Vocabulary guide to understanding snowboarders

Posted: Friday, January 10, 2003

ALYESKA RESORT, Alaska -- So this kid rips it off the South Face, does a backside 360, stomps it and thinks he's so sick.

And you -- most of you -- probably don't have a clue as to what you just read.

That's because you don't speak snowboard.

One of the cult crazes of the new millennium, snowboarding is spreading its reach far beyond the slopes where twin plankers -- i.e., skiers -- still outnumber boarders. For evidence, look no further than the models dressed to be boarders popping up in advertisements for everything from cars to fashion.

Or check out the decision by REI, a leading marketer of outdoor equipment, to convert a big chunk of the upstairs space at its Seattle mother store to snowboards and snowboard paraphernalia.

Or visit your local mall and note all the snowboarder wannabes -- the ones who dress in baggy boarder wear and try to talk like boarders even if though they don't know a hip from a table from a spine.

Want to find out quick whether they really ride or not? Want to separate the fakers from the makers?

Grab them and ask if they want to go jibbing with you.

Don't know what jibbing is? Read on.

We've done our best to pull together a guide to boarder lingo. Some of the language derives from surfing, some from skateboarding and some from gymnastics.

Sometimes it's hard to tell because the vocabulary has a way of shifting from week to week, and some folks just seem to make it up as they go.

All we know for sure is that ''sick'' is as good as it gets, as in Alaska has the ''sickest'' mountains in North America. That description, of course, illustrates the use of ''sick'' as a regular adjective. ''Sick'' can also function as a predicate adjective comparable to groovy, cool or good. Pick the synonym that fits your generation.

Here's a guide to more boarder speak:

Airing (N): Launching the board into the air. Some boarders try to spend as much time with the board off the snow as the board on the snow. They're big on airing.

Amped or worked (ADJ): Excited. ''He was really amped about Alyeska finally getting snow.''

Backside (N): The rump side of a snowboarder locked into the snowboard.

Backside 360 (N): A 360-degree counterclockwise spin in the air.

Backside 540 (N): 1 1/2 complete spins counterclockwise in the air -- hopefully ending with a stomp, not a wreck.

Big air (N): A state of being airborne and flying, flying, flying. The result will be either a wreck or a stomp.

Boardsliding (N, V): Sideslipping a snowboard down a bannister, handrail or other narrow surface. Anything resembling a rail will work for boardsliding. Wooden rails are set up specifically for this purpose in terrain parks at ski areas. Handrails along neighborhood walkways. U-shaped barricades of pipe made to control traffic at ski areas. Ski or snowboard racks. Bike stands. Picnic tables. Picnic benches. Fences. You get the picture.

Bumming (V): Being unhappy, upset, out of sorts: ''I was bumming that I hadn't started boarding sooner.''

Corkspin (N): A 360-degree aerial rotation of the snowboard while the boarder is flying through the air with body parallel to the ground.

Drop-in (N): How one goes from the deck to the pipe.

Dude (N): Any snowboarder.

Frontside (N): The direction one faces when locked into the snowboard.

Frontside 360 (N): The clockwise equivalent of the backside 360.

Half-pipe (N): Half of a pipe built out of snow. Usually just called ''the pipe.'' The radius can vary from a few feet to dozens of feet. Some of the bigger pipes have walls up to 15 feet high. Snowboarders do tricks in the pipe.

Hip (N): A round-topped pile of snow. Snowboarders ride up one shoulder, launch, spin and come down another shoulder.

Kicker (N): Any mound of snow built to launch a snowboarder. The best kickers are built like ski jumps to maximize airing.

Jibbing (N, V): Boardsliding on handrails.

Melon (N): A reach down to grab the front of the snowboard while airborne. This is the most elemental of tricks.

Park (N): A snowboard playground full of rails, tabletops, hips and spines.

Rip (V): Attack and conquer. ''Wow, she really ripped that boardslide.''

Roast beef (N): A reach between the legs to grab the backside edge of the snowboard while airborne.

Rodeo (N): A spin flip.

Shred (V): To carve up fresh snow. ''Let's go shred some powder, dude.''

Spine (N): A tabletop (see below) without a top. You board up one side, catch a little air and board down the other.

Stomp (N, V): A perfect landing. A term stolen from gymnastics, in which the idea is to ''stick'' the landing. Snowboarders ''stomp'' it instead. ''It was sick how she stomped the landing.''

Switch (V): To ride the board in the opposite direction from which it is supposed to go. For a regular rider going frontside, this would be right to left instead of left to right. For a goofy foot rider going frontside, it would be the opposite.

Tabletop (N): A flat-topped pile of snow with ramps leading to it. The objective is to shoot up one ramp, fly over the tabletop and land on the down ramp.

Throw down (V): Do or demonstrate. ''She's getting ready to throw down some big air and stomp some sick spins.''

Truck driver (N): A position in which the rider places one hand on either side of the toe of the snowboard while airborne. The position looks like a truck driver's grab on the steering wheel.

Wreck (N): Crash. ''His big air looked great until the wreck.''



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