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The ABC Guide to Ski Jargon

22 Dec, 2016 by Investors In Property

The ski season is just beginning, and skiers and snowboarders everywhere are planning to make a trip back to the mountains. For those of us who are looking at their first time skiing, there has never time to do some quick swotting up before you get out to the resort. After all, a lot of the terms we take for granted feel pretty alien the first time you go to a ski resort.

Those of you not new to skiing, snowboarding and the Alps, feel free to look away now; we're going back to basics!


Alpine skiing: skiing downhill rather than cross-country or telemarking
Après skiing: grabbing a few drinks in the bar after skiing


Biathlon: a cross country race that brings you the delightful combination of skiing and rifle shooting
Binding: the part of your ski that connects your boot to your ski or snowboard. Important parts include the baseplate at the bottom of the boot and the DIN settings determining what pressure your binding releases at.
Black run: advanced ski slope
Blue run: beginner ski slope


Cable car: a large aerial lift with only two cars
Carving: using the edges of your skis or snowboard to carry you through turns faster, and with more control. Carving skis are designed specifically to help you with this.
Chairlift: a lift shaped like a metal sofa that skiers and snowboarders ski onto and off of
Cross-country skiing: using narrow skis to glide along flat tracks. Also known as Nordic skiing


Drag lift: there are two main types of drag lift, where a rope is used to pull skiers and snowboarders up hill. The main difference between the two is that a button lift seats one, with the pole between your legs, and a t-bar seats two, with one either side of the pole
Downhill edge: the edge of the lower ski as you traverse the slopes
Downhill ski: the lower ski, as you traverse the slopes


Edge: the sharp metal strip on the edge of skis, used for control while skiing


FIS: the international organisation of ski sports
Freestyle: a style of skiing and snowboarding focused on jumps and tricks


Gondola: a smaller aerial lift that has many cars generally taking between four and twenty passengers in each
Grooming: flattened, pisted snow done overnight by large piste basher machines


Halfpipe: A half pipe shape built in the snow used for freestyle 
Hard pack: Snow that has been compressed as far as possible
Heli-skiing: getting a lift in a helicopter to off-piste areas that you wouldn’t be able to reach on your own


Inside edge: the edge of the ski on the inside of a turn


Kicker: a small jump usually made from snow, they’re often found at the sides of marked runs


Lift pass: the ticket that allows you access to the ski lifts. There are a few different options in each resort generally, covering single or multiple ski areas


Magic carpet: Also known as a travellator, this is a conveyor belt lift that is normally found in beginner and children’s areas
Moguls: bumps set out on a ski run, an advanced form of skiing usually avoided by all but expert skiers. Snowboarders find these runs especially tricky
Monoski: both boots are attached to one ski


Nordic combined: a race that combines Nordic skiing and ski jumping
Nordic skiing: another name for cross-country skiing


Off-piste: slopes not covered by trails, and not patrolled by ski patrol. (N.B. Never attempt this without the right equipment)


Packed powder: this is groomed powder, and it’s the perfect ski conditions for piste skiers
Piste: The ski slope
Powder: fresh snow that hasn’t been skied or pisted, normally found off-piste


Red run: intermediate slope
Rope lift: most often used in the beginner areas, this is a lift where you hold onto a slow rope that pulls you uphill


Schussing: skiing straight downhill without turning
Slalom: a downhill ski race between gates that must be passed, one of the oldest ski disciplines in the winter Olympics.
Ski touring: an increasingly popular skiing and snowboarding sub-sport. Skiers and riders hike uphill using special bindings and skins on the bottom of their skis, before fastening the back of the binding down to the ski and skiing down Alpine style
Skins: covers that go on the slippery underside of your skis, designed to enable you to climb uphill in them
Snow canons: artificial snow makers positioned at the sides of lower pistes
Snow park: an area designed for freestyle skiing and boarding
Snowplough: a beginner technique that involves forming an arrow shape with your skis and pushing the back ends outwards to stop.


Telemark skiing: a combination of downhill and cross-country skiing, where the skis have detached heels but can still handle steep downhill slopes. Telemarking requires the use of a different technique than Alpine skiing.
 Tips: the top of your skis
Traverse: skiing the slope in a zig zag pattern


Uphill edge: the edge of the ski on the uphill side while traversing
Uphill ski: the top ski as you traverse a slope


Wax: used on the underside of skis and snowboards to make sure they glide over the snow properly 
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