Light, dry, smooth powder snow trademarked by Steamboat Resort.
Chutes: A steep and narrow section of snow between rocks. Definitely an expert-only run!
Corduroy: Resembling the fabric because of the grooves – it’s when the trail is recently groomed by either a snowcat or grooming machine.
Crud: Lumpy and hard snow conditions with slippery ice patches.
Dump: A slang term to describe a huge snowfall of fresh powder.
Death Cookies: Gravel like ice chunks that cover a run, waiting to catch your edge.
Earning Your Turns: Skinning or hiking up a mountain and skiing down. Not riding a chairlift.
Eat Wood: When a skier or snowboarder comes face to face with a tree… Ouch, that has to hurt!
Face Shot: No, this is not a drinking game… It’s what happens when you’re in powder so deep that snow sprays you in the face each turn. Icicle eyebrows anyone?!
First Tracks: Being the first to ski or ride the fresh powder before anyone else does. Bragging rights!
Flat Light: When dim light and gray skies make it difficult to see terrain change. Be careful of surprises.
French Fries: Skiing with your skis parallel to each other. Not pizza!
Freshies: Untouched and untracked powder. Skiing freshies is how we would all like to spend our day on the mountain!
Gaper: One who is new to the snow sport game and does not generally understand proper on-mountain manners, apparel or techniques.
Shred the Gnar: Derived from the word Gnarly… One who skis or rides challenging trails or conditions which are measured on a level of coolness, excitement and danger.
Grab: To hold on to a part or your snowboard or ski while being in the air.
In-bounds: The skiable terrain inside the boundaries of a mountain resort. Opposite of Out-of-bounds.
Jibb(-er,-ing): One who skis or rides across boxes, rails and other non-snow surface items.
Liftie: A slang term for one who operates the chairlift.
Magic Carpet: Conveyer-belt like surface lift… If you step onto this it will easily take you up the bunny hill slope.
Mashed Potatoes: Heavy and wet snow.
Pizza: A termed used for teaching beginner skiers technique where skis are slanted at each other like a slice of pizza to snowplow down a slope. May also be known as a wedge.
Pow: A shortened use of the word powder… typically fresh, fallen powder. A daily wish in the mountains and the perfect ski conditions!
Ripper: An impressive and accomplished skier or rider.
Skins: Straps of fabric attached to the bottom of skis to allow climbing uphill without slipping backwards.
Shredder: One who rides with advanced skill and is accomplished.
Traverse: Skiing or moving across a slope horizontally, instead of straight down to keep speed down on a steep incline.
Whiteout (adjective): When visibility is almost impossible; typically caused by heavy snowfall, fog, or flat light.
Yard Sale (verb): Resembling that of a yard sale. When a skier loses their ski equipment and gear including skis, poles, hat, gloves, etc. Their gear is scattered across the slope… collecting all your items may be the worst part!
Feel like you are ready to ‘talk the talk’ with a local? Maybe or maybe not, but at least you can fake it ‘til you make it for now. While this is not the entire “ski-speak” dictionary, it’s a good place to start to be able to include terms into your vocabulary. The next time you find yourself caught in a conversation on the mountain with rippers, shredders and magic carpet riders, you’ll sound like a pro!
Did you have a favorite ski term? Or is there one you think we should add to the list? Share your favorite with us in the comments below.