Ski Resort Life

Warren's World: Buzzwords of Skiing

"Mogul: A hugely successful tycoon who is in any business but skiing," and other clever Warren-isms guaranteed to make you smile.

Originally published in September 2001 issue of SKI Magazine.

On a recent flight, I sat next to a young woman who was headed to Aspen for her first “Learn to Ski” week. After being served the standard miniature airline meal, she pulled out an issue of SKI Magazine from the seat pocket in front of her. She couldn’t understand any of what she was reading, so I offered my years of experience to help her learn the Buzzwords of Skiing.

Warren's World September 2001
“Conquer the Elements,” original illustration by Warren Miller.
  • Heliskiing: An exotic, noisy and extremely expensive way to become the most listened to person on the summer cocktail circuit. 
  • Buddy Pass: What ski resorts sell when they realize they can’t charge what the “market will bear” because there no longer is a market. 
  • All-Mountain Expert: Someone who lives in his van, can forge any lift ticket ever invented and hauls people from one ski resort to the next for gas and beer money. 
  • Twin-Cam: A pair of twins who run a color video company at Kissing Bridge, N.Y., and who will video you skiing for $100 an hour or two runs-whichever takes longer. 
  • Quad Lift:  A multi-million-dollar device that floats through the air at a high rate of speed and that you can cling to during a blizzard for what seems like hours. With luck, you won’t be sitting downwind from three strangers who are smoking something other than tobacco and haven’t had a bath since they left home two weeks ago. 
  • Timeshare: A mathematical formula in which someone can buy two weeks of a year in a ski resort condo. The available weeks are either early November or right after the lifts close in April. 
  • Manmade Snow: A technology that uses vast amounts of electricity to expensively convert water into ice on the side of a steep hill. This allows you to pay up to $65 dollars a day to wait in line and look at it while a college graduate who is earning $9 an hour tries to convert the warm water coming out of the nozzles into powder snow. 
  • Skier Days:  1) The supposedly exact number of all-day lift tickets sold at a given resort during the winter. It’s a number that is flexible enough so that the last person to be the marketing director in the spring can always exaggerate the number and hold his job through the summer. 2) What happens when a skier sees the price of a single lift ticket at Corporate Peaks. 
  • Conquer the Elements: What you’ll do with your rain slicker and umbrella when the temperature rises 40 degrees on your weeklong ski vacation at Mt. Bellyache and the forecasted 2 feet of powder turns out to be several inches of rain. 
  • Insurance: A mysterious piece of paper that allows ambulance-chasing attorneys to write off their vacations while listening to the ski patrol radio channel to monitor accidents. This automatically increases the cost of your lift ticket by 25 percent. 
  • Travel Agency: The company that books you into the wrong room at the wrong hotel at the wrong end of town at the wrong time of the year at the wrong price when the snow level is down to 9,000 feet and a storm isn’t coming until the morning of your departing flight. 
  • Public Relations Director: Someone who sold used cars before he washed dishes before he joined the ski patrol and saved the injured wife of the owner of Mt. Bellyache. 
  • Merger: When two ski resorts with three years of bad snow climb on the same toboggan to ride downhill on what’s left of their financial statement. 
  • Pisten Bully: A quarter of a million dollar device that smooths out all of the bumps in the snow. Anyone over the age of 40 would have quit skiing if it had not been invented. 
  • Snow Gun: A very expensive device used to spray small drops of water onto rocks and stumps so they can, under a mild drop in temperature, slowly coagulate into homogenous frozen, icy masses the size of subcompact cars. 
  • Snow Report: An ambiguous hypothesis of potential snow conditions by the assistant marketing director who has a Masters in Creative Writing and is looking for a better paying job. 
  • Cellular Phone: A cheaply produced electronic gizmo that someone invented so a ski vacation can now be tax deductible by having your assistant phone you every morning at 11:10 while you are riding the lift with three other people who are talking on their exotic phones to their assistants. 
  • Artificial Insulating Fiber: Something that cost a company $14.7 billion in R&D so it could duplicate the feathers of a Chinese duck that would have cost 45 cents. 
  • ABS Brakes: These initials stand for “always brake slowly” or you will skid. And if you do brake slowly, you will hit the driver in front of you who jammed on his. 
  • Powder Hounds: A semi-rare breed of hot dog that spends all winter trying to track up new powder snow. 
  • “Single”:  A 53-year-old divorced man wearing a gold chain and sporting a hair transplant who is searching for a lift-riding companion, a free dinner and lodging for the night because he is in search of his next ex-wife. 
  • Cross-Training:  A semi-religious rite performed while bathed in sweat for the upcoming season’s sport. Real cross-trainers never compete in seasonal sports because they are always cross-training for the season to come. 
  • Special Discount:  The mystical and hypothetical discount that is subtracted from the retail price of any ski product after the normal markup has been doubled. 
  • Skid Chains: A device that is impossible to put on your car wheels, especially when the Highway Patrol tells you to. However, there is always a man standing at the chain-control sign in a yellow slicker who will put them on for you for a pair of $20 bills-if, that is, you remembered to put them in the back of your car. If not, you can buy a new set for $100. 
  • Pill-Resistant, Chill-Resistant Fabric: Wear this parka and you will never have to take any more drugs and your sweat will drown you before the cold freezes you. 
  • Power Vacuum Tech: How your room gets clean when you’re skiing. That is if the maid shows up on time, which he or she likely won’t because this is a powder snow day. 
  • Mogul:  A hugely successful tycoon who is in any business but skiing.