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Review: Fischer Watea 84 vs. Blizzard Magnum 8.1

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

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 




Watea 84

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.   


Blizzard 8.1

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.     




Tester Info:

Age: 27          

Height/Weight:6’1” 200#’s

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.

post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 


These reviews are for the 2011 models

post #3 of 9

About me:  170 pounds, 72 inches, age 47, advanced intermediate.  I grew up skiing Vermont and Western Massachusetts ice / rocks, with rare glorious 12-15 inches of New England powder.  (Woo-Hoo!)  Now living in Wisconsin where the beer helps us forget we're not in Utah.


I demoed a pair of 2011 Bilzzard Magnum 8.1 Ti skis @ 172 cm this weekend at Devil's Head, WI.  While the mountain is pretty limited by national standards, there was enough variety for me to get a sense of the skis.  I took the Magnum 8.1 Ti off piste under the chair lift with about 2 feet of ungroomed, mostly virgin snow over branches, strewn rocks and who-knows-what junk.  I also made my own trails through the woods.  The 8.1 Ti had enough flotation that I didn't get bogged down except once when I was going <8 mph through dense trees.  Obviously this is not a big mountain powder ski.  But for occasional East coast / Midwest type off-piste skiing it gets the job done.


Slane, I fully agree with your assessment of the Magnum 8.1 Ti on groomers.  Wow!  This ski really holds carves.  I can't assess its performance on bumps as none were available at Devils Head.  It was OK on a short icy slalom course, but that was probably more limited by my racing ability than the skis.  Snow temp was on the warm side: 22-28 degrees.  There was very little chatter at speeds up to ~45 MPH, and I had no sense the ski was anywhere near maxed out.


I took the Magnum 8.1 Ti out again last evening on a small local hill to see how it did on colder ice.  Very nice grip, really confidence inspiring ski, it carves like a champ!


Recent comparison:  Atomic Blackeye Ti @ 176 cm -- another frontside carver that grips ice and groomers like a talon.  The Blackeye may be slightly less suited to off-piste, versus the Blizzard Magnum 8.1 Ti, though for groomers it's at least as good a ride.  I'd call Atomic's Blackeye Ti a close second to Blizzard Magnum 8.1 Ti overall, and maybe slightly better than Blizzard for a 100% groomer ski.  Atomic's rounded front/rear caps construction may be slightly less rugged than Blizzard's all-vertical sidewalls, and there's no easy way (to my knowledge) to install a third party binding on the Atomic Blackeye.


Another recent comparison:  I demoed Nordica's 2011 Hot Rod Tempest @ 170 cm with XBI TC 311 bindings last week.  I liked Nordica Tempest least, by far, of the three 2011 carvers I tried.  On hard pack at 25 mph, Nordica Tempest chattered like a teenage girl with unlimited minutes.  My turn confidence on the Tempest was poor.  The tails slid out from under me and I had to work harder to transition than with my vintage 1979 Authier 180cm straight skis... not a glowing endorsement of Nordica's Hot Rod Tempest.  They might be fine on bumps, and they may be perfect for someone else.  After a few runs I just wanted to get these Nordicas back to the store as fast as possible.


One detail I learned today after returning the demo Magnum 8.1 Ti:  Blizzard offers a plate called IQ CenterMove (part 610950) that lets you install non-integrated bindings onto the ski.  It might come in handy for people who break a binding after the five year indemnification period.  Blizzard also has a telemark plate. I'm not sure how well plates work versus integrated bindings, but at least it's an option not many other companies seem to offer.


Closing thoughts:


I'm going to demo K2 Rictors this weekend.  Without starting a holy war about Chinese vs. European skis, I'll just say it will take a strong showing for me to choose K2 Rictor over Blizzard's Magnum Ti, though I'm trying to remain open minded.  I'll just let the ski sell itself -- or not.


Apologies in advance for any misinformation above.  These are only my ramblings as a ski buying customer, obviously not a ski pro or engineer.



LATE EDIT:  I mis-quoted the plate that lets you install third party bindings.  It's Blizzard's IQ Max Slider (part# 610900).  Here's some videos & other info on Blizzard's IQ Max Slider:



Edited by WildWildMidwest - 2/8/11 at 4:00pm
post #4 of 9
Originally Posted by WildWildMidwest View Post


I'm going to demo K2 Rictors this weekend.  Without starting a holy war about Chinese vs. European skis, I'll just say it will take a strong showing for me to choose K2 Rictor over Blizzard's Magnum Ti, though I'm trying to remain open minded.  I'll just let the ski sell itself -- or not.



If you are skiing ice, I doubt that is going to be a fair fight. My bet is you end up pulling the trigger on the 8.1's...let us know how it turns out. The Rictor just doesn't have the beef of the 8.1.

post #5 of 9
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
If you are skiing ice, I doubt that is going to be a fair fight. My bet is you end up pulling the trigger on the 8.1's...let us know how it turns out. The Rictor just doesn't have the beef of the 8.1.

Hello, D.C.,


I'm hoping we'll have some decent snow this weekend.  We're at the front end of a three day storm with 24 inches expected.  Good snow conditions should last the next week or two.  Add to it a Packers SuperBowl weekend and Wisconsin slopes will be completely empty by Sunday afternoon.  Go Pack!


I'm curious to know your thoughts on Blizzard's IQ CenterMove binding plates?  Are those any good?


Blizzard / Marker integrated IQ Max bindings seem to get the job done, though they're a little boxy.  It's reassuring to know I could substitute a Knee Binding, or whatever the latest fad is in a few years to keep my skis current.  Some of us baby our skis to make them last forever.  Not all of us can get new skis free every year or at cost.


I enjoyed your excellent "2011 Blizzard Magnum 8.1 IQ Max, 179cm" review dated 11/14/2010.  It's making me think about getting a 179 cm Magnum 8.1 Ti instead of the 172 cm ski I auditioned.  Thanks.



post #6 of 9

Hey there,


We use the IQ system all the time. It is a great solution if you want to run a different binding, although the system IQ binding should be stiffer, as it doesn't have the softer plate that the binding will be sitting on.  If you think you will run a binding in the future, I would get the IQ plate, or, since they are cheap, buy the system binding (which should be good for 10+ years if you back the DIN off in the summer and store them horizontally) and also a spare IQ plate.  Alot of people like the IQ plates, especially for mounting up an AT or tele setup. 


FWIW, most guys my size would end up on the 172cm.  I liked the 179cm for bigger mountains and GS type speeds, but the 172cm certainly isn't lacking either, and is going to be better in bumps and tighter spots.

post #7 of 9

Thanks, D.C., for really useful tips.  I'll write back here with my thoughts on the K2 Rictor after this weekend.


I'm still trying to keep an open mind about K2 as best I can.  My beloved first pair of alpine skis back in the 1970s were K2.  I beat the c--p out of them skiing rocks / bumps / ice.  But K2 is not the same Seattle company it was 35 years ago.  That's true for their Line subsidiary and other garage start-ups that were gobbled up and outsourced to China.  As far as I can tell, Blizzard remains independent and the company still produces skis near Salzburg.  Bilzzard seems to treat their customers well and they have a loyal following.


Will Chinese K2 skis hold up to the kind of punishment my old K2s and Authiers survived?


How do K2 subcontractors treat their employees?  How does K2 treat their retailers?


What kind of toxic sludge flows downstream from a Chinese K2 factory?


Perhaps I should forget all this economic / political nonsense and just demo the skis.


LATE CORRECTION:  I learned Blizzard is no longer an independent company.  They are a subsidiary of Tecnica Group, which also owns Nordica, Rollerblade, Lowa, Dolomite, and many shoe brands.  Some of the lower Blizzard lines (such as Viva Sport) are outsourced to Ukraine.  Sorry about the misinformation.

Edited by WildWildMidwest - 2/8/11 at 4:00pm
post #8 of 9

Here's my follow-up ski review.  I demoed K2's 2011 Rictor in 174 cm this weekend at Cascade Mountain and at Devil's Head, Wisconsin.  Conditions at Cascade on Sunday were mid-20's with a few flurries and nearly empty runs during the SuperBowl game.  The mountain had heavy traffic on Saturday, so the centers of trails were moderately crusty.  We received 24 inches of fresh natural snow four days earlier; I had no difficulty finding untouched areas that were as good as this mountain ever gets.  Cascade's one-and-only bump run was moderately scratchy.  Groomers were in pretty good shape for Wisconsin.


My first few runs on the K2 Rictors at Cascade were slightly disappointing.  The skis were fine until I hit hard pack at the bottom traveling perhaps 35 mph across the flat area to reach the lift.  Rictors chatter terribly on hard pack.  The only way I could keep tips from ricocheting from side to side was to plaster my boots together as firmly as I could hold them;  it was not pleasant.  The chattering / ricocheting happened every time I arrived at the bottom of the hill.  I came to accept it as how rocker skis behave.  After a couple dozen runs it wasn't as disconcerting as the first time.  Carving with Rictors was very smooth, easy to initiate, with completely natural transitions.  Flotation on 24 inches fresh snow was fair.  No problem with the Marker bindings.


Monday at Devil's Head had better conditions than Cascade.  It snowed lightly overnight, and we were the first skiers down freshly groomed trails.  The temperature was lower 20's and it continued to snow steadily throughout the day.  I estimate we got about 3 inches of dry powder while we were skiing.  The mountain was virtually deserted all morning and lightly traveled in the afternoon.  I went off piste many times on the same runs I skied Blizzard Magnum 8.1 Ti skis the previous week with similar untouched dry powder conditions.


My impression of the K2 Rictors was better Monday at Devil's Head than the previous afternoon/evening at Cascade.  Because there was no hard pack anywhere at Devil's Head I did not experience any chatter.  The skis carved very nicely & I couldn't ask for better frontside performance.  My impression of Rictor's flotation on 24+ inches powder wasn't as good as I had expected, though.  My clear recollection was the Blizzards floated better... though obviously it wasn't a back-to-back comparison.  I felt the Rictors decelerate more abruptly, whereas the Blizzards coasted over the powder surface.  It's possible snow density was a factor in my impression, but I don't think conditions were really that much different from week to week.  The Rictors decelerated significantly even in 3-6 inches of light snow.


Devil's Head set up a 50 yard mogul field on a crossover path the previous day with terrain that is pretty flat for moguls.  (It was perfect for my kids to learn on.)  Neither Cascade nor Devil's head offers anything like a Killington, VT, double-black mogul run.  Nevertheless, I got enough sense of the 174 cm Rictor to say it's not the ski I would choose to run bumps all day.


After my two days on K2 Rictors, I purchased a pair of Blizzard Magnum 8.1 Ti.  I found Magnum 8.1 Ti to be a better overall fit for my needs.  I like the feel of Rictors a lot, just not as much as Magnum Ti.  Blizzard's IQ-Max Slider system is a unique advantage that also pulled me toward the Magnum 8.1 Ti.


Although it's late in the ski buying season, I hope these impressions are of some benefit to others here.  Good luck to all!

post #9 of 9

I received my Blizzard Magnum 8.1 Ti skis last evening.  What a wonderful journey this has been, starting last winter with my purchase of Lange Comp HP 120 boots & custom insoles, with multiple subsequent adjustments to the boots to achieve a perfect fit, and with ski selection this season.


A huge "Thank you!" to the people at LES MOISE Ski, Tennis and Snowboard shop at 19730 W. Bluemound Road in Brookfield, Wisconsin.  Thanks to store Manager, Luke, for assembling an amazing staff, selecting great equipment and making customer service the #1 priority.  Special thanks to Fred, Carsten, Zach and Dave who guided me so well, who provided relevant and accurate information every step of the way, and who made Les Moise a wonderful place to shop.  Extra special thanks to Carsten for getting my wife into the right size boots despite her preconceived notions, and for helping my kids choose the right equipment to ski safely.


I cannot speak highly enough about the service our family received, and continues to receive, at Les Moise' Brookfield store.


Thanks also to Slane and DawgCatching for their guidance at Epic Ski forums.  I would not have gained nearly the insight I needed without people like you helping.


Bye for now!  WWM

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