Mountain Linguistics 101: Interpreting the Skier/Snowboarder Lingo

With springtime starting up in Davis, we make regular weekend trips up the road to Lake Tahoe’s many ski resorts for some great spring shredding. And no matter which one you go to, all the locals are using their language of the slopes that you don’t know. But don’t worry, anyone can learn their dialect with a little practice. As a lifetime veteran of the slopes, I’m here to give you crash course on what words to use when talking about your time on the mountain that will make you sound like an expert.

Say everything with an exclamation

There are no period marks in the punctuation of mountain language. You’re out there to have a blast and yell about it. Seriously, just leave every other punctuation mark except this one “!” at home.

You don't go "fast," you "rip"

When people come out skiing with my family for the first time, I tell them not to try and keep up with my brother because “he rips!” You will rarely hear someone use the word “fast” or “speeding” on the mountain, even when people are talking about racing.

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You don't "make a big jump," you "huck it"

This term is usually used to describe a situation in which someone goes as straight and fast as they can over the edge of something. They’re usually not trying to be fancy and do any tricks, they just want to launch themselves as fast as they can off the edge and see if they can stick the landing. People usually talk about someone “hucking it” off of a big rock on the side of the run, so it isn’t a term that you will hear used much in the terrain parks.

You don't "jump really high," you "get serious air"

Not to be confused with hucking, getting serious air is when a skier or snowboarder is more concerned with how high they get going off the edge of a rock or jump. This is definitely a terrain park term, at the bottom of the park you’ll hear a lot of things like “I got some serious air on that last jump!” People often do fun and fancy tricks when they get serious air, or in my case scream in terror because that wasn't what I meant to do but that last jump was a lot steeper than I thought.

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You don't "lose all of your gear in a big fall," you "have a yard sale"

Have you ever fallen under a chairlift and recovered your senses to find all your gear spread out on the run, then have someone going by on the lift yell “Yard sale!”? Yard sale-ing is when you fall and have nothing left strapped to your feet or in your hands because it all came off. This can be especially frustrating for skiers, who have more gear to retrieve when it happens. You NEVER go by someone who has yard sale-d without stopping to help, unless you want a big black stain on your conscience.

For skiers only: You don’t “ski on the edges of your skis,” you “carve”

“Carving” is when you make a sharp turn and get up on the edge of your ski. It’s hard to do on fresh powder, but makes skiing on the groomers super fast and fun. If you’ve ever watched professional slalom skiing races, those people live to carve it up.

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For snowboarders only: You don’t “snowboard” when you get good, you “ride”

This is a good way to show off your experience level on a snowboard, because only the more advanced snowboarders know that they are “riders”. They’ll say things like “I was riding so well back there until that kid cut me off!”

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Congratulations, you’ve completed the course! For your final exam, head on up to the slopes and strike a conversation on the lift and show everyone what you’ve learned!

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*None of the images used belong to Her Campus or the author.

Cover image source: Pixabay