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Ski Glossary: A complete guide to ski terms and slang phrases

Do you know your snow sharks from your death cookies? Master your ski slang and talk like a pro with our complete guide to ski terms and snowboarding jargon.

We’ve compiled a list of the weirdest idioms from around the world and a ski glossary to help you slot in on the slopes.

French

Idiom: On se pèle les miches
English literal translation: we are peeling our buttocks
Actual meaning: it’s very cold

Idiom: Il engage la viande
English literal translation: he takes on the meat
Actual meaning: he takes some risks

Idiom: Envoyer du gros
English literal translation: sending it large
Actual meaning: ride/ski at full speed

Idiom: Ca envoie du gros
English literal translation: it’s sending it large
Actual meaning: it’s going to be intense / conditions are wild

Idiom: Il n'est pas venu acheter du terrain
English literal translation: he didn’t come here to buy the land
Actual meaning: ride/ski at full speed

Idiom: Ça caille!
English literal translation: It curdles
Actual meaning: it’s cold enough to make your blood curdle

Idiom: On dérape
English literal translation: we slip
Actual meaning: we are going to the snow park

He takes on the meat

Italian

Idiom: una settimana bianca
English literal translation: to take a white week
Actual meaning: to take time off to go skiing

Idiom: Pennellare le curve
English literal translation: to brush the curves
Actual meaning: to corner perfectly

Idiom: Spina di pesce
English literal translation: fishbone
Actual meaning: to move up the slope with diverging skis

Idiom: Essere sulla neve tutto l'anno
English literal translation: to be on the snow all year
Actual meaning: to spend a lot of time skiing or snowboarding

Makeral Smack

English

Idiom: Rip these freshies
Meaning: to be the first to ski on the freshly fallen snow

Idiom: Smash the pillows
Meaning: ski over or jump from boulders covered in snow

Idiom: Snow sharks
Meaning: hidden rocks under the snow (also chocolate chips)

Idiom: Death cookies
Meaning: frozen lumps of snow that can cause you to lose control (also chicken heads)

Idiom: Coral reef
Meaning: The refrozen snow that looks like a coral reef and is unpleasant to ski on

Idiom: Mackerel smack
Meaning: a hard snowboard forward fall

German

Idiom: Rockin’ the Flocken
English literal translation: Rocking the flakes
Actual meaning: skiing when it’s snowing

Norwegian

Idiom: Silkeføre
English literal translation: silky conditions
Actual meaning: relating to smooth or easy snow conditions

Idiom: barneskirenn
English literal translation: a children’s ski race
Actual meaning: when you win by a large margin

Idiom: et bakgårdssalg
English literal translation: a yard sale
Actual meaning: a spectacular wipe out that results in a trail of debris

Finnish

Idiom: Sukset menivät ristiin
English literal translation: to get your skis crossed
Actual meaning: to get wires crossed

Idiom: Suksia kuuseen
English literal translation: to ski up a fir tree
Actual meaning: go away

Idiom: Laittaa hanskat naulaan
English literal translation: Hang up your mittens
Actual meaning: to give up

It’s fascinating to see all the weird and wonderful phrases people use when they ski or snowboard. Whilst we may be more familiar with some of the English slang phrases, European and North American phrases have proved to be just as colourful. The ski community is such a rich and diverse mix of cultures and nationalities, it’s great to be able to immerse yourself in the action and take home a phrase or two. It’s no wonder so many of us like to brush up on these common phrases before our holidays.

Have you heard any unusual ski idioms we haven’t mentioned? Get in touch and let us know what to add to the list at ski@vip-chalets.com.

Ski glossary: an A-Z guide of ski slang terms

A

Après-Ski: Any social activities undertaken to unwind after a day of skiing.
Alpine Skiing: The most common form of downhill skiing, involving bindings that attach at the toes and heels.

B

Backcountry: Off-piste skiing in unmarked, ungroomed, or unpatrolled areas outside of resort boundaries.
Bindings: Mechanisms that attach the ski boots to the skis.
Bombing: Skiing very fast down a slope.
Bonk: To hit an obstacle, like a tree or rock, while skiing.
Bluebird Day: A clear, sunny day with a bright blue sky.
Black Piste: A very difficult or expert-level ski run.

C

Carving: Making smooth, arced turns on the snow.
Champagne Powder: Very light, dry, and fluffy snow, often considered best for skiing.
Chatter: Vibrations felt in skis when they lose grip on the snow.
Corduroy: Freshly groomed snow that resembles the pattern of corduroy fabric.
Chowder: Heavy, chopped-up snow.

D

Downhill: Skiing or riding down a slope.
Dump: A heavy snowfall.

E

Edges: The metal strips along the sides of skis that provide grip on the snow.

F

Face Plant: Falling face-first into the snow.
Freestyle Skiing: A style of skiing that includes tricks, jumps, and moguls.
Face Shot: When skiers or snowboarders kick up snow into their face when riding in deep powder.
Freshies: Fresh, untouched snow.

G

Gaper: A newbie skier or snowboarder displaying lack of skill, often identified by their equipment and attire.
Gnarly: Difficult, challenging, or extreme conditions.
Gelande Quaffing: A drinking game popular in ski towns involving sliding a mug across a bar.

H

Heli-skiing: Using a helicopter to access remote off-piste skiing areas.

I

Inrun: The portion of a ski jump where the athlete gains speed before taking off.

J

Jump Turn: A quick turn executed in the air during a jump.

K

Kick Turn: A technique for changing direction on skis by lifting one ski's tail while the other remains on the snow.
Knuckle Draggers: Refers to snowboarders as they often drag a hand on the snow for balance.

L

Liftie: A person who operates a ski lift.

M

Moguls: Bumps or mounds of snow on a ski slope formed by skier traffic.

N

Nordic Skiing: Cross-country skiing, involving skis with bindings that only attach at the toes. Nuking: Heavy snowfall, usually accompanied by strong winds.

O

Off-piste: Skiing in areas outside of marked trails.

P

Powder: Fresh, soft snow.
Piste: A marked and groomed ski trail.

Q

Quick Release: A mechanism on ski bindings that releases the boot in the event of a fall.

R

Rail Slide: Sliding along a rail or other obstacle on skis or a snowboard. Ripper: An expert skier or snowboarder who moves quickly and skilfully.

S

Shredding: Skiing or riding skilfully.
Slalom: A type of ski race featuring a course marked by gates.
Snowplough: A beginner's skiing technique where the skis are turned inward to form a "V" shape.

T

Traverse: Skiing or snowboarding across the slope rather than straight down.
Telemark Skiing: A style of skiing where the heel is not fixed to the ski.
Tree Well: An area around the base of a tree in deep snow that can be hazardous to fall in to.

U

Uphill Skiing / Uphilling: Skiing uphill using special skins attached to the skis and poles to climb up the mountain.

V

Vertical Drop: The difference in elevation between the top and bottom of a ski run.

W

Whiteout: When visibility is poor due to heavy falling snow.

X

Cross-Country Skiing: A form of Nordic skiing involving long, narrow skis.

Y

Yard Sale: A fall that results in losing gear scattered across the slope.

Z

Zipper Line: Skiing by making quick turns so that your trail resembles the teeth of a zipper.

We’d love to hear about the ski slang you use, so send us your examples at ski@vip-chalets.com.

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