Like all good fanatics, skiers and snowboarders have developed their own unique terminology. In some cases, the fun-loving slang is universal between the two disciplines, and in other cases, it is derogatory toward the other. Either way though, the slopes are full of enough jargon and lingo to symbolically push old man Webster over the proverbial edge of the mountain.
The “milk run” is the first run of the day and “plankers” do it on skis, while “knuckle draggers” do it on a snowboard, or “lunch tray.” If you’re a “Betty,” you’re a novice female snowboarder, while “chicks on sticks” can be any group of girls or women on skis. Hopefully, they are wearing a “brain bucket” for head protection and their “chatter” refers not to their rapid conversation, but to the unwanted vibration of their skis or board when running at speed. A small snowboarder might be referred to as a “grom” and anyone who ventures into closed terrain could be considered a “poacher.”
A “dump” has nothing to do with a trip to the bathroom, but has everything to do with a significant snowfall. Speaking of lavatory references, “pooping” refers to sitting way back on your skis while bent at the waist, which usually results in making “toilet turns” all the way down the slope. This is considered bad form for adults, but “lift lickers,” kids who can’t resist sticking their tongue on the chairlift bar, enjoy doing it for fun.
If the snow is really good, it’s referred to as “epic,” if too soft “mashed potatoes” and if too hard “boiler plate” or even “bullet proof.” On occasion, good snow turns to “crud” after too many skiers or snowboarders have used it to get their “freshies” early in the day, causing late day conditions to become “gnarly.” Worse yet, “death cookies” are present after extensive snowmaking and grooming leave big frozen chunks of ice in the middle of the trail. This, of course, could cause a potential “yard sale” should some poor sap wipe out, leaving their equipment strewn across the trail in plain view of the chairlift.
“Goofy” refers to leading with your right foot on a snowboard where you might “jib” in the Terrain Park or “shred” high speed carving turns. Done well, these could be considered “phat” and done poorly they could be considered “wack.” Either way, a “hucker,” flying high through the air could end up a “bono” should they smack into a tree. Of course, “snow scum” refers to any skier or snowboarder refusing to follow the responsibility code or other slope side etiquette, while “run rubbish” is any group blocking passage on the trail. This same group, or any group like it, would be considered “vermin” if blocking access to the lift line or “gapers” if pausing to take in the view.
“Schussing” on skis is straight lining down the “fall line” without turning, and “ripping” is good high speed carving. However, either one could result in a “snotsicle” due to the wind chill reacting with a runny nose. Incidentally, any parent using a leash or harness to teach their young child on the slopes would be referred to as a “dog trainer” and is usually well equipped to handle partially frozen mucous.
Perhaps you consider yourself “old school” and you believe most of this slang to be the work of young punks with no regard for tradition or nostalgia. In that case, you better make sure your “wicket” doesn’t impede your “stem Christie” resulting in a “face plant” of epic proportions. Even worse, a poorly executed “wedeln” on your long straight skis could cause you to become a “rag doll,” cart wheeling down the slope. After all, some “hoe dad” is likely to be watching from his perpetual seat in the lodge, glad he is just a “poser” instead of an old fashioned “fruit booter” like you.
Pondering such linguistic nonsense on a recent ride up the gondola at Gore Mountain, I couldn’t help but wonder how the English Dictionary would read differently if old Webster new the pure joy of “vertical rise,” finding the “sweet spot” and “shredding the gnar.” Instead, the unfortunate “flatlander” never knew what pleasure awaited him on the proverbial edge of that mountain.
John Bernardi is an avid lifelong skier and freelance writer. He can be contacted through his website at www.slopesider.net.