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Gnarly, pumped and stoked – and now, it’s squirrely

Written by Fiona February 10 2014

I have, for the past couple of years, been resisting the desire to introduce the snowboarding vernacular into my everyday chat. A year or so ago, I learned some great new words while snowboarding in France. See also When Sick means cool and ripped means buff

Contemplating the gnar!

Contemplating the gnar!

Then, while snowboarding in Colorado last month, I was again reminded of being “stoked” and “pumped”. And how “sick” it is to “shred the gnar”.

But somehow it feels like this language is a little too young and funky for someone of my middle years. However, after watching the Winter Olympics Snowboarding Slopestyle competitions, and listening to the commentators going crazy with their gnars and stokes, I have changed my mind.

While I watched in wonder and with my heart racing in excitement as the young snowboard girls and guys showed off their impressive speed and tricks in the enthralling slopestyle contests in Sochi, Russia, I also listened with increasing humour to the heart-on-their sleeves commentators.

(They became so super stoked and pumped when Jenny Jones pulled off Britain’s first medal – a bronze – in the women’s stopestyle that they began to cry!)

Yet Ed Leigh and Tim Warwood can’t be so young that the dudish slang – with additions from yesterday’s  competition revealing words such as squirrely, scuffing out and snow snakes – is part of their normal life. But, then again, perhaps it now is.

Perhaps the changes and developments that take place in our modern language do see men and women well past their young, on-slope dude days peppering their ordinary chat with gnars and pumps. Maybe they do indeed get stoked or squirrely as they pass they time of day with their wives and kids while munching their breakfast, doing the washing up and helping with homework.

Certainly, we all now talk about tweeting, Facebooking, private messaging, chick lit, buzzwords, lol, content farms, cyber bullies etc as if this was the sort of language we learned at primary school.

So if the excited Olympics commentators can “go big” and get “massively pumped” while also “blowing the lid off” and “going deep” and hoping that they don’t get “squirrely” or “scuff out” or worse still find a “snow snake” then I am going to become stoked like them. Just to wait and listen!

The only word I might not use in polite company (although I definitely plan to use this with my pals) is “huck”. For this word can lead to all kinds of problems.

Indeed, the BBC had to apologise publicly on Saturday after British snowboarder Billy Morgan said: “I just thought ‘huck it’.” Many viewers thought he’d used an expletive but apparently “huck it” means to attempt a bold and flashy performance. Who knew?!

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