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“Shred the Gnar” and Beyond: Ski Slang Explained

Hucks, hero bumps, and getting pitted in freshies with your snorkel.

Yeah, Merriam-Webster has nothing on our comprehensive ski slang glossary. 

As soon as the barometer starts dropping, the leaves start changing, and we’re drinking pumpkin beers around a fire, those of us who live and breathe skiing at Powder7 (which, let’s be honest, is all of us) find ourselves speaking differently. Suddenly, without warning, words like “freshies” and “pitted” make their way into our vocabulary. Our friends and family roll their eyes when we talk about “getting sendy” and “laying trenches.”

If you weren’t raised on a diet of Warren Miller for breakfast and TGR for dinner, some of this ski slang may leave you dazed and confused. Why everyone is saying such weird things? Luckily, the pow slaying, pillow poaching, and booter stomping squad here at Powder7 has shed some light on this strange dialect. We’ve sorted key terms into beginner, intermediate, and expert. We recommend corresponding flash cards if you’re serious about talking the talk.

ski slang
Skiers are a strange breed. We talk like it, too. | PHOTO: Mindy Lundy


Aprés – (short for “aprés-ski”) – arguably one of the best parts of any well-balanced ski day. It’s that beer/cocktail/nacho-filled post-ski hangout that happens any place that will serve you while you’re wearing ski boots. It can even happen in parking lots. This is the time where you try to impress your friends with stories of your epic sends from the day. The more beer, the more epic the stories become. 

Bluebird those days when the sky is clear, the sun is shining, and nothing can stop you…or your goggle tan. 

Bombing (Bomber, Bomb)Unchecked speed, full tuck, weaving around unsuspecting tourists…that’s the feeling of bombing down the hill. Just beware the mountain cops, and you’ll be fine. Skis described as “bomber” effortlessly facilitate the act of bombing. 

Champagne Powder (also see “Blower”) – Super lightweight snow that has a low moisture content, typically associated with the Rocky Mountain West and trademarked by Steamboat. This snow is where powder skiing dreams come true. Skiers who cross over into surfing may refer to these powder turns as “double overhead,” a nod to the billowing rooster tail that follows them down the mountain.

Chop – a few notches below pow, but definitely better than chunder. This is the type of snow that’s created when the fresh stuff gets tracked out, and there are bumps and craters and cuts. This uneven and sometimes exhausting layer of snow keeps you on your toes. 

Corduroy the perfectly coiffed, pleasure inducing, freshly groomed snow that frontside rippers will argue rivals powder. Get those Super G turns down, and you’ll feel like Lindsey Vonn on a gold medal day. 

Corn – You know that feeling when you bite into a perfectly cooked cob of corn, and it’s pure bliss? That’s what corn skiing feels like. It’s what happens when spring temps warm up the snow to the point that it’s crumbly and soft, but not slushy and wet (see chunder). We like corn, both roasted on a grill and under our skis. Each spring, the pursuit of corn sends skiers to the far-flung reaches of their local mountains. 

Crust The thin layer of snow that melted then froze on top of the rest of the snow. Usually easy to break through, but makes for a choppy surface. Best dipped in honey (Yes, Colorado pizza IS a thing).

Dust on Crust – See “crust” and add a thin layer of dusty light snow. Common out East.

Mashed Potatoes – feels and looks and skis like a finger lickin’ good plate of Grandma’s home cooked mashed potatoes. The thick stuff, that is. It ranks somewhere below corn but above chunder and is closely related to chop. Frequently seen in the late spring, when temperatures rise and the snow gets saturated. 

Pow (Powder, Pow Pow) – the heavenly fresh snow that graces us with its presence whenever we do the snow dance and pray to the snow gods (Looking at you, Ullr). It is the type of snow that most skiers live for, and you may find us developing a slight *cold* when powder is in the forecast on a workday. It can be a little heavier when it falls with a high moisture content or light and fluffy. “Blower” and “Champagne Powder” are the lightest versions of Pow.

Rad – it’s like “awesome”…but so much radder.

Ripper – A really really really good skier. The type of skier who turns heads. The type of skier you point to from the chairlift. If you are one, you don’t need this glossary. You wrote the glossary. Does that make the author of this blog post a ripper? Quite possibly. (Editor’s note: Yes. Yes, it does.)

Sick – cool, but better. Also, a condition rippers feign when they want to get out of other less-important commitments in order to go skiing.

Yard Sale  the act of falling in such a way that one loses their skis, poles, hats, gloves, goggles, and pocket snacks. They essentially explode. This phenomenon resembles a Memorial Day yard sale, with various items scattered all over the place. No! Those goggles aren’t for sale!

ski slang
Why all the weird words? THIS IS HOW WE COMMUNICATE.


Blower frequently used in conjunction with “pow”, this is the type of powder that is super light, low density, and generally worthy of a “YEEEEWW!” Face shots are to be expected. 

Bulletproof – When the snow is extremely hard, and nothing but FIS certified race skis will hold an edge. Best avoided unless you’re a die hard East Coast skier, in which case bulletproof runs are child’s play. If you ski tour into the alpine during spring, you’re typically looking descend when the snow “corns up” after the bulletproof surface warms. 

Butter – When you put unsalted butter onto the bases of your skis to make them glide better. Also, when one rocks onto the tips or tails of their skis to complete a 180-degree turn while staying on the snow. 

Chalk – snow that feels like chalk. Hard and dry, easy to dig your edges into, and created by cold and windy conditions. Usually found on steeper terrain. We like chalk. Chalk is surprisingly good.

Charge – to ski fast in such a way that looks far more dangerous than it actually is…because you’re a ripper. Closely related to “send.”

Chunder (Chowder)Heavy, gross, sticky, no-good snow. I mean, all snow is good, but chunder is definitely at the bottom of that list. Waaaaayyy down there. 

Damp – No, we are not referring to your boot liners after an aggressive day of skiing. We are referring to the ability of a ski to reduce vibrations caused by uneven snow surfaces. 

Dump/Puke/Nuke – The act of snow falling out of the sky in large amounts. Dumping is a lot, puking is more, and nuking is absolutely dreamy. If it’s nuking, you’re setting your alarm for verrrrry early to guarantee first tracks.

Face Shot – When all that soft soft powder kicks up during your turn and hits your face, obscuring your view and letting you know that you really did find the goods. The best face shots are documented by GoPros, because pics or it didn’t happen, right?

Freshies – First tracks, aka the holy grail of skiing. So fresh and so clean. 

Jerry (or Gaper)A skier for whom ignorance is bliss, Jerries stand out immediately on the mountain as people with minimal fashion sense and maximum likelihood of crashing…both on the hill and in the cafeteria. Often clueless, these folks can usually be identified by the gap between their goggles and helmet, known as the “gaper gap”.

Alternate definition, from Jerry of the Day: “an individual who sends life against the grain no matter the consequences.”

Gnarly – Badass, dangerous, and cool. Frequently used with “bro” to describe a moment of sheer awesomeness. “That was so gnarly bro!”. If someone says that in reference to something you did, you can go ahead and say you’re the best skier on the mountain. “Gnarly” also refers to a terrain feature or line that was unexpectedly intense, scary, or committing. For continued education, refer to G.N.A.R: The Movie

Shred the Gnar – the far cooler and incredibly more relevant way of saying “go skiing.” If you “go skiing,” your favorite yogurt flavor is probably plain. If you “shred the gnar,” you know how to have a good time. The expression can also refer to aggressively descending scary or blower lines with reckless abandon.

Jib the act of turning inanimate objects around the mountain into a playground. Preferred objects include rails, boxes, and fallen trees. If someone jibs, they may be what we call a “park rat” who likes to do “park things”. Good jibbers ski or ride with undeniable style (see steeze).

Kicker a jump for skiers or snowboarders. A true kicker is a jump you make with your own two hands… and maybe the hands of a few friends…oh and a shovel or two…maybe your friend with a sled can help…anyways, it’s basically a sweet homemade jump that you can practice all your tricks on. A bigger kicker is a booter. 

Laying Trenchescarving aggressively. Only performed by those who can use the force and are comfortable putting their skis on edge. When tipped to aggressive angles at fast speeds, skis cut deep trenches in the snow. For most skiers, it’s next-level. For rippers, it’s just another day at the office.

Pillows – rounded piles of soft powder waiting to be smashed.

Pitted – the act of getting absolutely enveloped in powder during a turn. This is a skier’s dream. 

Send (Sendy) – to ski as hard as possible and to do so in style. We say this all the time at Powder7. Why? Well, we are a sendy squad who tend to go full send. The true origins of “send it” come from the climbing world, where it’s short for “ascend it.” When you hear “sendy,” the word has been turned into an adjective. A “sendy” line requires true commitment, much like “gnar.”

Smash – to ski through or land on explode-able piles of snow.

Stomp – A British percussion group that uses ordinary objects to create rhythm and sound. Also, when you stick the landing off a kicker, booter, etc. As the phrase goes in the Disney classic Johnny Tsunami: “He totally stomped the landing!”

Tomahawk – Tumbling end over end over end down the hill after a crash. Generally a motion best avoided. 

Quiver  – the collection of skis that one owns, i.e. “one ski quiver”, “two ski quiver”, “ten ski quiver”…etc.

ski slang
If you’ve been paying attention, you will see the following terms in this photo: pow, Champagne Powder, ripper, send, freshies, shred the gnar, rad. | SKIER: staffer Blake PHOTO: Jameson Midgett


Bombhole – The hole in the snow that is left over after a large impact from hucking (see, “huck”). Generally body shaped, and if you can get a distinct imprint of your poles, you’ve done well. 

Cold Smokean ethereal sight. The airy puff of glistening and sparkling powder that trails skiers in deep champagne powder conditions. If you’re lucky enough to see this sight, you are having an all-time day. 

Core Shot – you hit a snow shark and now there’s a gouge in the base of your ski that has exposed the wooden core. See a ski tech immediately. Or, if you’re a ripper, keep skiing. Tools not jewels!

Death Cookies – a large chunk of snow and ice that is created when the grooming machines groom before a freeze. These are the only types of cookies we say no to. Well, these and the types of cookies offered to us by strangers, though that’s more of a 50/50 if we’re being honest. 

Free Refills – When the snow is dumping fast, and by the time you’re at the top of the chairlift, the tracks are filled in and you get some freshies again. If it’s a free refill kind of day, you better be skiing bell to bell or we’ll judge you. 

Hero Bumps – Low angle bumps right under the chairlift that make you look like Jonny Moseley circa 1998. 

Hot Dog – Now we may be showing our age here, but before there were sendy skiers, there were hot doggers. These are skiers who like to show off and throw flashy moves. They will also out drink you at the bar and do so in a onesie. They may also be still bombing on some 209cm straight skis. 

Huck – to send it off a cliff, jump, tree, roof, car… whatever object is high enough for you to get some air time. The air time is the important part here, not the landing. The more air you get, the more points you earn. That means, anyone can “huck their meat.” See “bombhole” if you’re interested in the landing part. 

Knuckle Draggers – snowboarders. Need we say more?

Secret Stash a secret location on the mountain that is unknown to the tourist crowd and doesn’t get skied out as quickly after a big storm. Don’t ask where it is. Keep it secret, keep it safe. 

Schussing – Straight-lining down the hill without turning your skis. Only undertaken by rippers and Jerrys. No one in between should attempt this. 

Snorkel Don’t overcomplicate this. It’s the device you use to look at colorful fish in the ocean. In skiing, you need it when the snow is super deep and you’re getting just. plain. pitted.

Slay – This word is a little different for skiers than it is for Beyonce. But the gist is the same. To “slay” on skis is to descend a line with overwhelming success and style.

Snow Sharks – Those hidden rocks under the snow that rear their ugly heads to take a bite out of your skis. They are especially prevalent in early and late season, but climate change threatens to normalize them. Best avoided. 

Smearing – Imagine The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift on skis, in powder. That’s what smearing is. It’s great.  

Slarve – The smear, the slide, and the carve had a love child.

Steeze – Undeniable style. All steezey skiers have style. Not all good skiers have steeze.

Two Minus One – The way you explain or confirm that you are taking one more run. To say “last run” or “one more” is like saying “Macbeth” in a theater. It’s bad. Very bad. And it could end your season.

See what it looks like to get pitted with all your buddies


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