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Nordic ski lingo

Nordic ski lingo

Consider yourself a cross country skier?  Put on the Lycra suit, memorize the following terms, and nobody will question you.

Alex and Therese

Our crushes of the cross country ski world. Just throw their names around like you know them personally and you will be Nordic cool.  Example: "yeah, I'm training to do hills like Therese". 


The ribbed pattern of a freshly packed skate ski trail.  Since it hasn't been churned up by previous skiers it is usually heaven to ski on.  Which may be why this guy is smiling so much.

ski track corduroy

Diagonal stride

Classic stride.  Our friends at call this "die in agony" stride after the attitude of skate skiers when confronted with no skate trail.  Example: "OMG it hasn't been packed.  We're gonna have to diagonal!"


Also known as wipeout, header, snow angel, melon slide, nose burner, etc.  Best effects occur when the skier wears glasses.


Archaic term for the grip cut into waxless ski bases.  They used to be shaped like fish scales but we've never seen fish ski and therefore prefer the more contemporary term of "pattern". 


Figure-skating-like term which essentially means "any style you want".  Usually interpreted as skate ski style since anyone caught diagonal striding in a freestyle event might as well tell the world they are terrible at skate skiing.


Canadian slang term for a skier who is absolutely clueless.  They are often seen sporting earmuffs, jeans, poles that come up to the level of their belt buckle and backpacks full of heaven-only-knows-what.  



When faced with an uphill a skier may attempt to diagonal stride up it (see "diagonal stride", above).  If this fails they may be forced to herringbone up the hill which means duck-stepping with your ski tips pointed out.  Often results in great faceplants (see "faceplant", above) when you place your pole ahead of your ski.

Ice up

The horrific situation in which ice and snow build up on the bottom of your skis due to difficult waxing conditions.  If you see a skier walking down the trail  holding their skis and swearing up a storm this is probably what happened.


Not to be confused with "kick ass" (although it sometimes applies), this term refers to the level of adhesion between your grip wax and the snow.  Example: "I've got awesome kick today but my glide sure sucks."  Also known as "grip", just to be confusing to newbies.  


Ghastly sticky goop that you need to put in your kick zone (see "wax pocket" below) when the snow gets warm.  Also used to glue small rookie skiers to trees.


A ski race.  We don't just say "ski race" because it doesn't sound Scandinavian enough.


This is the large dent left in the snow after being compressed by a skier.  Here is a photo of Jeff making a sitzmark.



The odd sport of having your dog drag you along skiing.  

Ski bunny

If this term brings to mind an attractive, fashionably clad female in ski gear, you are an alpine skier.  The greatest ski bunny in the world was Jackrabbit Johannsen, a Norwegian-Canadian superstar who was cross country skiing until well over the age of a hundred.  Here is a photo of him but by the look on his face his skis may have just iced up.

Jackrabbit Johannsen


An ancient boot and binding system that most of us are suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder over.  Three little pins in the binding fit into three little holes in the boot.  If only it were that simple...


When a faster skier comes up behind a slower skier during competition they may call this term so the slower skier will move aside and let them pass.  Any version of the word may be used (such as "TRACK!"  or  "JRK"  or "") so it's a good idea to just get out of their way at the first grunt.

Wax pocket

Also known as "kick zone", this is the bottom third of the ski under your foot where you apply your grip wax.  Kick wax.  Stick wax.  Whatever you want to call it.

Yard sale

Originating as an alpine term, this applies to a spectacular wipeout (see "faceplant", above) which leaves a trail of debris such as broken skis, toques, gorp baggies and car keys.

 yard sale

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