Ski terms | A Comprehensive Glossary of Skiing Jargon

When you get into a new hobby there are all sorts of terms that you’ll learn. As you’re hanging out with your ski buddies you want to be familiar with this jargon. This way you’ll fully embrace not only the sport but the social aspects as well. 

As you’re going through steep slopes you want to relive your memories by sharing your experiences with those around you. The best way to do that is through ski terms. Understanding, ski terminology will enable you to further refine your knowledge of the sport as a whole. 

Popular Ski Terms You Should Get to Know 

All sports have their own types of lingo. Whether this is through your friends or even advanced competitors you’ll find yourself making sense of different terms. Once you have these terms down you can look as if you’re a long-term shredder even if you barely started. 

One of the common slang is a switch. This means you ride the board with the foot you don’t usually ride on. It’s a play on how your feet are positioned during the ride. Also, another word is gnarly. This is a great word to throw around when your friend smoothly lands after a steep slope. 

Sometimes when you’re skiing you’ll encounter risky climates a term to describe that is whiteout. A person who spends all their time trying to ride is referred to as a park rat. Some other popular terms include sick, ripper, rag doll, and jibbing. 

New to Skiing and Unfamiliar with Ski Jargon? We'll Get You up to Speed 

Are you feeling called to the mountain this winter season? You may feel new to all this ski jargon. You can feel out of place when all the skiers are throwing out these terms and you have no idea what they’re saying. 

Our team wants to ensure you to have a comfortable and easy-going experience. To get up to speed you just want to start by saying the basic slang such as “planker or ski bum” Once you’re on the slopes it’ll come out more naturally. 

You don’t need to repeat every ski term, you can ask your ski friends to teach you along the way. The most important thing is to have fun as you’re riding. 

Glossary of Ski Terms 

Aerials: freestyling ski in the air

Apres-​​​​ski: After bar hangouts after a full day of skiing

Air-Fakie: half-pipe move with no rotation in the air 

Baseplate: part of your bindings, transfers all movement 

Blue Run: an easy start for beginner skiers 

Crevasse: an unknown crack in a glacier 

Cork: off-axis spin as you dip your head below the board

Ding: An unavoidable scratch that can happen if you hit a rock hard with your board. 

FIS: the Federation Internationale de Ski, global organization for skiing 

Gondola: an aerial lift that is fast and closed 

Jib: Skiing on a non-snow exterior 

Monoski: a ski that has both boots on one ski 

Mute Grab: As you jump in the air you grab the edge of your toes with your hands 

Nordic Skiing: a form of cross country skiing 

Piste: Ski slope “in French” 

Schussing: skiing downwards with no turn 

Travelator: conveyor belt to carry you to the top 

Uphill Edge: As you’re transversing it is the edge that is on the uphill side 

Uphill Ski: As you’re transversing the ski that is on the uphill side 

Ski Area Terminology 

Ski Area Terminology will are usually universally the same so wherever you go you can find this commonality. The first ski term is the ski area. This is the gathering of different mountains that contain ski lifts and different trails. Also, it is a ski resort that you choose to go to. 

The fundamental ones are also a lift pass which is the ticket that gives you access to a ski area. Through a slope or trail, this is the main snow path that’ll give you a rough guide for each difficulty level. 

You want to make sure that you’re aware of the different gradient systems that inform you on where to go. The trail marker will show the edge of a trail with a number. The terrain park is mainly for advanced skiers who want to practice their best tricks. A cable car is a ride that people use to get into a cabin or to a mountain top. 

Snow Terminology 

Do you love riding on the smooth snow? The snow that you ski on won’t always be smooth there will be different changes depending on the weather and various factors to consider. The hard pack term means that the snow is compressed and tightly packed. 

Powder means that you’ll easily sink into and have a soft fall with on the snow. The slush term is a warning that the snow has melted and so you want to make wise decisions when you’re skiing on higher slopes. Moguls and bumps are just to notify you that there will be certain lumps of snow during your ride. 

When the weather is extremely freezing the snow will turn into something called a snow crystal which is formed by water freezing. There is also artificial snow which means that it is produced by a snow cannon. Lastly, you want to be aware of death cookies and avalanches. Death cookies are blocks of ice or hard snow that can alter the way you control your skies. Also, avalanches is an unstable force of snow that can jeopardize your safety. 

Weather Terminology 

As you’re skiing one of the hardest factors to truly consider is the unpredictable weather. Often you can’t have full certainty of what the weather will look like. This means that you want to be aware of the certain precautions you want to take before riding on the snow. 

A white-out term is known to be a white form of thickness that can cloud your vision of the snow. It can appear through all different types of directions and it can come in the form of a fog or a mist. 

Another is flat light which is when the light comes from different angles and it makes it hard to notice the snow. Also, gust means when the wind force is changing drastically. This could heavily alter the way you ski, therefore make sure you’re constantly checking for weather updates. 

Piste/Trail Features and Obstacles Terminology 

Do you get lost in adrenaline when you ski? This can be a good thing because you’re so focused on the hobby. However, it can also be hard for you to focus on obstacles that you may face. If you’re just starting, you want to look into top skis for beginners so you can have the equipment you need to have a fun and safe ride. 

You want to understand the roller and run out to understand area changes. The roller is an area of snow that can eventually turn flatter and flatter. It can make it hard to notice how steep the slope may be. A run-out is a flatter place that can be placed at the bottom of a piste. 

There is also kicker which is made specifically for jumps and seen in terrain parks. The half-pipe is a U-shape run that is incredibly hard to master. Also, a box is a wide rail and can be used for sliding with your skis.

Skiing Terminology 

Skiing can look different for each individual. If you want to know about the most common skiing it's called alpine skiing. Maybe you’re a skier that loves to perform tricks and speed, it can be translated through the terms freestyle and freeride. 

The All-Mountain type of skiing is skiing through all types of skiing without precise specialization. The Heli-Skiing is helpful if you ever wanted to use a helicopter as a replacement of a cable car. When you travel across a right angle it's called a transverse. 

A gradient is a direction in which the snow points downwards. If you want to rest your skies where the front tips are facing together its called a snowplough. Another fun ski term is the ollie which is a jump or hop that advanced skiers love to perform. 

Skier Terminology 

When you’re riding you’ll encounter all types of skiers. It’s important to see and be watchful of your surroundings. If you’re beginning out in the ski world and choose the wrong skis or if you’re around too many advanced skiers you can easily injure yourself. 

There are freestyler skiers. These are the skiers who dedicate most of their time to a snow park. This is in a terrain parks and you’ll see them doing tricks, jumps, and rails. You want to utilize the best quality all mountain skis because this will benefit you in the long run. 

There are freeriders who devote their time riding piste or softer snow (powder). For this type of skier its important that they use top-rated powder skis

 to support their speed and tricks to prevent any further injury. 

Ski Equipment Terminology 

The main tool you’ll need on your ski journey is your equipment. The more you’re knowledgeable about your equipment the more you’ll find it easier to manage certain ski challenges or roadblocks. The basic knowledge are the edges which are metal strips down the sides of skis. 

Another tool is wax that can be used to apply it on the bottom of skis to prevent further friction. The DINs are the bindings that will be based on the tension of how you release your ski boot. The base describes the main underside of a ski. Also, the laminate is how the material will use several sheets which will conclude with stronger material and wear. 

The sidecut radius is important the edge of a ski. The camber indicates the shape of the ski and the rocker is when the camber goes upwards and balance the floating process. Probes are long poles that can pinpoint precise locations especially during situations like an avalanche.

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