by Derek Taylor, Winter X Games Skiing researcher
Here is a glossary of Skiing terms:
CARVED TURN - A turned arc by a skier with little or no slipping or skidding.
DOWNHILL SKI - The lower ski or the one that will become the lower ski in any ski turn.
FAKIE - Skiing, taking off, or landing backwards. More accurately associated with snowboarding. See also Switch.
FALL LINE - The shortest distance down the slope; the steepest gradient.
INSIDE SKI - The ski which is on the inside of the turn or will become the inside ski in any turn.
OUTSIDE SKI - The ski which is on the outside of the turn or will become the outside ski in any turn.
TRAVERSE - Skiing across the slope at an angle to the fall line.
UPHILL SKI - The ski higher on the fall line, or the one that will become the upper ski in any ski turn.
PRE-JUMP - A maneuver in which the skier jumps before reaching the crest of a bump so that his trajectory follows the contour of the bump, resulting in less air and more speed.
SWITCH-SKIING - taking off, or landing backwards. Preferred term for skiing. See also Fakie.
CAMBER - The arch built into a ski so that the ski can distribute the skiers weight over the entire length of the ski.
CANTING - Wedges placed underneath ski boots to properly position a skier's knees over the ski at the proper angle.
CHATTER - The tendency of skis not to grip on snow or ice when put on edge, caused either by the inability of the ski to dampen vibration or by the skier not weighting the ski properly and sufficiently.
DAMPENING - The quality in a ski which absorbs vibration.
EDGES - The strips of metal, usually made of hard steel, on the outer edges of the running surfaces of skis.
SUPER SIDECUT (Parabolic, hourglass-shaped)- A ski with an hour-glass shape. Wide at the tip and tail, slender at the waist.
Super sidecut skis have a shorter turning radius than traditional skis and are easier to turn.
TRADITIONAL SKIS - Describes skis with shapes typical of all skis of the past 50 years. These skis have a straighter shape than modern skis.
PARABOLIC - A super sidecut ski intended to make skiing easier for beginners.
SHOVEL - Area near the tip of the ski.
SIDEWALL - Refers to the side of the ski.
TIP - Top end of the ski.
TAIL - Rear end of the ski.
Ski Sidecut Terms
TIP WIDTH - Though meaningless in the absence of waist and tail measurements, tip width is still a good quick reference. Tips have gotten wider on the new skis, while waists and tails have stayed more constant.
SIDECUT RADIUS - Lay a ski flat and trace its sidecut, then extend that curve into a circle. The radius of that circle is the sidecut radius of the ski. The shorter radii favor tighter arcs because a decambererd ski has to bend farther--or into a deeper curve--before its waist engages the snow.
DEPTH OF SIDECUT - Instead of sidecut radius, some ski makers prefer to talk in terms of sidecut depth. Lay a ski flat, then draw an imaginary line beside it connecting the edge of the tip at its widest point to the edge of the tail at its widest point. Then measure the gap between that line and the edge of the ski at its narrowest point. Traditional depths were in the 8-10mm range. Super-sidecut depths range from around 14mm to as high as 25mm.
TAPER ANGLE - A measure of how the tip width compares to the tail. Extend the same line drawn to determine the sidecut depth all the way back to where it intersects a line drawn straight down the middle of the ski, then measure the angle. On a few skis the lines never intersect, because the tip and tail are the same width. Those skis have zero taper angle.
Terrain and ski area terms
BASE - A firm layer of hard-packed snow covering the bare ground.
BACKCOUNTRY - Out of a resort area.
BOILER PLATE - Very hard, rutted, frozen snow conditions with washboard-like grooves from the grooming equipment.
BOOTER - A large jump or kicker.
BREAKABLE CRUST - A condition in which the surface of the snow freezes into a crust where there is loose snow beneath it. This condition is most frequently encountered in spring and following warm temperatures, wind, sleet, or freezing rain.
BULLET PROOF - Super hard or frozen snow.
CEMENT - Heavy snow found in coastal regions. Particularly common in the Sierra and the Northwest.
CORN - Spring snow that has frozen and started to thaw, resulting in a creamed-corn consistency.
CRUD - Varied and inconsistent snow.
EXTREME - Dangerous steep terrain. Skiers who ride this terrain risk death.
FACE SHOT - Snow that flies up from the skis and hits the skier in the face.
FIRST DESCENT - When a line is skied for the first time ever.
FLUTE - A column of snow stacked on a terrain feature such as a rock or a on a near vertical slope.
FRESHIES - Turns in fresh powder.
GROOMER - a groomed run.
GROOMING - Flattening snow conditions with machinery. Rolling, packing, cutting down bumps, breaking up ice.
HIGH ANGLE - Steep.
HIT - A jump or terrain aspect that can send a skier airborne.
KICKER - A jump with a steep lip.
MOGUL - A snow bump formed by the action of skiers. Usually found on steeper slopes.
POW - Powder.
PISTE - A maintained trail or slope.
ROLLER - A hit or jump with a rounded top.
OFF-PISTE - Off the groomed slope or out of the ski area boundary. Backcountry.
SNOWCAT - Machinery used for grooming snow and building courses. Over-snow tracked vehicles.
TRANSITION - A change in ski terrain, as when going from a steep pitch to a flat section.
TRANNY - Slang for transition.
AERIALS - With specialized big air ramps and landings, original moves were upright moves; spread eagles (legs spread wide while in the air), back scratches (ski tips drop and tails of the skis touch an arched back) and helicopters (360-degree spins in the air). Later complicated inverted maneuvers began to dominate; quadruple flips and multiple front and back flips with twists.
ALPINE - All competitive events whose basic element is down, for example: downhill, slalom, giant slalom.
BALLET ( now termed Acro): Gliding on intermediate slopes, corresponding to music, seen as figure skating on skis.
COMBINED - The result of two or more races arrived at by converting the results of each into points and them adding them together.
DOWNHILL - A race essentially down the mountain in which control gates are used only to check unsafe speed and to guide the racer around dangerous obstacles.
DUAL COURSE - Two courses are set parallel down the mountain, and two racers start simultaneously out of dual starting gates. Since no two courses are the same, dual slalom is decided by taking two runs in which the racers switch courses on the second run.
EXTREME SKIING COMPETITION - Big mountain skiing competitions where athletes are judged on an entire top to bottom run with no gates.
FREE SKIING - Skiing for fun, not competing or training. "I finished training; I am going free skiing."
FREE SKIING COMPETITIONS - New name for what was formerly called extreme skiing competition. These are big mountain skiing competitions where athletes are judged on an entire top to bottom run with no gates. The line or route the skier chooses is his or her own, not dictated by a gate or course judge.
FREESTYLE - A form of alpine competition incorporates three elements of skiing. Moguls, Ballet (Acro) and Aerials.
GIANT SLALOM (GS) - A form of Alpine racing in which the racer passes through a series of gates, similar to slalom, but faster and more open.
JIB - New school aerial competitions like big air and slopestyle. Preferred term in U.S. Also called New Freestyle.
MOGULS - Skiers are judged on how they ski a mogul run, including two mandatory airs off which skiers perform tricks. Pro mogul competitions have racers competing head to head in an elimination format.
NEW FREESTYLE - New school aerial competitions like big air and slopestyle. Preferred term in French-Canadian provinces. Also known as Jib Skiing.
SLALOM - A form of alpine racing in which the racer must run a course designated by a series of gates set in various combination as to test his technique, speed, and agility. Failure to pass through the gate properly results in disqualification.
SUPER G - A faster, more open version of the giant slalom; kind of a cross between GS and downhill.
WORLD CUP - An annual series featuring the best freestyle and alpine skiers.
Misc. slang terms
AK - (pronounced a-kay) Alaska.
CHARGE - To ski fast and aggressively.
DOPE - Cool.
FLASH - To ski a line fast and flawlessly, without stopping of hesitating.
FOLD - To crash big, most often used in past tense. (I folded on impact.)
HELI - Helicopter, either the machine, or a 360.
HUCK - To jump, usually without concern for the consequences.
JUNK SHOW - A gathering of people or equipment.
LARGE - Big, crazy. "He went large."
MAD - 1) Crazy. "He was skiing some mad lines. 2) A lot. "He has mad style."
PACK - To wreck hard.
PHAT - Cool or a lot. "Those new skis are Phat." "He caught phat air off that."
POACH - 1) To ski closed or out of bounds terrain. 2) To drop in on a line someone else had lined up.
POSER - Some one who acts better than they are.
RAG DOLL - A cartwheeling fall, usually when gear is lost. See also Starfish.
RIP/RIPPING -To ski really well. (becoming overused in ski media.)
RIPPER - A really good skier.
SICK - Big, crazy, cool, incredibly difficult.
SPRAY - To talk constantly about how good you are.
SKETCHY/SKETCH - Questionable terrain or conditions and/or a nervous feeling. (Interchangeable).
STEP UP - To push abilities to the next level. To rise to a challenge.
STICK - To land a jump cleanly.
STOMP - Interchangeable with charge or stick.
STRAIGHT-LINE - To ski a steep face or line without turning.
STARFISH - A cartwheeling fall. Also Rag Doll.
TWEAK - 1) To put more emphasis on a trick (a tweaked 720). 2) To freak out or lose one's composure. 3) To injure slightly, as in a sprain. (I tweaked my ankle on that landing.)
YARD SALE - A big wreck where the skiers equipment is scattered about the hill.
360 - A single rotation, or heli.
720 - Two complete rotations.
900 - Two and a half rotations.
1080 - Three rotations.
1260 - Three and a half rotations.
BACK SCRATCHER - Old-school freestyle move where the legs are bent, and skis are tucked behind the back.
BACK 180 - Back flip with a half rotation.
CORKED - A semi-inverted spin. (corked 720)
D-SPIN - Corked, inverted 720. Named by Evan Raps.
DINNER ROLL - A flat spin with twisting rotations. Named by Jonny Moseley.
DAFFY - Splitting the legs in mid air, like taking a step.
FLAIR - Skis crossed behind the back.
GRAB - Grabbing any part of the ski.
HELI - Short for helicopter. Skier-specific term for a 360.
JAPAN GRAB - Grabbing the ski with the opposite hand (left hand, right ski, etc.)
LAWN DART - Jumping head first with the body horizontal, ending in a front flip.
LINCOLN LOOP - A sideways roll.
MOBIUS - A fully inverted 360.
MISTY FLIP - Partially inverted 360 with a front flip.
PHIL GRAB - Same hand, same ski. Named for Philippe Belanger.
RODEO - Partially inverted 360 with a back flip.
SCREAMIN' SEAMEN - Tucking one leg behind the other and back in mid air.
SKODEO - Switch Rodeo 540 (off the jump backwards, semi-inverted backflip with one and a half rotations). Named for Skogen Sprang.
SPREAD EAGLE - Spreading the legs in mid air.
SWITCH - Any trick where the take off or landing is backwards.
SWITCH BACK 180 - Back flip with a half rotation, started backwards.