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Common Snowboarding Terms

All the Terms You Need to Know Before Watching Snowboarding at the Winter Olympics

Image Source: Unsplash / Pierre Herman

Are you ready to hit the powder? Are you yearning for that alpenglow at the top of the summit? Or are you confused about what those words mean? Whether you're watching the snowboarders tear it up at the Winter Olympics or just chatting up that hottie buying a new board at your local REI, you'll want to know the lingo used by competitive snowboarders.

The terms used in snowboarding may sound gnarly, but like any sport, they just take some getting used to. To help out, here's a guide that goes over the important phrases in the sport, so you can sound super on it when you're at your next Olympics watch party.

  • 3, 5, 7, 9: These are abbreviated types of spins. A 3 is a 360-degree spin, 5 is a 540, 7 is a 720, and 9 is a 900.
  • Air to Fakie: A halfpipe trick, where the snowboarder flies up the half-pipe and lands backward.
  • Alley-Oop: A trick in which one rotates in the opposite direction from what is expected. For example, if a snowboarder is spinning clockwise while flying right to left on a halfpipe.
  • Alpenglow: The red or pinkish color of snowy mountains during sunrise or sunset.
  • Bluntside: Where the rider jumps over a rail or another tall item like a wall, landing on the rail with the tail of the board before sliding down.
  • Boardslide: A trick where the snowboarder slides down a rail or wall with the board perpendicular to the rail.
  • Boned Out: When a snowboarder straightens one or both legs while in the air.
  • Cab: A spin on a halfpipe, jump or rail where the boarder turns 360 degrees and lands forward after starting backward.
  • Chocolate Chips: Tiny rocks that poke out of the snow that can cause a rider to crash or to tear up their board.
  • Chicken Salad: When a rider's back hand reaches between his or her legs and grabs the heel edge while holding the front leg straight.
  • Chowder: Snow that has been chopped and sliced by other snowboarders or skiers.
  • Cork: A spin where the snowboarder flips sideways or upside down in the air.
  • Crippler: An inverted 540-degree spin done on a halfpipe.
  • Haakon Flip: An impressive halfpipe 720-degrees flip invented by Norwegian professional snowboarder Terje Haakonsen.
  • Half Pipe: A large half-circle structure snowboarders compete on to showcase jumps, spins, and other tricks.
  • Giant Parallel Slalom: A race to get the fastest time to the bottom of the course.
  • Gap: Also called a gaper; it refers to a snowboarder who is a novice and clueless.
  • Goofy: A snowboarding stance where the rider's right foot is in the front, as opposed to the regular stance where the rider's left foot is in front.
  • Grab: Grabbing the board while in the air.
  • Holeshot: When a racer gets to a turn before any other competitor in a snowboarding cross competition.
  • Japan: When the rider pulls the board forward or backwards while doing grabbing the side of the board.
  • Jibbing: A move in which the rider lands on a rail or another feature and slides down it.

Image Source: Unsplash / Joshua Reddekopp

  • Michalchuk: A backflip off the back wall of a halfpipe, first performed by Canadian professional snowboarder Michael Michalchuk.
  • McTwist: A spin where the snowboarder turns one and a half times while holding the edge of the board.
  • Mute Grab: Grabbing the side of the board.
  • Nose: The front tip of the snowboard.
  • Nose Grab: The rider grabs the nose of the board and lifts their front leg up.
  • Nose Slide: When the snowboarder slides down a rail using only on the nose of the board.
  • Parallel Slalom: A race where snowboarders race side-by-side and have to dodge flags on their way down the mountain.
  • PGS: Parallel giant slalom, racers compete head-to-head down a mountain in two parallel courses.
  • Pretzel: A trick where the boarder does a 270-degree spin onto a rail, and then spins off the rail at 270 degrees. Sometimes called a bagel or a danish.
  • PSL: Parallel slalom, when snowboarders race through gates performing quick turns. This event is no longer part of the Olympics.
  • Roast Beef: Where the boarder grabs the board through his legs.
  • Rolling Down the Windows: Waving your hands in circles while flying through the air on a jump.
  • Slopestyle: A race with obstacles and jumps; it's often judged based on the tricks added in during jumps.
  • Snowboard Cross: A race with four to six snowboarders on a winding path with jumps.
  • Stalefish: Where the snowboarder grabs the board from behind, near the back of the board; similar to a roast beef.
  • Team Ski-Snowboard Cross: A timed team race with freestyle big-air jumps and large, high-banked turns.
  • Tail: The back tip of the snowboard.
  • Tail Press: Balancing on the tail of the board.
  • Tweak: To pull the board forward or backwards while doing a trick in the air.
  • Twin Tip: A type of snowboard that has the same shape for its nose and tail. It's used more for tricks than downhill snowboarding.
  • Vertical: The straight, vertical portion at the top of a half-pipe, sometimes called the vert.
  • Yard Sale: When a snowboarder crashes and loses gear, such as their glasses or hat.
  • Yolo Flip: A 1,440-degree flip invented by snowboarder Iouri Podlatchikov (also known as I-Pod) that includes two head-over-heels flips and two 360-degree turns. It stands for the popular phrase "You Only Live Once."
  • Wildcat: A backflip done on a jump. It looks like a cartwheel in the air.
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