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Planning a Flaine skiing holiday? Have you got lots of first-time skiers questions? New to the world of skiing lingo? We’re guessing it feels like learning a completely new language; so to help you get to grips with the lingo, here’s some of the most common ski-related jargon and slang.


General Terms

Ski area – the general name for the area of the mountain where you are able to ski and snowboard, this includes all the pistes and the lifts.

Piste/run/slope – these are the paths that you ski down, they have several names but all mean the same thing. Pistes are marked with poles along the sides to keep you on the right track, and they are colour-coded according to difficulty.

Piste basher – this is a vehicle that drives up and down the slopes when the mountain is closed (usually late at night). It grooms the snow on the piste to leave it nice and smooth for the next day of skiing.

Off-piste – going away from the piste to unmarked, unpatrolled areas. You need to be an experienced skier and take specialist equipment with you.

Alpine skiing – this is the type that most skiers will do, just skiing downhill, on a piste.

Moguls – these are bumps of hard snow that can form on a piste when lots of people ski down it. They can be tricky (yet surprisingly fun) obstacles to dodge on your way down the piste.

Apres ski – French for ‘after ski’, this means the time to let your helmet hair down and have a good time with friends. Head to a bar in your ski gear for a drink, enjoy some music and dancing.

Ski patrol – a qualified team who patrol the ski area and make sure that everyone is using the mountain safely.



Snowplough – this is one of the first moves you’ll be learning in ski school, also called the ‘pizza’. Controlling your speed and direction by creating a V shape with your skis, with the front tips of the skis almost touching, and the backs wide apart.

Parallel turns – this comes after ‘pizza’, this time you keep your skis straight, side by side and lean your body to turn.

Carving – a step up from beginner level, successful carving means leaning your body and turning on the edges of your skis.

Traverse – skiing across a piste rather than down it, to get from one run to another.

Ski binding – this is the bit on the top of your skis that attaches to your boots. Put your toe in first and then press your heel down to clip in. Push the lever at the back to unclip.

Schussing/straight line/fall line – this is when you ski down the piste in a straight line without making any turns.


Weather and Snow

Powder – fresh snow that hasn’t been skied on or groomed.

Hard pack – this is snow that has been compacted down as far as possible – not quite ice, but definitely not fun to fall on.

Whiteout – really bad visibility due to falling snow or thick cloud cover – time to ditch the skis and embrace apres ski culture.



Chairlift – the stereotypical benches hanging from cables that you sit on as you would a normal chair. Keep your skis on, and a bar comes down in front of you to keep you safe.

Magic carpet – often located in beginner areas of the resort, there are reasonably flat conveyor belts that you stand upright on to move up a hill.

Cable car – this is a lift with two cabins hanging from cables above the ground, that can carry dozens of people up to the mountain at a time. You have to take your skis off for this lift and carry them inside.

Liftie – someone who’s employed and trained to operate the lift.

Lift pass – this is quite literally your ticket to the mountain. It allows you to use the lifts, so once you’ve got it, keep it in a safe place at all times.


Now you’ve learned some of the lingo, it’s time to get to the slopes and try it out!

A Guide to Ski Jargon
Article Name
A Guide to Ski Jargon
New to the world of skiing lingo? We’re guessing it feels like learning a completely new language; so to help you get to grips with the lingo, here’s some of the most common ski-related jargon and slang.
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