Okay, newbies, let’s go down the check list of ski essentials. Lift ticket. Check. Equipment. Check. Apparel. Check. Ski Lingo. What’s that?!
An important element in the ski world is understanding the standard vocabulary that makes this sport very special. Knowledge is power and basic jargon is priceless – It’s street cred but on the hill. Imagine visiting a foreign country, ordering food, and having that handy phrase book in your back pocket for reference. Maybe it’s not that extreme. However, sounding like you’re in the know or at least faking it until you make it when you’re hanging with your fellow ski bums and bunnies can save you some major embarrassment.
Luckily, my fellow Liftopia colleagues – Diana Paasch, Kate Christiaanse, Evan Reece, and Taylor Rhoads – were all very helpful in sharing with me the more frequently used terms this sport has created, and with a little coaching and a ton of laughs, I think I’m on the right path.
Here is my list of my top 10 favorite ski terms… for newbies, of course.
What I originally thought: I think I remember this word from high school computer class. It’s the acronym for Create, Read, Update, and Delete, right?
Definition: Crud is a combination of powder and patches of ice. It’s slippery or crusty on the surface and soft underneath.
What I originally thought: Is this the ski way of referring to a Boiler Maker at a bar? “I’d like to order a boilerplate, please.”
Definition: This is referring to the condition of snow when it’s non-skiable or non-rideable, basically solid ice.
8. CHAMPAGNE POWDER
What I originally thought: Ah, yes, Robin Leach spoke of this on his television show the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. This is what Colorado, Utah, and Montana millionaires make snow angels in.
Definition: It’s a very smooth and dry snow, which is ideal for skiing.
7. YARD SALE
What I originally thought: I’ve done this before, just from my garage and made a few bucks. Growing up in San Francisco means more city streets and very few front yards.
Definition: This is when a skier crashes and loses everything such as their outerwear, skies, poles, goggles, beanies, and gloves. Everything is scattered all over the hill.
What I originally thought: This has to be a term for a really awesome snowboarder. “You’re such a gaper, dude.”
Definition: A skier or boarder who is completely clueless on the slopes. They are usually distinguished by their jeans, starter jackets, onesies, or brightly colored clothes and a gaper gap, which is the gap between your goggles and a helmet or hat. Gapers are frequently seen doing the “Tex Tuck,” which is an attempt at being a skier racer by tucking. However, if your poles are sticking straight up towards the sky you are doing it incorrectly.
5. TEXAS GORE-TEX
What I originally thought: Is that the new spring line at North Face?
Definition: A person wearing denim jeans, starter jackets and camouflage hunting wear. Apparently, this is one of the sure tell-tale signs of a newbie. (I’ll admit that on my very first time on the slopes I wore a pair of jeans with leggings underneath, to keep warm, of course. I probably would have worn my starter jacket, too, but I gave that away in 1993. Sad but true.)
What I originally thought: That’s air freshener or multiple canisters of it, correct?
Definition: Skiable terrain among the trees.
What I thought: Isn’t this a cooking preparation term? I usually eat poached eggs and salmon.
Definition: This is when a person ducks ropes to find stashes of fresh snow or “pow,” which is out of ski area boundaries. (Skiers and boarder like to live on the edge. I’m noticing a pattern here.)
2. POW or POW-POW
What I thought: My only knowledge of the term “POW” comes from spending my summers in Hawaii as a kid. My cousins would shout at the table after finishing every meal “I’m POW!” Translation: I’m done.
Definition: Fresh snow. POWder. (I can’t believe I didn’t get this one from the start.)
1. APRES-SKI (My personal favorite.)
What I thought: I couldn’t think of much when this term came up. Try to imagine a deer in headlights – That’s what my face looked like when I first heard the term.
Definition: In French, the literal transaction means “after skiing,” but in the ski world it is the equivalent to having drinks and socializing after a day on the slopes. (When I found out what this meant, the light bulb went off in my head. It is basically Happy Hour after skiing or boarding. How did I miss out on this activity for all these years? Man, ski people really know how to live the life!)
Hopefully, the next time you make your way to the mountain and are surrounded by tenured skiers and riders, you won’t feel quite as intimidated. You’ll know what to say and do when you’re invited to après ski after partaking in some excellent POW –POW with some fellow hooligans that convince you poaching the other side of the mountain is way better than having an accident with a gaper risking a yard sale.
By the way, this is still a learning process, so please share any other words or phrases that I didn’t mention.