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A piste (IPA: ) is a marked ski run or path down a mountain for snow skiing , snowboarding , or other mountain sports . This European term is French (" trail ", "track") and synonymous with ' trail ', ' slope ', or 'groomed run' in North America . The word is pronounced using a long "e" sound (e.g. rhymes with "beast"). Increasingly, North Americans employ its common European antonym, 'off piste', to describe backcountry skiing , especially when referring to skiing outside officially approved areas of a ski resort .