Getting to Grips with the Lingo on the Slopes

Research shows that around 1.1 million Brits go skiing or snowboarding every winter, with many hitting the slopes for the first time.

As with learning any new sport, there’s a host of skiing-related phrases to familiarise yourself with before clipping your ski boots in place.

Gary Clark, expert in gap year adventures and Academy Director at Basecamp said: “Whether you’re skiing for the first time or looking to expand your existing knowledge, brushing up on some skiing lingo can help to really maximise your enjoyment.

“Much skiing terminology is unique to certain resorts or parts of the world, so it’s helpful to have a basic working knowledge to immerse yourself in the culture. What’s more, thanks to channels such as TikTok, the skiing glossary has become more accessible than ever.”

Impress the rest of your ‘ski party’ with these little nuggets:

Ski Slope Ratings

First and foremost, in the interests of safety, you’ll want to memorise the different ski slope ratings. Chances are, if you’re a beginner, you’ll want to avoid a rickety red run. Ski slope ratings are typically classified using a colour-coded system:

  • Green: Green slopes are typically for beginners and the least challenging runs on the course. These have gentle gradients and are often marked by wide, open spaces and ‘magic carpet’ ski lifts. Expect plenty of kids and those taking ski lessons.
  • Blue: Blue slopes are of easy-to-intermediate level and possess a maximum gradient of 25%. Perfect for returning skiers, those looking to hone their craft or when graduating from the green slopes.
  • Red: Red slopes are generally steeper and narrower than blues and perfect for those looking for more of a challenge. With a gradient range of 30%-45%, red runs are for those who can link their parallel turns quickly.
  • Black: Black slopes are not for the uninitiated and are typically the most advanced on the course. Boasting gradients of 45% +, black slopes are steep and sometimes ungroomed, with trees and moguls posing as obstacles. Perhaps best enjoyed in the latter part of your gap year ski season.
  • Double Black Diamond: Some ski resorts use a double black diamond to denote slopes that are even more challenging than standard blacks. These terrains are for expert skiers comfortable with extremely steep descents, moguls and other advanced features.

Further lingo…

Social media platforms like TikTok have become a melting pot of skiing trends and cultural phenomena.

Here are some of the best:

Après-Ski: Beyond the slopes, apres-ski is the socialising and relaxation that occurs after a day of skiing. It often involves enjoying drinks, DJs and camaraderie in ski lodges and other alpine establishments.

Bluebird: Bluebird refers to a perfect, sunny day with clear blue skies – usually following a snowfall. The term is especially popular amongst skiing because it describes ideal conditions for enjoying the slopes.

Chatter: When your skis vibrate on the snow surface, producing a distinctive sound, it’s known as chatter. Adjusting your technique can help minimise chatter and enhance your overall skiing experience.

Fresh-dump: It’s not what you think….According to TikTok, a ‘fresh dump’ is a recent significant snowfall—perfect conditions for skiing.

Let rip: When you really get good, ‘letting rip’ is the term for skiing fast or on the very edge of one’s ability.

Powder: Perhaps the most well-known skiing term, powder refers to fresh, newly fallen snow that is light, fluffy, and has not been compacted by skiers or other factors. Powder is characterised by its dry, airy consistency, making it an absolute favourite among skiers.

Some regional variants…

Shred the Gnar (North America): Popular in North America, particularly in the United States, “shred the gnar” means skiing aggressively on challenging terrain, embodying the thrill-seeking spirit of American skiers.

Piste Basher (Europe): In French, piste simply means the marked ski run or path down the mountain. “Piste basher” refers to a snow groomer. This term reflects the meticulous smoothing of ski trails, a key aspect of European ski culture.

Japow (Japan): Japan is a country repeatedly praised for its perennial skiing conditions. If you find yourself skiing in Japan, you might hear locals talking about “japow” – a fusion of “Japan” and “powder.” It references the legendary powder snow conditions that Japan is renowned for.

Stay very much on-piste with this pro skiing parlance and enjoy the adventure of a lifetime in 2024.