Me: 6’0”, 215 lbs, now a solid level 7+ thanks to ESA Snowmass. Krypton Cross boots. Previously I have skied the Elan Magfire 10 in 168 (too short), the Head Peak 78 (too soft), the K2 Aftershock in 174 (liked them but now I have grown up!), and the Atomic Coax (only true pow day I’ve ever skied-- surfy). I don’t own. These were both demos.
Where: MX88-- 3 days-- Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands
Blizz-- 1 day-- Snowmass
Lengths: Kastle MX88 178cm; Blizzard 8.1 172 cm
Conditions: groomed, ungroomed, bumps, trees, crud, light powder. Everything but the deep stuff.
Kastle MX88, 178cm: The MX88 is an amazing ski. The better I got this week at ESA, the better it got. It didn’t beat me up the way I thought it would on Monday when I was sliding my tails, though I was pretty tired by the end of the day. It responded to my weak technique in the crud and bumps of AMF. It was pretty flexible in bumps, but I am pretty big. I never felt out of balance on this ski. On Tuesday, my epiphany of how to ski came on the hardpack at the bottom of Aspen Mountain. These skis were with me when it came. I could feel every inch of every turn on these skis. I could feel the tips and edges engage, the edges held like glue, and the skis smoothly released from one turn into the next. Once I learned how to ski, I felt that I could make any kind of turn I wanted on these. Long radius, short radius, it didn’t matter. I had expected that these would want to go fast in big GS type turns, which I don’t love to do, but I think they just respond to good offensive skiing of any type, especially for someone my size. They never deflected. I never came close to their speed limit. At Highlands on Wednesday, they handled everything in the bowl without any issue. They happily went wherever I wanted. Stable and smooth, smooth, smooth.
Blizzard 8.1, 172cm: For the fourth day of ESA, there was no new snow at Snowmass so I swapped to the Blizzard 8.1 in 172. This is also one kick-butt ski. Quicker edge to edge (as expected given the 81 mm underfoot compared to the 88mm), not too stiff in the bumps, easy to tip, engage, and manipulate. The feel is really different from the MX88. This ski just rockets out of the bottom of turns. On the firm morning groomers, we were doing short radius turns trying to keep along as straight a line as possible. The edge engagement was effortless, carving without a sound, but after four turns I had to stop and recalibrate my expectations because I felt like I was going airborne when I released into the next turn. After I got used to it, that feeling was a blast. These were great through crud and steep bumps, and were really stable and smooth through light, shallow cut-up powder off of Rocky Mountain High. Through the ungroomed and trees, these went anywhere I pointed them. The slightly raised tails were useful for reverse slips and repositioning in the bumps and trees. I do this fairly often, and these were slightly easier in that regard in tight spaces than the MX88s.
Bottom line: What a blast to be able to really learn to ski at ESA using these as my platforms. The Kastle MX88s can do anything, anywhere and are as unshakeable, smooth and powerful as can be. The more you put in, the more you get out. The Blizzards were probably a little more exciting, definitely so in the firm groomers. The biggest difference between the two skis to me was the transition energy. The Kastles transition as smooth as silk, whereas the Blizzards just explode out of the turns. Either way--- awesome!!