From 'Bonk' To 'Bombs' And 'Fly Swat': A Guide To Olympic Slang : The Torch Olympic sports have their own vernacular — terms that make no sense to outsiders. Much of it has to do with when things go wrong. And some of it has to do with Seinfeld.
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From 'Bonk' To 'Bombs' And 'Fly Swat': A Guide To Olympic Slang

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From 'Bonk' To 'Bombs' And 'Fly Swat': A Guide To Olympic Slang

From 'Bonk' To 'Bombs' And 'Fly Swat': A Guide To Olympic Slang

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Olympic sports have their own special vernacular, slang terms that NPR's Melissa Block has been collecting throughout the games.

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: Seems a lot of the lingo has to do with disaster, which strikes often in these high-speed, high-amplitude sports. Take aerials, where skiers fly 60 feet in the air, flipping and spinning their way back to earth. If they're unlucky, they might crash-land in what's called a reverse suitcase.

TODD OSSIAN: (Laughter) The reverse suitcase is twisting past the flip and having too much rotation. So if you land on your chest, then your head goes one way and your feet come the other.

BLOCK: Like a suitcase that's opened up too far, as head aerials coach Todd Ossian says. And there are all kinds of disaster possibilities. Say you catch the edge of your ski. It could lead to a fly swat.

OSSIAN: Just the force makes you go to the ground quick and there's a lot of impact there when you do that.

BLOCK: Just slaps you down.

OSSIAN: Slaps you down.

TIM BURKE: If you have a bad crash, a lot of times we call that a yard sale.

BLOCK: In a yard sale, biathlete Tim Burke explains...

BURKE: You're on the downhill. You fall. Your skis and poles are all headed in different directions.

BLOCK: Yard sale.

BURKE: Yard sale.

BLOCK: And how would you use that in a sentence?

BURKE: I had a serious yard sale on that big downhill over there.

BLOCK: You don't want that.

BURKE: No. That's never a good time except for your teammates and the camera crew.

BLOCK: Maybe you've seen cross-country ski racers collapse on the snow, totally spent, as soon as they cross the finish line. They routinely work themselves to the point of exhaustion. And there's a word for that. Gold medalist Jessie Diggins told me it's bonk.

JESSIE DIGGINS: If you bonk, it means you've just run out of energy. There's nothing left in the tank. And suddenly your body can't go anymore because you run out of blood sugar. So if you hear someone say, oh, I bonked in that race, it means they just, like, boom, hit the wall. They're done.

BLOCK: I ran into the Japanese women's hockey team and picked up a bit of their lingo from Akane Hosoyamada.

AKANE HOSOYAMADA: In Japanese, there's one. It's called donche (ph). In Japanese that means don't check. When you collide it's like doh (ph) and it's like donche. Donche.


BLOCK: Freestyle skier Aaron Blunck boils his sport's attitude down to four letters.

AARON BLUNCK: Stee (ph) is short for steeze (ph), like steezy (ph) run, like style. It's short for style. We just say stee.

BLOCK: How do you spell it?

BLUNCK: S-T-E-E. Stee. Pretty much whatever word you can think of shortened into the shortest way possible is what we like to say.

BLOCK: And when things go wrong on the course, typically it's just a swear word, Blunk told me, laughing. It's just the F-bomb, straight up, all the time. Melissa Block, NPR News, Pyeongchang.


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