In a college playwriting class, I was given the assignment to write a multilingual play where the characters spoke at least two different languages.  Now, I was too busy ripping pow and daydreaming about gnarly jib lines in high school to absorb the lessons of my stale Dutch Spanish teacher.  So, when given this playwriting assignment, I exclaimed: “Ouch, what a harsh drop-in.  I’m gonna have a pretty squirrelly time tryin’ to land this one with any steez, cuz I’m riding fakie when it comes to languages.”

After class, my professor pointed out what should have been obvious to me:  I was fluent in at least one foreign language.  The language of Shred.

So, for both the learned and the unlearned, here are some of the words, phrases, and lingo you’ll need to know if you want to converse with someone speaking Shred. Get with it, bro.

“There’s freshies on the super-jib in Tahoe, brah.”

A phrase popularized by Tony Hawk in the opening sequence of “The White Album” featuring Shaun White.  Literally: “There is freshly fallen snow on the very large freestyle feature at an undisclosed resort in the Lake Tahoe Region, bro.”

“I’m gonna shred the gnar with Woolly latez today.”

Shredding the gnar is a popular phrase.  For the uninitiated, shredding is riding with incredible style and attitude, the gnar is some gnarly terrain, Woolly is the incredibly talented woolly mammoth that shreds Mammoth Mountain, and latez today is this afternoon.

Snowboard Lingo 101: Woolly
“I was feeling pretty squirrelly takin’ off on the 45 foot booter, but I was still able to stomp my backside double cork 900 with some crunchy steez.”

This is a more advanced phrase, the type you’ll use once you are deep, deep, deep in the snowboard culture.  Squirrelly is an adjective that means loose, shaky, or unbalanced.  The feeling of squirrellyness might leave a shredder nervous or frightened of pain and injury.  A booter (or kicker) is a jump, generally in a terrain park or in the backcountry, and is derived from the logic that the size and lip of the jump should “kick” the shredder high into the air.  Stomp is the act of authoritatively and definitively landing a freestyle maneuver.  Crunchy is cool, and steez is style.

A deeper conversation is required to explain the word backside and its counterpart, frontside.  These terms were originated by surfers to describe their turns as they shredded waves.  These terms made sense in their original context – a frontside turn meant you were turning your front towards the wave, a backside turn meant you were turning your back to the wave.

It can be a lot harder to understand in the snowboarding and skateboarding worlds, however.  While these terms make sense in a halfpipe, which has two “waves” (walls), when it comes to spins it seems a little backwards.  A frontside spin is when you spin towards your back (opening your front to the jump landing) and a backside spin is when you spin towards your front (opening your back to the landing).  For jibs, this makes even less sense.    For example, here’s a frontside boardslide.

Snowboard Lingo 101: Frontside

A frontside slide is when your back is facing the end of the rail, box, or other jib surface.  A backside slide is when you’re facing the front.  And in their simplest forms, you would spin frontside to do a backside slide, and spin backside to do a frontside slide.  WHAT?

double cork is an inversion that involves spinning upside down twice.  Everyone knows it’s not a flip, but no one understands why it’s not.

“If you tindy or tailfish one more time – I don’t want to look like a gaper, bro – if you tindy again, I’m gonna pretend your head is a bonk, jib that bonk, and leave you lying on the side of the run, all garage-saled out!”  

Let’s take this one fakie.  A garage sale is a particularly bad wipe out that causes your goggles, beanie, gloves, helmet, and any other loose paraphernalia to fly from your body, and thus strewn haphazardly across the run, looking like the type of garage sale a 3 year old or middle aged psychopath in San Francisco might organize.

Snowboard Lingo 101: Garage Sale

A bonk is the goofiest type of jib feature.  To shred it, all one needs to do is bonk it.  Maybe this is the best way to understand.  A gaper is a tourist or poser who has bad posture and a wide open mouth while they gaze in awe at stuff that every local knows is lame.

And finally, the tindy and the tailfish.  These are possibly the worst tricks you can do.  A tindy is when you grab between your back binding and the tail on your toeside edge; the tailfish is the same thing on the heelside edge.  These tricks not only look stupid, they are lazy – I mean, you can’t just do a tailgrab or a stalefish or an indy.  Just pick one and STRETCH.  It’s like, “Come on bro, check yer steez, learn to method, then we can shred together again.  Until then, I’m gonna go do butters near the babes at the barbecue pit.”

Snowboard Lingo: Tindy Grab


Snowboard Lingo: Tailfish

Well, what terms would you add to the list?  Share in the comments below!

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8 responses to “Snowboard Lingo 101”

  1. Matt says:

    The easiest way to remember frontside/backside is how you approach. If the front of your body is facing the rail/feature, it’s frontside. If your back is facing it, it’s backside.

  2. josh says:

    Nasty: “That rail looks totally NASTY brah!!”

    Literally: “That rail looks very awesome, brother.”

  3. […] Snowboard Lingo 101 by Shaun Plander […]

  4. Cody Spears says:

    Crunchy landing Brah!! Slug Bronsons after some freshy freshy Pow…no sense in boardin if you can’t drag a 1620 Japan brah!!

  5. Sam says:

    Dank: “Morning Side got hit with some dank pow pow last night!”

    Translation: “it snowed a lot last night on the east facing slope.”

  6. Brandon says:

    Heaty: dude bonking that tree is heaty

    “Dude sliding that tree is near impossible”

  7. […] just like any other sport, has a language all its own. There are words like, “jib”, “rails”, “half-pipe”, […]

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