Ski Resort Glossary

A-B | C | D- E | F | G | H | K-L | M-N | O-P | R | S | T | W


Après-Ski: The period after a long day on the slopes to relax around a fire with a drink, party, go to dinner, or take a hot soak in the outdoor jacuzzi

Boarding: Snowboarding

Binding: The connector between the ski boot and the ski. In the event of a fall, the skier is able to twist out of the binding to release the ski.

Bomber: A person who skis too fast or out of control.

Bunny slope: Beginner slope (not just for children)


Cable car: Also called a tram. This moving vessel consists of two cabins, suspended on cables, that take skiers to the top of the mountain.

Carved turn: A tight turn made with the edge of the ski.

Chute: A steep trail surrounded by rocks.

Cornice: An overhang of snow caused by wind.

Crevasse: A deep, disguised crack in a glacier.

Cross-country skiing: Skiing on a flat, snowy surface using the body for momentum and resistance. The best aerobic exercise possible.

Cruising: Skiing leisurely down an easy slope.

Curling: A sport played on ice involving gently pushing a large, smooth stone along a narrow course. Superficially similar to shuffleboard.


Death cookies: Cookie-sized chunks of ice sometimes formed during grooming.

Downhill skiing: Gravity-induced skiing (a.k.a. alpine skiing).

Edging: Controlling turns with the edge of your skis.

Extreme skiing: Pushing your ski expertise to its limit by conquering a steep run, uncharted mountain, or severe ledge.


Fall line: The most direct route down the hill, often involuntarily taken by falling skiers.

FIS: French acronym for the International Ski Federation.

Fixed grip lift: A surface chairlift that pulls skiers by cable to various levels of the mountain.

Flat light: Condition occurring when haze decreases depth visibility.

Flea market: Result of a wipe-out when clothing and gear separate from the skier (a.k.a. a tag or garage sale).

Frostbite: A serious condition that takes place in extremely cold conditions, when part of your body freezes. This usually happens to the face or other unprotected areas.

Frozen granular: Snow that is old and that has frozen together. The difference between it and ice is this: ice chips away and frozen granular will dent and keep its shape. Eventually, frozen granular will turn to ice.


Glade skiing: Skiing between trees.

Goggles: Protective eye wear used to gurd against ultraviolet rays, wind, and powder.

Gondola: Small suspended cars that carry four to ten skiers at a time up the mountain.

Graduated length method: The use of progressively longer skis as skill improves.

Grooming: Snow removal, packing, and preparation of the runs for skiing.


Heli-skiing: Skiing in areas only accessible by helicopter. This is primarily for advanced skiers as it is potentially dangerous.

High season: Usually from February to early March. During this time, lift tickets and lodging are more expensive.

High-speed detachable quad: Lifts sometimes called superchairs because of their velocity. During loading and unloading, the chair actually detaches from the cable and moves slowly.

Holiday season: Usually between mid-December and mid-January; prices are high as a result of school vacations and the holidays.

Hot dog: A person who takes jumps off small cliffs and performs tricks on skis.


Kick turn: An easier option for beginners turning on steep slopes. Ask an instructor to demonstrate.

Lateral bullet: A skier who is skiing out of control across the slopes.

Low season: usually between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Lodging and lift rates are available at lower prices.


Moguls: Mounds of snow created by skiers; also called bumps.

NASTAR National Standard Race: A race in which skiers of all levels can compare their abilities against a national average.


Off-piste: Used to describe uncharted ski areas.

Piste: French for trail.

Poma: A surface lift straddled by skiers, with a platter to sit on. Often called a button lift, disc, or platter lift.

Powderhound: A person who insatiably seeks the best powder snow throughout the season.


Regular season: Dates vary in different regions, but regular-season lift prices are higher than low season’s and lower than during the holiday and high seasons. Often includes January and early April.

Rope tow: A moving rope that skiers grab to be towed up the mountain. Don’t let the rope run through your hands as it may ruin your gloves!

Runout: A long, flat run back to the lift.

Ruts: Tracks created by repetitive skiing that can make for treacherous ski conditions.


Schuss: To ski straight down the hill.

Shovel: The front of the ski.

Shredding: Slang for snowboarding.

Sideslip: A technique for descending a hill by sliding down sideways on ski edges; often used to control speed.

Sidestep: To climb a hill using sideways footing.

Skating: Pushing off with one ski and sliding with the other to move along a flat surface.

Ski brake: A required attachment for skis; it keeps skis from going downhill without you.

Skijoring: A smaller version of dog-sledding in which one dog pulls a skier.

Slalom: A race with tight turns around obstacles.

Snow types

  • Breakable crust: A light layer of frozen snow covering soft snow. These conditions make for poor skiing.
  • Corn: Springtime melting and freezing resulting in corn-sized ice particles.
  • Crud: Uneven ruts in crusty snow caused by heavy ski traffic.
  • Crust: A frozen layer covering softer snow.
  • Granular snow: Snow that has been packed down by skis and is heavy, not powdery.
  • Hardpack: Densely packed snow as a result of repeated grooming or skiing.
  • Ice: Dangerous skiing conditions; clear and breakable.
  • Mashed potatoes: Wet, heavy snow.
  • New England ice: Ice so transparent that grass can be seen through it; very difficult skiing!
  • Packed powder: A result of skier traffic or grooming.
  • Powder: Light, dry snow; great skiing condition.
  • Wind packed: Snow packed by the movement of the wind.

Snowboarding: The alpine equivalent to surfing.

Snowcat: A tractor used for grooming purposes

Snowplow: To put skis in V-position to turn or slow down.

Stem Christie: Advanced form of the snowplow turn.


T-Bar: A T-shaped rope tow on which two skiers balance in sitting positions and are pulled to the top.

Tail: The back of the ski.

Telemarking: Skiing with detached heels and metal edges on special cross -country skis; often in backcountry terrain.

Traverse: To ski across the mountain rather than down.

Tree skiing: Skiing through the trees. Usually reserved for intermediate and expert skiers.


White out: Poor visibility due to a combination of fog and snow. Usually occurs at high altitudes.

Wind-chill factor: Taking wind spped into account when determining apparent temperature.


Sign up for our newsletter!