Nordic Ski Instructor

nice pic!


Note: A word in italics indicates a cross-reference to another entry in this glossary


A.P.S.I. Australian Professional Ski Instructors Inc., the body that trains and certifies Alpine ski instructors in Australia.
A.S.F. The Australian Ski Federation, now Ski Australia.
Alpine skiing The term used to distinguish downhill from Nordic skiing, and includes the disciplines of Alpine ski-touring, downhill racing, freestyle, giant slalom, special slalom, and recreational skiing (on or off prepared pistes). Alpine skis have bindings that fix both the toe and the heel to the ski.
Angulation A body position used to maintain balance whilst edging and skiing downhill, by pushing the knees and hips up into the slope, and tilting the head and upper body to lean out.
Animal skating See diagonal skating.
Anticipation A twisting, or pre-rotation of the upper torso into the direction of the intended turn. The movement creates tension of the body, which aids turning of the skis at the start of the turn. Followed with counter-rotation.
Asymmetrical V-skating See two skating.


Balling up A condition of the skis when snow adheres to the running surface, and thus prevents efficient glide.
Banking Leaning the body into the centre of the radius of the turn to maintain edging and counteract centrifugal force, as you would when riding a bicycle.
Base wax A preparatory wax applied to the base surfaces of skis to allow klisters, grip and glide waxes to take firmer hold. 'Grundvalla' is the Swedish word for this substance.
Basic stance A position in which you might stand when about to receive a serve in tennis or squash, or when about to catch a heavy ball - with the knees flexed forward and head over the balls of your feet, and hands reaching forward slightly.
Basket The decoration attached to the end of a pole, used to prevent the tip from going too far into the snow when pushing against it.
Biathlon Competitive cross-country track-racing combined with target shooting with a rifle.
Bicycle bumps A series of offset bumps artificially formed in two set parallel tracks, to emulate bicycle pedalling with the legs.
Binder wax A blend of synthetic resin and rubber compounds used to bind grip waxes to the ski surface, especially used to improve the adhesion of the wax to the ski.
Buffer wax A colder grip wax applied over a warmer grip wax, or klister, to prevent the skis from balling up, and yet retain grip.


Camber The curve built into the main body of a ski to allow an even distribution of the skier's mass over the whole ski in contact with the snow. A soft-cambered ski will exhibit an even distribution, whilst a stiffer or harder-cambered ski is constructed so that the mid-section (or wax pocket) of the ski is held above the surface of the snow except when it is being heavily weighted (as occurs when kicking).
Camel walk American term for passgang.
Carving A method of turning at high speed with minimal skidding of the skis, and determined by edging, plus the side-cut and camber of any given ski.
Centrifugal force The force produced when an body rotates around the centre of its orbit. A skier will notice this when turning, in the form of an outward force away from the centre of the radius of the turn.
Centripetal force The opposing force to that of the centrifugal force. This must be applied by the skier to maintain balance and counteract centrifugal force when turning.
Christiania The original term for a christie, or a turn in which the skis skid for all or part of the turn. Christiania (now Oslo) was the place in which this term originated.
Citizen racing Recreational ski races (often large), generally over 10-80 kilometre distance, and with a mass start.
Classical skiing Track skiing without skating, as was more often and generally performed prior to the rise in popularity of snow-skating.
Compression flexing of the legs to absorb bumps, and also to start turns over moguls. The French often call this term 'avalement'.
Converging When the ski tips are closer together than the tails - as in a snowplough, or when stem turning. See also diverging.
Cornice An overhanging lip or ridge of snow.
Counter-rotation Rotating the body one way, and the legs the opposite. When turning, the legs turn into the turn, whilst the body turns outward, creating the effect.
Cross-country skiing A term generally used in most of the world to describe only the track-skiing aspects of Nordic skiing, although sometimes used in Australia and elsewhere to include off-track skiing, XCD, and ski touring.
Crud Difficult snow conditions - often crusty or icy on top, with soft mush underneath.


Diagonal side-slipping Skidding sideways on skis down a hill, at an angle to the fall-line, but not directly down it.
Diagonal side-stepping Climbing up a hill, at an angle to the fall-line, but not directly up it - sometimes used in conjunction with diagonal stride for ease of movement.
Diagonal skating Also known as diagonal V-skating, or single-pole skating, or herringbone skating, this is skating with a diagonal stride style of movement, except that the legs skate instead of stride along the direction of travel (arms work as per normal striding).
Diagonal striding Striding in which the skier's opposite arm and leg move simultaneously, as when walking on foot. Each stride achieves a gliding phase when executed efficiently.
Direct descent Skiing directly down the fall-line with skis parallel.
Direct method A contemporary alternative to the Fan method of learning ski turning, whereby the skier skis directly down the fall-line, and on each successive run begins to make a greater deviation (in both directions, forming an 'S' pattern on the snow) away from the fall-line, but with the same number of turns.
Diverging When the tails are closer together than the tips, as when herringboning, scissor turning, or skating. See also converging.
Dogma Stated as indisputable fact, a tenet.
Double camber A ski with a stiffer mid-section than tips and tails. See camber.
Double-arm resting See four phase.
Double-pole kick A perhaps ambiguous term to describe stride double-poling.
Double-pole stride Stride double-pole.
Double-poling A method of propulsion by planting both poles into the snow, with skis parallel, and using the upper body and arms to lever oneself forwards.
Double-skate double-pole See two skating.
Double-stride double-poling Simply two strides prior to a double pole action, instead a the more usual single stride.
Down-unweighting Sinking down (by compressing the legs) to unweight the skis prior to turning. A more advanced technique than up-unweighting, and not always easily done on stiffer-cambered skis.
Downhill skating See free skating
Downhill skiing Able to be performed by both Alpine and Nordic skiers, and therefore not to be confused with Alpine skiing, although often is - mostly by Alpine skiers.
Downhill traversing Descending a slope diagonally, at an angle to the fall-line, not to be confused with traversing or uphill traversing.
Downhill turning Making a downhill turn towards the fall-line, and thus increasing the angle of descent, and the speed.


Edge-set Tilting the skis quickly onto their uphill edges whilst across the fall-line, to produce a sudden braking action. Often used to create a platform from which the skier can spring into the next turn.
Edging Tilting one or both skis onto either edge, usually to prevent slipping.
Extension The opposite of compression, usually refers to straightening of the body, arms or legs.


F.I.S. The Fédération Internationale de Ski, (International Ski Federation) and the ruling body of international ski competition.
Fall-line The line a snow-ball would take down a given slope - the steepest, shortest, and fastest line down any given slope.
Fan method A more traditional method of teaching downhill turning techniques whereby the student gradually decreases their angle of approach to the fall-line with each successive attempt to produce a single turn.
Finnish step See half skating.
Five phase A transition from diagonal stride to a double-pole variant, this technique is achieved by resting both arms in front of the body (as in four phase), and then either double poling from this position and bringing the feet together (faster), or first striding onto one foot and then double poling and bringing the feet together .
Flat ski A ski held parallel to the surface of the snow, with neither edge closer than the other.
Flexed More instructor jargon for 'bent'...
Four phase Also known as double-arm resting; whilst diagonal striding, the skier rests both arms in front of the body, rather than planting both poles sequentially for two push-offs.
Free skating Also known as tuck skating, or downhill skating, or speed skating, this is skating (mostly downhill, and on the flat - rarely uphill) without the use of poles, and sometimes in a tuck. The more exotic arm movements seen in the mid-1980's (such as kombi skating) are less favoured these days.


Garlands A combination of side-slipping and traversing, used as a practice exercise, often used by Alpine ski instructors.
Geländesprung A German word meaning terrain-jump, generally performed with a push off both poles.
Glide waxes A paraffin wax applied to the running surface of the skis to enhance glide. See also skating wax.
Grip waxes A tacky, petroleum-based wax, normally sold in small aluminium tubs, used for grip on fresh snow. Also known as hard waxes.


Half plough When descending, allowing one ski to remain pointing in the direction of travel, whilst the other is skidded out at the tail and partly pressured to slow the skier down.
Half skating Also known as the track skating, or marathon skating, or Koch skating, or single-leg skating, or one-leg skating, or Finnstep, or Finnish step, or Siitonen step, this technique is generally used in tracks, with one ski pushing (skating) whilst the other gliding ski remains in the track, or sliding in the direction of travel.
Herringbone skating See diagonal skating.
Herringbone climbing A method of ascending by alternately lifting one ski and placing it ahead of the other, and placing them in a divergent position to each other on the snow.
Hockey stops See swing to the hill.


I.S.I.A. The International Ski Instructors Association, an organisation that represents ski instructors from over 36 skiing nations.
I.S.P.O. Internationale Sportartikelmesse (International Sports Equipment show), held in Munich every year, and regarded as the world-wide trendsetter for ski equipment and clothing .
Initiation Silly instructor's jargon for 'start', such as in 'initiation of a turn'.
Interski An international ski instructors conference (Alpine & Nordic) held every four years and organised in conjunction with the International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA).


Jet turning Parallel turning with both feet pushing out to unweight the ski tips, used most often over moguls.
Jump turning A method of turning by jumping both skis into the air, thus allowing a quicker change of direction. The skis rarely glide or sideslip using this technique.
Jump-parallel turning Performing a series of parallel turns with both skis leaving the snow surface completely, landing in the new direction. Used in difficult snow or on steep slopes.
Jump-telemark turning Performing a series of telemark turns with both skis leaving the snow surface completely, landing in the new direction. Used in difficult snow or on steep slopes.
Jumping See ski jumping, and ski flying.


Kick double-pole An ambiguous term used to describe stride double-pole.
Kick turn An about-face turn whilst stationary, by lifting one ski and reversing its direction, followed by the other ski.
Klister A tacky, resinous ester mixture, normally sold in aluminium toothpaste-type tubes, used for grip on icy, refrozen or wet snow.
Klisterwax A very tacky grip wax, normally sold in small aluminium tubs, that is used for grip on fresh, but wet snow.
Kombi skating A less-used variation of free skating, whereby the poles are pointed straight ahead, under the shoulders, with or without an arm swing.


Langlauf A German word meaning 'long-running', used to describe ski racing.
Lateral stepping Stepping one ski out sideways and parallel from the other ski - often used when turning in slalom races.
Lighted loipe A set track with lights for night skiing, common in Scandinavia.
Loipe See set tracks.
Long-range waxes See wide-range waxes.


Marathon skating See half skating.
Metamorphosis The process of snowflake crystal degradation, usually caused by continual thawing and refreezing, altering the structure of the snow that has fallen.
Moguls From an Alpine dialect word 'mugel', referring to the mound formed in a piste by the repeated turning of skis that follow the same tracks, thus carving out ruts. Steeper slopes have more pronounced moguls.


N.C.I.S. National Coach and Instructor Scheme, the organisation that trains and certifies all Nordic ski instructors and coaches in Australia.
Negative ski base A patterned non-wax ski base that has an impregnated pattern, below the level of the base. See positive ski base also.
Non-wax ski A ski that, in most circumstances, needs no grip wax to enable forward or uphill movement. All skis are sold without wax, yet all benefit from having wax applied frequently.
Nordic combined A cross-country skiing competition combining a 15 km race and a 70 m jump event.
Nordic skiing This encompasses all forms of skiing involving 'free-heel' skiing, whereby the foot is only attached at the toe region to the ski. It includes biathlon, cross-country skiing, langlauf skiing, ski-orienteering, ski-racing (track racing), ski touring, telemarking, XCD skiing, and even bushwalking on skis.
Norm point The point at which, in ski jumping, a skier's trajectory is almost equal to that of the slope, and thus a safe and smooth landing point.


Off-piste Any non-pisted area of skiable, and also un-patrolled snow. See also piste.
Offset edges Metal edges that are slightly protruding from the sidewall of a ski (but not the base) to allow for sharpening and tuning without damaging the sidewall.
Offset skating Also known as uphill two-skating, or open-field skating, or offset V-skating,or V-1 off-timing, this is two skating with a staggered (offset) pole plant on one side.
One skating Also known as symmetrical V—skating, or V-2 skating. This technique is a double-pole push with every skate (i.e. to the left and the right).
One-skate double-pole See one skating.
Open turning Parallel turning with a wide-track stance, as opposed to the traditional 'knees-and-ankles-bolted-together' stance.
Outrigger Turning (usually whilst in a low crouch) on the inside ski, with the outside ski extended outwards and off the snow.
Overturning Skiing too far around in each turn so that the skier loses momentum, caused generally by over-rotation of the upper body, or insufficient counter-rotation.


Packed powder Powder snow that has either settled under its own weight, or compressed into a firm surface.
Padling/Paddling The Scandinavian's preferred term for two skating.
Parallel turning Turning with the skis remaining parallel throughout each turn.
Passgang The opposite of diagonal stride, in which the arm and leg on one side swing backwards and forwards together.
Passive unweighting An unweighting of the skis created by skiing over a bump or through a dip, and not by a skier's conscious body movement.
Piste An area of either machine or skier packed snow, generally to be found at ski resorts. A groomed piste is solely machine-packed snow.
Pole-plant The point at which the ski pole is driven into the snow, either as a trigger to aid turning, or as a method of propulsion.
Poles When held in the hand, used to propel oneself along, or balance. See also stock.
Positive ski base A patterned non-wax ski base that has a protruding pattern, above the level of the base. See also negative ski base .
Powder snow Dry, freshly fallen snow that has not yet been compacted, by natural or other means. Deep powder requires different downhill skiing techniques if the skier wishes to remain above the snow surface.
Pre-rotation Turning the body into the direction of the intended turn, to assist the skier's change in direction. See anticipation.
Pressure Applied to one or both skis by the skier's body mass or muscle. See weighting.
Pulk A type of sled or toboggan most commonly found in Scandinavia used to tow children, or other loads behind the skier, connected by a harness to the skier's waist.


Reverse camber When a great deal of pressure is applied to a ski, the ski will lose its natural arch, or camber, and will distort into the opposite direction, bowing downwards in the mid-section, rather than upwards. This aids turning, and also gripping.
Running groove The long groove cut into the base of most skis to allow straight running and stability at speed.
Russian dance A classical double-pole push followed by one to four skate steps prior to the next pole action, as a method a relaxing the upper body. Can be used with half skating.


SA Ski Australia, which was once known as the Australian Ski Federation.
Schussing Skiing straight down the fall-line with the skis parallel. From the German word meaning to shoot.
Self-arrest skills Slowing oneself when descending by the use of poles as braking devices, or using some other available device such as an ice axe.
Sequential leg movement Moving the legs one at a time in sequence, as opposed to moving them together, or simultaneously.
Set tracks Machine-prepared tracks suitable for cross-country skiing, sometimes referred to as loipe. Not to be confused with trails, which are merely defined paths that may be skiied along.
Short-range waxes Grip waxes with specific temperature ranges, used primarily by racers for maximum performance.
Short-swinging Tight-radius parallel turning, used mostly in narrow gulleys, or steep slopes.
Shovel From the widest point of the front section of the ski, known as the shoulder, to the ski tip.
Side camber Side-cut.
Side-cut The amount of 'waisting' in a ski, determined by the difference between the widest (at both ends of the ski) and the narrowest (in the mid-section) points of a ski. See also waist.
Side-slipping Allowing the skis to slip sideways downhill, either directly down the fall-line, or at an angle to the fall-line.
Side-stepping Stepping (with skis parallel) either on the flat, or up or down a hill.
Siitonen step See half skating.
Simultaneous leg movement Moving the legs together at the same time, as opposed to moving them one after the other, or sequentially.
Single camber A ski with an even flex from tip to tail, and can be either soft or hard.
Single dance The Scandinavian's preferred term for a variation of two-skating.
Single-arm resting See three phase.
Skate turning A flat terrain or downhill turn, executed by one or more skating steps towards the new direction. It is considered an accelerating turn, unlike step turning.
Skating A collection of divergent ski techniques where the skier pushes each ski to the side and not directly backwards.
Skating wax A more durable glide wax applied to the running surface of skating skis.
Ski flying A form of ski jumping where the distance from take-off to the norm point is greater than 90 metres.
Ski Interterm a special commission set up by the ISIA to discuss and co-ordinate international ski terminology as used by ski instructors - predominantly Alpine.
Ski jumping A Nordic discipline in which jumps are made from a specially-constructed jumping hill. Points are awarded for distance and style.
Ski mountaineering Mountain-climbing in winter, using Alpine skis (with special Alpine ski bindings which allow a type of walking movement) where possible.
Ski touring In Europe this term refers to Ski Mountaineering, but in most English-speaking countries this term refers to backcountry skiing - the use of Nordic skis for touring away from resorts and set tracks.
Skiathlom/Skiathlon A competitive event with a ski race, ski jumping, and a slalom all in one race, and using only one set of equipment.
Skidding The process of allowing (or forcing) a ski to travel sideways over the snow in relation to the direction of travel, as opposed to carvinga ski.
Skins These days they are a nylon substitute for seal mohair, and are a strip of material either strapped or glued to ski bases to provide phenomenal grip for climbing.
Slalom Invented by Arnold Lunn from the Norwegian word 'slålom', and to describe the method of descending by running through a series of gates (around poles or markers) set into the snow.
Sliding A forward or backward movement of the skis, with no skidding.
Slope edge The point at which a slope noticeably changes angle from either steep to gentle, or vice versa.
Snow-skating The term often used to distinguish skating on Nordic skis from that of ice skating.
Snowplough braking Performing a snowplough glide with the inside edges of the skis biting into the snow to produce a braking force, and thus control speed.
Snowplough glide Placing the skis in a convergent position, and flat on the snow, whilst descending a packed powder slope.
Snowplough turning A snowplough glidewith weight-transfer onto one ski and then the other, to produce a series of controlled and stable turns. Known as wedge turning in USA.
Star turning Also known as clock turning, this is a linked series of step turns (either convergent or divergent) on the flat to change direction, lifting the tips or the tails, or the whole ski.
Steep-slope skiing Often referred to as survival skiing, using turning techniques that ensure a safe arrival at the bottom of the slope, but should also be extended to include techniques for climbing such slopes.
Steering A rotation of the legs or body to produce a turning force on the skis.
Stemming A skidding or sometimes stepping of the ski out into a convergent position, resulting in a situation where the stemmed ski is on its inside edge.
Stem turning Downhill turning in which the uphill, or outside ski is angled out (either by lifting or skidding), pointing more towards the new direction, at the start of the turn.
Step turning A linked series of steps, by lifting one ski from a parallel position (relative to the other ski) to either a divergent or convergent position, and then bringing the remaining ski back to the parallel position.
Step-parallel turning Parallel turningwith one ski being lifted out to a new parallel position, allowing a greater turning force to be applied to the skis. Often used when skiing through slalom gates, or on difficult snow.
Step-telemark turning Telemark turning with one ski being lifted out into a telemark position, thus allowing a greater turning force to be applied to the skis. Also used in the same manner as step-parallels.
Stepping A weight-transfer from one ski to the other, and lifting (stepping) one ski into a new position before transferring weight again, as opposed to skidding.
Stepping against the uphill ski ; A weight-transfer from the downhill to the uphill ski, which is on its downhill edge.
Stepping onto the uphill ski A weight-transfer from the downhill to the uphill ski, which is on its uphill edge.
Stock Animals belonging to a farm that are rarely seen, but often spoken of, on Australian snowfields. Not to be confused with shares, dividends, and high finance (which are becoming less rare on Australian snowfields).
Stop-swinging See swing to the hill.
Straight running Descending directly down the fall-linewith skis parallel.
Stride A movement of sliding one ski forwards and applying pressure onto it by a weight shift, followed by a resultant glide.
Stride double-poling A stride onto one foot, followed by a double pole action. In its simpler form, this is repeated onto the same foot each time, but to balance the work performed by the legs, alternate foot striding is used by advanced skiers.
Stride length The distance travelled between one stride and the next (not the distance between each foot in a given stride).
Swing to the hill Also known as stop swinging, or hockey-stops, this is a sudden parallel turnout of the fall-line to a position across the fall-line, which brings the skier to a complete stop. Ice hockey players (i.e. Americans/Canadians) will be more familiar with the term 'hockey stop' - but how much ice hockey is played here in Australia?
Symmetrical V-skating See one skating.


Tacking turning An uphill turn connecting two uphill traverses, maintaining a diagonal rhythm, with a lesser variation of the kick turn.
Tail-hopping Unweightingof the tails of the skis, most easily performed on Alpine skis.
Telemark position With the skis parallel, one foot is pushed markedly in front of the other, so that fore and aft stability is enhanced, especially used over rough terrain.
Telemark turning A rhythmical linking of turns, using an alternating telemark position, with the forward ski being the outer ski of the turn (in a conventional telemarking sense!).
Tempo The rate of movements in a given technique.
Terrain-jumping Making a deliberate jump, either over a cornice, or bump.
Three phase Also known as single-arm resting, whilst diagonal striding, the skier rests one arm in front of the body, rather than planting the pole, in a rhythmical fashion, to conserve energy or to rest the back, or when the track makes a moderate curve to the left or right.
Three-pinning An American term allegedly invented by former Alpine skiers to refer to telemarking with three-pin Nordic Norm bindings.
Tilted ski A ski placed on its edge, as opposed to a flat ski.
Transition The smooth linking of one technique with another, most commonly referring to moving from diagonal stride to double pole and its variations.
Traversing Travelling directly across a slope, neither up nor down. See also uphill traversing and downhill traversing.
Tuck position A low crouch of the upper body, generally used to decrease wind resistance when skiing at speed.
Tuck skating The Scandinavian's preferred term for free skating.
Two phase A common European term for diagonal stride.
Two skating Also known as asymmetrical V-skating, or V-1, or two-skate double-pole,or padling, or single time, this is skating off both feet (two skates - but one at a time!) with a double-pole push off every other skate.
Two-stride double-pole See double-stride double-pole.
Two-skate double-pole See two skating.


Unweighting Taking weight off the ski, usually prior to a turn.
Up-unweighting Rising up to unweight the skis prior to turning. For Nordic skiers, this is often the easiest way of unweighting skis.
Uphill diagonal-striding A modified form of diagonal striding directly up a hill, by shortening the stride-length, quickening the tempo, and lowering the hips.
Uphill traversing Diagonal stridingup a hill at an angle (more than 0°, less than 90°) to the fall-line.
Uphill turning Making a downhill turn away from the fall-line, and thus decreasing the angle of descent.
Uphill two-skating See offset skating.


V-1 skating The American's preferred term for two-skating.
V-2 skating The American's preferred term for one skating.


Waist The narrowest part of a ski, generally underfoot.
Wax pocket The mid-section of stiffer cambered skis. See camber.
Waxable skis Skis with bases that are waxed for grip and/or glide.
Waxless skis See non-wax skis.
Wedge American name for snowplough.
Weight-transfer The shifting of mass from one ski to the other, an important element of many skiing techniques.
Weighting The action of a skier's body mass exerting pressure through one or both skis onto the snow. See also unweighting.
Wide-range waxes Wax systems designed for recreational skiers, with two or three waxes matching a wide range of snow conditions. See also short-range waxes.


X-C An abbreviation of cross-country skiing.
XCD An abbreviation of cross-country (X-C) downhill, to distinguish it from other forms of downhill skiing.

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