Stompin’ the Pow: Snowboarding as a Second Language

Steve English February 11, 2014 1

From now until the last fireworks light up Sochi’s sky on February 23, G Adventures will offer up the best original and curated content from around the web. Want to follow along? We’ll share our take on Sochi 2014 through through the @gadventures handle, on Facebook—and right here on the Looptail. Check out all of our Winter Games–related articles here. This is your planet—see it at play.


Today and tomorrow, the skies above Sochi will belong to the vert-crazed men and women of snowboard halfpipe as they flip, grind, and McTwist themselves high into the air in pursuit of the Games’ first medals. Since its introduction as an official event at Nagano in 1998, snowboarding has quickly asserted itself as one of winter’s boldest, brashest, and badass-est sports.

Photo by D. Crannitch

Photo by D. Crannitch.

From Humble Beginnings

While relatively new to the Games, snowboarding’s roots date back at least a century, when the sport’s earliest pioneers first lashed logs and branches to their feet with rope or sleigh reins. Competitive events (thankfully employing primitive versions of modern boards) popped up in the United States in the 1960s, but the sport really took off in the 1980s and ‘90s as a winter alternative to skateboarding. Today, over 40 countries claim membership in the World Snowboard Association, including India, Peru, Chile, and Japan. And while the northern countries (particularly the United States) tend to dominate the podium, the sport’s worldwide appeal continues to grow.

Photo by J, Rusiczki

Photo by J. Rusiczki.

Learn the Lingo

Athletes are tribal, and all sports have their own unique cultures, but few are as robust, unique, and impenetrable to outsiders as snowboarding’s. Its membership may be global, but snowboarders speak in a lingua franca that transcends national, cultural, and linguistic boundaries. While you’re watching the events, here’s a sampling of some of the head-scratching terms you may encounter:

bail [beyl] v
to unsuccessfully land a trick.

butter [buht-er] n
a move in which the rider presses down on the nose of the board and swings the tail to the front. buttery adj used to describe a flexible board better equipped to producing this move.

carve [kahrv] v
the act of turning the snowboard.

chatter [chat-er] n
the vibrations the board produces against the terrain or, more commonly, while riding a rail or edge.

crunchy [kruhn-chee] adj
acceptable; good; awesome. (also crispy.)

fakie [feyk-ee] v
to ride backwards.

50/50 [fif-tee fif-tee] n
a trick performed on boxes or rails in which the rider pivots with the back foot to bring the board perpendicular to the edge, then pivots again to bring the board’s nose back in front before dismounting.

grab [grab] n
a trick in which the rider grasps the nose or heel of the board in midair.

grind [grahynd] n (v grinded, grinding)
the act of riding along the edge of a rail or other obstacle.

jib [jib] n
a trick in which the rider pauses on the edge of an obstacle with the nose, heel or bottom of the board. Also known as a stall.

kicker [kik-er] n
a steep jump that requires the rider to “kick off” from the edge to get airborne. booter a kicker that requires a stronger kick.

meat torpedo [meet tawr-pee-doh] n
a reckless or inexperienced rider who poses a danger to himself and others.

method [meth-uhd] n
a trick in which the rider grasps the heel side of the board in midair and pulls it backward, bringing his body parallel with the ground.

pow [pou] n
loose, usually fresh snow that is not granular, wet, or packed.

ride switch [rahyd swich] v
the act of riding with your non-dominant foot in front.

shred [shred] v (shredded, shredding)
to ride the terrain.

stomp [stomp] v
to successfully land a trick.

yard sale [yahrd seyl] n
a fall that results in the snowboarder’s helmet, goggles, gloves, and other equipment coming loose and scattering across the slope.

Photo by J. Lemieux.

Photo by J. Lemieux.


Getting There

Snowboarding was one of five new sports added to the Winter Games between 1992 and 2002 — and was first included in the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. Interested in visiting the city where snowboarding took the world stage for the first time in history? Journey to the Japanese Alps and Nagano, host city of the 1998 Winter Olympics, and visit the historic Zenkoji Temple on G Adventures’ Backroads of Japan small group tour.

One Comment »

  1. Erin Buttler February 12, 2014 at 12:49 am - Reply

    You missed ‘shred the gnar’ English! BUT this article proves you know much more than the announcers on TSN, so big props. :)

    props [präps] n
    respect or credit due to a person.

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