Skip to Main Content

Learning to ski is not only about learning a new sport, you also need to learn all the terminology that goes with it.This winter impress your friends and instructor when you hit the slopes by talking like a true expert of the sport with these words that every skier or snowboarder should know. .

The different types of ski lifts 

The word ski lift refers to a variety of lift systems that you’ll be using during your ski holidays. It’s always useful to know the difference between the most popular ones so you’ll know what to look for when your instructor is referring to, when he says let’s meet by the Gondolas or the Chairlift.

Chairlift: Probably the one people picture most when they think of a ski lift. Chairlifts are an open bench with a safety rail that comes down once you are sat on it, on which you can also rest your skis or boards on without the need of taking them off. 

Gondolas/Telecabine: Closed cabins which can seat from 4 people up to 150 if they’re big enough! In some of them you’ll take off your equipment and store it in racks attached on the outside of the cabin and in others you’ll carry it inside with you. 

T-Bars / Button Lifts: These can be a little challenging the first time you try them, simply because it’s a pole with button-shaped seats on the end and you put the seat between your legs, then hold on to the pole as it drags the button and you up the slope. The T-bar works in the same way but it carries two people up as they lean against the support which is like a large “T” upside down.


By knowing beforehand the names of certain pieces of equipment, it will not only help you when interacting with your instructor, but also at the time of renting the actual equipment. 

Binding: What connects the ski boot to the ski or the boot of the snowboard to the board. 

Tip: the front of the ski, usually round or pointed. 

Tail: The back of the ski.

Ski Break: An attachment on your ski binding that stops them from sliding downhill when you’re not wearing them.

Poles: Although people may often call them sticks, the correct terminology is poles. 

On The Slopes

When you’re out on the mountains you’ll hear plenty of words you might not be familiar with so to help you blend in with the veteran skier or snowboarder here are a few words you’ll want to know.

Bluebird: A day that’s particularly sunny and cloudless and the sky is simply blue! 

Powder: When fresh snow falls and it looks almost like powder,  hence the name. Many times you’ll hear people referring to fresh powder or untouched powder which means the snow hasn’t been skied on yet.

Face Shot: The effect of fresh snow spraying in one’s face when skiing in deep snow.

Slush: Wet snow, or snow that is melting. It can make the terrain very difficult to ski on. 

Let Rip: To ski fast or at the edge of one’s ability.

Piste: The French word for “slope” which is an area designated for skiers/snowboarders. The path is clearly visible and marked, and the snow has been compacted down.

Off-Piste: A snowy area that is not prepared as a marked ski slope. The snow is not compacted and you would be skiing or snowboarding in deep snow without a clear path to follow. 

Freestyle: No, it doesn’t mean skiing in your own unique style, but instead it’s a style of skiing or snowboarding that focuses on jumps and tricks. There are many ski resorts that have freestyle parks where you can practice your tricks so as to not disturb people skiing downhill. 

Fresh Dump: A significant snowfall in the mountains.

Yard Sale: A crash whereby one’s equipment detaches and spreads across the slope.

White Out: When there is a heavy snowfall, fog, or general weather that severely diminishes visibility. 

Après Ski: This means the day is officially over and it’s time to relax with your friends. If someone invites you to an après ski you’ll usually have a drink or two at a mountain chalet but  in some resorts après are now a full party with plenty of drinks, dj’s and great entertainment. Definitely a good word to know! 

You are halfway there to becoming an expert on the slopes, all you’re missing are your lessons with a Maison Sport instructor. Book today and start getting ready by learning the ski terminology all beginners should know. 

The Independent Instructors on Maison Sport are Waiting for you!