Snowboarding terms: Glossary for Olympic snowboarding
The following terms are often used in the Olympic snowboarding vernacular.
Alpine snowboarding: A type of snowboarding that involves racing through gates on groomed courses. Parallel giant slalom is the only discipline within Alpine snowboarding that will be staged at the Beijing Olympics.
FIS: International Ski Federation ("Fédération Internationale de Ski" in French), the governing body of all snowboarding events for the Olympics.
Freestyle snowboarding: A type of snowboarding that involves tricks. Halfpipe, slopestyle and big air are all freestyle disciplines.
5-0: A jib in which the snowboard remains parallel with the box or rail, and the rider shifts their weight to the tail of the board, lifting the nose off the surface. Also called a tail press.
50-50: A jib in which the board rides straight over a box or rail. Imagine that a line running down the full length of the rail divides it in half — 50% of the snowboard would be on each side of that imaginary line. This is the simplest type of slide.
Air: A move where the athlete launches above the lip of the halfpipe.
Air to fakie: Any trick in the halfpipe where a rider approaches the wall riding forward, no rotation is made, and the rider lands riding switch.
Alley-oop: In halfpipe competition, when a rider rotates 180 degrees or more in the uphill direction. This increases the difficulty of a trick because the rider is spinning against their direction of travel.
Backside: The heel-side edge of the snowboard.
Backside air: Any air performed on the backside wall of a halfpipe.
Backside approach: In slopestyle, the rider approaches the rail feature while facing away from it, typically using their heels to jump onto the rail.
Backside rotation: A type of spin. After the first 90 degrees of the spin, the rider will be facing uphill, with their back pointed downhill.
Backside wall: If a snowboarder rides straight down the halfpipe, this is the side of the halfpipe that would be behind the rider.
Bindings: Secure the rider's feet to the snowboard.
Blindside: Any rotation where the snowboarder has oriented themselves “blind” to their takeoff or landing and must stretch to look over their shoulder. Often increases the difficulty of a trick.
Bone: To straighten out one or both legs during a trick. "Boning out" a leg while grabbing the snowboard can add style to the trick.
Bonk: Tapping an object with the snowboard while in the air.
Booter: Another term for a slopestyle jump. Sometimes referred to as a "money booter."
Box: A jib feature that has a wider surface for sliding than standard rail features.
Cab: A frontside rotation while riding switch.
Cannon: In slopestyle competition, a rail or a box extending off a jump at an upward angle. Riders can slide over the cannon rail, then when coming off of it, will have more air time than usual rail features allow.
Chicken salad: The rear hand reaches between the legs and grabs the heel edge between the bindings while the front leg is boned. Also, the wrist is rotated inward to complete the grab.
Cork: An off-axis rotation. If a riders inverts twice, the trick becomes a double cork. A third invert makes it a triple cork, and so on.
Crippler: In halfpipe competition, a backflip done on the frontside wall.
Direction: There are four different spin directions in snowboarding: frontside, backside, switch frontside (also known as "cab") and switch backside. They refer to: A) whether the athlete is riding in forward or switch stance, and B) whether the athlete starts the trick by spinning frontside or backside. When evaluating a run, judges want to see riders execute tricks in as many different directions as possible.
Double grab: Performing two separate grabs on one aerial maneuver.
Double-handed grab: Grabbing the snowboard with both hands simultaneously on an aerial maneuver.
Duckfoot: A snowboard stance where the toes point outward on both bindings.
Fakie: Another term for switch riding.
Flat bottom: The area in the halfpipe between the two walls.
Flex: The stiffness of the snowboard.
Frontside: The toe-side edge of the snowboard.
Frontside air: Any air performed on the frontside wall of a halfpipe.
Frontside approach: In slopestyle, the rider approaches the rail feature while facing toward it, typically using their toes to jump onto the rail.
Frontside rotation: A type of spin. After the first 90 degrees of the spin, the rider will be facing downhill.
Frontside wall: If a snowboarder rides straight down the halfpipe, this is the side of the halfpipe that would be in front of the rider.
Gap: A part of a trick where a rider jumps over some part of the rail and either touches the rail on the end or lands on another rail.
Goofy: A stance in which the snowboarder naturally rides with their right foot forward. Also called goofy-footed.
Grab: The way a rider grabs and holds their snowboard with their hand(s) during a trick. This exhibits control over the trick, which judges want to see, and adds to a rider's personal style. There are many different types of grabs, and they are based on which part of the board is being grabbed, which hand is grabbing, how the grab is being done, etc. Common types of grabs include mute, indy, nose, tail and Japan. Judges may reward riders for performing a variety of different grabs during their run.
Haakon flip: An inverted aerial where the rider approaches the frontside wall of the halfpipe while riding switch. At the lip of the halfpipe the rider flips backwards into the pipe and rotates 720 degrees, landing forward down in the pipe. Named after Norwegian snowboarder Terje Haakonsen.
Halfpipe: An icy, sloped, U-shaped course. Riders go back and forth between the walls of the pipe, performing a trick each time they go up the wall and above the pipe. The length can vary, but the standard height for a competition is 22 feet. The large halfpipes used for major competitions are also called superpipes.
Handplant: A maneuver where the athlete places one or both hands on the lip of the halfpipe wall.
Indy: The rear hand grabs the toe-side edge of the board between the bindings.
Japan: The rider grabs the toe-side edge of the board in between the feet with his front hand and the front knee is pulled to the board.
Jib: A slopestyle term for a surface other than snow, such as a rail or box.
Jibbing: Riding on a surface other than snow.
Jumps: In slopestyle, riders will execute tricks off multiple jumps, which each feature a takeoff and landing. Although slopestyle courses vary from venue to venue, a typical course will have 3-4 jumps. The size of jumps also varies, with bigger jumps allowing for more difficult tricks to be done. Also called booters or kickers.
Kicker: Another term for a slopestyle jump.
Kinked rail: A rail feature that includes at least one spot where the angle of the rail changes as the rider slides over it.
Knuckle: The top of the landing zone on a jump.
Late: Incorporating a move into a trick just before its completion.
Lip: The top edge of the halfpipe wall.
McTwist: An inverted aerial where the snowboarder rotates 540 degrees or more and does a frontflip. Named after skateboarder Mike McGill. Two flips would make this a double McTwist.
Melon: The front hand reaches behind the front leg and grabs the heel edge between the bindings.
Method: An aerial maneuver where the rider grabs the heel edge with the front hand, bends both knees and pulls the board to the level of the head. Considered one of the most stylish tricks in snowboarding.
Michalchuk: In halfpipe competition, a backflip done on the backside wall. Named after Canadian snowboarder Mike Michalchuk. Two flips would make this a double Michalchuk.
Mute: The rider uses his front hand to grab the toe-side edge of the board between the bindings.
Nose: The front tip of the snowboard.
Nose grab: The rider uses their front hand to grab the front tip of the snowboard.
Nose press: A jib in which the snowboard remains parallel with the box or rail, and the rider shifts their weight to the nose of the board, lifting the tail off the surface.
"Off the toes" (frontside spin): A frontside spin that the rider initiates by carving on the toe-side edge of the snowboard, rather than the heel-side edge.
Rails: In slopestyle, these are the non-jump "terrain park" features — basically, obstacles that are meant for sliding over. Many rail sections feature multiple options for riders to choose from. Although slopestyle courses vary from venue to venue, a typical course will have 2-4 rail sections. Also called a jib section.
Regular: A stance in which the snowboarder naturally rides with their left foot forward. Also called regular-footed.
Revert: A change in stance while on flat ground, either from forward to switch, or from switch to forward.
Roast beef: The rear hand reaches between the legs and grabs the heel edge between the bindings while the rear leg is boned.
Rodeo: An invert in which the rider rotates while flipping backward.
"Rolling down the windows": A phrase used to describe when someone is caught off balance and they rotate their arms wildly in the air to try to recover.
Soft boots: Boots designed for use in freestyle and freeride snowboarding. They are made soft and pliable to allow a large range of motion.
Spin: A half-rotation is a 180, a full rotation is a 360, and so on. All tricks in halfpipe, as well as jump tricks in slopestyle, will be measured in multiples of 180 degrees. Rail tricks in slopestyle will be measured in multiples of 90 degrees.
Slopestyle: A downhill course consisting of both jumps and rail sections. Riders perform tricks at each section of the course and are then evaluated on their run.
Stalefish: The athlete uses their rear hand to grab the heel-side edge of the board between the bindings, while the rear leg is straightened.
Stance: Refers to the position of the rider's feet on the snowboard. All riders are considered either regular-footed (left foot forward) or goofy-footed (right foot forward) by nature.
Superpipe: A type of halfpipe with a much larger and smoother transition than a standard halfpipe, allowing riders to get higher above the lip. Superpipes are standardized at 22 feet in height and are used for all major competitions.
Switch: When a snowboarder rides in the opposite of their natural stance. For example, a regular-footed snowboarder naturally rides with their left foot forward. If that same snowboarder is instead riding with their right foot forward, they are in a "switch" stance. Whether or not a rider is in a switch stance depends on what their natural stance is. "Switch" is also sometimes called "fakie."
Tail: The rear tip of the snowboard
Tail grab: The rider uses their rear hand to grab the rear tip of the snowboard.
Tail press: A jib in which the snowboard remains parallel with the box or rail, and the rider shifts their weight to the tail of the board, lifting the nose off the surface. Also called a 5-0.
Transition: The curved surface of the halfpipe walls between the flat section and the vertical portion of the wall.
Underflip: A frontside rotation that includes a backflip in the middle of the rotation. A second flip would make this a double underflip, a third makes it a triple underflip, and so on.
Wildcat: A cartwheel-style backflip done on a jump.
YOLO flip: A cab double cork 1440 done in the halfpipe. The term was coined by Swiss snowboarder Iouri Podladtchikov.
A note on trick names: The names of tricks will often include the spin direction, number of corks (if any), degree of rotation and type of grab. For example, a rider might land a switch backside triple cork 1440 mute grab: In this example, the rider would be approaching the jump in their unnatural stance (switch), start the trick by spinning a backside rotation, then simultaneously do three inverts (triple cork) and four full rotations (1440) in the air while holding a mute grab.
Air time: The time from the takeoff of the jump until the landing.
Bank: A turn that is inclined at an angle.
Bib: Worn externally by each racer in order to identify them during competition. The colors of the bibs correspond to their qualification ranking relative to the other riders in their heat. The red bib is assigned to the highest-ranked racer, and they are allowed to choose their lane first.
Big final: The final round of a snowboard cross competition. Determines first through sixth place, including all medal positions.
Blocking: Purposely preventing a faster competitor from passing, by turning or obstructing the line.
Boardercross: The original term for snowboard cross. Commonly used outside of the Olympics.
Corner jump: A jump with a sharp turn on landing.
Course design: A detailed plan of the layout of the course including the number of features, changes of direction, safety measures and finish area.
Features: A series of natural or specially designed course elements on the course.
Heat: Each head-to-head race during the competition is called a "heat." Each heat consists of up to six snowboarders at a time racing each other down the course. During elimination rounds, the top three riders from each heat advance to the next round.
Holeshot: The race to the first turn. The rider who leads the field into the first turn "gets the holeshot" and can often use it to stay in front of their competitors.
Photo finish: The images, taken by a high speed camera, of the competitors that cross the finish line.
Rollers: A series of gentle jumps protruding from the surface of the course. Racers must traverse over them while attempting to maintain speed, either by absorbing them or jumping through them.
Small final: A consolation race featuring all riders who did not advance out of the semifinals. Determines seventh through 12th place.
Step-up: A jump where the landing is higher than the starting point.
Step-down: A jump where the landing is lower than the starting point.
Table: A jump where the landing is on the same level or a little higher than the kicker. Also called a "tabletop."
Vertical drop: The total difference from the start elevation to the finish elevation.
Waxing: Application of substances to the base of the skis.
Parallel giant slalom
Bevel: The angle to which the edges of the snowboard are tuned. Snowboards used for giant slalom will have a greater bevel than snowboards used in a halfpipe.
Hard boots: The boots designed for parallel giant slalom and the other alpine events. They are stiff and provide good support.
PGS: An abbreviation for parallel giant slalom, an event which has been on the Olympic program since 2002. (A similar event, giant slalom, was contested at the 1998 Games.)
PSL: An abbreviation for parallel slalom, an event which debuted at the 2014 Olympics but is no longer on the program. Parallel slalom is still contested on the World Cup circuit.