The Truth Behind the Term ‘Jerry’ in Skiing: What it REALLY Means?

by Megan Coles | Published: December 13th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

A Jerry, a Gaper, a Gorb, whatever you call it, these characters are a thing of legend in ski resorts and can be spotted all over the world out on the ski hill. 

A Jerry is a name given to a skier or snowboarder who is blissfully unaware and/or incompetent at skiing, making careless decisions, skiing terrain way beyond their ability, and sporting questionable outfit choices that leave any seasoned skier baffled. With no lack of confidence, Jerry makes themselves easy to spot. 

Ski Accident

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At this point, you might be worried if you yourself are in fact a Jerry, well, read on to find out.

What is a Jerry?

ski fail
Photo by Paxson Woelber under CC BY 2.0

Every ski resort is filled with Jerry’s and once you know how to spot them, they seem to be everywhere. A Jerry is a very specific kind of person that you find on the mountain, so don’t worry, it’s not just any first-timer trying to learn how to ski. 

Key Takeaway: Jerry tends to be inexperienced, low-skilled, and crucially, overconfident. They’re not simply a bad skier, but they believe they’re the best and ski terrain that is way beyond their skill set. A Jerry is someone that’s never heard of rules and has no interest in sticking to them. 

You’ll find Jerry making crucial errors such as wearing their goggles upside down whilst shooting down a black diamond in a snowplow and then gloating to their friends that they “only ski black diamonds”. If there’s a Jerry about, watch out, and one thing to note is that they seem to travel in packs. 

This all may seem like a case of harsh stereotyping, but the truth is that calling someone a Jerry is generally done in an endearing manner and is simply a joke amongst the ski community.  In fact, everyone could do with being a little more Jerry. They’re not self-conscious, they’ve got heaps of confidence, and are generally just having fun and love skiing as much as the rest of us. 

6 Tell-tale signs of a Jerry

Ski Fall

A Jerry doesn’t have to display all of the listed characteristics, but the more of these a Jerry does, the more of a Jerry the person is. 

1. Wardrobe malfunctions 

The outfit choice is probably one of the best ways to spot a Jerry and the most well-known sign is the ‘gaper-gap’. A gaper gap is when your goggles don’t sit flush with your ski helmet, instead, there is a large gap of the exposed forehead. Besides not looking the coolest, it leads to a very cold head for Jerry.

Wearing jeans, or what I like to call jalopettes (jean-salopettes) is another classic Jerry ski item. It’s a statement piece and entirely impractical. Jeans don't provide much of a protective layer against the cold, and when wet from the snow, will cause them to become even colder. 

You may have seen pictures online of snowboarders trying to wear normal shoes or boots in their bindings and trying to ride with them. This complete misjudgment of the sport is a rare but obvious Jerry move. Another boot-based wardrobe malfunction is wearing ski boots on the wrong feet, which is, unfortunately, more common than you’d think.

This one may seem unbelievable, but if you’ve been skiing enough you’ll have seen people wearing their goggles upside down and even wearing their helmets back to front. I didn’t even know it was possible to wear a helmet backward until I’d seen it!

2. Questionable skiing ability

Skier fall

When it comes to the actual skiing ability of a Jerry, you can spot it from a mile off, usually because they’re the ones sliding headfirst down a Black Diamond with no stopping in sight. A Jerry isn't simply someone who can’t ski very well, it’s someone who will confidently take on terrain far outside of their ability.

Whether it be on-piste, off-piste, or terrain park, they’ll ski it without considering if they are good enough for it. Think going off of a large kicker with straight legs or getting fresh tracks on an area of backcountry that even the strongest of skiers would never attempt.

Skiing outside of their ability generally ends in both skis flying off, called a double-ejection, or at worst a ‘yard sale’ in which the skier falls and all of their kits fly off; poles, helmet, and jacket included.

Lastly, an easy way to spot a Jerry is when you’re on an advanced piste and someone zooms past you in the snowplow, or pizza, position. When done at great speeds and with great confidence many seasoned skiers call this the ‘power plow’. 

3. Precarious Ski Carrying 

Photo by John Johnston licensed under CC BY 2.0

Carrying skis can seem like a juggling act, and not to knock anyone's confidence, but it can be a surefire sign of a Jerry. Cradling your skis and poles while they split in your arms is a Jerry move, and even the more practical technique of looping your poles around your skis to make a sort of suitcase carry is a somewhat Jerry move.

Important: The only safe carrying technique is by resting your skis on your shoulder, and it is by far the most practical and least painful way to carry skis, so it’s a good idea to learn how. 

Some Jerry’s decision to just not carry their skis at all, a Jerry will ski along a barely snow-covered sidewalk and even put their skis on in the car park and walk like a duck. Both are impractical moves that will end up ruining their skis. 

4. Not abiding by mountain rules

A Jerry will have no concept of mountain rules or safety, and they’ve definitely never heard of the FIS code. They can be wreckless skiers, plowing through kids, having no understanding that the skier down the mountain has priority, and will blame others for their near misses. 

5. Ski lift trouble 

Chairlift, T-bar, drag lift, you name it, a Jerry can’t do it. This one can be a little harsh but whenever you see someone being dragged along the floor whilst gripping onto a T-bar, you’ll be sure to turn to your friend and mutter ‘Jerry’. 

6. All the gear no idea

Many Jerry’s will be wearing and using some of the most expensive kits on the market, a kit that any regular skier would drool over, all to just ski once a year. A Jerry may also wear a completely inappropriate kit that is for skiers far more advanced than themselves. Namely, race boots and race skis, which as the name would suggest are only appropriate for ski racers.

Jerry of the Day on Instagram

Tip: If you’re looking for a laugh and want to understand the lighthearted nature of naming certain skier’s a Jerry, then head over to the popular Instagram page Jerry of the Day.

With almost 2 million followers and over 3000 posts, the Instagram page takes submissions from their followers and posts hilarious examples of the so-called Jerry.

Is it unkind to call someone a Jerry?

Calling someone a Jerry seems to be a case of skiing schadenfreude and if you’re around skiers long enough, is a name that’s thrown around daily. Sometimes a Jerry can be putting themselves and others in real danger and other times it's simply used to describe someone that's had a minor wardrobe malfunction or misjudgment of the sport. All in all, it’s a lighthearted term that is not to be used as an insult.