The Top 21 Ski Slang Terms

A Sick Guide To Shreddin’ The Slopes

All sports around the globe have their own language of terms and phrases that outsiders and beginners to the sport may struggle to understand.
This is even more prevalent in the Ski and Snowboard arena where a bubble seems to surround a resort and separate you from the outside world.
Below you will find brief definitions to help you sound like a shredder, even if your skills on the slopes aren’t quite there yet.

‘Switch’ – Skiing/riding backwards. For skiing this means backwards along the skis, for snowboarding it means you ride the board with the opposite foot forward of how you normally ride. If you ride “regular” (left foot in front), when you ride switch you will have your right foot in front.

‘Gnarly’- a word for something that is over the top extreme, radical, dangerous and/or perfect. It can be used in both positive and negative contexts. i.e that was an awesome ski run, so steep and Gnarly/his cut on his hand was really gnarly!

‘Gnar’- a shortened version of Gnarly, meaning high on the scale of ‘cool’ or ‘radness’. GNAR is actually an acronym for Gaffney’s Numerical Assessment of Radness, a game invented by the late Shane McConkey and Robb Gaffney at Squaw Valley Resort. The game is simple; you get GNAR points for doing cool stuff. Skiers quickly adapted this game in order to push themselves, get one up on each other and just have fun whilst making idiots of themselves. Read more about the game of Gnar here.

‘Steezy/Steez’- the term has been coined by Snowboarders and combines the word ‘style’ with ‘ease’. If a trick is done in a smooth, cool and clean fashion it could be described as being steezy or that the rider landed the trick with steez. A rider’s clothing (normally the baggier the better) can also be described in the same fashion if they are looking particularly cool or ‘gangsta’.

Ski Total | Sam aka 'Mr Steez' from the Reservation Team in Alpe d'Huez

Sam aka ‘Mr Steez’ from the Reservation team in Alpe d’Huez last season.

‘Whiteout’- when the conditions on the mountain are severely reduced by falling snow or/and cloud cover. The layering cloud can seem to merge into the white snow surface making the horizon and surface irregularities impossible to see. (A good time to explore the local Après bars.)

‘Brain Bucket’- a slang term for a helmet.

‘Bomber’- a skier or snowboarder ‘bombing’ down a piste in a recklessly fast fashion.

‘Tracked out’- when a fresh snow area has been over ridden and there are no fresh lines available.

‘Stomp’- to land a trick in a super clean and cool fashion. ‘Dude you totally stomped that 180 to faceplant’.

‘Ski Bum’- a seasonaire who is lucky enough to not need a job during the ski season. This obviously means plenty of riding time on the slopes but you will need plenty of money to do so! Fingers crossed for that winning lottery ticket!

‘Sick’- another word for crazy, cool, insane, amazing, radical.

‘Ripper’- an accomplished skier who knows exactly what they are doing on the mountain. They ‘rip’ up the slopes with their skills.

‘Planker’- slang for skier.

‘Park Rat’- a skier or snowboarder that spends all of their time in the snow park. Easily identified by their exuberantly ‘steezy’ size xxxxl clothes.

‘Magic carpet’- a conveyor-belt surface lift (like the ones found in airport terminals) usually found at the nursery slopes to help beginner skiers up the slope.

‘Jib/Jibbing’- to ‘jib’ is to ride, slide and jump on a snowboard or skis across anything that isn’t snow. I.e a rail or a box in the snow park. ‘Jibbing’ is the freestyle technique of riding.

‘Rag doll/tomahawk’- the dramatic action when a skier or snowboarder loses control and crashes in a cartwheel tumble, turning head over heels down the mountain side. Another word for this move is the ‘yardsale’, because the poor victim’s belongings are scattered and spread out across a large area (resembling a yard sale).

‘Death Cookies’- cookie sized chunks of ice (sometimes more like boulders) that are created by the piste bashers and grooming processes. This is magnified when the conditions get very cold!

‘Pow Pow’- pronounced “paow paow”. Pow Pow is the slang term for the crème de la crème of skiing, fresh POWDER. Fine, dry, fluffy and lightweight; powder is the Holy Grail for snow sport enthusiasts. Large amounts of fresh snow make for epic conditions and give you the feeling of ‘floating’ on the surface. BUT be careful as there are few things in this world more challenging than the art of getting up in powder once you have fallen over!

Put these slang terms into practice on your next ski trip or perhaps test your mates to see how many words they understand!

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