ski terms glossary

New to skiing or want to learn the lingo? Our ski terms glossary defines 200+ terms to help you fit in and chat confidently on the slopes!

Confused by skiing terms? Fear not. We’re here to break them down for you.

Are you considering taking up skiing, or are you a newcomer to the sport? Perhaps you’re an experienced skier who isn’t quite up to speed with all the jargon, terminology, and slang associated with skiing and its culture. Our comprehensive ski terms glossary is designed to guide you through the linguistic landscape of skiing. It includes over 100 terms you might encounter on the slopes, in the lodge, at a ski shop, or while searching online for new skiing equipment. Understanding the words in the ski terms glossary will help you navigate the world of skiing more comfortably, allowing you to seamlessly blend into the community and be ready for those spontaneous chats on the ski lift.

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Adaptive Skiing

Adaptive skiing refers to a modified form of skiing designed to accommodate individuals with physical, cognitive, or sensory disabilities. Utilizing specialized equipment and techniques, it enables those with disabilities to experience skiing in a way that suits their needs. Equipment used in adaptive skiing can include sit-skis, mono-skis, bi-skis, and outriggers, among others. Trained instructors skilled in adaptive skiing methods often provide lessons and assistance to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all skiers, regardless of their abilities. This inclusive approach to skiing helps promote the sport as accessible and enjoyable for everyone.


A freestyle skiing discipline where the skier performs acrobatic jumps off large ramps, featuring flips and spins.

AFD (Anti-Friction Device)

A part of ski bindings that reduces friction between the ski boot and the binding for reliable release during a fall, enhancing skier safety.

After Bang

A term from freestyle skiing and snowboarding, referring to the stylistic flourish or pose a rider adopts after landing a trick, emphasizing their smoothness or casual approach. It’s a way of making a trick look effortless or cooler and often involves slouching, dragging a hand, or nonchalantly adjusting gear.

All Mountain Skis

Skis designed for a broad range of conditions and terrain, including both groomed runs and off-piste, featuring a medium width to balance maneuverability and stability.

Alpine Skiing

Refers to downhill skiing on mountain slopes, typically involving fixed-heel bindings and varied terrain. Unlike Nordic or cross-country skiing, alpine skiing primarily focuses on descending slopes and often utilizes lifts for trail access, emphasizing downhill movement over level or uphill travel.

Alpine Touring

A style of backcountry skiing involving a combination of uphill climbing and downhill skiing, typically using special bindings that can switch between free-heel climbing and fixed-heel descending. Alpine Touring gear allows skiers to access remote, untracked terrain.


The social activities and entertainment following a day of skiing. It can include dining, drinking, and nightlife at ski resorts.


Back Scratcher

This classic aerial trick involves arching the back and kicking the skis up behind the head while in mid-air, resembling the motion of scratching one’s back. The key is to return the skis to a normal position before landing.


Undeveloped, often remote mountain terrain outside the boundaries of a ski resort, accessed for skiing or snowboarding for its natural features and untracked powder.


A skiing term referring to a posture where the skier’s weight is too far back on the heels. It results in reduced control over the skis, as the weight shift makes it difficult to properly engage the ski edges or balance effectively. This position often happens unintentionally, especially in beginners or when skiers are tired or hesitant.


A type of headgear that covers the entire head and neck, typically leaving only part of the face exposed, used for warmth and protection against the elements.


The bottom surface of a ski that contacts the snow. It can also mean, the accumulated snow depth on slopes, indicative of skiing conditions.

Base Area

The primary area at the bottom of ski slopes, typically featuring essential facilities such as lodges, ticket offices, and ski lifts’ starting points.

Base Layer

The layer of clothing worn closest to the skin, designed to keep a skier warm and wick away moisture.


A component attached to the lower end of a ski pole, preventing it from sinking too deeply into the snow, thereby aiding in balance and stability.

Big Mountain Skiing

Skiing on large, steep, and often challenging mountain terrain outside managed resort boundaries, typically involving deep powder, cliffs, and other natural features.


The mechanism that connects a ski boot to the ski, designed to release the boot under certain conditions to prevent injuries during falls.

Black Diamond

A symbol used to denote expert ski trails, typically steep, challenging, and intended for advanced skiers.


A severe snowstorm characterized by strong, sustained winds and heavy snowfall, significantly reducing visibility and creating hazardous conditions.


A term for light, dry, powdery snow, perfect for skiing, which creates a cloud-like effect when disturbed.

Blue Bird Day

A day with clear, blue skies following a night of snowfall, characterized by sunny weather and fresh, powdery snow – ideal ski conditions.

Blue Run

trail rating that indicates an intermediate level of difficulty in skiing, usually steeper than a green run but less challenging than a black.

Boarder Cross

Though primarily associated with snowboarding, boarder cross (or skier cross for skiers) is a race where multiple skiers or snowboarders descend a course with jumps, banks, and other obstacles simultaneously. This event emphasizes speed and agility, with the first to the bottom winning. The close quarters and varied terrain often lead to an exciting, competitive atmosphere.


Gear or a skiing technique that’s extremely reliable and durable, even in the most challenging conditions.

Bowl Skiing

Skiing in large, natural bowl-shaped areas on a mountain, often with varied slopes and conditions.


In terrain parks, a “box” is a wide, flat rail used for tricks such as slides and grinds. It’s typically wider and more stable than a rail, making it suitable for skiers and snowboarders practicing new tricks or looking to improve their jibbing skills.

Bra Tree

A humorous and somewhat controversial aspect of ski culture, a Bra Tree is typically a tree near ski lifts or popular ski runs where people have thrown and hung bras (and sometimes other garments or objects). It’s often seen as a quirky tradition and a landmark at various ski resorts.

Brain Bucket

Slang for a ski helmet, underlining its critical role in protecting a skier’s head.


Mounds of snow on a ski slope, typically found in mogul fields, that challenge skiers to navigate over and around them.

Bunny Slope

A slope designed for beginners, characterized by its gentle grade and smooth, wide surface, ideal for learning basic skiing and snowboarding skills.


A freestyle skiing or snowboarding trick involving pressing the nose or tail of the ski/board into the snow while sliding along, resembling the spreading of butter.

Related: Best Stocking Stuffers for Skiers this Christmas



The slight upward curve in the middle of a ski or snowboard when it lies flat on the snow. It helps distribute weight and affects maneuverability.

Cap Skis

Skis manufactured with a construction technique where the top layer of the ski envelops the core and internal components, extending down to the edges. This design often results in lighter, more durable skis with improved edge grip.


A skiing technique where the skis are tilted on their edges to make clean, sharp turns, leaving distinct arc-like tracks in the snow.

Cat Skiing

A type of backcountry skiing where a snowcat, a large tracked vehicle, transports skiers to remote areas not accessible by ski lifts. Cat skiing allows access to untouched powder and challenging terrain without the physical demand of hiking.

Cat Tracks

Narrow, flat pathways on ski mountains used for traversing or accessing different areas. They often resemble roads for snowcats.

Catching an Edge

This occurs when the edge of a ski unintentionally digs into the snow, often leading to a loss of balance and potential falls. It’s more common among beginners or in icy conditions.


Refers to heavy, wet snow that is difficult to ski through, resembling the consistency of wet cement. Often found in warmer ski conditions, this “heavy powder” or “Sierra Cement” can be challenging to maneuver and requires more effort and skill from the skier to manage effectively.


A type of aerial lift used to transport skiers and snowboarders uphill, consisting of a series of chairs hanging from a continuously circulating cable.


The vibration or instability of skis at high speeds, especially on hard snow or ice. Chatter can reduce the skier’s control and affect performance, typically due to improper tuning, hard snow conditions, or aggressive skiing.


A lift system that combines features of a chairlift and a gondola. Typically, alternating chairs and enclosed cabins are used to transport skiers and non-skiers up the mountain.


A narrow, steep strip of snow flanked by rock walls, often challenging due to its constricted space and steepness.


A bowl-shaped, steep-walled mountain basin, often formed by the erosion of glaciers. In skiing, cirques offer challenging and often spectacular terrain.

Cold Smoke

A term describing very light, dry, and powdery snow that skiers kick up in a fine mist as they carve through it. The experience is often highly valued by powder enthusiasts.


The patterned texture left on groomed snow by a snowcat, resembling the rows of a corduroy fabric. It provides a smooth, consistent surface for skiing.


The central material or layer inside a ski around which the ski is built. The core affects the ski’s overall flex, weight, and performance characteristics and is typically made from wood, foam, or composite materials.

Corn Snow

Large, loose, granular snow crystals resulting from repeated melting and refreezing, typically found in spring conditions. Corn snow is often sought after for its forgiving nature and ease of turning.


An overhanging edge of snow on a ridge or peak, often created by wind. It can be both a spectacular sight and a hazard due to potential collapse.


A narrow gully with steep walls on a mountain, often filled with snow. Skiing in couloirs is a challenging endeavor, typically reserved for advanced and expert skiers due to the steepness and confined space.

Cross Country Skiing

A type of skiing where participants use their own movements to traverse across snow-covered terrain, unlike downhill skiing where gravity aids movement. It’s both a recreational activity and a sport, known for its aerobic intensity and technique.


Uneven, broken snow, neither icy nor powdery, can be difficult to ski through due to its inconsistency and variable texture.


A wide, smooth, and well-groomed ski run that’s perfect for relaxed, easy skiing.



A playful, old-school aerial trick where one leg is kicked forward and the other backward while in mid-air, creating a split-like posture. This move is named after the cartoon character Daffy Duck, known for his flamboyant and exaggerated motions.


The ability of a ski to absorb vibrations or bumps during skiing, providing a smoother and more stable ride. Higher damping characteristics are typically found in skis designed for high-speed or rough conditions.

Death Cookies

Hard, frozen clumps of snow that can form on slopes, often challenging and unpleasant to ski over.


A defect in skis where the layers of the ski (such as the top sheet, core, and sidewalls) begin to separate. This can affect performance and durability.

DIN Setting

A standardized scale for ski binding release force settings. It’s crucial for safety, ensuring bindings release under force to prevent injuries.

Double Black Diamond

A trail rating that signifies a very steep, difficult slope intended for expert skiers. These runs often feature obstacles like moguls, narrow paths, or trees


A skiing discipline focused on the speed of descending down the mountain. It’s characterized by fast, high-speed skiing on long, steep runs.


A term used to refer to the start of a run, trick, or descent, usually on a slope, halfpipe, or terrain park feature. It signifies the moment a skier or snowboarder begins their movement from a stationary position at the top or edge of a feature. The phrase is often used to indicate readiness or to inform others that they are about to start their run (“Ready to drop in?”). This is important for safety and etiquette, as it helps manage the flow of skiers and snowboarders in a particular area.

Dry Slope

An artificial ski slope made from materials such as plastic, meant to simulate the properties of snow. Dry slopes allow for skiing practice and training in areas without natural snow.


In skiing and snowboarding, “duck” can refer to either a stance or an action. As a stance, it describes a setup where both feet are angled away from each other, similar to a duck’s feet. This positioning is often used by freestyle skiers and snowboarders for better stability and ease in performing tricks and riding switch. As an action, “to duck” can also mean to quickly lower the head and body or to move under something, such as ducking under a rope or barrier, which is typically discouraged and can be unsafe or against resort rules.


Informal slang for a significant snowfall, especially one that quickly delivers a large amount of fresh snow, creating ideal skiing conditions.


Early Season

The part of the ski season that typically occurs just after the ski resort opens. Snow coverage may be limited, and not all trails may be open.


The act of using the metal edges of skis or snowboards to gain traction on snow, especially important in turning and maintaining control.

Ego Bumps

Informally refers to smaller, more manageable moguls (bumps on a ski slope) that are typically easy to navigate, allowing skiers to feel more confident or skilled.


In skiing, elevation refers to the height above sea level at which skiing activities occur. It significantly impacts snow quality, weather conditions, and atmospheric pressure, affecting both ski performance and the physical condition of skiers. Higher elevations often provide colder temperatures and more consistent snow conditions, making them preferable for skiing. However, they can also pose challenges such as increased risk of altitude sickness and variable weather patterns. Elevation in ski areas is usually measured at the base, mid-mountain, and summit of the ski slopes.


A slang term often used to describe a fantastic, memorable day of skiing, usually featuring perfect conditions, great runs, or thrilling adventures.

Epic Pass

The Epic Pass is a season-long ski pass that grants holders access to numerous ski resorts primarily in North America, but also including some international destinations. It’s particularly popular among skiers and snowboarders who plan to visit several of the larger, well-known resorts owned by Vail Resorts, such as Vail, Breckenridge, and Whistler Blackcomb. The pass often includes additional perks like discounted tickets for friends and family.

Express Lift

A high-speed ski lift, usually a chairlift or gondola, that transports skiers up the mountain faster than traditional lifts, reducing wait times and increasing time spent on the slopes.


Face Shot

Occurs when skiing or snowboarding through deep powder and the snow sprays up in the face, often a sought-after experience for its exhilaration and the sense of being immersed in snow.


Skiing or snowboarding in a backwards direction; in snowboarding, it’s similar to riding “switch.”

Fall Line

The most direct, downhill line a skier can take down a slope, representing the path of least resistance and greatest speed.

Fat Skis

Skis that are wider than average, designed primarily for powder skiing. Their increased surface area helps keep the skier afloat on deep, soft snow.

Figure Eight

Tracks left in the snow by skiers, where two paths intertwine in the shape of the number eight. It’s often used to indicate synchronized or skillful skiing.

Figure Eleven

Ski tracks that resemble the number eleven, typically left by a skier going straight downhill without turning.

First Tracks

Being the first to ski on freshly fallen snow, before anyone else, often considered a coveted experience for the pristine conditions and sense of solitude.

FIS (Fédération Internationale de Ski)

The International Ski Federation, the sport’s governing body, responsible for the rules and organization of ski competitions worldwide, including the Alpine and Nordic skiing championships.


Refers to the stiffness of a ski, snowboard, or boot. Different levels of flex are suitable for different styles of riding and skill levels.


A style of skiing focused on making smooth, large-radius turns with minimal skidding, emphasizing edge control, and fluid motion.


Skiing or snowboarding style focusing on natural terrain, creativity, and fluidity, with less emphasis on set courses, race times, or specific maneuvers.


A type of skiing or snowboarding focused on tricks, jumps, and terrain park features, including halfpipes, rails, and boxes.

French Fries

A term used to describe skiing with skis parallel and close together, resembling a pair of straight French fries. This technique is essential for maintaining speed and is often contrasted with “pizza,” where skis are angled inward to form a wedge for slowing down.


Fresh, untouched snow, often sought after following a snowfall for its softness and the feeling of floating it provides to skiers and snowboarders.


A type of cable car used primarily at ski resorts, distinguished by its design to be extremely stable in high winds and capable of carrying a large number of passengers in each cabin.

Related: Best Kids’ Skis for 2023-2024 Skiing Adventures



Slang, sometimes derogatory, for a tourist or non-local at a ski resort, often noticeable by their lack of familiarity with skiing etiquette or conditions.


A traditional Alpine skiing technique and competition, where skiers, typically on alpine equipment, jump from a specially constructed ramp. It combines elements of ski jumping and downhill skiing. The term “Gelandesprung” is German, meaning “terrain jump.” Unlike ski jumping, competitors do not use specialized jumping skis or suits.

Giant Slalom

A type of alpine ski racing where the course is set with wider turns and longer courses compared to slalom racing. It’s one of the technical events in competitive skiing.

Giant Slalom Skis

Giant Slalom (GS) skis are specialized alpine skis used in the Giant Slalom racing discipline. They are longer, stiffer, and have a wider turning radius than other racing skis, enabling skiers to make smooth, wide turns at high speeds with stability and precision.


Skiing or snowboarding through trees, where the trees are spaced widely enough to navigate through. Glade areas can offer a unique and technical skiing experience.


Slang for something that’s extreme, challenging, or awesome, often used to describe tough ski runs or impressive tricks.


An enclosed lift often used to transport skiers and snowboarders to higher elevations on the mountain. It’s similar to a cable car.

Green Run

A ski run marked as ‘easy,’ suitable for beginners. These runs are generally wide, gentle, and have a mild slope.


A young or inexperienced skier or snowboarder, often with connotations of being fearless and rapidly improving.


A ski slope that has been mechanically pressed, smoothed, or groomed by a snowcat. It’s ideal for carving turns with less resistance.



A U-shaped channel with vertical sides used for snowboarding and freestyle skiing tricks, resembling a large pipe cut in half.


A condition of the snow where it is packed down and very firm, but not icy. It’s common on trails and slopes that have been repeatedly skied on.


A steep section of a mountain, often appearing at the top of a glacial cirque, which can provide some of the most challenging and exciting skiing on a mountain.


Skiing or snowboarding in remote areas accessed by a helicopter, not lifts. It typically involves fresh powder, steep slopes, and untracked terrain.


Also known as a “360,” this trick involves the skier making a full 360-degree rotation horizontally (parallel to the ground) while airborne. It’s a fundamental trick in freestyle skiing and is often a building block for more complex aerial maneuvers.


A technique used in cross-country skiing to ascend hills. The skier points the tips of their skis outwards and pushes off the inside edges to move forward, resembling the pattern of herringbone fabric.

High-Speed Quad

A type of chairlift that can carry four passengers per chair and operates at a higher speed than traditional chairlifts. The increased speed reduces the time it takes to get up the mountain, allowing for more runs in a day. The chairs usually slow down at loading and unloading areas to facilitate easier access for skiers and snowboarders.

Hourglass Skis

Skis with a design that is narrow in the waist and wider at the tip and tail, resembling an hourglass shape. This design helps in turning and overall agility on the snow.


To jump off something big while skiing or snowboarding, often a cliff or large jump in the terrain park.


Ikon Pass

Similar to the Epic Pass, the Ikon Pass is a season pass offering access to a wide range of ski resorts across North America and several international locations. It caters to skiers and snowboarders looking for a variety of high-quality mountain experiences. The resorts under the Ikon Pass umbrella typically include destinations managed by Alterra Mountain Company and its partners, like Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, and Deer Valley.

Indy Grab

A trick in freestyle snowboarding where the skier grabs the inside edge of their board with their trailing hand while in the air.

Indy Pass

The Indy Pass is a ski pass offering access to a large collection of independent, smaller ski resorts rather than the larger, more commercial ones. It’s designed for those who prefer a more low-key, authentic skiing experience at a variety of less crowded, family-friendly ski areas. The pass supports these independent resorts and promotes a diverse range of skiing experiences.

Inner Boot

The soft, insulated layer inside a ski boot that provides cushioning, warmth, and comfort, and can often be custom molded to the skier’s foot.


A trained and certified individual who teaches skiing or snowboarding skills at ski resorts.



Refers to any type of trick or maneuver in snowboarding or skiing, usually performed on something other than snow, like rails or boxes.


Slang for a skier or snowboarder who is inexperienced or clueless, often identifiable by awkward technique or inappropriate gear choices.


A style of skiing or snowboarding focused on tricks, stunts, and maneuvers over obstacles like rails, boxes, and even natural terrain features.

Jump Turn

A turning technique used on steep terrain or in tight spaces where the skier pops or jumps into the air to quickly change direction.

Related: The Best Kids’ Ski Boots for 2023/2024


Kick Turn

A maneuver used in skiing to change directions on steep slopes. It involves lifting one ski and placing it in the opposite direction and then doing the same with the other ski.


A type of jump on a slope or in a terrain park, specifically constructed to launch a skier or snowboarder into the air.



Colloquial term for a ski lift operator.


A term that can refer to either the queue of skiers and snowboarders waiting to board a ski lift or to the actual path the ski lift follows up the mountain. Additionally, “liftline” can describe the ski run located directly beneath or alongside the lift, which is commonly used by skiers for evaluating snow conditions or for performing tricks where they can be easily seen from the lift.


Magic Carpet

A conveyor belt-like lift often used at ski resorts to transport skiers uphill, especially beginners and children.

Mashed Potatoes

An informal term for wet, heavy snow that resembles the consistency of mashed potatoes, often found in warmer conditions and can be challenging to ski through. Many skiers actually enjoy mashed potatoes, particularly when tackling moguls or using skiboards and GS skis.

Milk Run

The first run of the day, typically on freshly groomed slopes. It’s a cherished experience for many skiers.


Bumps on a ski run formed when skiers push snow into mounds or piles as they make turns. Mogul skiing is a discipline where skiers navigate quickly and smoothly over these bumps.


A single wide ski used for skiing, where the skier stands with both feet side by side on the one ski, similar to snowboarding.


A trick in freestyle skiing where the skier grabs the frontside of one ski with the crossing hand (right hand to left ski or vice versa) while in the air. The term “mute” stems from the quiet style and concentration required to execute the grab smoothly.


NASTAR (The National Standard Racing)

The National Standard Racing is a public grassroots recreational ski racing program in the United States.

Never Ever

A term used to describe someone who has never skied before. Ski schools often offer “never ever” lessons tailored to first-time skiers.

Nordic Skiing

A type of skiing that includes both cross-country skiing and ski jumping. This term typically refers to the cross-country style, focusing on long-distance travel across varying terrain.



A trick in snowboarding where the rider and board leap into the air without the use of a jump.


Skiing or snowboarding on unmarked or unpatrolled areas outside of official ski resort boundaries. Often involves fresh, untracked snow, but also requires awareness of avalanche risks and other backcountry hazards.


Refers to the groomed or marked trails within a ski resort, as opposed to off-piste or backcountry skiing.

Out of Bounds

Terrain outside the patrolled and managed areas of a ski resort. Skiing out of bounds carries risk and is generally only advised for experienced skiers with knowledge of avalanche safety.


Parabolic Skis

Also known as “shaped skis,” these are wider at the tip and tail and narrower in the middle, resembling a parabola. This shape makes turning easier and more efficient, especially beneficial for beginners and intermediates.

Parallel Turn

A skiing turn where both skis are kept parallel to each other throughout the entire turn, used by intermediate and advanced skiers for efficient and fluid downhill movement.

Park Rat

Slang for someone who spends most of their time skiing or snowboarding in the terrain park, practicing and performing tricks.


Soft accumulations of snow, often found on top of objects like rocks or fallen trees. They can look like fluffy, white pillows and are favored features in freestyle and powder skiing.


A marked ski run or trail, usually groomed and prepared for downhill skiing.


A beginner’s technique for slowing down or stopping while skiing, where the front tips of the skis are brought together, and the tails are pushed wide, forming a shape like a slice of pizza.


Ski poles are used by skiers for balance and propulsion, particularly in Nordic skiing, alpine skiing, and trekking.

Pond Skimming

A playful, end-of-season activity where skiers and snowboarders attempt to cross a pond of water on their skis or boards, often leading to humorous and splashy results.


Fresh, dry, and light snow, ideal for skiing and snowboarding. It’s often sought after for the soft, floaty experience it provides.


When a ski binding unexpectedly releases a boot before a fall, often considered a malfunction, it can lead to loss of control and potential injury.

PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America)

The organization in the United States that sets the standards for professional ski instruction and certifies instructors.


Quad Chair

A ski lift with chairs that can accommodate four skiers or snowboarders at a time.


A skier’s collection of different skis for various conditions and types of skiing, like an archer having a variety of arrows or a golfer selecting the right club for each shot.



A feature found in terrain parks, resembling a metal rail, on which skiers and snowboarders perform slides, jumps, and tricks.

Rat Track

A narrow, often winding track made by ski machines or skiers, usually through fresh snow.

Rear Entry Boots

Ski boots that allow the skier to enter from the rear of the boot, once popular for their ease of entry and comfort, but less common now due to advancements in boot technology.

Red Runs

In European ski resorts, these runs are marked as red to indicate an intermediate difficulty level, generally steeper or more challenging than blue runs but not as difficult as black runs.


A term for a highly skilled and aggressive skier or snowboarder.

Rock Skis

Older or less expensive skis used by skiers when conditions might lead to damage from rocks or debris, typically at the beginning or end of the ski season.


Also known as “reverse-camber,” it’s the opposite of camber, where the tips and sometimes the tails of the ski or snowboard are slightly raised compared to the middle. Rocker designs help in better floatation in powder and ease of turning.

Rope Tow

A ski lift where skiers grab onto a moving rope or cable to be pulled up the slope, commonly found in smaller or beginner ski areas.



To ski straight downhill without turning, often at high speed.


A fall where the skier’s legs and skis bend toward the head, mimicking a scorpion’s tail, often caused by falling backwards. It’s known for its risk of back or neck injury.

Sent It

A slang expression encouraging someone to go for it with enthusiasm and without hesitation, often used in the context of attempting a jump, trick, or difficult run in skiing and snowboarding. It embodies a spirit of boldness and a little recklessness.

Shaped Skis

Skis designed with a pronounced sidecut to enhance turning ability. These are the modern standard ski shape, as opposed to older, straighter skis.

Shin Bang

Refers to the painful condition where the shin repeatedly hits against the front of the ski boot, typically resulting from ill-fitting boots, aggressive skiing, or repeated impacts from jumps and bumps. Properly fitting gear and cushioning can help mitigate this common skiing discomfort.


Slang for skiing or snowboarding skillfully, aggressively, or with style.

Side Country

Terrain that is adjacent to a groomed ski resort but is not maintained or patrolled by the resort. It offers a backcountry experience with easier access but also requires caution and knowledge of backcountry risks.


The curved shape of the ski, measured by the difference in width between the tip, waist, and tail. A deeper sidecut (greater difference) allows for easier turning.


The side part of a ski, running along the edge, that connects the top of the ski to the metal edges and the base. Sidewalls can affect the performance, with different materials impacting grip and stability.

Sintered Base

A type of ski or snowboard base made from sintered polyethylene, known for being durable, holding wax well, and providing good glide. It’s generally preferred by more experienced riders.


This term refers to the impression left in the snow by a skier after falling backward. It’s easily recognizable as a sort of crater often with a more compressed area where the skier’s backside hit the snow.

Six Pack

A type of chairlift that can seat six passengers per chair, allowing for more efficient transport of skiers up the mountain.

Ski Boards

Shorter and wider than traditional skis, these boards are meant for trick-oriented skiing, similar to snowboarding but with a ski-like technique.

Ski In Ski Out

Refers to accommodations or resorts where you can ski right from the door to the slopes and back, without needing to transport ski gear long distances.


The activity of ascending a slope on skis equipped with skins for traction, typically used in backcountry skiing and ski touring.

Ski Cross

A competitive discipline of skiing where skiers race down a course with various terrain features including jumps, waves, and tight turns. Unlike alpine skiing, ski cross typically involves groups of skiers racing simultaneously.

Ski Touring

A form of skiing where both uphill and downhill travel are involved, typically away from ski resorts and lift systems, often requiring specialized bindings and skis.

Skier’s Thumb

A common skiing injury involving the ligaments of the thumb, often occurring when the skier falls while holding onto a ski pole, causing the thumb to be pulled away from the hand.

Skin Track

A path or route created by skiers ascending a slope with skins attached to their skis. This track is often used repeatedly, creating a visible line in the snow.

Skier’s Right/Left

A directional term used to describe the location or direction relative to a skier’s orientation facing downhill. For example, “The obstacle is on the skier’s right” means the obstacle is to the right side of the slope when looking down the hill.


A winter sport where a person on skis is pulled by a horse, a dog (or dogs), or a motor vehicle, combining elements of cross-country skiing with the external propulsion.


Strips attached to the bottom of skis to provide traction for uphill travel during backcountry or ski touring adventures. They are typically made from nylon or mohair and can be easily removed for downhill skiing.

Skinning Up

The act of attaching specially designed skins to the bottoms of skis to provide traction, allowing skiers to ascend slopes. This technique is commonly used in backcountry and alpine touring.

Slack Country

Unpatrolled, ungroomed terrain near ski resort boundaries, combining backcountry features with access from a resort. Skiers should be equipped with backcountry skills and safety gear, despite its proximity to patrolled areas.


A skiing discipline involving skiing between and around a series of poles or gates. These are usually set in a zigzag pattern down the slope, requiring quick turns and agility.


The activity of riding on a sledge (or sled) down a hill or slope. While primarily considered a recreational activity, it can also be used for transport in snowy conditions.


Accommodations or amenities located right next to the skiing slopes, providing easy access for skiers and snowboarders.


A freestyle skiing competition where skiers perform tricks and jumps on a course featuring various obstacles like rails, jumps, and other terrain park features.


Partially melted snow or ice. It’s often found on ski slopes in warmer weather, characterized by its wet, heavy consistency, which can make skiing or snowboarding more challenging.


Playfully refers to skiing or snowboarding in very deep powder snow, where the snow can be so high it feels like you need a snorkel to breathe.

Snow Cannon

A machine that produces artificial snow by combining cooled water and compressed air. These are commonly used in ski resorts to create or augment snow cover.

Snow Squall

A sudden, moderately heavy snowfall with strong winds. Unlike a blizzard, a snow squall is typically short-lived but can create dangerous, low-visibility conditions.


A winter sport where a rider stands on a single wide board with both feet strapped in, using a sideways stance to glide down snow-covered slopes.


A tracked vehicle used to groom ski slopes, ensuring smooth and even surfaces for skiing. Also used in snowcat skiing to transport skiers to off-trail or backcountry areas.


A beginner skiing technique where the tips of the skis are pointed towards each other and the tails wide apart, forming a shape like a pizza slice or ‘V’. It’s used to slow down or stop.


A method of winter travel on snow where special footwear (snowshoes) is used to distribute the person’s weight over a larger area. This prevents the person from sinking into deep snow, making it easier to walk.

Spread Eagle

A classic aerial trick where the skier jumps and extends their arms and legs outward in the shape of an “X” while in mid-air. It requires good timing and control to land safely and gracefully.

Stem Christie

A skiing technique used to make a turn where the uphill ski is stemmed out and then brought parallel to the downhill ski, often used by intermediate skiers progressing from snowplow turns.


Successfully landing a jump or trick with control and without falling, often used in freestyle skiing and snowboarding.


In skiing vernacular, “sugar” refers to a type of snow condition. It’s when the snow has a granular and loose consistency, similar to sugar. This type of snow can be found in spring conditions and is typically easy to ski on, offering a pleasant, soft surface.


The summit refers to the highest point of a mountain or hill, where ski runs often begin. This can be the top station of a ski lift, such as a gondola or chairlift, or the peak reached by hiking or climbing. The summit offers skiers access to various trails and slopes, typically featuring panoramic views and serving as a starting point for many downhill runs.

Super G (Super Giant Slalom)

A speed event in Alpine ski racing, longer than a giant slalom but shorter than downhill, requiring both technical skill and speed.

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Tail Press

A snowboarding trick where the rider leans back and lifts the front of the board off the snow, balancing on the tail.


A type of surface lift found at ski resorts used to transport skiers up a hill. Skiers and snowboarders grab onto a ‘T’-shaped bar pulled by a cable, which pulls them uphill.

Telemark Skiing

A style of skiing where the ski bindings only connect the boot to the ski at the toes, allowing the heel to rise off the ski. It combines elements of Alpine and Nordic skiing and is named after the Telemark region of Norway.

Terrain Park

A designated area at a ski resort with a variety of features like jumps, rails, and halfpipes designed for freestyle skiing and snowboarding.


A fall in which the skier tumbles head over heels down the slope, similar to a spinning tomahawk or cartwheel, often resulting in a “yard sale” where equipment gets scattered. Occurring typically at high speeds, this type of fall highlights the need for skiing within one’s control and abilities.

Torsional Stiffness

The ski’s resistance to twisting about its longitudinal axis, which affects the ski’s grip on the snow and stability, particularly at higher speeds or on harder snow.


A large, cable-driven lift that transports skiers and snowboarders up the mountain, typically carrying a higher number of passengers than a gondola.


Skiing or snowboarding across a slope in a zigzag pattern, often used to control speed or to navigate across a mountain.

Tree Line

The edge of a habitat at which trees are capable of growing. Above this line, harsh environmental conditions prevent the growth of trees. On mountains, this often marks the transition between different types of skiing terrains.


A position used by skiers to minimize air resistance; involves bending the knees, keeping the back straight, and arms close to the body, often used in racing and downhill skiing for speed.


Refers to the act of adding style to a trick by bending or twisting one’s body and skis in an exaggerated manner. Tweaking a trick often involves contorting or stretching to emphasize the move’s flair and difficulty.

Twin Tips

Skis or snowboards designed with both ends curved up, allowing the rider to ski or ride effectively in both forward and backward (switch) directions. This design is particularly popular in freestyle skiing.


A freestyle skiing trick involving a 360-degree rotation of the body while the skis are turned 180 degrees in the opposite direction. It’s a visually impressive move where the skier’s upper and lower body twist against each other mid-air.



The middle section of the ski or snowboard, directly beneath the rider’s feet. This area is crucial for controlling the ski/board and often is a reference point for discussing ski/board width, influencing factors like stability and maneuverability.


Skiing uphill, often in the context of backcountry or ski touring. This involves ascending slopes under one’s own power, usually with skins attached to skis.


A technique in skiing where the skier briefly reduces the weight on the skis to initiate a turn or navigate bumps.


Vertical Drop

The difference in elevation between the top and the bottom of a ski run or ski resort. It’s often used as a measure of a mountain’s size or the steepness of a particular run.



The narrowest part of the ski, critical in determining the ski’s sidecut, which affects how the ski turns.


A substance applied to the bottom of skis and snowboards to reduce friction with the snow, improving glide and speed. Different types of wax are used depending on snow conditions and temperature.


Conditions in which visibility and contrast are severely reduced by snow A weather condition in which visibility and contrast are severely reduced by snowfall or blowing snow. It can be disorienting for skiers and snowboarders as the ground and the sky appear indistinguishably white, and shadows and contours are lost.

Wind Buffs

Snow that has been compacted and smoothed by the wind, providing a firm but forgiving surface that can be enjoyable to ski on.


A fall or crash while skiing or snowboarding, typically occurring in a dramatic or forceful manner. Wipeouts are often seen in challenging conditions or when attempting difficult maneuvers.

World Cup

The top international racing circuit sanctioned by the FIS, featuring the world’s elite Alpine and Nordic skiers competing in various disciplines throughout the ski season.



Short for cross-country skiing, a form of skiing where skiers rely on their own locomotion to move across snow-covered terrain, often using skis with lighter and narrower designs than those used in alpine skiing.


Yard Sale

A slang term used to describe a big crash where a skier’s or snowboarder’s gear (like skis, poles, goggles, hats) ends up scattered across the slope, resembling a yard sale.


A rule or a sign on slopes to remind skiers and snowboarders to give way to others. Typically, it means allowing those ahead or downhill of you the right of way.



A skiing technique or pattern where the skier makes turns in alternating left and right directions, typically down a slope. It’s used both for controlling speed and for enjoyment of the terrain.

Zipper Line

A term often used in mogul skiing referring to the most direct line down a mogul field, which resembles the teeth of a zipper. It’s usually the fastest route but requires technical skill to navigate quickly and smoothly.

Did we miss any terms in our ski terms glossary? If you’re aware of any other skiing-related words, phrases, or slang that aren’t covered here, please share them in the comments below. We’ll make sure to add them to our comprehensive list!


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