Skiers and riders seem to have their own language going, before you head over on your next ski holiday, we have prepared a sick guide to shreddin' the slopes and surviving in a ski town.
Alpine Skiing: Downhill skiing, ride up a chairlift, ski back down. Not Telemark, or cross-country. Just skiing. Down a hill.
Après-Ski: The day’s over – time for drinks. Think dancing on tables, listening to live music. For most this normally begins late afternoon, although some pack in the day early and start their apres ski session in the morning. Aside from drinking and eating, apres can include other snow activities like snowmobiling, snow tubing etc.
Back Country: Skiing for people who love to take things to the extreme. Back country skiing occurs outside the ski resort area on unmarked slopes. Because this type of skiing happens in more remote parts of the mountains, skiers have to climb uphill before coming back down again. In other words, there’s no lifts to get you where you want to be. The risk of getting caught in an avalanche is heightened while skiing in the back country.
Bail: This term is used when you 'majestically' fall to the ground and take a tumble.
Biff: A near-fall in which the skier or snowboarder briefly makes contact with the snow but recovers.
Big air: An aerial in which the skier or snowboarder is airborne for a considerable length of time.
Black ice: Thin, translucent glaze of ice that forms on a road. May pose driving hazards because it is difficult to detect.
Bluebird: Used to describe a perfect day with a bright blue sky without any clouds! Combine this with some fresh pow, and you have a very good reason to keep yelling “DOPE! SHAKA BRA!” all day!
Bomber: An out of control skier or snowboarder going downhill at great speed. It normally doesn't end well.
Bombing/straightlining/schussing: Travelling fast and straight down a slope, somewhat recklessly. A danger for others on the mountain.
Bros: Our fellow rippers and shredders, basically mountain people who are just out for fun.
Cat skiing: Using a snowcat (cat) to access skiing (or snowboarding). Sometimes the cat will travel within a resort’s boundaries, but usually cats are used to access untracked powder in the backcountry (at a price!)
Cat tracks: Relatively flat and narrow trails that traverse ski areas and are used by snowcats, skiers, and snowboarders to get around the mountain. Unless you can approach them at speed, they are a nightmare for snowboarders.
Chair Lift: Effectively, a park bench that moves skiers and snowboarders back up the slopes. Some are fancy and have hood, others allow you to enjoy all the elements.
Bumps: The term used by novices for anything and everything they encounter such as moguls plus what they have all over their body at the end of the week.
Bunny slope: Also called a bunny hill, this is an easy, green circle trail at a ski resort, typically located at the base, where newbies and kids learn to ski and snowboard.
Butt-dragger: A novice snowboarder who has fallen and is sliding down the slope on their behind, scraping powder away to the frustration of skiers.
Buttering: Smearing skis along the snow in a fashion similar to buttering a piece of bread. Common technique for powder skiing with fat, rockered skis.
Button Lift/Poma: Widely considered to be the snowboarding community’s worst nightmare, a button lift consists of a round disc at the end of an extending pole attached to a moving wire. Skiers sit on the round disc, with their legs either side of the pole, and are dragged to the top of the slopes. These lifts are a simple and efficient way to get people back up the pistes.
Carving: Using the edge of your skis to perform a series of turns, with little skidding or slipping. These turns can be both quick and tight, or large and arcing.
Champagne powder: Soft, light and reasonably dry snow. Very good to ski on, especially for beginners who need the padding for falls.
Chocolate chips: Rocks that poke out of the snow and threaten to trip up a skier or snowboarder.
Chowder: Powder that’s been chopped up by the tracks of skiers and snowboarders. Don't sleep in on powder days.
Corduroy: Freshly groomed trail with shallow, parallel grooves created by snowcat or other grooming machine.
Cornice: Mass of overhanging ice or snow, typically found on a ridgetop or edge of a cirque. Both a launching pad for hucking jumps and a potentially deadly avalanche risk if the formation collapses underfoot.
Crud: Hard, lumpy, and icy. A nightmare to ski on - if this is all that is on offer, pack up and go home.
Death cookies: Small, solid chunks of snow that sometimes form due to poor snowmaking or grooming. Watch out for these! They are a hazard.
DIN settings: Measure on bindings that indicates the torque required to release the skier’s boot during a fall. At higher settings, more force is required to release the boot.
Dope: A ski slang used when something is cool could be literally anything but is used a lot in the snowpark.
Dropping in: Beginning a run in a terrain park or launching off a cliff or cornice to enter new terrain.
Ducking a rope: Illegally going under a rope marking closed terrain at a resort. Warning, your ski pass can be revoked for something like this.
Dump: Slang term for an epic snowfall of fresh powder.
Dumping/Puking/Nuking: Description of heavy snowfall. Everyone loves when it's puking.
Eat wood: The term used to describe a skier who has just hit a tree. They “ate wood”. We don't recommend this.
Edge: The sharpened metal strip on the sides of skis and snowboards, used for gaining control by biting into the snow for smoother carving and cutting. Holding an edge is a key to a good turn.
Face plant: A fall in which you land on your face. Could be fun if it’s on a powder day, or lead to injury if you land on hardpack. Always make a good photo.
Face Shot: They’re what happen when you’re skiing in the deep stuff, and the powdery snow around you sprays up into your face.
Fartbag/Onsie: A one-piece ski suit, popular in the 70s & 80s but the cool kids are bringing them back.
Fatties: A type of extra-wide ski, perfect for pow pow snow.
First tracks: This is what it is all about Bros. Cutting through fresh snow before anyone else does, leaving behind your trail for all else to see. If achieved expect a smile from ear to ear but remember to quickly take a picture!
Flat Light: Grey skies, low clouds, and dim light resulting in poor visibility. The ‘flat light’ can make spotting changes in terrain an absolute nightmare for skiers who want to descend at speed. Best way around this is rose coloured lenses.
French Fries: Not a side with your Big Mac, but the formation between the skis when you need to go fast. Imagine two parallel fries, now imagine two parallel skis = speed! Also very commonly used by ski instructors.
Fun box: A box found in Terrain Parks built to slide (see Jib) across on skis or snowboard. If done wrong you won’t want to call it a fun box ever again… the ‘pain box’ is more suited.
Gaper or Jerry: Some popular names, you definitely will hear on the mountain. Words used to describe skiers or snowboarders who are completely clueless in regards to skiing, equipment and just normal behaviour on the mountain. A Gaper or Jerry is often wearing a fake GoPro camera, have their helmet on backwards, their ski pants inside the ski boots. We have even seen a Jerry with skis on back-to-front?!
Gnarly: This slang is used when something is particularly dangerous, extreme or radical, for example: “Damn, that was gnarly skiing right there! DOPE!”. But is sometimes also used in a negative way, like: “Damn, that was a gnarly crash…”
Groomer: A groomed trail at a ski resort that is manicured by machine, often creating a corduroy pattern in the snow.
Hike: Taking off skis/board and hiking up the mountain usually to reach the highest point on the mountain. These areas may be considered as a secret stash as they are higher than a lift so not everyone will bother hiking up.
Hockey stop: A quick way to stop while skiing that involves bringing both skis on edge, perpendicular to the direction of travel, similar to how hockey players suddenly stop on the ice.
Jib: Riding a snowboard or skis across on a non-snow surface, be it a rail, fun box, or even fallen log. Jibbers are a new phenomenon which like to use everything and anything as their playground.
Joey: An inexperienced skier or snowboarder whose lack of ability of fashion sense is noticeable.
Japow: A term used to describe the Japanese powder snow. Super light and dry, unlike anywhere else in the world. It is so light and dry, you can't even make a snowball out of it to peg at your friends.
Kicker: Those scary-looking things in the snowpark that sends people in the air. People without a ski-related background would normally call these a jump, but on the mountain, it’s called a kicker!
Knuckle dragger: Description of a snowboarder, especially one whose hands touch the snow while carving turns.
Magic carpet: A surface lift in which skiers and snowboarders stand on a conveyor belt. Often found on bunny slopes or flat traverses.
Mashed potatoes: Imagine skiing on mashed potatoes. This is heavy, damp snow – not pleasant to ski on.
Milk run: The inaugural run of the day, and it’s always a freshie. You’ll have to be early to get this!
Moguls: One of the main reasons snowboarders don’t like skiers. Moguls look a bit like tiny pyramids made of snow. They get built up by skiers turning, and are most often found on the black runs.
Never call last run: Saying that embodies a superstition that announcing one’s last run invites injury.
No friends on powder days: Alpine expression that describes the imperative of a ski bum or snowboarder to ditch his or her posse and go get first tracks on a powder day. If your mate decides to sleep in on a powder day, go up and enjoy the goods and meet your mate at lunch time.
Off-piste: If you are off-piste, you are no longer within the boundary of the resort. Refer to ‘backcountry’.
Park rat/Jibber: Someone who loves to do tricks in the terrain park.
Phat: Excellent or awesome. Also used to describe the width of a powder ski.
Planker: A slang term for a skier.
Pinhead: Nickname for a telemark skier.
Poaching: Ducking a rope or otherwise entering a closed area to steal a line in fresh powder.
Pooping: Sitting back while skiing, so it looks like you’re sitting on the toilet.
Pow (Pow-Pow): Light, dry, fluffy snow referred to normally as powder. You can eat this all day long and never get full.
Powder day clause: Element of one’s work arrangement, either formal, implied, or secret, in which the party is entitled to blow off their job and go skiing when there’s fresh powder. Common in ski towns and among ski bums.
Ripper: An accomplished skier or snowboarder who knows how to shred.
Rollers: Also called rolls, these are undulations in a trail or terrain where skiers and snowboarders may catch big air.
Secret stash: An area of untracked powder that is known only to the skier or snowboarder (or so they think). No local will ever tell you about their secret stash, so don't bother asking.
Send it /Get Sendy: When you take your skiing/snowboarding a little bit over your level, the term “sendy” is often put to use. Imagine standing with a group of ski school kids on the top of a triple black diamond ice slope, the only appropriate saying would be: “SEND IT KIDS! YEAA!”. No matter the outcome of the sending – it will be gnarly.
Shaka Bra: Often used in picture settings or after something gnarly happened. It’s a term said in combination with a hand gesture where you extend your thumb and pinky while keeping the three middle fingers closed.
Shred: A term used by skiers and snowboarder of a good standard, to describe the action of skiing or snowboarding.
Sick: Extreme, hairy, amazing, dangerous, awesome, radical
Sitzmark: The impression made in the snow when a skier or snowboarder falls. Also referred to as a bathtub.
Skibum: It’s important to be aware of the difference between a ski bum and a ski instructor. A ski bum is someone who’ve discovered the best alternative to working, which is just skiing, and an instructor is someone who’ve discovered the best possible job in the world – getting paid for skiing!
Skier’s left: Description of the area to the left of a skier (or snowboarder) as they head and look downhill.
Skier’s right: Description of the area to the right of a skier (or snowboarder) as they head and look downhill.
Ski-in ski-out: Description of a hotel, house, condo, or other accommodation that allows occupants to directly access the slopes of a ski resort without walking or using motorised transportation. Normally the accommodation that no one can actually afford.
Slope: Part of the ski area. A marked off, on-piste, hill for skiing and snowboarding.
Snotsicle: A frozen discharge from the nostril. Common due to cold-induced rhinorrhea, a condition in which the nasal cavity gets filled with a significant volume of mucus due to cold temperatures and exertion.
Snowslide: Sometimes used as a synonym with avalanche, the term snowslide suggests an event with only snow falling down a slope.
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’.
Telemark Skiing: A combination of cross-country skiing and downhill. The skier’s heels are detached, like they are in cross-country skiing, but the skis are wide enough to make sharp turns and quick descents.
Tracked out: A slope, once pristine, that has seen its powder largely disappear due to the repeated tracks of skiers and snowboarders. Your mate that slept in, this is what he'll be skiing/riding.
Tree skiing: Skiing in a glade or forest, hopefully around the trees and not into the trunks or branches. Also called glade skiing.
Tree well: A void or depression around the base of the tree that can pose a potentially fatal hazard to skiers and snowboarders if they fall in and get buried. A good reason to carry a whistle.
Vertical drop: “Vert” for shorthand, this is a measure of how many feet or meters a skier or snowboarder has descended in a run, day, or lifetime. Also used to describe the elevation difference between a resort’s highest and lowest points.
Waist deep: Measurement taken when there is just too much powder (is there ever too much?)
White Out: Heavy snowfall, and the accompanying conditions, making it impossible to see more than a few yards in any direction.
White room: When there are face shots galore and the skier or snowboarder’s vision is being obscured by the powder.
Wind hold: Stoppage of a chair lift, gondola, or other transport due to gusty winds. It's a good day for the pub when everything is on wind hold.
Yard sale/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. The poor victim’s belongings, poles, skis, gloves, googles and other items are scattered and spread out across a large area (resembling a yard sale). If it is not happening to you, it's pretty funny to watch.
So there you go, now you should be able to keep up with the locals.
Do you have more questions? Contact us today and we can help you plan your next family snow holiday to Japan.