Snowboarding has its own language. To the uninitiated, listening to snowboarders talk can be very confusing.
There are two elements to how snowboarders talk regarding their sport. The first element is the slang that snowboarders use to describe various aspects of the sport. Still, much of it has filtered into the second element of the language, the official terminology.
In this article, we will highlight the terms snowboarders use. You will learn official terminology along with the more casual language associated with it.
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- The Basics Of Snowboard Language
- Words For Snow
General Snowboard Words And Phrases You Will Hear
- 17. Freestyle
- 18. Freeride
- 19. Splitboarding
- 20. White Out
- 21. Dumping
- 22. Gnarly
- 23. Shred
- 24. Freshies
- 25. Stoked
- 26. Lifties
- 27. Yard Sale
- 28. Rag Doll
- 29. Jerry
- 30. Wipe Out
- 31. Kicker
- 32. Air Time
- 33. Side Hit
- 34. Send It!
- 35. Nipple Deep
- 36. Steez
- 37. Sick
- 38. Stomp
- 39. Afterbang
- 40. Taco
- 41. Grommet
- 42. Face Shot
- 43. Catch An Edge
- 44. First Lift
- 45. One Last Run
- 46. Après
- Final Thoughts
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You won’t understand anything a snowboarder says until you grasp the basics. There are some day-to-day terms and phrases you need to know.
During your first snowboard lesson, you will be introduced to many of these terms, but this will remind you and clarify things.
A snowboarder rides standing sideways on their board. These two words indicate which foot a snowboarder leads with.
A goofy-footed rider stands leading with their right foot, while a regular rider stands with their left foot forward. Neither way is better or worse than the other; it is all down to your natural stance.
You are doing a skid turn when you turn while pushing snow away from you. This type of turn keeps your speed down and is used to bring you to a stop.
You can link a series of front and backside turns to make your way down the slope in control.
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Carving is another form of turning. But instead of spraying snow behind you, your turns are clean and precise.
When you carve, you stay on your edges, flipping from edge to edge. This is a much faster way of turning as you keep your board closer to the fall line.
The fall line is the path straight down the mountain. If you were to throw a ball downhill, it would follow the fall line.
You can turn in two directions on a snowboard. Turning on your heels is known as a heelside turn, so a regular-footed rider will turn to the left. But they will turn to the right while performing a toeside turn.
When you snowboard switch, you ride the opposite way to your leading foot. This means if you are a goofy-footed rider, your switch stance will see your left foot leading.
An ollie is a fundamental trick that is essential to learn to progress as a snowboarder. To ollie is to spring off the tail of your snowboard to jump.
You can use ollies to catch air anywhere on the mountain. They can give you extra pop on features in the snowpark. They are also helpful in the backcountry in dropping cliffs and jumping over obstacles such as rocks and tree stumps.
A nollie is the same as an ollie, but you spring off the board’s nose instead of springing off the tail.
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A euro carve is an advanced carve turn that sees the rider laid out with their entire upper body touching the snow. It is more common to see a toeside euro carve, as it is easier.
The euro carve is also known as V-turn or Vitelli turn. This is because French snowboarder Serge Vitelli pioneered it in the 1980s.
A euro carve takes you around the entire side cut of your snowboard. Therefore, if you get it right, you can carve back up the slope and a full 360 degrees until you point back down the hill.
Jibbing is a term used for tricks that don’t necessarily need a ramp. You can jib pretty much anywhere, and those who can do it properly are very impressive riders.
Jib tricks include nose and tail presses. These are tricks where you flex the board and slide while balancing on the small part of the nose or tail.
You can make these tricks more advanced by “buttering.” Buttering is when you spin on the tail or nose while flexing the board. It was originally called “buttering the muffin,” as the action is similar to if you were spreading butter with a knife.
You need to be able to ollie and nollie to be good at jib tricks.
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The most popular snowboard trick is the spin. But you can spin either frontside or backside.
A backside spin sees the snowboarder rotate with their blind side facing down the mountain. So a regular-footed rider will spin clockwise, leading the spin with their front shoulder.
A frontside spin sees the rider rotate with their chest pointing down the mountain. This means a regular-footed snowboarder will rotate anticlockwise, leading the spin with their right shoulder.
There are many levels of spin, starting with the 180. The 180 is when you spin 180 degrees, but you can spin either frontside or backside, just like the turns. Spins go up in 180-degree increments – 180, 360, 540, 720, 900, and so on.
You will often hear snowboarders abbreviate the names of the spins. For example, a “back 3” is a backside 360 spin where a regular rider will spin clockwise, leading with their left shoulder, and land after completing a full 360-degree spin.
A “cab” is a slightly different trick named after skateboard legend Steve Caballero. It is a halfpipe trick that sees the rider take off riding switch, then spin 360 degrees frontside, landing facing forwards.
You can perform a half-cab on regular jumps or anywhere around the mountain, which is a switch frontside 180.
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Snowboarders will grab their boards in the air to add style to their tricks. There is a name for every type of grab; here are some examples:
Indy grab – Grab the toe edge of the board between the bindings with your rear hand. You can make your indy grab more stylish if you straighten your front leg in the air. This is called an indy nosebone and looks super cool.
Nose grab: Grab the nose of the board with your front hand.
Mute grab: Grab the toe edge of the board between the bindings with your front hand.
Stalefish: Grab your heel edge with your rear hand between your bindings.
Method: Grab your heel edge with your front hand, but with the board pushed out in front of you with your back foot. This is also known as a backside air.
Tindy: The tindy sees you grab the board behind your rear binding with your back hand. This is a grab that nobody should do.
If you grabbed a tindy in a competition, you would lose points, as it is so ugly and regarded as a panic grab.
There are many different combinations of grabs all over the board. You can even use both hands in various positions for extra style points.
You can grab your board while spinning. A back 3 indy nosebone is a backside 360 with an indy grab, with your front leg “boned.”
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There are a few different words for the various types of snow that will help you understand what a snowboarder is talking about:
Powder snow is soft fluffy snow that the snow machines haven’t groomed. You get powder after a dump of snow and riding it gives you an incredible sensation, almost like flying.
You will hear snowboarders and skiers refer to powder as “pow” or “pow pow.”
Untouched powder is new snow that nobody has skied or snowboarded on yet. You have to get up early in the morning to ride it or hike away from the resort’s slopes.
Corduroy snow is snow that has been groomed by the resort’s snow machines. The machines flatten the bumps and ruts created by skiers and produce a uniform surface with small ridges.
The great thing about corduroy is that you can ride incredibly fast, as the snow is smooth. It is the best type for practicing your carve turns, especially euro carves.
Hardpack snow is snow that skiers and snowboarders have compacted. You can still turn effectively using your edges, but you need to watch out for icy patches.
Moguls are bumps that naturally appear on ski slopes after many skiers have been down them. You will usually find moguls on steeper slopes, as they form when skiers make tight turns to control their speed.
Most snowboarders don’t like moguls as they make everything hard work. However, a mogul field can be fun if you can find a rhythm, especially when you use the bumps to jump.
When the temperatures rise, usually towards the end of the winter, the snow becomes slushy. This wet and heavy snow can prove dangerous for skiers as it is easy to catch an edge, but snowboarders love it.
Riding slush uses a similar technique to riding powder, as you need to keep the nose of the board up. It has an almost surf-like feel to it, making it great fun.
Slush is also great for practicing your freestyle tricks, as it is more forgiving when you fall. It also makes you slide slower than on hardpack snow, giving you more time to think about what you are doing.
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Now you have a good idea of the basics, here are some other words and phrases you will hear snowboarders say.
Freestyle snowboarding consists of performing tricks. But this could be anywhere on the mountain, from the groomed slopes to the backcountry.
However, you are more likely to see freestyle snowboarders in the snow park or half pipe.
Many ski resorts have snow parks, which are areas filled with various jumps, obstacles, and features. These are designed to allow snowboarders to get creative with their tricks.
Snowboarders who spend lots of time in the snow park are known as “park rats.”
You can buy freestyle snowboards with a soft flex that are very forgiving for landings. Some freestyle snowboards are designed to make sliding on boxes and rails much easier, but they are compromised in other types of riding.
Freeriding is when you head into the backcountry looking for powder, but you will be taking on technical terrain that features cliff drops, steep chutes, and a high potential for danger.
Freeriding is super fun and rewarding. Part of freeriding is to learn how to manage the risks, including getting educated on avalanche awareness and other dangers.
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Splitboarding is a form of backcountry snowboarding. It involves a specialist snowboard that splits into two skis.
When the board is split into skis, you can hike into the backcountry to find fresh powder or freeride lines not accessible by the lifts.
You attach strips of material to your “skis” base, known as skins. These are textured in a way that allows them to slide forward but not backward, allowing you to hike up the mountain.
Once you are at the top of the mountain, you rebuild your snowboard and put your skins in your backpack. Then you can enjoy the turns you have earned.
A white-out is when the weather comes in and turns everything white. It is challenging to make your way down the mountain in these conditions as you cannot really see.
The sky is the same color as the ground, and there is no definition to make out how steep the slope is or if there are any bumps in front of you. On these days, it’s best to make your way down the mountain slowly and safely and head to the nearest bar.
This is the common term for when it is snowing heavily. When it is dumping, all snowboarders and skiers get excited for the following day on the mountain.
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When something is gnarly, it is extreme or very difficult. A big jump, steep backcountry, or a nasty fall can be referred to as gnarly.
You may hear some snowboarders use the phrase “shredding the gnar.” This means they are doing some extreme riding, usually in an aggressive manner.
Going for a “shred” is a term used for going snowboarding. Traditionally it meant you would ride to your full potential, but now it is just a term used for generally snowboarding.
When you score freshies, you have just made fresh tracks down untouched powder. This is a wonderful feeling that gets you stoked.
When you are stoked, you are on top of the world. It comes from having the best time on the mountain, riding with your friends.
Lifties is an abbreviation for ski lift operators.
A yard sale is a fall so bad that you lose all your stuff. For example, your goggles fly off, and you lose your GoPro when you ragdoll down the mountain.
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A rag doll is a horrible fall that sends you tumbling down the mountain. You are completely out of control, flipping head over heels several times, flailing your arms and legs like a rag doll.
A Jerry is a clueless skier or snowboarder; they will often have their goggles on upside down or wear some weird improvised piece of clothing or equipment.
One way of spotting a Jerry is that they will have a gap between their helmet and goggles, exposing their forehead. They are also known as “gapers,” “Joeys,” or “Gorbs.”
A wipe-out is when you fall hard while snowboarding. It is also referred to as a “bail.”
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A kicker is a purpose-built ramp that sends you up into the air. They come in all shapes and sizes but are designed to give you maximum air time. Kickers are also known as booters if they are significantly large.
Air time is simply how long you are in the air after taking off a jump or dropping a cliff.
Side hits are jumps at the side of groomed slopes that gradually form over time. Skiers and snowboarders tend to explore around the back of snow cannons, creating side hits.
Side hits are great fun and can make a relatively boring slope more entertaining. But it is essential to check if anyone is coming so you don’t jump into their path as you land back on the slope.
When you “send it,” you are going big. You are sending it, whether you are hitting a jump hard, dropping a gnarly cliff, or going fast down a technical slope.
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Nipple deep powder is so deep it sprays up to your chest when you ride through it. Powder can also be “waist-deep” or “thigh-deep.”
Steez is a term that combines the words “style” and “ease.” If you are a steezy snowboarder, you make it look easy and have a great style that everyone is envious of.
When something is sick, it is cool. For example, “he did a sick jump” means that he did a cool jump. You may hear some snowboarders say rad as an alternative to “sick”.
When you stomp a trick, it means you landed it with confidence. It is even better when you can develop a signature afterbang.
An afterbang is how you style out your landing. Some riders land with subtlety, but others are more flamboyant with a signature style or body position when they stomp their landing.
A taco is when you get it wrong when sliding along a box or rail and ends up with your body draped over it. This is really painful, and many snowboarders have broken ribs when getting taco’d.
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A grommet (or grom for short) is a young and small snowboarder. This counts as anyone who is younger than 15 years old.
A face shot is when you are riding nipple deep pow pow, and you turn, so the snow sprays up into your face. This is great for when you are recording yourself riding powder with your GoPro, especially when you slow the footage down.
Catching an edge is a painful way of falling over. It can often happen without warning, especially if you are a beginner or intermediate rider.
When you get more experienced, you can sense when it will happen and adjust your riding. But if you can’t prevent it, it feels like someone has just picked you up and smashed you into the ground.
You will want to catch the first lift after it has dumped to score nipple deep freshies. The first lift is literally the first gondola or chair up the mountain first thing in the morning.
If you can catch the first lift, you will beat everyone else to the fresh snow or corduroy. It gives you a smug feeling to know that you have got up the mountain first, and all that new snow is yours.
Never say these three words! If you do, you tempt fate, and it usually results in an edge catch, wipe out, ragdoll, or yard sale. It is best just to finish your day and go to après.
Après is short for après-ski, a French invention that allows you to enjoy some drinks before dinner. Après starts around 4 o’clock with happy hour drinks, live music, and DJs.
The great thing about après is that you can enjoy some lively nightlife but still feel fresh for the slopes the following morning. That is unless you continue to “après après” until the early hours of the morning.
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We have barely scratched the surface of snowboarding slang and terminology. But with what we have given you so far, you will be able to understand the basics of what a snowboarder is talking about.
You will pick up more terms and phrases the more you are exposed to them. And there will be many more to learn as the language evolves.