Learning how to ski or snowboard is a fun accomplishment! Whether you want to fit in with your new group of skier friends, understand what the “lifties” are talking about, or just want to feel in the know, ski lingo can help you better understand the mountain, the people on it, and is honestly just fun.
When you are new to skiing or snowboarding, everything seems fun and exciting to be a part of, but if you don’t quite know what people are talking about, you could miss out! Sure, you are confidently gliding down the slopes but learning how to speak and understand skier lingo can add to your overall skiing experience.
Ski and snowboard culture is very much its own thing. From the professionals and Olympians to the “park rats” of the Mid-West, and every subculture in between. Within this culture, there are some commonalities, they use a lot of the same terminology and lingo.
A Brief History of Skiing
According to skiing historians Morten Lund and Seth Masia, rock paintings and skis preserved in bogs show that hunters and trappers used skis at least 5000 years ago – but at this time, they were utilitarian.
Around the mid-1800s, skiing became a popular recreational activity and sport and has grown in popularity in nearly every snow-covered region of the world.
Common Ski Lingo and Slang
Here are some of the most widely used lingo terms in the skiing world:
These are a type of skis that are designed to perform well in nearly all types of snow conditions, with most riding styles. All-Mountain skis are also known as the “One-ski Quiver”.
The light at the end of the day that shines off the glistening, snow-covered mountains. The opportune moment for social media pics, selfies, and family photos.
Whether you prefer Après Ski in the chalet, slope side in the snow, or back at your hotel, this is simply how you like to enjoy your time after a day of skiing. Think beers around the fire and hot tub hangouts.
Any skiing done outside a ski resort – also known as off-piste. This is most popular with advanced skiers, you will want to make sure you have proper equipment, and sometimes a guide! But when you get off the beaten track you lose the crowds and gain access to better, less tracked runs.
Fall, tumble, give up, chicken out – it did not go as planned and now you’re probably on your butt.
A ski helmet, just with ski lingo.
Usually a skier, with no regard or consideration for people around them, going as fast as feasibly possible everywhere they go, seemingly for no reason at all – likely cutting you off on your turns.
Clean turns completed using the edges of your skis or snowboard. Wide, s-shaped, and oh so satisfying.
If you are lucky enough to experience a true, fluffy snow, powder day, you’ll experience an all-day face shot of snow, you might not be able to see much through your goggles but you’ll be smiling! Love your friends? Angle your skis or snowboard toward them when you stop to send snow up – impromptu face shot.
A style of skiing that focuses on tricks and more unique techniques – rails, jibs, half pipes, pretty much anything that “looks cool.”
Commonly used to describe something amazing, cool, sick, rad, sweet, awesome – sometimes to describe a bad fall or injury. A versatile ski lingo term.
Maintained snow. Also known as “corduroy.” Most greens, blues, and easier blacks will be groomed at resorts.
A slang term for launching off a jump or simply saying “F#%$ it” and trying something new.
Jib or Jibber
A type of skiing or snowboarding where you slide, jump, grind, ride on whatever you can find. Anyone who looks like they’re nearly dancing their way down the mountain on their tips and tails – that’s a jibber.
A ski lift operator.
No, these are not the non-magical folks from the wizarding world of “Harry Potter.” These can be created naturally or intentionally by a resort. On a powder day, the natural carve of most skiers will create moguls on the mountain, this type is usually not as rock hard, so a bit easier to maneuver. Moguls created by a resort are hard but evenly formed. If you are a beginner, don’t – just don’t. If you are an expert, tread lightly! Moguls are the friends of very few.
An advanced skier or snowboarder who really knows what they are doing.
A set of skis.
Pow or Powder
Fresh, fine, dryer, fluffy snow – also known as heaven on earth.
Steezy or Steez
“Style with ease” – referring to someone using ski lingo who has a cool, polished riding or on-mountain style.
Pertains to natural snow that has not been groomed by machines. This can be fun and soft, or rocky and uneven, so tread carefully.
Zero visibility caused by “too” much snow – if there is such a thing.
A painful fall – always check on this person, whether they are from your group or not.
A type of fall when someone loses all their gear, scattering across the slope. Goggles off, poles all over, you should probably help them.