9 Important Ski and Snowboard Terms You Should Know


Carving, Alpine Basic Position, Goofy, Switch, Fall Line, etc. These are ski and snowboard terms that we often hear and are ones that every aspiring skier and snowboarder should know.  Therefore, we would like to provide you with some explanations of these basic terms.

1. Carving

A carved turn is demostrated by skiing a rail-like turn using the metal edges of the ski or on the edge of your snowboard.

Carven ist einer der bekanntesten Fachbegriffe.
Nicolai demonstrates a carved turn with speed.

2. Sidecut

The sidecut determines the turn radius through the different widths of the ski shovel, middle of the ski and the tail of the ski.

The red line shows the sidecut of the ski.
The red line shows the sidecut of the ski.

You are able to discover a lot about how your ski will perform just from the side cut alone. Different lentgths of skis and snowboards will be constructed differently resulting in varying sidecuts.

The radius of a turn can be shortened by pressuring the ski and creating more edge angle. As a result, a heavily edged and pressured ski will create an arc, which enables you to reduce the radius and ski a tighter turn.

3. Central Position

The red line describes the center
The red line describes the center

The central position is the position we strive for when skiing.  This ideal stance is not possible in every situation and it is therefore important that skiers remain flexible, and correct or alter their position often.  A good skier will always hover around the central position.

You achieve a central position by having your ankle, knee and hip joints bent so that you stand evenly (centered) in your ski boots.

4. Alpine Basic Position:

The fundamental position in skiing is called the Alpine Basic Position; this is a term that is not known well enough.  It is the basis of a safe and controlled turn.  In order to stay stable over the ski during the traverse, the central position will be adjusted to the slope, which results in the Alpine Basic Position.

Margot is showing us the Alpine Basic Position
Margot is showing us the Alpine Basic Position

Characterists of the Alpine Basic Postion:

  • The imaginary axes through the ankle, knee and hip joints are parallel to one another.
  • There is more pressure on the outside (downhill) ski.
  • Hips and legs angulate towards the inside of the turn.
  • The arms remain in front of the body
  • Body is then ready to move in all directions.

5. Fall Line

The fall line is the shortest or most direct route down the hill.  It is also described as how a ball would roll if you were to let it roll down the hill.

Good skiers will often choose to perform their turns in the fall line. In order to control your speed you should steer out every turn.  This is achieved by making a small traverse in combination with taking the shortest route down the hill.

The red line describes the Fall Line.
The red line describes the Fall Line.

6. Grab

A grab is typically described as grabbing underneath the ski or board with one hand during a jump.  They are often seen in Freestyle and Freeride tricks; however, they are sometimes performed during normal runs as well.  A grab gives your trick more style and helps you to remain stable in the air.  In the article “Snowboard Freestyle Grab Techniques” we explain how you can perform different grabs.

Snowboard Grab
Snowboard Grab Roland Tschoder
Ski Grab

7. Steering

The steering of a turn is a combination of turning, edging and pressuring the ski. It is a basic but important part of every turn. Steering is what enables you to control your speed.

8. Regular/Goofy

In snowboarding there are two different stances:

  1. Goofy: Right foot forward (in direction of travel)
  2. Regular: Left foot forward (in direction of travel)

Experience shows that a person’s stance cannot be 100% determined before first snowboarding.  It is dependent upon a few factors.  Knowing which foot is your dominant one will give you a good indication as to which one should be your front foot. Both are equally as common to have as a front foot.


Freestyle snowboarders can often ride very well in both directions.  Therefore, you cannot always tell if they are goofy or regular.

9. Switch/Fakie

The last term we will explain is switch/fakie.  This means to ride backwards either on skis or snowboards.  The term was originally used in the skating-scene to describe tricks.

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