This page contains an introduction to the glossary. To see all the glossary terms, you
must navigate by category from the list here or on the side bar:
On the massive cornice, my friend pointed excitedly. "Look.
There's a pinhead!"
Pinhead? I'd never heard of a pin head before. And judging by
this character before me, I had definitely never seen one before
either. He was tall and lean, with a neat ponytail down to the
small of his back, his chin buried behind a thick beard. Snow
shedding red fabric was wrapped around the tops of his little leather
boots up to his knees, and his thighs were coated in duct tape.
His tattered goretex jacket looked around 10 years old, despite
the fact that it was 1990 and goretex ski jackets had just been
Suddenly, he pointed his long wobbly skis down the ridge and was
off. Upon reaching top speed, he arched a smooth turn. He dropped
his inside knee all the way to the ski, leaned his weight forward,
and launched off the cornice, heartily soaring into the thin winter
I had no idea a human could survive such air time, much less subject
themselves to it on purpose. And his incredibly skinny skis flapping
about on the ends of his toes didn't look very helpful. I was pretty
sure he had no intention of actually landing the jump, but while
in the air he maintained excellent form . At the end of his 40
foot free fall, he completely cratered.
Rebounding quickly, beard white with snow, both arms shot up
into the air and a triumphant "woooo hooooooo" bellowed
forth. He promptly dug out a pole, righted his goggles, put a stray
ski back on, and was off again. He descended the rest of the bowl
while feverishly dropping a knee in each round turn. Then the first
telemark skier I'd ever seen promptly dissappeared, leaving nothing
but a trail of spindrift and a large legacy in his wake.
"So that's what a pinhead is." I thought. "I like
15 years later, I'm still learning new words that
help explain this incredible sport of sliding on snow. Growing
waves of newcomers, snow sliding super stars and ancient powder
stash die-hards continue to add to this colorful language. Escalating
feats of human endeavor as well as technological advances also
fuel the need for new terms. And sitting on a chairlift for 9 minutes
as well as hiking up a skin trail for hours continues to be
the perfect incubator for creating new ways of talking about riding.
New technologies have helped snow sliders push the boundaries.
The internet has become an incredible asset to the skiing community,
allowing up to the minute trip reports, mountain cams, and even
snow data that's free of resort marketing influence. This form
of conversation also allows creative jargon to go from local slope
to national awareness within seconds. Nothing is sacred in a conversation
between snow riders, but creative story telling and lexicon usage
can garner as much respect as impressive feats of riding.
But for every new voice that arrives to carry on the oral tradition
of gliss, an old voice fades away. One evening, I discover an
internet chat thread discussing the term "pinhead".
The group's dialog starts off with someone asking what one is.
Others join in, having no idea what the term means or where it
comes from. Eventually someone explains how in days of old, tele
bindings had pins that inserted into the toe of the boots, which
were then clamped to the ski. Another in the forum reminisced about
the skinny skis and the leather boots. Another the beard and the
brown bag lunch. Slowly, from collective conscience, the fabled
pinhead is recreated and the newbie gets the picture.
This is why the Freaktionary is
here: to attempt to preserve this wonderfully diverse
language. A dialectical time capsule, The
Freaks' Mostly Accurate Ski Glossary is here to keep important
terms like "gaper gap ", "poodle factor", and
"the arlberg technique" alive and in circulation. It's also somewhat
educational with origins and additional fascinating facts documented
Some of these words may be new to you. Others may be so ingrained
that they seem like common knowledge. Read it, enjoy it, and use
it to color some fables of your own.