Like any sport or activity, skiing and snowboarding have their own enormous catalogue of terms and slang used to describe different things that pop up on the snow covered slopes. Some of them are pretty basic and pretty common, even outside the ski world, but some seem to be pretty rare and much less comprehendible. To make your life a little easier, and to spice up your conversations on the hill, we’ve compiled some of our favorite ski terms to compile definitions and term origins.
The word ski isn’t slang, but it’s the basis for everything we’re doing here. If you don’t know what ski means, there’s a good chance you’ve wandered onto the wrong website. The term originates from the Old Norse skið, translating literally to “stick of wood” and used as “long snowshoe”. It truly became ski in late 1800s Norway, though there was one isolated use in the 1700s. Today, ski is used in English, French, German, and more.
Après-ski simply means “after skiing” in French. As such, the term is usually used to refer to everyone’s favorite post-ski activities, like beers in the parking lot, beers in the hot tub, beers at the bar, or beers at home. Though enjoying beers at any location would be my personal favorite way to participate in après-ski, any post-ski entertainment could fall under the term.
The yard sale is one of the more embarrassing events in the ski world. Lose one ski and that’s a single release, lose two skis and that’s a double release, but, for a full blown yard sale, a skier (or snowboarder, to an extent) loses their skis, poles, hat/helmet, goggles, and possibly more.
The term comes from the English yard sale, referring to a sale of used items occurring on one’s own property. Much like the common yard sale, a skier or snowboarder who yard sales in a crash scatters all of their used belongings across the ground for everyone to see.
These terms are usually used interchangeably. While the origins of jerry remain fairly unclear, the term gaper comes from the gap occasionally seen between the helmet and goggles of a beginner or inexperienced skier. Both terms refer to inexperienced or bad skiers/snowboarders who seem to have an extreme sense of overconfidence. The guy who pizzas his way down a double black after unironically claiming that he’s better than everyone on the lift is a jerry/gaper, for example.
Unfortunately, both terms have been used quite frequently to simply refer to beginners and inexperienced skiers/snowboarders, even if they ride within their skill level and respect the sports. Believe it or not, calling a beginner/inexperienced rider a jerry/gaper is one of the most jerry/gaper things you can do. Don’t push people away from this sport just because you think you’re better than them.
With Teton Gravity Research’s Grom Squad contest just coming to an end, there’s a chance you’ve seen this word tossed around and wondered, “what the hell is a grom? Is that some sort of skiing muppet?”
Grom, originating from surfing and surf culture, refers to a youth involved in an extreme sport. The term is short for grommet, but its first use was closer to gremmie (derived from gremlin) in a 1964 article written by Nicholas Tomalin. The word originally referred to beginner and inexperienced surfers, but changed overtime to hold the definition it has today.
A post hole is the hole created by one’s legs or body in deep snow, often found to occur through a more crusty top layer. Post holing is the act of creating a post hole, usually quite on accident while attempting to walk on top of the snow. Though the term’s first use isn’t known, it’s almost definitely derived from the post hole used to refer to holes dug for fence posts.
This term is fairly uncommon on-resort. In the backcountry or side country, however, the post hole can become a pain for many. Attempting to hike through the snow means the creation of post holes, an incredibly painful and slow process. On the other hand, post holes can turn into dangerous traps on the downhill, giving you a good toss when you least expect it.
Rolling up the windows
Like the actual term roll up the windows used in the day-to-day, the ski rolling up the windows doesn’t seem as common as it once was. Searching around the internet for the phrase won’t bring up a ton of results, but we use it, and we think it needs to be known.
Alternatively referred to as windmilling, rolling up the windows is the rapid spinning of one’s arms while flying through the air after hitting a jump, like the actual act of rolling up a car window (for those of you who are too young to know what that means, older cars didn’t have automatic windows, so you had to actually spin a handle to make them go up or down). The act is one of balance, but it shows a lack of skill and confidence in the air.