Blog - Latest News
snowboarding news

Pow, blue bird, white out, bubble lift, button lift….what the?

If you’re new to skiing it can sound like people are speaking another language when they talk about the sport. But don’t worry about feeling dazed & confused, we’ve got a beginner’s guide to ski lingo for you. The best cheat sheet to sound like you know what you’re talking about!

winter wonderland in Val Thorens

A Beginner’s Guide to Ski Lingo

Après-ski – Literally translates to “after ski” which is synonymous with after ski drinks. Many people head straight from the slopes to the bars, still in ski gear, and start throwing a few back. Perfect for those looking to call it an early night!

Backcountry – Also known as off-piste, this is the natural un-pisted areas of a ski resort… and it’s skiing and snowboarding at your own risk. This is a place for knowledgeable experts only who have all the right kit.

Balclava – The piece of ski gear that keeps your neck & chin warm. Key on those cold & windy days!

Bluebird – The perfect off-piste day that everyone wants. A dumping of snow overnight, waking up to blue skies. You know you’ll have a great day out in that deep, fresh snow.

Bubble lift – Another term for a gondola.

Bumps – Slang term for moguls, the large mounds you find smattered all the way across a black run. Brave them if you dare…

Bunny slopes – Slopes for the bunnies! No, but really, this is another term for nursery or beginner slopes.

Winter arrives in Morzine

Dump – Not the kind that go in the toilet. Slang term for a HUGE snowfall

First Tracks – What the powder hounds are aiming to get after a fresh snowfall. This refers to the ski tracks left behind by the first skier down a piste or area, that one can proudly claim as THEIR first tracks.

Four-man – Refers to the number seats on a chairlift: three-man, four-man, six-man, etc.

Grooming – Similar to grooming a dog, they groom the pistes every evening to ensure they are nice and tidy for everyone in the morning, smoothing out any bumps and uneven patches that have occurred naturally through a day’s worth of skiing.

Kicker – Homemade jump perfect for practicing those tricks.

Liftie – The the lift operators who ensure that you don’t get taken out by a chairlift and who may grab your pole for you if you drop it. They also have some great local knowledge, so get friendly with ’em!

Magic Carpet – A lovely conveyer belt from the bottom of the bunny slope to the top, perfect for kids to just stand on as they move up the hill. Despite it being at a very small slope, you inevitably will see children falling off.

Piste Bashers – Massive machines that groom the pistes through the evening and night.

Pizza *and chips – Old school teaching techniques for kids and beginners. Pizza is the snowplough and chips are parallel skis. Keep in mind that pizza doesn’t always work…


Planks – Those two things you strap to your feet every time you go skiing!

Punter – A novice skier who has all the gear and not a clue.

Pow – Light, dry, fluffy snow often referred to as powder. (AKA: awesome)

Ski Bum – Someone who has discovered the best alternative to working.

Traverse – Skiing across a slope, often in a zigzag pattern, as opposed to straight down. Typically done to cut across a mountain to get to a fresh line of pow pow.

Twin Tips – Skis where both the tip and the tail are turned up. These started out as park skis to allow people to land backwards, but now you’ll see more and more twin tips on all-mountain & powder skis too.

White out – When the snow (or mist) is so heavy that you can’t see 10metres in front of your face. Look out for piste markers with a red/orange top – they are the right hand markers.

Okay time to make your note cards and start studying up! :-) Errrr at least you’ll have somewhat of a clue when you hear that ski jargon.