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A few years back, I was writing a story about Warren Miller athletes, which involved heli-skiing in Iceland (it’s a tough job, I know). I was walking through a moss bog to the heli pad, with the Arctic Sea shining in the weak winter sun behind it. Suddenly, pro skier Sierra Quitiquit, who had just skied the peak above us, popped over a berm, hip-length braids swinging under her helmet.
“Dude,” she said, “I just popped off this tasty nug and punted it!”
I blinked, and turned to look behind me. She was, indeed, talking to me.
Then, before hugging me hard, she gushed, “Sorry, I’m totally frothing out.”
I have been a skier all my life. So it goes without saying that if I don’t know what the hell this means, you probably don’t either. Which is why I’ve put together a little expert-level primer—we all know what “freshies” are—to help you decode what all the flat-brim neckbeards in the gondy are talking about.
Tasty nug: Originally a term for a nice nugget of weed, it can also mean a kicker, hit, or jump. Still, however, a term for a nice nugget of weed.
Frothing out: Extremely excited. Like a dog with rabies.
Gripped: Terrified. (Like your butt is gripped from fear.)
Puckered: Terrified. (Like your butt is puckered from fear.)
Coral reef: When soft, warm snow freezes overnight into molar-rattling, knee-swelling formations.
Colorado good: When bros from Colorado stand up in ski boots and go straight on their 120-mm fat skis fast down a groomer and think they’re rad.
Cold smoke: Powder so light and dry it defies physical form.
Hot pow: Creamy, sun-warmed pow.
Pitted: To surf through extremely deep snow, as in, “I got pitted!” Origins may stem from “armpit-deep.”
Tele zombie: These are creatures of the night, known for getting first tracks at your favorite backcountry zone. They are typically old and have antiquated gear, and regardless of how many hours before sunrise you get to the trailhead, they beat you to the summit. Their natural in-bounds habitat is Alta, Utah.
Nice turns: You may think no explanation is needed, but when said by a bro to a girl, the more nuanced translation is: “You rip, and I want to get into your long undies, no matter how sweaty they are.”
Safety meeting: Weed-smoking session, most often occurring in the trees.
Donger: A natural kicker-like feature, typically with a solid booter, formed by tree stumps, fallen trees, or rocks.
Double donger: Two of these features in a row.
Wizard stick: Fallen tree that can be ridden and aired off of.
Super stacker: Large, stacked pillow line.
Chunder: Set-up snow that’s the consistency of frozen vomit.
Nippled: Getting nipple-deep in pow.
Sacked: Getting sack-deep in pow. (Carries sexual connotations when used in other contexts.)
Blood clot: Gathering of ski patrollers in red jackets.
Steadman snow: Sticky, weird snow that leads skiers with ACL injuries straight to Dr. Steadman’s office.
First box to blower-town: First tram/gondy to pow-town!
Mank: Wet, sticky, slop that also leads skiers to Dr. Steadman’s office.
Skittle mafia: Groms in the park wearing bright colors.
K-Fed: A rail slide followed by a frontside switchup and a continued spin 270 degrees out. Named after Britney Spears’s ex-husband (perhaps ironically, as this move takes talent).
Blunt grab: Tail grab with skis uncrossed.
Pump the blacks: Over-using effects on Instagram or Lightroom to make for a more compelling photo.
Frozen chicken heads: Frozen clumps of snow. Typically found on spring mornings before the sun warms the snow.
Crème brulée: Breakable crust.
White dragon: Avalanche.
Sleeping dragon: Persistent weak layer.
Turkey tail: A sloppy kick turn that creates a fan rather than a clean angle.
Cinnabons: Wet snow rolls.
Slut strands: The strands of hair women pull out of their helmet and around their faces.
Noodling (aka wiggle turns): When a skier makes turns with his or feet close together, resulting in a hip wiggle and wide-arm pole plant.
Shussing: Skiing straight downhill without turning.
Sastrugi: Firm wind-sculpted, wave-like formations in the snow. Mostly occurs on high-alpine ridges and wind-swept bowls. Impossible to ski gracefully.
Now, dear readers, you are equipped with a working vocabulary. And when confronted with these terms, we strongly recommend you nod in understanding, throw out a term of your own invention, and see if it sticks. You know, like a ball of cheesy tots.
Frothing out about ski season? Get visually pitted here.
Less into culture, more into technical? We suggest starting here.
Article by Kimberly Beekman
Kimberly Beekman is the former editor-in-chief of the late, great Skiing Magazine (RIP), and a longtime editor of SKI Magazine before that. She currently uses the title of “freelancer” as a beard to ski powder all over the world. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her wonderful daughter and terrible cat.