Like in any sport, there is a dictionary of slang words that, if heard out of context, could be quite confusing. The sports we love most – skiing and riding – have their own vocabulary to define its culture. Check out the definitions of some of the most commonly used lingo and jargon so you aren’t caught off guard in your next chair lift conversation.
Après Ski: French for “after ski,” but actually refers to happy hour celebrating after a long day on the slopes.
Avy: Short for avalanche. Often heard in reference to “Avy Dogs“.
Avy Dog: A dog trained in the art and technique of search and rescue after an avalanche. They work along side their owners on the resort’s ski patrol team.
Backcountry: An area outside of the ski resort boundaries. This area is not patrolled or cleared of avalanche danger. Ski and ride the backcountry at your own risk.
Blue Bird: A beautiful, blue sky day.
Bombing: Going downhill at a fast rate of speed, usually out of control. Also see: straightlining.
Brah, Bra, or Bro: A term of endearment between males (and sometimes females) that bond through their level of extremeness.
Bunny Slope: The easy and flat area where beginners learn to ski or ride. Usually found near the bottom of the mountain or close to a base area.
Chowder: Choppy skied out snow + powder = chowder. Not easy to ski in. AKA Tracked out.
Corduroy: The pattern left on a run after grooming. Corduroy can make anyone look like an expert! Aka: Groomer.
Dump: Slang for a large amount of snowfall dropping, or dumping, a lot of pow.
Dust on crust: When only a little amount of snow falls on top of crusty snow. Crusty snow is a thin frozen layer of snow.
Face Shot: Powder that is so deep that it hits your face on every turn. When skiing in deep powder, you may also need a snorkel.
Fall Line: The line you take down the hill. Usually you turn on either side of the fall line.
Flat Light: Grey, foggy, cloudy and overcast skies that cause dim light. This makes it hard to see variations in the snow and terrain. This is very vertigo inducing.
First Tracks: When you are the first person to ski or ride through fresh snow. AKA: Freshies.
French Fries: Skiing with your skis parallel to each other. The opposite of: Pizza.
Freshies: Untracked/fresh powder. AKA: First Tracks.
Gnar: Shortened from gnarly. Slang for something that is difficult, dangerous, or challenging, but in a good way. Often heard as “Shred the Gnar”.
Groomer: Manicured terrain, typically groomed every day. This is where you find corduroy.
Hit It: Slang term for launching off a jump. Also called Huck It or Send it.
Liftie: Ski lift operator.
Off-piste: Either an out of bounds area, or in bound runs that are not specifically cut and groomed.
On-piste: On trail, usually the groomed runs of a resort.
Pizza: Besides my favorite food, pizza is when you ski with your skis in a wedge, or pizza shape, with the tips of your skis closer together than the tails. This is how beginners learn to ski. Also known as snowplowing.
Pow: Short for powder or fresh snow.
Ripper: A talented skier who can “rip” everything on the mountain.
Shredder: A talented snowboarder who can “shred” everything on the mountain.
Ski Bum: Someone’s top priority is skiing or riding, and often fits work around their ride schedule.
Send It: To launch off a jump.
Side Country: Backcountry terrain that you access through defined gates at the ski resort boundaries. This area is not patrolled or cleared of avalanche danger. Ski and ride the side country at your own risk.
Straightlining: Going down a slope at a high rate of speed without turning. It is usually illegal on most runs.
Tracked Out: A slope of once fresh snow that has already been skied out.
Yard Sale: A type of fall when someone loses their gear, including ejecting from their skis, dropping their poles, and other accessories are scattered across a run.
This is by no means a full list, but just a guide to get you started talking like a skier or snowboarder. This newly-learned vocabulary will help you understand skier lingo so that you can talk the talk as well as you walk the walk. Get out there and shred the gnar!