Review: 2010 Fischer Watea 84, Blizzard 8.1
Length/size Tested: Watea 184, Blizzard 179
Environment of Conditions:
*Location of review: Mt. Bachelor, Oregon
*Runs Taken: 3 Summit to Base each ski
*Snow Conditions: Variable, soft chalky windbuff at the top, chunky refreeze in spots, some small soft bumps and a grippy groomer
*Demo or Purchase: Demo
I own the 84 as a teleski but this was my first time doing some alpine time on it. Overall, it felt as I expected. It was light and lively and was a real standout on the steep soft windbuff I found in the Cirque. It was very quick and nimble in fall line turning. Definitely the most dynamic and exciting of the 3 in this turn type/snow conditions. It had plenty of bite and stability when I got down a little lower and found some chunder. Despite being quite lively it was still very forgiving and manageable. The flex, both longitudinal and torsional seemed more geared towards off piste skiing. The tip will find the surface in the softer stuff and when transferring edge to edge you need to get a little more edge angle than on a really torsionally stiff ski, like the Blizzard 8.1, before it bites. This promotes an extra split second of the neutral time between edges when you can add a little extra rotary motion (twist of your feet) into your turn. I find this extra time helpful especially in steep fall line turns off piste where you are skiing slower in straight line speed but not necessarily less aggressively and dynamically. When laying rails on a groomer that rotary motion is much less relevant and a ski like the 8.1 will feel a bit more responsive and powerful. That being said the 84 was still a lot of fun on the groomers. The groomer I skied them on was very grippy so I’m not sure about the atlanic blue ice. I was able to pull some pretty high speed, high G arcs with no problems. The only thing I will say is that the ski starts to feel a little soft as the speed ticks up. It’s not a stability thing, there’s plenty of that, but the light and lively feel goes away at speed. There is tons of rebound at slow speeds but the ski is just not stiff enough to keep that lively rebound as you go faster. I personally have no problem with this since I’d rather have the off piste feel that this ski has and give up a little top end on the groomers than the other way around. Bottom line is, if you are looking for an all mountain ski and you prefer off piste slopes and fall line turns this is an excellent option. If you mostly ski hard and dynamically on groomers but want so versatility to go off when possible there are better skis. There is also a third group of people who I think would really like this ski. Those want a true 50/50 ski and value groomer performance but do not ski super fast and aggressively. I felt that I could over power the ski only when I was skiing hard and fast and piling on the G’s and I’m a 200 lb ex racer.
I think the Watea offered great contrast for my demo of the 8.1. I skied them on the same day, same slopes and each on with much different result. First off the 8.1 feels much stiffer especially in the tail and torsionally. It was lightning quick edge to edge, very little edge angle was need to make it bite. Between that and the stiff tail it felt a little demanding on the soft chalky off piste and in the steeps. Smeary turns were a little tougher to execute. However, when on edge, in an arc, they were unshakable stable and smooth. Much more of a glued to the snow feel than the Watea. No chatter at all in the chundery mid-sections of the mtn. Once I got it down in the small moguls I was very pleasantly surprised. The instant edge grip was great and the tip does not fell overly stiff (like a Vokyl AC50 does). Next I hit a wide open groomer. I waited for a few folks to clear off the slope and let her rip. I cranked her as hard as I could to a point of nearly hip dragging using the whole trail and these skis were an absolute rush. I pushed as hard as I could and they kept right on pushing back. Smooth and quite on the snow with tenacious edge hold. I hadn’t even an inkling that I was reaching the speed or G force limit on these skis and I was skiing with the speed and aggressiveness that would be way out of my comfort zone on anything but I completely empty slope. Bottom line on the 8.1 is that this beast is a real powerhouse with a tip that is not too stiff to give it some versatility all over the mountain. If you are a aggressive skier for the east or Sun Valley than wants something that will grip like crazy on icy groomers but you can still ski in the bumps and off piste when the natural snow comes, this might be the one.
Average days on snow: 40-50 Days a year
Years Skiing: lifetime
Aggressiveness: Ex-Competitor. I prefer powder, soft bumps and crud (in that order). I grew up racing so I love carving a steep groomer too but only when the first three are not available.