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A Guide to Snowboarding Terminology for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

The snowboarding terms you need to know for the 2014 Winter Olympics.


Olympic Rings Logo

Olympic Rings Logo

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The snowboarding competitions at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi left spectators across the globe in awe. Halfpipe riders launched out off the lip performing more spins that viewers could count and slopestyle riders jibbed off rails that many spectators had never even seen on snow. Snowboard cross racers provided some of the most dramatic runs (and falls) in history and parallel slalom and giant parallel slalom riders kept viewers on the edge of their seat.

There’s no questioning that many Olympic viewers are now full-blown snowboard fans, but that doesn’t mean they understand the lingo. With terms like “triple cork,” “yolo flip,” “McTwist,” and “Stalefish,” some of the snowboard terms used in the Olympics may have caused new fans to say, “Huh?”

This simple guide to snowboarding terminology in Sochi will shed some light on what those athletes were doing on the snow and in the air.

Straight Air

The International Ski Federation (FIS) requires that every rider in the Olympic halfpipe competition complete a straight air, and a failure to do so results in the deduction of two points from the rider’s score. A straight air is performed simply by going straight over a jump or over the lip of the halfpipe without flipping or spinning.

Types of straight airs approved by the FIS include the air-to-fakie, alley-oop, 180, and grabs.


A grab is when a rider holds onto their board to add style to any trick or straight air. Different grabs have different names depending on where the rider grabs the board (front side, back side, near the tip, near the tail, between their feet, etc.). Grabs can also be “tweaked” to add style -- meaning the rider flexes out his body as far as possible while still holding the board.

Some grab names include the stalefish, indy, method, melancholy, mute, nose, tail, and roast beef.

For information about which grabs are which, check out this website, which clarifies a wide variety of grabs and how each one is performed.


Flips -- or inverted spins -- are performed by riders in both the halfpipe and slopestyle competitions. Flips tricks have progressed from frontflips and backflips to a wide variety of flip and spin combinations. For instance, Iouri (I-Pod) Podladtchikov’s yolo flip that became the star of the 2014 Sochi men’s halfpipe competition was a cab double cork 1440 -- a switch double flip with four full rotations.

Some types of flips include the McTwist, rodeo, front, back, barrelroll, yolo, and misty.

For more information on the incredible amount of flip and spin combinations involved in snowboard aerials, check out this website.


Spins, as well as flips, have become some of the most important and high-scoring maneuvers in the halfpipe and slopestyle competitions. Spins can be performed frontside (counter-clockwise for a regular-footed rider) and backside (clockwise for a regular-footed rider). In snowboarding, spins are measured in degrees, so a full rotation is a 360 degree spin -- usually referred to as just a “360.”

Common spins include the 360, 540, 720, 900, 1080, 1260, and 1440.

Rail (or Jib) Tricks

As an entirely new snowboard discipline at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, the slopestyle competition, introduced spectators around the world to an entirely different set of snowboard tricks. Rail and box tricks involve sliding across an object that is built into the snow and usually include a variety of spins and grabs. A rider can use his board to slide on a rail, box, or other object in a number ways, such as with the board perpendicular to the rail or with solely the tail of the board touching the rail.

The object the rider is sliding across is often called a jib, and the act of sliding on that object is known as jibbing.

Common rail tricks include the boardslide, 50/50, nose slide, tail slide, tailpress, nosepress, and blunt slide.

Check out this site for more rail tricks and jibbing options.

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