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Simplifying Ski Language by Chad Fleischer

Simplifying Ski Language

Being a veteran of the US Ski Team, as well as owning my own ski rental shop, has allowed me to see that all of the ski manufacturers in the world often confuse everyone with their language in the ski business.  Maybe it stems from the Europeans being such avid skiers and Formula One fans, or maybe it’s the simple fact that Americans just ski and don’t really care to know what it is they are skiing on. Either way, the language can be too complicated, and therefore we are going to go 101 on the Euro system and give you the American breakdown:


Waist - The amount of width under your foot, not your actual waist size.

BSL - Boot Sole Length, as in what size of boot you have. For example, if you wear a 10, it’s a 28.5 or a 315 mm. Confused? Exactly. Forget about it. That’s why there are professionals out there to help you.

Boot Flex Index - 120, 110, or 100 and down. Whatever!  Boot flex means one thing: what is your boot size, and what is your ability level? A professional at a ski gear or rental shop can help you figure this out.  Keep this in mind, though: a pro is 130 or 120, a skilled skier is 110, and everyone else is 100 to 80, depending on weight, ability, and height.  Women can deduct 20 points from this straight away.

Turn radius (Or “> or <” listed on your ski followed by a number) - This means nothing unless you ski with a compass and actually measure your turns.

Early Rise - This means that your ski was made in 2010 or 2011 and turns easier and better.

Rocker Tip - This means that you will not be submerged under powder or crud while skiing in epic conditions.

Early Rise to Full Rocker - You have a very special ski, and you will shred the mountain like nobody’s business!

Powder Ski - If it is a powder day and you are on a powder ski and you still think it is hard, you need to get a lesson.

Blue Bird - This is when there’s completely blue skies outside and no clouds or wind. BOOM!

Shred the Gnar - The act of pushing the limit and feeling damn good about it.

Redonkulous - This is when something so absurd happens that you will have to go to the bottom of the hill and have drinks until it makes sense to both parties.

Gaper - This is a visitor who wears their helmet so far back that there is a big space between their helmet and the top of their goggles.

Gaper Gap – This refers to the space between the helmet and the top of the goggles. Locals avoid doing this at all costs.

Destroyed - This is when you’re still feeling the good times from the night before.

All In - This is when you’re ready to ski any line, and your crew decides to take you down on any given run.

Bummed - When you show up at the gondola line at 9:30 a.m. during the holidays.

Psyched - When you’re stoked to be on the snow!

Dialed - When you are feeling it.

Puckered - When you definitely were not feeling it or are very scared.

Lame - When the ski resorts don’t groom during the day. BOOOOOOO!

Stoked - Excited!

Rad - When you’re still rocking your one-piece Bogner from the 80s.

Determined - When you’re still in your ski boots at 10 p.m.

Athletic - Coming home with all of your gear and no injuries after skiing big lines all day.

Complete - Skiing all day, with all above intact, and you are still married.

Pro Skier - When someone’s quiver of skis is worth more than the car they drive.

Local - Someone who moved to a certain town because they love everything about that town.

Poser - Someone who claims to be local but wants all of the locals to leave.

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