21 Cross-Country Ski Words

One of the biggest accomplishments of my life was knowing the definition of klister while playing one of those silly trivia games with my non-skier friends. In fact I was still trying to work some klister off the base of my palm at the time of the game.

For those of us who grew up cross-country skiing, words like klister and camber eased their way into our vocabulary at an early age. But for those who didn’t, as  part of our ongoing cross-country ski series this is the blog post where we introduce a few words that are commonly used in reference to Nordic skiing.

This list isn’t all inclusive but it touches on a few words we’ll discuss in future blog posts.

School’s in session. Here’s your Monday morning vocabulary list.


  1. Base:The bottom of the ski where wax is applied.”Wow, check out this base, someone’s been skiing over rocks!”
  2. Biathlon: A kick ass sport that combines cross-country skiing with rifle marksmanship. “You’re a biathlete, you must be awesome!”
  3. Bindings: Devices that secure the toe of the boot to the ski. “Ahhh, there’s snow stuck in my bindings!”
  4. Butt Marks/Sitzmark: An indentation in the snow left behind by a fallen skier. “Ouch look at those butt marks!”
  5. Camber: The upward curve built into the the middle of the ski, it is used to help determine the kick zone. A good name for a baby girl?
  6. Classic Technique: Traditional ski technique where skiers use a diagonal stride with both skis remaining parallel to each other. “Ugh, the trails aren’t groomed looks like we’re going to have to classic.”
  7. Double Pole: To propel the body forward while planting both poles in the snow at the same time. “My core is going to be ubber strong because I just double poled for like 30 minutes.”
  8. Flex: The stiffness of the ski.…sentence unavailable
  9. Freestyle (Skating) Technique: A ski technique which resembles ice skating, skis are pushed from the inside edge to the outside edge at about a 45-degree angle. “Woo hoo, the trails are groomed, I can skate!”
  10. Glide wax: Wax applied to the base of the ski which decreases friction between the ski and the snow. Glide wax is applied to the entire ski for skating, but just the tips and the tails of the ski for classic skiing. “My skis are wicked fast, I totally nailed the wax!”
  11. Groomed trail: A trail which has been packed down by a machine, often includes parallel tracks for classical skiing as well as a smooth platform for skating. “Some bonehead let their dog poop on the groomed trails!”
  12. Herringbone: A technique where skis are moved in a forward stepping motion with ski tips further apart than the tails. “My wax sucks I have no grip, I’ll probably herringbone up this hill.”
  13. Kick wax: A wax applied to the middle part (kick zone) of classic skis to increase friction between the ski and the snow. Kick wax provides grip. “I so did not nail the kick wax.”
  14. Klister: A super sticky version of kick wax used for extremely crazy snow conditions. “For some reason I have klister stuck on my front tooth.”
  15. Nordic skiing: Any type of skiing where the heel of the boot is not attached to the ski. “He/she’s hot. They must be a nordic skier.
  16. Nordic combined: A kick ass sport of 2 events, ski jumping and cross-country skiing. “You do Nordic combined, you must be awesome!”
  17. Sidestep: To move laterally in small steps on cross-country skis. Sometimes used to climb a steep hill. “I’m not skiing down (or up) that, I’m so going to sidestep!”
  18. Snowplow (wedge): A technique to control speed down a hill. The skier pushes the ski tips together like a slice of pie. “I have to climb this steep hill now because I snowplowed all the way down, bummer!”
  19. Ski jumping: A nordic sport where kick ass skiers on massively long skis jump off of a ramp and are judged on length of jump and style. “You’re a ski jumper, you must be nuts, I mean awesome!”
  20. Telemark: Type of skiing where one ski slides forward with a forward bent knee position to turn while going down a hill. “My legs are so sore after telemarking all day.”
  21. Waxless skis: Skis with a small ridge of patterns on the kick zone providing grip without the use of kick wax. “I don’t feel like putting on kick wax so I think I’ll break out the waxless skis.”

Can you think of any ski words we might have missed?

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User Comments

  1. Pingback: Cross-Country Skiing Glossary - Globo Surf

  2. roger |

    “Powder” as in the best snow conditions to enjoy cross country skiing.
    “Backcountry” where the real cross country ski techniques are used for real cross country skiing on natural terrain.
    “Snowmaking” because if we want to cross country ski we really need it to guarantee the snow cover.
    “Cross country downhill” require techniques that need to be mastered by the best cross country skiers to realize that they can ski anywhere.
    “Gourmet Ski Tour” is about eating your way to fitness by skiing along the trails from food station to food station in a fun event of equilibrium that burns as many calories as taken in.

    • Rebecca |

      Gourmet ski tour…yum. I guess stopping for a bite of PB&J every few hours doesn’t count!

  3. Pingback: How to Acquire Used Cross-Country Ski Equipment (and FREE rollerskis) | Just Trails

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