Branch Ops Leaderboard Feb ROS

A Beginner’s Guide to Skiing Terms

skiing terms

Skiing is a tough sport, especially for beginners. Let’s be real – you’re learning how to free fall down an icy mountain while standing on two thin planks. Add on all the skiing terms you’ll have to pick up along the way and the task becomes even harder.

Skiing slang terms may be complicated but learning a few key phrases can help you understand instructors – and possibly avoid collisions! If you’re a beginner brave enough to accept this mountainous challenge, start by studying up on the lingo before hitting the slopes. Memorize these terms and you might even trick some ski bums into thinking you’re in the know!


A part of freestyle skiing that involves big jumps, twists and flips.

Alpine skiing

The sport of downhill racing.


A fancy French term meaning “after skiing,” usually referring to some well-deserved drinks following a long day of mountain wipeouts. 


A mask that protects everything from your nose down to your neck from the winter cold. May also make you look like a burglar.


Connects your boot to the ski. Unlike a snowboard binding, a ski binding is made to eject from your foot when you fall.

Black diamond

A ski trail rating symbol meaning difficult.

Blue square

A ski trail rating symbol meaning moderate.

Live a Healthier Life

Get on the track to a healthier you with this helpful health and fitness guide from Your AAA.

Download Now!


When someone is speeding down the mountain.

Bunny slopes

A small section of the mountain where beginners practice.


Weaving back-and-forth down the mountain by turning on the edges of your skis. Necessary for avoiding incoming traffic.

Chair lift

The bench seat attached to cables that bring you up the mountain. This is what you pay for when you buy a lift ticket.

Cross-country skiing

Skiing on gentle hills and flat tracks, usually using poles so as not to get stuck on level ground.

skiing terms


When the snow is worn down by wind and traffic, leaving behind hard, lumpy ice. Look out for these darker patches and steer clear.


Not to be confused with previous term! It actually means the opposite, indicating a huge snowfall.

First tracks

That wonderful feeling of breaking in fresh powder.


A chair lift that seats up to four people. Lifts also come as two-, three- and even six-man.

French fries

A skiing technique where your skis are parallel in order to head straight and gain speed. Used in conjunction with the pizza technique.


The terrain in between trees. Not the air freshener; the evergreen scent here is the real deal.

Green circle

A ski trail rating symbol meaning easy.


Unfortunately, a sign that says “grooming in progress” doesn’t mean puppies getting their haircut. It means that large machines are smoothing out the snow trails.


A long half-cylinder snow structure used to get air and do tricks. Beginners be warned.


A small jump usually constructed by skiers out of snow deposits. A good place for beginners to start if you ever want to hit the half-pipe.


 A ski lift operator.

Lift ticket

Your pass to the chair lift.

Magic carpet

A conveyor belt that takes you to the top of the bunny slope. Note: It does not fly.


A stretch of groomed bumps that provide an extra challenge for more advanced skiers.

“On your left!”

A pretty straight-forward phrase someone may shout to let you know which side they’re coming from (can also be “on your right!”)


Another term for ski trails. Off-piste refers to going off the trail.


A skiing technique use to slow down where you touch the tips of your skis together to make a pizza shape. Also a trick parents can use to get their kids back down from the mountain.


Another term for skis.


When someone goes beyond the roped off trail in search of fresh snow, often on the glades.


Optional handheld stick-like equipment used to give skiers an extra push, particularly on flat trails.


Fresh, fluffy snow!


A popular term used by both skiiers and snowboarders to describe riding with style and skill. You may hear it used in the phrase “shred the gnar,” which refers to riding gnarly (aka rough or ungroomed) terrain.

Ski bums

Smart people who have decided to live and work on or near the mountain in order to immerse themselves in the lifestyle.


 Applied to the bottom of your planks to make them glide more smoothly over snow.


When the snowfall is so harsh that it restricts your field of vision.

Yard sale

When you crash and, much like the seasonal sales held on home lawns, all your belongings end up scattered around you.


The technique of skiing back-and-forth across the width of the trail, also known as “traversing.” This is practiced before a beginner can move on to carving.

Now that your all caught up on skiing terms, check out our list of the best ski resorts in the Northeast for families and start planning your next ski trip with AAA today. 

What are your favorite skiing slang terms? Tell us in the comments. 


Sign up and receive updates for all of the latest articles on automotive, travel, money, lifestyle and so much more!

Leave A Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and may or may not be published at the editor’s discretion. Only comments that are relevant to the article and add value to the Your AAA community will be considered. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.