A glossary of snowboarding terms

Like any sport (“bogey,” “offsides,” “icing,” from golf, football, and hockey, respectively), snowboarding has some unique terms. Here are definitions of some of the most common snowboarding terms.


All-mountain

A board that is designed to perform reasonably well in all conditions.

Back country

Territory that is not part of the usual ski area, riders in the back country should be advanced and well-trained for the dangers of avalanches.

Big air

[Freestyle] Jumping into the air and performing various tricks.

Bindings

There are various sorts, but you need bindings to keep your boots attached to the board.

Black diamonds

The most difficult-to-ride trails in a ski area are designated (in the U.S.) by a black diamond. What makes them black? They tend to be stepper, more narrow (or both) than other trails, and may feature bumps.

Blue squares

Trails of medium difficulty at a ski area are designated (in the U.S.) by a blue square. See also green circles and black diamonds.

Boardercross

A race on a snowboard, sort of like a Motocross but on the snow.

Boots

Snowboard boots have come a long way since the early days. You’ll probably start off with soft-sided boots, and may use them the rest of your riding days.

Bumps

Large mounds of snow within a trail. Also known as moguls.

Butt plant

To land painfully, and suddenly, on one’s backside, especially after catching an edge.

Carving

1. When you make turns relying on the shape of the board without skidding, you’re carving.
2. A subdiscipline of snowboarding that emphasizes riding with the board at an extremely high angle to the ground, resulting in the rider being very close to the ground.
3. A board specifically designed for such riding, usually set apart by being more straight than other boards.

Catch an edge

A painful event in which the rider comes to a sudden stop, resulting either in a face plant or a butt plant. The result of having too much weight on the wrong side (toeside or heelside) of the board for the situation.

Catwalk

A narrow trail, with a steep drop-off to one side and the side of the mountain on the other.

Cruising

Skiing or snowboarding from the top of the mountain to the bottom without performing any tricks along the way, usually on beginner or intermediate slopes that have been groomed.

Corduroy

Snow that has been groomed; it has grooves that resemble the fabric. It is favored by people who prefer cruising.

Duck

A way of standing on the board, with the front foot facing the tip of the board and the back foot facing the tail; the opposite of pigeon-toed. Some people find it easier to ride switch when they have a duck stance, though others find that it puts too much pressure on the knees. More useful in freestyle snowboarding than in all-mountain riding.

Dude

All-purpose term to refer to someone you don’t know. The equivalent of “Hey you,” or “You guys.”

Face plant

To fall forward down the hill, on one’s arms, chest, and sometimes, face. The result of catching an edge.

Fakie

If you prefer ride with your left foot in front but instead go with your right, you are riding fakie. (And if you prefer riding with your right foot in front but lead with your left, that’s fakie, too.) Same as Switch.

Fall Line

The direction that a ball would roll towards the base of the mountain or hill.

Flats

The flattest part of a mountain or ski area, the flats are a difficult place for a snowboarder to be.

Freestyle

1. Snowboard riding that emphasizes tricks, such as making turns in the halfpipe or getting big air.
2. A board designed for such riding, usually lighter and with increased flexibility.

Gaiter

A collar or skirt fabric. A neck gaiter is very useful on cold days, covering not only the neck but chin and much of the face as well. A jacket or pants gaiter helps keep out the powder–if you’re lucky enough to ride in it!

Glade

A stand of trees, usually evergreens, through which riders may travel.

Goofy

If you put your right front towards the tip of the board, you have a “goofy” stance, or are a “goofy” rider. See Regular

Grays on Trays

1. An adult snowboarder.
2. The web site you’re looking at!

Green circles

The easiest trails at a ski area are designated (in the U.S.) by a green circle. See also blue squares and black diamonds.

Grommet; Groms

A young snowboarder; a pre-teen.

Groomers; Grooming

Grooming is the act of using heavy equipment (groomers) to break up hard snow and make it easier to ride on, and more predictable. A groomer can also refer to a trail that has been groomed.

Halfpipe

A place in the snow that looks like, well, half a pipe. Used for performing tricks such as spinning. Usually not of interest to older adults on snowboards–though there are exceptions!

Heelside

1. Riding with the weight on the toes, looking down the mountain.
2. Making a turn from riding on one’s toes to riding on one’s heels.

Kicker

A small ramp, made of snow, that a rider can jump from.

Leash

Most ski areas require that snowboarders use a leash, by which the board is attached to the rider. One end is tied to the board, and the other end is tied around the front leg of the rider.

Moguls

Large mounds of snow within a trail. Also known as bumps.

Pipe Dragon

A piece of heavy equipment for sculpting halfpipes.

Piste

A designated path down a mountain, usually used in Europe. The U.S. equivalent is “trail.” Back country terrain is sometimes called “off-piste.”

Powder

Soft, fluffy snow, often thought of as the ultimate medium for snowboarding.

Regular

If you put your left foot towards the tip of the board, you have a “regular” stance. See Goofy

Responsibility Code

Rules governing safety and responsibility on the slopes, applying to skiers and snowboarders. You are legally responsible for knowing and following the code.

Rolling down the windows

If someone has jumped and is losing his balance, he may wildly rotate his arms (as if rolling up a car window) in an attempt (usually futile) to regain his balance.

Skate; Skating

One way of moving on the flats. Skating on a snowboard resembles the motion of a skateboard: one foot stays in front, on the board. The rider takes the other foot and moves it in a tip-to-tail motion to propel the snowboard.

Rolling down the windows

If someone has jumped and is losing his balance, he may wildly rotate his arms (as if rolling up a car window) in an attempt (usually futile) to regain his balance.

Step-in

1. A type of (obsolete) binding that  secures the boot to board by, well, stepping your boot into metal objects on the board.
2. Actually placing your boot into such a binding.

Stomp pad

A piece of rubber or soft plastic that sits on the board, between the front and back binding. It’s useful for standing on (with the free foot) when skating, descending the lift, or any other time when a rider has only one foot in the binding.

Strap in

To make sure that both of your feet are set in a binding. A strap is one form of binding. Also known as buckling in.

Switch

If you prefer ride with your left foot in front but instead go with your right, you are riding switchstance, or simply, switch. (And if you prefer riding with your right foot in front but lead with your left, that’s switch, too.) Same as fakie.

Superpipe

If someone uses the term “superpipe,” they’re talking about a very large halfpipe, and perhaps engaging in some marketing hype.

Terrain Park

A place within a ski area where snowboarders and skiers can do freestyle tricks. In addition to the halfpipe, a terrain park may contain (hand) rails, picnic tables, kickers, and other man-made and snow objects.

Trail

A designated “lane” or path down the mountain. Ski areas like to boast of the number of trails they have, but some inflate the number through various means.

Toeside

1. Riding with the weight on the toes, looking up the mountain.
2. Making a turn from riding on one’s heels to riding on one’s toes.

Yard sale

If a person falls down and his equipment scatters, he has had a yard sale. Usually applies only to skiers, who may lose their poles and skis. Of course, a snowboard rider won’t have poles or skis.

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