The Winter Olympics are about to kick off in Beijing with its opening ceremony on February 4, here are some basic jargon that you should know before it starts. 

We have already rounded up the rules of some of the sports you can expect from the games from Luge, Sketelton, Ski jumping and more.

The experts at the language learning platform Babbel have given their "guide to the lingo of the Winter Olympics".

And as we cheer on the Team GB squad as they go for gold, here are ten terms you should know to keep up with all the action.

HeraldScotland: Beijing Winter Olympics 2022. Credit: PABeijing Winter Olympics 2022. Credit: PA

Winter Olympic basic terms to know before the games


Shredding is a slang term you might come across a commentator saying during the Winter Olympics this year.

The term refers to a snowboarder moving particularly quickly or making very tight turns, according to Babbel. 

Shredding is when there is spraying out from under their board and is used across sport and music but most recognised within the snowboarding community.


Lutz is a jump in figure skating which was named after a very famous Austrian figure skater.

Alois Lutz first executed the move in a competition back in 1913 and it involves a series of toe jumps, with one rotation in the air. 

The extremely difficult move was named after him as many terms you might not recognise during the Winter Olympics tend to be.


Luge, which is French for sled, is a winter sport that is part of a group of 'sliding sports' alongside Bobsleigh, and Skeleton.

It is the fastest sport of the three with athletes travelling at an average speed of 120-145 km/h.

The sport has been around for centuries but only made its Olympic debut in 1964.


Just like Lutz, the Salchow is a jump named after its inventor, Ulrich Salchow. 

Salchow was a Swedish figure skater who competed in the 1909 Winter Olympics.

He won the World Figure Skating Championships a total of ten times during his career and dominated in the first decade of the 20th century,

The jump involves the skater taking off backwards, off the inside edge of the skate’s blade without any assistance from the toe pick.

HeraldScotland: Team GB speed skaters. Credit: PATeam GB speed skaters. Credit: PA


Skeleton was first introduced in 1892 and takes its name from the minimalist, bare-boned steel sledge used in the sliding sport, according to Babbel.

The sport featured in both the 1928 and 1948 games but it couldn't compete with the popularity of bobsleigh and luge.

Thankfully for us, it returned to the Winter Olympics scene in 2002.

Skeleton involves a person riding a small sled, or skeleton, down a frozen track while lying face down and head-first.

We will see a new track in this year's games which is known as the ‘Flying Snow Dragon’.

The track has a zig-zagging shape, a 360-degree loop, and an incredible, 120-metre vertical drop.


Slalom involves the athletes weaving between flags placed at various intervals down a ski slope. 

The intense sport takes its name from the Norwegian word slalåm meaning ‘sloping track’ which first emerged in the 1920s.

Since then, the phrase has been commonly used to refer to any kind of zigzagging movement.


Outside the Business domain, the word mogul refers to a skiing event where the track is covered in small mounds that competitors have to navigate with both speed and grace.

Babel has uncovered its interesting etymology which tells us why it also applies to skiing.

Linguists expect that it evolved from the Norwegian word muga, or German word mugel, which aptly translate to bump or mound.


A ‘piste’ refers to a defined route on a ski slope, and the term literally means ‘racetrack’ in the original French.

Linguists think it comes from the Old Italian verb pistare, meaning ‘to trample down’.

If you ever hear someone referring to going ‘off-piste’ during the games, then they are essentially talking about getting off the beaten track.

HeraldScotland: A person in the air snowboarding. Credit: CanvaA person in the air snowboarding. Credit: Canva


The bobsleigh (or bobsled if you are American) is one of the more famous sports from the Winter Olympics, having gained popularity from the 1993 film Cool Runnings.

A bobsleigh originally referred to a short sled, but its modern use comes from the bobbing motion of the riders’ heads in the sled, as they tackle corners at high speed.

Alpine skiing

While the term ‘alpine skiing’ may conjure up images of forested hillsides covered in snow, in the Winter Olympics it is simply another category of skiing.

The phrase is derived from its origins in the French alps, but the term also refers to the ‘downhill’ version of the sport.

As opposed to cross-country skiing, which usually takes place on flat stretches of land over long distances, and ski-jumping, which involves covering as much ground as possible by jumping off a steep ramp.