Ski Towns Have A Language All Their Own
In ski towns, you might ride the magic carpet or enjoy a bluebird day. Skiers and boarders have a language all their own. To decipher the phrases you hear on the slopes, read on for a full dictionary of ski town terms.
Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331;
Cold smoke and freshies: A SKI town glossary
Ski towns are a different breed, and with them comes a lingo all their own. Following is a collection of common North American ski town terminology - peppered with a few colorful New Hampshire-isms that we're pretty certain will be easy to discern from the rest.
Après ski - The nightlife following a day of skiing, e.g. shopping, drinking, listening to live music or relaxing in a hot tub.
Base - Average depth of snow on the mountain; also the bottom of the mountain where the lodge is located.
Bowl - See "cirque."
Bluebird day - Blue skies; not a cloud in sight.
Bunny slope - The area of the mountain with a gradual slope, best for beginners.
Carve - The act of digging the ski or snowboard's edge into snow during a turn.
Catch an edge - When the edge of a ski or snowboard accidentally digs into the snow, usually resulting in a fall or a near fall.
Cirque - A bowl shape or amphitheater usually sculpted out of the mountain terrain by a glacier.
Corn - Snow characterized by its large corn-kernel-sized granules occurring when snow is melted and frozen several times.
Cold smoke - Extremely dry powder snow that can occur when temperatures are below 10 degrees with low humidity.
Chatter - Undesirable vibration of the ski/snowboard as a result of high speed, tight turns, and/or icy conditions.
Chowdah - Wet, heavy snow; a New England colloquialism referring to clam chowder.
Corduroy - A term to describe the fine tracks left by a snowcat grooming a trail that resemble corduroy fabric; an ideal condition for laying out smooth, clean turns.
Crud - A type of snow characterized by an uneven surface, usually encompassing some lumps of soft powder-like snow with icy patches.
Crust - A thin layer of frozen snow sitting over softer snow or powder; often further described as "breakable crust," "variable crust" and "supportive crust."
Death cookies - Chunks of frozen snow scattered on the trail in great number.
Dump - An unusually large or heavy snowfall.
Ego snow - When the slopes have conditions so perfect, it makes one feel like the best skier out there.
Epic - Term used for a day characterized by the large amount of powder or other conditions that make it unforgettable.
Face shot - A face-full of snow kicked-up as one is skiing or snowboarding in deep, light powder.
Figure Eight - Tracks created by two skiers' tracks when viewed from above give the illusion of the number eight.
First tracks - Tracks left by the first person to ski or ride an area of fresh snow.
Flat light - A condition on the slopes where cloudy skies produce low light, making it hard for skiers to distinguish depth-of-field.
Freshies - Another term for being the first to ski or ride an area of fresh snow; as in "fresh tracks."
Glade - Ski slope heavily populated with trees.
Groom - To prepare a trail's snow cover with special equipment (a snowcat) that redistributes the snow for smooth and even coverage. This is most commonly done overnight, while the ski area is closed.
Groomer - A trail that is groomed on a regular basis; freshly groomed trail.
Hard-pack - A euphemism for frozen snow covering a trail; generally occurs with the lack of new snowfall.
Header - A face-first fall.
Headwall - A steep cliff, usually the uppermost part of a cirque.
Huck - To intentionally launch oneself over a drop-off. Also, to "chuck," "hurl," or "launch."
Magic carpet - A conveyor belt used for small children learning to ski; kids simply stand still (in their skis) and are transported up a gentle slope.
Mashed potatoes - Wet, heavy snow.
Milk run - The first run of the day.
Moguls - Mounds of snow on a trail, also known as bumps.
Nordic skiing - Another term for cross country skiing.
Out-of-bounds - Terrain outside the boundary of the ski area with no avalanche control
or ski patrol; many times these areas are illegal to ski.
Pillows - The soft tops of moguls after a fresh powder dump.
Powder - Light, fluffy snow.
Quad - A chair lift equipped to carry four people.
Rope tow - A surface lift found mostly on beginner slopes. (Also useful in certain areas of expert/advanced terrain). The skier/snowboarder keeps their skis/snowboard on the snow and holds onto a rope which pulls them up the hill.
Shaped skis - Relatively new and improved skis characterized by some form of an hourglass shape, and designed for easier turning.
Six-pack - Six seated chair lift.
Skate skiing - In cross-country skiing, a rhythmic technique that uses diagonal skating strides, skate skiing is the fastest way to cover varied terrain on skis.
Ski Bunny - A female skier with expensive gear who spends most of the day in the lodge.
Snowcat - The vehicle used to groom ski trails.
Snow guns - The equipment used to create and distribute man-made snow across a trail.
Telemark - A type of turn and style of downhill skiing involving free-heel bindings and different technique than alpine skiing (one ski slides forward with a distinctive forward bent knee position).
Terrain park - A maintained area with a variety of jumps, half-pipes, rails and other obstacles.
Traverse - To ski/ride perpendicular to the fall line of the slope.
Tuckerman's - A reference to Tuckerman Ravine, a glacial cirque on the east side of New Hampshire's Mt. Washington, the tallest peak in the Northeast. Famous for its spectacular spring skiing, dramatic scenery, deep snow and challenging terrain, it is accessed only via hiking trails.
Vertical drop - The vertical distance from the top to the bottom of the mountain or slope.
Vertigo - A state of being unable to judge how fast one is moving while on skis/snowboard due to flat light, heavy snowfall or fog.
Whales - Large moguls.