Skier’s Lexicon


Know how to “walk the walk” but have trouble “talking the talk?” Would comments like “The old bubble crawled” or “I held a yard sale on that concrete” be readily understandable?

If this makes no sense to you, the following lexicon should prove helpful…


American Association of Snowboard Instructors. Often listed as PSIA-AASI, the adder meaning Professional Ski Instructors of America.


common short form of Arapahoe Basin


Alpine (skiing)
generally describes lift-served, downhill skiing. Alpine gear, for example.


common shortform of Alpine Meadows, CA ski area.


American Skiing Company…and Aspen Skiing Company (see Skico). Confusing, eh? Not anymore; ASC (American Skiing Co) is out of business. At one time this mega-operator owned Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Attitash, Mount Snow, Killington, Pico, Steamboat, and The Canyons. Now it doesn’t own any.


Back Side
Refers to the rougher terrain at a ski area: The bowls, woods, or otherwise uncharted territory — yet still in-bounds. Generally used to describe skiers who take more risks by venturing into the unmanicured terrain. Term originally derived from Vail, with a front side of cut trails and a back side of glades and open bowls. Today, most Western and even a few Eastern ski areas have what is considered a “back side,” although it may not be geographically located on the “back” of the mountain.


Big Air, Flat Landing. Ouch.


skiing a mogul field with unquestionable skill…knees pumping like pistons, skis banging on the snow.


device a few inches from the bottom of a ski pole, designed to help “plant” the pole and ultimately prevent the pole from knifing straight down into the snow. Small diameter baskets work best on eastern ice; wider diameter baskets are more helpful in western powder.


The Basin
Although there are many resorts with Basin in the name, only A-Basin is referred to simply as “the Basin.”


Trapezoid-shaped rail (up, flat, down) in the terrain park.


the way hip, in-the-know skiers refer to backcountry skiing.


The Beach
parking lot or area at base lodge at the end of the season. After a few runs mashing through mush, most just head to the beach for booze, babes in bikinis, boomboxes, BBQ grills, etc. Some ski areas actively promote this phenomenon. Those that do are usually much ado about nothing. True beaches are spontaneous happenings. The beach that sets the standard is at A-Basin.


Bear Trap
Historic binding that used a spring-assisted cable that stretched around the heel of the boot, then clamped down with a lever in front of the toe retainer.


The Beast
nickname for Berkshire East


The Beast of the East
yet another nickname for Killington


The Beav
Beaver Mountain, UT


wiped out; usually applied to a wipe out in which the skier or boarder pops back up and continues.


The Bird
popular nickname for Snowbird


Birds of Prey
World Cup race trail at Beaver Creek, CO


expert trails, also expert skiers.


Blowing out the mice
when ski areas test their snowmaking system in the fall.


snarky nickname for Ski Bluewood, closest ski area to Walla Walla, WA


intermediate trails, also intermediate skiers. Strong Blues are good intermediate skiers who venture onto expert trails.


this is the orange netting you see lining racecourses. It’s often a combination of A-Net panels and B-Net, and the lower blue netting for crowd control is called C-Net, but it’s all mostly referred to as B-Net. B-Net is a trademark of Barry Cordage LTD of Montreal, Canada. Barry Cordage also makes aerial nets for trapeze artists, etc.


It’s pronounced “bo-dee,” and he happens to be the first American in 20+ years to win the FIS Overall World Cup. He’s Bode Miller, from Franconia, New Hampshire, 2004-2005 Overall Champion. Again in 2007-08, top gun, top dog, for a time was the best overall skier in the world. If he didn’t make a mistake, he won the race. But his hang it all out, do it my way style often resulted in chaos.


Boiler Plate
Super hard icy surface.


Hole in snow after landing “big air”


Boner City
Seeing something on the slopes that makes you very happy.


Boot Clamps
this is what hillbillies call bindings.


common short form of Breckenridge


Breeder hill, Breeder area, etc. this is one way to define smaller ski areas with limited services, target audience is locals, kids, learn-to-ski. Often a mix of surface tows and possibly a couple fixed grip chairlifts. These are places like Howelsen Hill, Tahoe-Donner, Buck Hill, Nashoba. See also “Feeder” and “Destination”


former Canadian great Todd Brooker, who won a couple downhill events in the early 1980s prior to his spectacular career-ending crash at Kitzbuehel, in which he cartwheeled down the hill like a rag doll. Although Brooker is a capable television analyst, when skiers say “Brooker” they are usually referring to an end-over-end tumble.


Originally a chairlift with a plexiglas type cover that would be lowered to minimized windchill. Today it applies to any gondola or otherwise enclosed lift.


Bubble Club
Skiers who have made whoopee on an enclosed ski lift.


Open air type of gondola, ski areas often call a cabriolet, that you stand in like canned sardines. The only benefits are that it moves a lot of people up the hill, and — if you are alone and you really gotta go — the bottom is usually metal grating.


The Buhel
Kitzbuhel, Austria; see Hahnenkamm, below


The Bush
nickname for Sugarbush.


This is the “upward” curvature in the center area of your skis. Gives the ski the ability to flex, rebound in turns, and provide the skier with more control. Some powder skis use reverse camber; the ski is curved downward to aid flotation.


manufacturer of one-piece work wear popular with mountain ops; also used by discriminating skiers in the Virginias, Carolinas, and some remote rural locales.


as in, “Sierra Cement,” referring to wet, heavy snow.


Champagne Powder
Used to describe the dry, crystalline powder snow at Steamboat.


Ski vibrations or uncontrolled movement on bumpy or rough surfaces at speed.


pronunciation of Jay Peak, in Cherman.


Chicken Necks
or “Frozen Chicken Necks” round globs of ice formed by tilling that adhere to the surface and will toss a skier.


Unusual type of lift that has chairs and gondolas on the same rope. Usually has separate lines for both types of conveyance. Only a couple of lifts have been assembled this way.


choppy, wet snow.


See “boot clamps,” above. Enough already.


This is a type of snowboard binding that can be clicked into like a ski binding. It saves the boarder from having to sit down and fiddle with straps. Fell out of fashion as more and more boarders jumped into terrain parks; some “click in” bindings had a nasty habit of popping out when the rider would jump on a hit.


Two meanings. First, to get hit by someone skiing recklessly. Second, to have your ticket cut and lift privileges revoked. Example: After the idiot clipped five people, his ticket was clipped.


Depends where you are. Hard concrete refers to icy conditions. Wet concrete refers to wet, slushy crud. Cascade Concrete refers to wet, slushy crud. “Concrete” — used by itself — is either ice or slush, depends on your point of view.


Semi-frozen spring snow, or spring snow before it degenerates into wet cement. A desirable spring snow; large granules with just enough adhesion to provide fun skiing conditions.


Cross Country Trail
Older or poorly designed trail flat enough — or even uphill at times — requiring poling and walking.


Soft, mucky, mushy muck that nobody likes to ski in. Usually spring snow in the east, average snow in the Cascades.


Damp, Dampen
Ability of a ski to absorb chatter.


Deer Run
Trail name commonly given to long wandering novice or easy intermediate trails that go from summit to base.


Destination Resort
Typically one with high cost tickets, and requires overnight stay somewhere. These are places like Heavenly, Vail, Lutsen, Stowe. See also “breeder” and “feeder.”


DH, Downhill
Downhill race course, gates are set only at intervals to keep the skier on a specific course. Downhill is the least technical — but most difficult — of the alpine ski race disciplines. Turns are usually greater than 30 meters.


measurements across the ski at the two widest and one narrowest part, also known as the tip-waist-tail. The measurements are then expressed as millimeters, such as 114-74-101.


Deutsche InternationalConfusion Number. German numbering system applied to bindings, boots, etc. in an effort to standardize things, based on the metric system. Hopelessly confuses those of us in the USA. Usually we use the term “DIN rating” or “DIN number” to refer to our weight release setting on our bindings.


Did Not Finish, in competition.


Do it up one time
Catch phrase attributed to “Radio Ron,” a mogul skier who has a cult following in the northeast ski scene.


Double Fall Line
Any slope that not only has a grade from top to bottom, but also has a pronounced grade from left to right, such that gravity is not only forcing you down the hill, but also to one side of the trail. Think of a banked race track, but headed down hill.


A really big snowfall.


When you’re skiing with someone and things go wrong and the situation becomes unpleasant and you see a way out and rather than stop and tell your fellow skiers you just take it and they go on and suffer but at least you found an easy way out.


Earn your turns
Not using lifts; hiking or skinning up a mountain and then skiing down.


Face Shots
No, not that. It refers to skiing in deep powder, and you take hits of snow in your face.


Fall Line
straight down the mountain. Whatever route a ball would roll down a hill. Some ski slopes have double fall lines, which means the trail slopes two ways.


Another name for one-piece ski suits.


First tracks
Being first down a trail after a snowfall.


Feeder resort, feeder mountain, etc. These are mid-sized resorts usually populated by locals and weekend vacation homes. You wouldn’t necessarily fly to ski at one of these places, but you might. Typified by places like Alpine Meadows, Powder Mountain, Loveland, Caberfae, Gore Mountain. See also “breeder” and “destination.”


Federation Internationale de Ski (or something to that effect) the sanctioning body of World Cup skiing.


Two meanings: First, a ski sold “flat” is a ski sold without bindings. Second, when a binding is mounted “flat” it means that it is fastened directly to the ski, with no intermediate “plate.” Flat-mounted bindings are currently preferred by park & pipe skiers, mogul skiers, powder skiers, and many all-mountain enthusiasts.


Trail section with lack of sufficient grade that it requires poling or walking to cross.


Footy, Footy for the Boys
Expression describing someone who religiously uses their GoPro to create video of meaningless runs, or goes to great extremes to capture video that ends badly. Coined by Jerry of the Day.


Fore Runner
Skier or skiers sent down a race course to test it out for observers. In FIS competition, these skiers are usually the best local pros. They generally fall and flail their way down the course, which serves to point out (a) how genuinely difficult the course is to ski at race speed, and (b) how much better World Cup skiers are than even the best experts any given ski resort can produce.


Icy conditions that remain after the powder has been skied off.


Found ski area
“Lost” or closed ski area that has re-opened.


Free Skiing
a term racers use to describe non-competivie skiing, or skiing just for the fun of it, what the rest of us just call skiing.


Same thing as “first tracks” above, but with some expanded usage. Generally refers to anything having to do with new fallen snow; can be noun or verb. Noun: “We were first on the freshies” Verb: “We made freshies in the upper glade this morning.”


Front Side
Refers to the groomed or otherwise regularly maintained trails at a ski resort. Generally used to describe skiers who take fewer risks. Term originally derived from Vail, with a front side of cut trails and a back side of glades and open bowls. A “front sider” stays in the civilized terrain.


Frozen Smoke
Very dry powder snow.


Fruit Boots


Full Send
Going for it with complete commitment, perhaps too much so; usually ends badly.


Gap Jump
Lunatic practice of jumping over a gap of some sort, either a road, stream, canyon, etc.


Very slow skiers who appear to be gaping at the traffic passing them by.


Former binding manufacturer, bought by Rossignol. No Geze bindings are indemnified any longer. Pronounce “gay-zee.”


Nordic race in which all participants start at the same time. It is sometimes tried in alpine skiing, usually for audience enjoyment.


ski slope that has a few trees on it. technically, a glade is an opening in a forest. Differs from tree skiing, which is skiing in a forest or a thinned-out forest…know the difference. A glade is mostly open, tree skiing is not.


Gold Miner’s Daughter. GMD is a lodge at base of Alta, at the end of Little Cottonwood Canyon.


Challenging slope or conditions, or almost anything you’ve skied on or are going to ski if you are excited by it. You’re going to “shred the gnar” …and it doesn’t really matter what the “gnar” is.




Gorilla, Gorilla Turn
Using the upper body to force a turn.


Govy, Guvvie
Government Camp, Oregon. That’s the “town” that services a number of ski resorts on Mt. Hood with lodging, restaurants, ski shops, and the usual. During summer months it becomes an odd melange of ski camp kids and rehabbing racers who practice each morning on the Palmer Snowfield at Timberline Lodge.


What machine-made snow becomes as it gets warm. A word ski areas use to call the thick crud that looks like miniature ball bearings that nobody wants to ski on. A euphemism for garbage snow. “Machined granular” is crud the groomers have slopped around. “Frozen granular” is a nice way of saying ice.


Has a few different meanings, all related to grooming the snow. The guys who drive the grooming machines are called groomers, and the machines they drive are sometimes called groomers. It can also be used to refer to a vague combination of the two: “The groomers really cleaned up this trail last night.” Last but not least, the trails at a given ski area that the groomers groom regularly with their groomers are called…groomers. Example: “Johnny likes the bumps, but I tend to stay on the groomers.”


Giant Slalom. A slalom course with gates set further apart, generally encouraging more speed with a longer ski.


Notorious World Cup downhill race course at Kitzbuhel, Austria. Site of numerous career-ending crashes. The course itself is called the Streif.


The Hammer (Randy Grasso)
King of bump skiing in New England, usually found on Outer Limits trail at Killington.


A liftie’s worst nightmare. After a newbie or OOR has trouble boarding a chairlift, they usually get smacked to the side and fall with little harm done. Some, however, hang on for dear life and head up the mountain dangling from the chair.


Skier who tries to play down another skier’s success.


The Hermanator (Hermann Maier)
Also known as “Das Monster” for being indestructible, besides the fact that he dominated ski racing for almost ten years. Maier went high and horizontal at 70 mph during his downhill run at the 1998 Olympic games in Nagano. After a crash that would’ve killed most mere mortals, Maier returned over the next couple days to take the gold in slalom and giant slalom. A few years later he was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident and, yes, returned to win the World Cup. Hence “the Hermanator.”


Hero Snow
Optimum conditions; the stuff that makes everybody look like a great skier. A lot of ski areas claim to have this when in fact they have nothing of the sort.


walking uphill in skis by forming a v-shape. sometimes called a duckwalk.


When a ski racer misses a gate, they may hike back up to the gate to prevent a disqualification, assuming their skis have stayed on.


manmade feature in a terrain park.


When ski or board “grabs” the snow and turns sharply on its own


Skier who skis the toughest trails, usually with a flourish, has a standoffish attitude and generally can’t be bothered by the rest of us mere mortals.


A big, crazy jump or drop, as off a cliff.


Ice Face
Nickname for New York’s Whiteface, site of the 1980 Olympic downhill.


refers to bindings; indemnified bindings are those that the manufacturer still supports, and as such your local ski shop will still adjust for you (usually).


Surface lift in which a J- or L-shaped bar suspended from an overhead wire pulls a single skier up the slope via his or her behind. J-bar lifts run clockwise, L-bars run counter-clockwise…get it? BUT don’t ever refer to an L-bar as an L-bar — always call it a J-bar, no matter what way it runs.


The Jane
nickname for Mary Jane, popular bumped up mountain at Winter Park.


Noob or Tex who tries real hard but is clueless to the fact that they are indeed,


The Jet
1. original trail at Jay Peak, VT. 2. nickname Steve Porino gave himself on the World Cup Tour. As a pro skier, he never lived up to it. But he’s extremely knowledgable and an excellent TV commentator.


projecting you feet forward while coming out of a turn, to increase speed. Style perfected by Stein Ericksen.


Jack Off New Guy.




A sharply angled jump that effectively “kicks” a skier up in the air, such as a freestyle jump.


Kirkwood Ski Resort, California.


Klammer (Franz Klammer)
Austrian skier whose no-holds-barred gold-medal run in the 1976 Innsbruck Olympic Downhill inspired a new style and generation of high speed racing. Easily the most breathtaking run ever seen by a worldwide audience at that time. Skiers have since gone faster and to greater extremes, but his 1976 dash to gold will forever be the benchmark. Also known as the Austrian Express and the Austrian Astronaut.


Lasse Kjus
Norwegian olympian, one of the great downhill skiers of the 1990s.


Long, difficult FIS World Cup course in Wengen, Switzerland, located in the shadow of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau.


Stoners, ski bums, overtired college students, etc. who operate ski lifts. Not all Lift Operators are Lifties…let’s be clear on that.


The Loaf
common short form of Sugarloaf, ME


Lord, Lord’s Prayer
Jesus of course, however ski trails with this name are usually memorializing Charlie Lord, a CCC worker who built numerous trails in New England during the 1930s and 1940s.


Lost ski area
Ski area that has gone out of business, whether it has become a condo complex or the rusting infrastructure still rattles in the wind. See NELSAP, below.


Former name of Smuggler’s Notch Ski Area, still the name of the main mountain.


Magic Carpet
conveyor belt-type ski lift; ideal for the pre-school set because you simply stand on it while the lift cranks slowly up the hill.


smells bad. also funky


Mashed Potatoes
sloppy, ungroomed snow, tough to ski in. Also referred to as scrambled eggs, chicken heads and bowling balls, etc.


film crew from Burlington, VT that produces movies based on the east coast ski scene.


Merrill, Perry Merrill
Refers to a Vermont road department worker who was laid off during the Great Depression, who went to work building ski trails. Constructed the original Nose Dive with Charley Lord.


a ski favored in areas prone to powder, but generally suitable for skiing on piste. It began with skis with a waist (underfoot measurement) of 70 mm or higher, but now even that’s too narrow. As most manufacturer’s reps are known to say, “almost everything’s a midfat these days.”


Miller, Warren
Ski movie pioneer whose annual films are often shown in ski towns as a way to ramp up to the season, often with a festival atmosphere attached. Miller’s films combined deep powder skiing, acrobatics, and usually some gaffes to create an entertaining capsule of the sport. Miller provided his own narration, which was arguably more complelling than the footage. Famous, frequently-used Miller lines include “You want your skis? Go get ’em” and “If you don’t try skiing this season, you’ll be at least another year older when you do.” The Warren Miller brand is currently owned by Time, Inc.


Mt. Sneaux
snarky nickname for Mount Snow


common short form of Mad River Glen


skiers who wear one-piece “romper” ski suits


as a noun, it’s an acronym for New England Lost Ski Area Project. Catch-all website is home to info on out-of-business ski areas in New England and elsewhere. as a verb, a ski area is “Nelsapped” when it goes out of business.


are the girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband who has never skied before, but gamely insists on going along and trying.


New Nordic Norm. One of the important boot/binding standards in cross country skiing.


Derogatory term for Newbie. “newbie” is said with affection; “noob” with derision.


A soft ski designed for beginners, not rigid enough to hold an edge at high speeds.


Nordic (skiing)
generally describes cross-country or ski jumping. Nordic gear, for example.


someone really into cross country skiing.


Nose Dive
Arguably the most storied ski trail in the USA. One of the original CCC trails at Stowe, used to require a short hike, then a psycho run down one of the narrowest, iciest, most frightening trails ever built. Today’s Nose Dive has been significantly tamed.


Nutted, Nutted-out
Painful term used mostly in terrain parks. Let’s say you’re sliding on a rail, and your right ski inadvertently goes off the right side of the rail while the left ski goes off the left side of the rail.


ungroomed but legal part of a ski area. Usually refers to bowls or glades that are not maintained but approved for adventurous expert skiers.


Out of Bounds. Area posted as not legal for skiing, but usually has some attraction for adventurous expert skiers.


Orientals on Rentals (hey, I just report this stuff)


Orange Room, Trip to the Orange Room, Visit to the Orange Room
Crashing into the orange catch netting used at ski races.


common short form of Palivacinni section of A-Basin


common short form of Park City Mountain Resort


Peruvian Lodge at Alta


Telemark skiers.


pronounced peest. Groomed snow.


A pad or platform placed on top of skis; the bindings are then mounted to the plate. See Race Plate andRental PlateFlat (above) for more information.


Platter-pull, also Poma
Surface lift in which a disc suspended from an overhead wire is placed between the legs and pulls a single skier up a slope. Poma is actually a manufacturer of lifts, everything from surface tows to chairlifts to gondolas…but when referred to by skiers, “poma” generally refers to a platter-pull surface lift popularized by the same firm.


skiing where you aren’t supposed to ski, whether ducking a rope or entering a private resort.


Pocono Pavement
ice, or as the resort would say, “packed powder.”


sitting down on the back of your skis while going downhill. usually only kids are flexible enough to do this.


people you ski with.


powder snow.


Pow Mow
Powder Mountain, Utah


Powder Hound
Skier who goes to great effort to find and ski in untracked powder.


Powder Pig
someone who likes to wallow in super deep powder, where the rest of us would usually flounder.


Powder Skis
Generally any ski wider than 90 mm under foot, although that number is getting higher all the time. Right now it’s around the 110 mm mark.


Professional Ski Instructors of America. Often listed as PSIA-AASI, the adder meaning American Association of Snowboard Instructors


plastic stick used to repair the polyethylene base of a ski. Some refer to the polyethylene base material as p-tex.


Continuous snowfall while skiing.


Quiet, Quiet Middle, Quiet Center
One of the most difficult things for an intermediate skier to get…the goal is to have your legs carve turns by pivoting from side to side, as if on a swivel, while the upper body stays straight and doesn’t appear to move at all. Making turns without turning the shoulders.


When you have more than one pair of skis, in other words, you own a pair of mid-fats, a pair of racing skis for icy days, a pair of freestyle skis, a pair of rock skis, etc…this is your “quiver.”


Race Plate
Also called Lifter plate, a riser or other material between ski and bindings; by raising the bindings it gives the racer more leverage to turn the ski. Some plates are designed to increase the rigidity of the ski, and/or provide the skier with more control over the length of the ski.


Radio Ron
Fringe ski celebrity, a bump skier from Mentor, OH known for his “do it up one time” catch-phrase, vintage ski suits and radio headphones. Also famous for “dit-dit-dit-dit” chatter as he navigates steep moguls.


Free-heeling/Alpine touring type of ski that allows skier to release the heel, hike up the mountain, then lock the heel back in and ski down. Randonee enthusiasts are generally in excellent shape and a bit nutty.


Someone who can “rip,” i.e., ski extremely fast and well.


Rec skis
this is what a racer calls the skis they use when they aren’t racing, in other words, softer skis for “recreational” skiing.


Rental Plate
A type of binding mount that can be adjusted easily and quickly without tools. Often has a guide for boot length, or letter codes that the rental tech uses to quickly resize the bindings for the next customer.


Rock Season
In the eastern USA, this is the end of the ski season (March/April and sometimes May) when melting snow requires skiing over some hazards. In the west it generally describes the very early season, when cover isn’t quite sufficient to keep skis from hitting rocks. See also “Twig Season”


Rock Skis
Usually older, semi-worn out or even damaged skis now relegated for use in early or late season, when thin cover would damage a skier’s preferred pair.


Ski design that employs reverse camber to make turning and stopping easier with wide skis. Some rocker skis employ reverse camber at tip and tails, with traditional construction mid-ski. Began as “reverse camber” powder skis. Used for years by western backcountry & big mountain skiers; gained mainstream popularity circa 2009-2010.


a series of bumps, not necessarily big, that are spaced such that they give recreational skiers a roller coaster sensation. These same rollers can throw racers off balance, or ruin their approach to a gate.


Rompers or Romper Suits
goofy, one-piece ski suits — often with dayglo colors — popularized in the 1970s and 1980s. These costumes are so bizarre, they began regaining popularity circa 2006, and since then are actively sought in vintage clothing shops, e-bay, etc. Also known as fartbags.


Run Rubbish
skiers and snowboarders who sit around in the middle of a slope.


skiers and snowboarders who go for it “full send” and somehow survive


Aggressively charging a line, run, glade, etc.


To ski straight down the fall line.


To ski straight down the fall line in a tuck.


when your ski tips cross each other.


Scrambled Eggs
sloppy, ungroomed snow, same as “mashed potatoes.”


Scraping Buckles
Done by racers who ski “on the edge” and get very close to fences, netting, etc., as if their boot buckles are about to scrape along the fence.


Sel, Sel’s
Almost any ski trail with this name refers to Sel Hannah, one of the most important ski area designers in New England during the 1950s and 1960s.


Send Sticks
skis. Use these when you commit; see “Full Send” above.


the front, upturned part of the ski.


a number based on the parabolic shape, or sidecut of the ski. The number describes the turning radius of the ski if skied on edge; a ski with a 14 meter turning radius has a significant sidecut, while a ski with a 25 meter turning radius does not. The lower the number, the more “turny” the ski.


Describes a ski area with the main lodge on the side of the hill, as opposed to the bottom (regular) or top (upside-down). Pennsylvania leads the country in side-ways ski areas, highlighted by Sno Mountain (formerly Montage) and Blue Mountain.


Sidewall, Sidewall Construction
Skis with defined vertical “sides” between the topsheet and the base. These are usually race skis or a ski that requires a more aggressive, faster ride. Sidewall construction as differentiated from “cap” construction, in which the top sheet curves over and connects right to the base.


Signature Trail
Whether it’s history, reputation, the view, or degree of difficulty…it’s the run you have to do, even if it isn’t necessarily the best the resort has to offer. The Nose Dive at Stowe. Al’s Run at Taos. Ruthie’s Run at Aspen. You get the picture.


hole left in the snow after a fall. In the early years of the sport, ski areas required you to fill in your sitzmark, much like a golf divot.


Ski Bum
Works in a ski lodge, nearby restaurant, rental shop, etc. and lives on the cheap, earning money only so they can afford to ski. They live to ski; their lifestyle and empty wallet reflects it. Usually find ways to wrangle free skiing.


Ski Rundown
snarky nickname for Ski Sundown, CT.


This is what Aspen locals call Aspen Skiing Company. Skico monopolizes the skiing in the area; as a result, the character that once defined Aspen is now defined by Skico.


Skid, Skidded turn
a non-carved turn, or a turn that sets the edge across the snow to scrub speed. Also called a “set” turn.


Skied off or Skied out (recreational)
When all the snow has been “skied off” and only ice or other non-fun surface remains.


Skied off or Skied out (racing)
When a racer misses a gate or falls, and elects to ski off the course rather than continue.


Slow Dog Noodle
old school method of skiing moguls; skier is very much in the backseat and is almost painfully slow.


Snow Bunnies
Really, really attractive young female skiers. They tend to be followed by a crowd of young male skiers. The snow bunnies tend to like these young male skiers. They smile and flirt with young, physically fit, male skiers who don’t drive minivans and aren’t accompanied by their wife and/or children. Not that I’m jealous or anything like that.


to ski through head-deep powder


Snot Rocket
Blowing one’s nose without the aid of a tissue or handkerchief: lean forward, cover one nostril, forcibly blow snot out the other…hopefully onto the ground.


Dripping snot that freezes in the form of an icicle. (again, we don’t make this up, we just inform)


Salomon Nordic Standard — at least I think that’s what it stands for. It’s one of the boot/binding standards used in cross country skiing, tends to be preferred for skate style skiing.


Snurfing, Snurfboard
Forerunner of the snowboard circa 1969-1975. Wide board with a rope attached to the shovel. The snurfer stood on a mesh plate on the board. More akin to today’s alpine style snowboard.
Someday Bigger
snarky nickname for Sunday River, Maine.


cartwheeling down the hill. Often referred to as a “screaming starfish.”


Stash, Stashes
Often described as “secret stash” or “hidden stash.” These are special places such as chutes/runs/powder spots unknown to the average visitor. People usually stumble on these by accident, or learn about them from locals.


Virtually anything called “Stein” (Stein’s, Stein’s Run, Stein’s Lodge, Ski Like Stein) refers to Stein Ericksen, ski-racer turned instructor/ambassador who wrote an important book called Come Ski With Me. Handsome and dashing, easily the most stylish skier in history.


cool synonym for skis. little kids also call poles “sticks.”


Rossignol Stratocasters, an extremely popular ski from the 1960s through the mid 1980s. When you see an old-timer skiing on Strats, take off your hat and salute. They probably have infinitely more skills than today’s carving skier.


usually a backcountry term for a group of overnight tents. Also can refer to a group of campers or vans overnighting in a resort parking lot.


Summit County
Grand Central Station of Colorado ski areas; Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, and Keystone are actually in Summit County and pretty much within 45 minutes of each other. Due to their proximity, Summit County is often thought of as “Aspen for the Common Man.” Loveland, Winter Park, Vail and a couple others are all reasonably close, so some skiers’ concept of “Summit County” includes more than just the main four.


Super G
A race course best described as having gates further apart than a Giant Slalom, but not quite as far as a Downhill course. Generally the speeds are just a notch below that of DH.


Super Jules
Julia Mancuso; Olympic gold medalist and World Cup skier.


marquee trail at Killington, as front and center as it gets. Should you tumble here, everyone on the Superstar chair, the Snowshed chairs, anyone on line at the K1 gondy, the uphill bound on the Access Road, most of the base lodge areas, and about 30,000 condo dwellers will ooh and ahh as you throw a yard sale.


the back end of your skis.


Surface lift shaped like an upside down T suspended from an overhead wire which pulls 2 skiers up the slope via their behind.


a put-down used by Colorado & New Mexico locals to describe vacationing Texans with less than optimum skills.


measurements in millimeters to describe the parabolic shape of a ski.


once upon a time, devices used to carry skis, boots, skis and poles, and sometimes all three. Although still the easiest way to schlep skis and poles, Totes are hopelessly unhip these days.


Tow or Town Tow
small, localized ski hills — usually 50 to 300 foot vertical — with a semi-permanent rope tow. A New England term, dating from the time nearly every town had a local tow.


To ski across a steep fall line instead of straight down it. Akin to a “switchback” on a hiking trail.


Snarky nickname for Killington, based on numerous turnpike trails like Great Eastern and Great Northern that wander here and there and bisect fall line trails.


Tree Well
In western powder, area at the base of an evergreen tree that has little or very loose snow because of branches above; tree wells are known to trap and kill skiers when the surrounding “wall” collapses.


rich kid who lives like a ski bum, probably drives an old beat up Saab, lives on Ramen noodles, looks disheveled. Usually something gives away the truth: maybe they only drink exotic beer, wear $600 sunglasses or have new skis every year.


skier bent over skis, poles held close in to the body, a classic racer stance. Most recreational skiers try this at one time or another, but generally point their poles straight up and look like morons.


Tucks or Tuckermans
common short form of Tuckerman Ravine, a glacial cirque on the east side of Mt. Washington NH. Even though this spot has no lifts, it has been a focal point of eastern skiing since the 1930s.


Twig Season
Early season in the east, when windblown twigs and leaves lie on man-made snow. When winter storms hit, snow covers the terrain between trails and the organics tend to stay put.


refers to a ski area with the parking lot and lodges at the “top” of the mountain. Common to many of the southeastern ski areas, the two largest of which — Snowshoe and Wintergreen — are both upside down. Also found on a few smaller hills in the northeast and midwest.


popular nickname for Wachusett, closest mid-sized ski area to Boston metro area.


measured width of a ski in mm at the center, or right under foot (for male skiers).


somebody who likes ski areas that spread out over a lot of territory, with various hills, slopes, lifts, to maximize variety. Wanderers are happiest if a ski resort has three or more base areas, some miles apart from each other. Jackson Hole is tops for western wanderers; Killington rules the east.


Pronounced “vay-dull.” Before carving became all the rage, this was the ultimate form in parallel skiing. It’s a series of short, severe but fluid swinging turns, each culminating in a brief hard edge set, straight down the fall line. Legs together…zip, zip, zip, zip. Still the coolest looking move on skis. You may carve with the best of them, but when you see a 60-something skier wedeling, you realize that you have a lot to learn.


to snowplow.


term popular in the southeast, used to describe skiers who snowplow down the hill.


Village in Switzerland below the Eiger/Monch/Junfrau massif. Site of a long downhill trail (see Lauberhorn), recognizable for passing under a train trestle. Pronounced Veng-un, with a hard G sound, accent on first syllable.


Whale or Whales
Snowmakers build large mounds of snow mid-winter, later to be used as a stockpile of snow. Groomers tap into these piles once temps get too warm for snowmaking. Sometimes these whales are built right on the slope, where they serve as huge whoop-de-doos until the groomers push them out late in the season.


White Ribbon of Death
Snowmakers create a single top-to-bottom trail in October or November so that the resort can open early and create buzz. The resort fills with skiers anxiously awaiting the season, but they are all limited to one, very often dangerously crowded, slope. Although many ski areas do this, a few are famous for it. In Colorado, Loveland and A-Basin are known for this; Cataloochee, Sunday River and sometimes Killington in the east.


These are the old metal wire/ticket deals still used by a majority of ski areas. Not too many people call them wickets anymore.


when a ski has internal construction made of wood. Years ago this was thought to be a cheaper ski, however, certain skiers today insist that woodcore is the only way to ski. Premium skis tend to be woodcore.


Lift manufacturer with a notorious reputation for accidents. Some say — in jest — YAN stands for “Yet Another Nightmare” or “You’re Airborne Now”


Yard Sale
having your skis, poles, hat, car keys, etc. scattered about a ski slope after a wipeout.



Lift Tickets at Discount: This is a “clearinghouse” of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia. If you haven’t used this service, it is important to knowfor certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long…so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets. I’ve used this service many times, but again, ONLY when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I’ve knocked a third off the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it’s well worth checking if you’ve got a date nailed down.

Top photo CC BY-SA 3.0