As a general rule, curling commentators explain every rule of the game on every shot. Snowboard commentators, on the other hand, will bust out descriptions like “backside 900 switch melon teakettle coffeepot wingdings” with scant details on what that means.
So let’s take a crash course, drawing heavily on this excellent video by Snowboard Addiction.
Regular means your left foot is leading. Goofy means right.
Backside: When you’ve gone 90 degrees, your backside is facing down the hill.
Frontside: The other way.
You’ll also hear terms referring to how many degrees someone has turned. As we might remember from geometry class, a circle has 360 degrees, so a “360” is one revolution. A 720 is two. A 900 is two and a half, and so on.
If you prefer figure skating terms, a 1440 is a quad. A 1260 is a triple axel. Got it?
Switch means that the rider ends up switching stances when the flippy/spinny is done. In other words, someone might do a 540 starting out regular (see above) and end up goofy (also see above). I’m not sure about this, but I would think “switch” implies a half revolution is involved — a 180, 540, 900, etc. I’d think that a 720 switch would mean something has gone horribly wrong.
Instead of “switch,” you might hear fakie, which means something slightly different to a skateboarder because their feet aren’t bound to the board. Snowboard commentators like to sound cool, so they’ll probably say “fakie.”
Rotation means your body and board rotate the same way.
Counterrotation means your body and board rotate in opposite directions.
A double cork is more flipping than spinning, inverting one’s shoulder twice in the air.
A hospital is where I would go if I tried any of these things.
Judges also like to see cool ways to grab onto the board in the air, even though the bindings make such feats unnecessary.
Nose and tail are self-explanatory.
Grabs with the front hand include nose, mute (just inside the rider’s toe), melon (just inside the heel) and seatbelt (almost to the tail, so the arm goes across the body like a seatbelt).
Grabs with the rear hand include tail, indy (inside the toe), stalefish (inside the heel) and crail (reverse seatbelt).
If riders want to reach through their legs, they have all sorts of non-vegetarian terms like chicken salad, roast beef and Canadian bacon.
You’ll have to check out this explainer for pictures and all the other oddities.
A method grab has to be seen to be described, but just remember that Lindsey Jacobellis did it in 2006 in Torino, unfortunately at the end of a snowboardcross final she was leading. She fell and wound up taking silver. Jacobellis is still chasing that elusive gold in her fifth Olympics, but she can always be happy about her six (6) world championships. Anyway, back to slopestyle …
Approach to rails and other terrain
Backside and frontside are also used in this context. If your back is closest to the rail, it’s a backside approach.
What you do on a rail
50-50 is a straightforward ride along the rail like a train on a … well, on a rail.
During a 50-50, a rider may do a nosepress or a tailpress, which aren’t weightlifting terms but references to just one part of the board being in contact with the rail. So, basically, a tailpress is a wheelie, without your mom yelling at you to quit doing tricks on your bike because your mom didn’t foresee the invention of freestyle BMX competition.
A boardslide is a perpendicular ride along the rail in which the front of the board goes over the rail first. It can be front or back.
A lipslide means the tail goes first.
A noseslide or tailslide means the rider is perpendicular to the rail, but only the nose or tail is touching.
A bluntslide apparently has nothing to do with passing a drug test. Instead, it means the rider jumped almost all the way over the rail but landed on the tail.
A pretzel is what happens when you’re dismounting from the rail and spin 270 degrees in the other direction.
A sameway, a bagel or a danish is when you land the same way.
Ouch is what you say when you land as Switzerland’s Ariane Burri did after looking uncomfortable in the air after taking off from the complex feature known as Twisted Sister.
The USA’s Hailey Langland also crashed, overrotating a 720. (Spinning too much.)
This competition is three runs, with only the best run counting.