Local hill finally got some soft snow this past weekend, so, finally got out on some "wider" skis. Been skiing carvers all year so far on scratchy firm conditions.
Me: Middle Aged, 6'1", 230#, skiing forever, level?? who knows -- ski fast and aggressive, and try to carve clean turns when possible.
Blizzard Bonafide - 180cm:
I had a couple of test runs on this last spring at industry trade fair in Snowbasin, my impression then, was that it was a super-easy, but stable 98mm ski. Didn't blow me away, but was competent.
Spent half a day on this same ski yesterday - 6" of windblown crud, but very nice snow. Again, nimble, super-easy to turn, very playful, excellent in trees and tight spots. Handled the crud and soft snow very well, tips never dived once, but did experience some tip deflection in stiffer wind-slabed sections. It did not strike me as demanding at all, kind of like a Rossi S3 or Fischer Watea 98 on steroids. However, the sweet spot is very small on the Bonafide for me, it really wants to be skiied from a centered stance, it doesn't like to be worked from tip to tail. Although it is forgiving of balance errors, the tip doesn't really engage strongly, and it washes out in the tail when pressured. It will carve a clean turn, but must stay centered. I kept feeling like I was going to go over the dashboard with tip pressure, and washing out in the tail when finishing the turn. Perhaps, I would be better served on the 187cm, with my weight.
I really enjoyed skiing this ski, and it hits the mark for a forgiving, soft snow ski for 90% of the upper intermediate to advanced skier market. In general, I much prefer the Blizzard One over the Bonafide. It's design of minimal camber and rocker, fits my tastes far better than the strongly rockered Bonafide. I know that I am in the minority here, as the "Bone" is the flavor of the year. I am kind of worried about the Blizzard Magnum series going to flip-core next season. The past interations of the Magnums have been great for the expert skier that skis firmer conditions, I'm afraid that the flip-core design will "defang" them to the point that they become another K2.
Rossignol Experience 98 - 180cm
Very different ski than the Bonafide. I wouldn't have known that it had any rocker at all, based on performance. It definitely felt like a 180cm ski, whereas the Bonafide felt short. This ski was a very stable, and "carvy" on firmer surfaces, felt like a wide GS ski, surprising for a ski of this width. But, it did not float well in the crud and soft snow, it wanted to stay in the snow and blast the crud, rather than floating over like the Bonafide. Reminded me of the old style Volkl Mantra or Blizzard Atlas in its crud performance. It prefers a centered to forward stance, typical Rossi there, but found the tail a little unforgiving- don't get in the backseat, as it will take you for a ride. The E98 didn't come alive until it got up to speed, it was a little ponderous at slower speeds and in tighter spaces.
The E98 seems more "traditional", even though it has some rocker in the tip and tail, its effect is minimal. It is definitely a more serious ski, that demands good skills and aggression. Definitely for an strong, advanced to expert rider.
Just my two cents on two skis that have been reviewed to death here. But may be helpful to some others here.