Mark Warner Ski Glossary
Air, as in ‘catching air’, refers to jumps and tricks where the skier or boarder leave the slope to become airborne. The greater the height, the bigger the ‘air’.
Sickness that occurs at high elevation, usually above 8000 feet and is caused by the lower level of oxygen found at such high altitudes. It rarely affects holiday skiers and the more severe symptoms of altitude sickness tend to occur at altitudes of 3,600m (about 12,000 feet) and above.
Après-Ski refers to drinking on the mountain side or in resort bars ‘after skiing’ and if you’re up for it, partying too! It often involves a glass or two of Vin Chaud, Glühwein or some other variety of hot wine.
Average Annual Snowfall
The amount of snow a ski area gets within a year. For example, the resorts of Courchevel and Val d’Isere in France each receive around 6m of snowfall a year. If you are concerned about the amount of snow it’s worth considering higher altitude resorts and those with good snowmaking facilities and coverage.
Base Layers / Thermal Underwear
Undergarments, including thermal tops and legging-type bottoms for giving skiers and snowboarders an extra layer of insulation. Natural fabrics, such as merino wool, are good, itch-free, breathable options.
Head-hugging, brimless, knitted hats.
Bindings are the fixtures that attach your boots to your skis or snowboard. Bindings are set to a skier’s ability, height and weight and it is essential to seek assistance from a certified ski technician to have bindings mounted and adjusted so they operate safely.
Black is the colour used to mark the most difficult runs to ski on the slopes and should only be tackled once skiers and boarders can confidently handle red runs. Black runs are usually steep and may or may not be groomed or could be groomed for moguls This is quite a wide classification; black runs can be only marginally more difficult than a red, or very steep avalanche chutes like the Couloirs of Courchevel.
Blue is the colour used to mark moderate runs. These easy runs are almost always well groomed, or on such a shallow slope that grooming is not needed.
A ski boot fitter is a professional trained to fit ski boots. Ski boots are the platform that transfers the technique, power and precision to the skis, and need to be supportive, stable and comfortable, which is why it’s important to have them fitted by a professional.
A bubble lift is a chairlift with a hood that slides over the skiers on the chair to protect them from the elements as they travel up the mountain. The skiers will pull the hood over them with their hands and lift it as they approach the summit before skiing off the chair.
Often used in beginner areas in France, button lifts comprise of poles with button-shaped seats on the end that are suspended from an overhead cable. You put the seat between your legs, then hold onto the pole as it drags you up the slope.
Cabriolet Ski Lift
A cabriolet is an open gondola type of ski lift which typically takes skiers from a parking area or a lower part of a resort to a higher level.
Carving is when you ski a turn with very little skidding, using the edges of your skis.
Catching an Edge
Catching an edge is when the leading edge of your ski or board digs into the snow, making you lose balance and fall, or nearly fall over. It’s a fundamental part of learning to snowboard and also why it is often considered a painful experience. However, when a boarder gains experience they will learn how to avoid catching an edge, spot the warning signs and recover when they get close to it.
A cable-suspended aerial chair used to carry skiers and their equipment up mountain slopes.
A typical building or house native to the Alpine region of Europe.
French for corridor, a couloir is a narrow passageway with a steep gradient between two vertical mountain crevasses, resembling a gorge.
Cross Country Skiing
A type of endurance skiing that usually takes place on flatter trials and smaller hills, than piste skiing.
Crud is snow that is crusty on the surface and soft underneath. It is usually a combination of powder snow and ice.
Skiing down a run at a relaxed speed.
Skiing down a slope in a zig-zag pattern.
When a skier or boarder ends up with a face full of snow when travelling through deep powder.
Travelling backwards on your snowboard.
Flex is the amount of bending resistance a ski has.
Usually made from light weight, soft fabric, a fleece is a warm top often used in mountain sports as an insulating garmet.
Snowboarding across any terrain with no set course, goals or rules to abide by.
Freestyle skiing or snowboarding involves tricks and jumps.
Glasses used to protect a skier from the sun, snow and wind. Tinted lenses can increase visibility in poor condition, while vents and anti-fog features also help stop your breath from steaming them up.
A glacier is a large slow moving mass or river of ice formed by the accumulation and compaction of snow on mountains. In some ski resorts ski runs have been created on glaciers.
Skiing back and forth through forest.
Ski gloves are essential when skiing and snowboarding. Pick a hardwearing, waterproof pair that will protect your hands from the harsh elements.
An enclosed ski lift that is suspended by cables and takes skiers and snowboarders up the mountain.
Snowboarders who board with their right foot forward. It is the opposite of ‘regular’, which is boarding with the left foot forward.
Green is the colour used to mark the easiest runs – the ‘baby’ or learner slopes. They are usually large open and gently sloping areas at the base of the slopes.
A piste is ‘groomed’, when piste-bashing machines have smoothed and compacted the surface level of snow to make it more manageable for skiers and boarders.
A structure that resembles a cross section of a swimming pool and is used in skiing, skating and other gravity sports to perform tricks.
Heat pads, usually activated by kneading and shaking the pads, designed for keeping your hands warm.
Heli-Skiing is off-piste, downhill skiing that is reached by a helicopter.
Helmets are now considered essential safety wear by most skiers or snowboarders. They are particularly important for beginners, children and in icy conditions.
A hydration pack is a flexible, light-weight pack that you fill with water and fit into a backpack or attach to your back. Perfect for skiing or boarding, they are ideal for staying hydrated during physical activities.
The edge on a ski or snowboard that is in front with respect to the direction of travel.
Lift Pass or Lift Ticket
An electronic pass that allows you to access the ski area and that usually needs to be scanned before boarding ski lifts.
A nick-name used to describe ski lift operators.
A series of lumps on a run, formed when skiers push the snow into mounds or piles by taking similar paths down the slope. Moguls are challenging for all but the most advanced and are sometimes purposely constructed for advanced freestyle skiing.
Often snowboarders opt for this type of glove as they have extra padding and tougher materials for hands that are in more frequent contact with the snow and ground. They can also be warmer as your fingers remain grouped together, retaining the warmth for longer. For skiers, however, it can be harder to grip a pole when wearing mittens.
One piece of circular material that goes over your head to sit next to your neck and protect you from the wind and cold. Neck gaiters can be warmer and more practical than scarves as you do not need to worry about them unravelling and getting in your way.
Skiing away from the marked trails and runs on ungroomed terrain. Beware that the snow texture will change and if it has snowed recently you will sink into the soft snow. If you would like to try off-piste skiing make sure you check that your winter sports travel insurance covers you for it and consider hiring a guide to get the most out of the experience, whilst staying safe on the mountain.
Snow that has been compressed and flattened by skiers, boarders or mountain grooming equipment.
This is a skiing technique where your skis stay parallel to each other throughout each turn. This is generally considered to be the proper way to ski when you are ready to advance from the snowplough. The skier is usually facing straight down the slope and changes direction slightly to control speed and navigate around objects.
An area of the resort marked off for freestyle skiers and boarders with kickers, rails, boxes and often a half/quarter pipe used for performing jumps and tricks.
A downhill area in the form of a ski run or path marked for skiing, snowboarding and other mountain sports. Pistes are usually maintained by piste-bashing machines, which compact or groom the piste to even out bumps, remove moguls and redistribute the snow.
Poles that skiers use to improve balance and propulsion.
Also known as a ‘Pomalift’, this is a skiing rope tow with a plastic plate that you put between your legs to be dragged uphill.
Red is the colour used to mark intermediate level runs.
Waterproof trousers worn by skiers and snowboarders to keep legs warm and dry. Choose a style that has the appropriate features, such as breathable or highly insulating fabric, zip vents and reinforced layers, for your chosen sport, as well as the weather conditions of the resort you will be visiting.
A race that combines downhill speed with technical ability. The course is marked by gates made by poles that the skier has to manoeuvre through with a series of quick turns.
A purposely designed boot for skiing in, which is fitted to skis with bindings.
A snowproof jacket that is waterproof and insulated. Skiers and boarders can choose from all sorts of features, such as detachable hoods, mobile phone pockets, internal lift pass pockets, and should look for one with an elastic gaiter, known as a snowskirt, for preventing snow from flowing up the jacket should they fall.
Lifts used to take skiers and boarders up mountains to designated ski areas.
A ski run is a trail or path that skiers and snowboarders follow to get down the mountain. Ski runs are classified by the colours; green, blue, red and black, with green being the easiest and black being the most difficult run.
Ski/ Snowboard Socks
Socks designed for skiing or snowboarding. The most comfortable ones are shaped and cushioned, warm and breathable. Look out for a technical sock which will have padding in the toe and heel area and cushioning around the shin to protect against the top of the boot, whilst the fabric ensures warmth and ventilation.
A type of ski sock that has no tailored heel.
Normal shoes will not keep you dry and warm, or have enough grip for walking around snowy ski resorts. Snow boots are boots especially designed for this reason and come in a range of fashionable and practical designs.
Snowmobile / Ski-Doo
A motorised land vehicle with skies designed to travel on snow and ice.
This is a braking ski movement skiers use to slow themselves down. It involves making a ‘V’ shape pointing downhill, which can be widened to create more friction and slow you down further.
Sunglasses specifically designed for skiing, snowboarding and alpine walking are made for environments with high levels of natural light. If you are not wearing goggles these are essential as on the mountainside, light is reflected from the snow and twice the normal amount of UV rays enters your eyes.
A lift shaped like an upside down ‘T’, made from a metal bar suspended by cables, which can take two skiers up the slope when placed under their backsides.
The edge on a ski or snowboard that is at the back with respect to the direction of travel.
Protective guard for the wrist. Can be strapped under gloves or come as part of the glove in the form of a plastic splint running along the underside of the wrist onto the palm to the hand.