Ski Comparison Review
2013 Blizzard Magnum 8.0 ti and Magnum 8.5 ti
Conditions: 1st day: basically re-freeze off-piste conditions. Tough skiing, hard to trust skis in that crap, which is why we look pretty tentative. This is when most of the video was shot. Firm groomers. 2nd day: 2-3 inches of new snow over top of the frozen surface. Groomers were much grippier.
Other skis tried this demo: Dynastar Cham 107, Cham 97, Outland 87, Outland Pro 80; Elan Waveflex Amphibio 88xti, 82Xti, 14, 888, 999, 1010; Blizzard Bushwacker; Blizzard Bonafide; Head Rev 85, Rev 90; Volkl Mantra and Kendo
Scott (orange jacket): 5 foot 9, 155lbs, skis 25-50 days a year; 34 y/o
Kevin (blue jacket); 6 foot 1, 195lbs; skis 40+ days a year, 28 y/o
Skis tested: the 2013 Blizzard Magnum 8.5 ti in 174cm, and the 2013 Blizzard Magnum 8.0 ti in both 172 and 179cm.
Overview: these skis are new for 2013. Both are mid-radius all-mountain skis, with perhaps a slight frontside bias. Both are flipcore skis, which means low rocker tip and very slight rocker tail. Flat mount with Griffon Demo bindings.
Blizzard Magnum 8.5ti: this was the first ski I skied, and it was an eye-opener. Tons of energy for a ski of this width. It was, without a dobut, the most energetic ski I tested that was mid 80's up to 90mm or so. The tail loaded very predictably and sprung you out of the turn if you desired. On groomers, it had close to a pure carver feel. Release was clean, and it would quickly pull you into the turn with power and precision. Very fun.
Grip was exceptional. No trace of the ski breaking loose in the tip or tail. The Flipcore behaved as if it wasn't there: It skied very similar to non-flipcore skis we tried, like the Amphibio 88Xti from Elan and the Outland 87 from Dynastar, in terms of grip and edge engagement/release. I thought the tail might feel funny on hard snow (similar to how the Bushwacker behaves) but no, it really skied as powerfully as one could hope. The power was similar to that of a pure carver: just slightly wider, but on this somewhat grippy snow, a narrower ski was not needed. Exceptional turn finish; it just allowed me to release straight away down the hill, and get my center of mass shooting down to initiate the next turn. Off-piste, grip was among the best we tried, as well. A narrower ski really works wonders in this junky snow. It was basically re-freeze that had yet to thaw (and wouldn't all day), which was really the only testing grounds for off-piste skiing, so we skied it. The wider skis (basically anything above 90-95mm, depending on the ski) just slid around too much in that condition and were less than optimal. What I am looking for on firm off-piste, especially steeper terrain, which much of this was, is enough bite that I can load the ski, plant my pole strongly down the hill, and basically use the rebound of the ski to help me out of the old turn and get the skis flat onto the snow to initiate the new turn. This ski did that wonderfully. Kevin agreed (and feels even more strongly than I do, being a former East Coast resident and good bump skier) that in those conditions, a narrower ski with some bite and rebound is much more your friend than a wide, loose ski, which is way more work to get out of the turn.
In the junk, this ski really managed edge pressure well, and was the right blend of release pop and ease. Nobody wants a ski in these conditions that is too grabby (as some pure carvers can be), or has a tail that is too strong and skiing the skier. The Magnum 8.5ti was money in short to medium radius turns. Conditions wouldn't allow us to really open it up (neither of us were that brave, skiing GS arcs on steeps with small icy bumps everywhere takes a lot of guts), but I did get to open it up in some lower angle non-skied out snow, and it was very good. We both really liked it in bumps as well (not shown here, they were firm, but skiable). I could get some nice zipper-line action going, and while it was perhaps a touch stiff, definitely workable. In the thin new snow we had the 2nd day, it really released well out of it. Tip is pliable, easy to get out of the turn, and work right down the fall line. Narrower skis work really well in these conditions as well, as float is a non-issue, but being able to manage edge pressure contrasting with the new snow on top and the crusties lurking underneath is key.
Overall, this ski had such a balanced feel. It is tough to stress how good it was in many types of turns and conditions. It was as “near carver” as any ski this width I have ever tried. Light and quick, super powerful, and can do any conditions. Perhaps just as good in junky off-piste snow as it is as a groomer ripper; we both liked it quite a bit better than the Bonafide and Bushwacker off-piste in those conditions. For those looking for “race ski performance in an all-mountain ski”, it is worth a serious look. Gone is the overly heavy, carver specific feel of the Magnum 8.7. This ski is instead lighter, almost as muscular, better for lighter guys, and exceedingly versatile. If I had to rate it (10 being the best in existence, 5 is OK, but certainly nothing special, and anything under that is not a good ski for the conditions):
Groomer power: 8.5
Off-piste junky snow, short/medium turns: 8
Deeper new snow: no rating
Thin new snow: 8.5
Blizzard Magnum 8.0ti, 172 and 179cm length
First off, the 8.0ti shares the 8.5ti's flipcore profile. As far as I could tell, the flex was similar. They aren't all that similar in feel, however. The 8.0 is somehow more tightly spung, more of a lighter power carver, with even more energy in the shorter length. The 179cm feels very GS-like for a guy my size. Kevin loved it in his size, I was much more at home on the 172. I was skiing the 172 in the video (orange jacket) and Kevin was on the 179 (blue jacket).
Groomers: For me, the 172 was an absolute ripper. It could give most frontside power skis a run for their money. Perhaps the tail isn't quite as aggressive and powerful as a true flat tail, but in the fairly grippy groomers we were skiing, it did not matter. The power coming out of the tail of this ski was equal to the Waveflex 14 from Elan I also skied. Very quick; not quite as quick as a dedicated carver, which isn't always a bad thing, as the true carver can be a little tiresome if it always has to be on edge, arcing out slalom radius turns. The 8.0 can do big arcs a bit better, but it isn't exactly a “relaxing” ski. It likes to be on edge and likes to be skied well. Skiing it from the center of the boot is fine, but I got much more out of it by skiing more dynamically. It practically begged me to take the energy out of the belly of the old turn, relax that outer leg and pull back that strong outside foot, and catapult me down the fall line. It was a very rewarding ski: when nailing a turn, the ski told me I had done so. The 179 was more of a GS feel: damp, smooth, but not the energy of the 172, nor the power. It felt more like a better damped Kendo in 177cm, than a carver feel. 172 is obviously the length for a guy my size. And, what a ski. Puts the fun into skiing groomers; if you can't have fun on this ski, you need to find a new sport.
Off-piste in junk: both skis skied really well. The 172 was super playful, just bouncing in and out of turns in the steeps. 179 was a bit more work: super smooth, and I could open it up, but not as good in fall-line steep turns. The energy on the 172 was just the right amount for getting pop out of loading up the end of the turn with a strong cross-body downhill pole plant. When you utilize that move, it really unloads the skis in a hurry and pops you right down the fall line, setting up the next turn. The 172 didn't track as well as the 179 at speed. In bumps, the 172 actually felt a little light, but the 179 was too long to be anything but much work for me. Kevin ripped up the steeps and the bumps on the 179; it was much more suited to his weight and height than it was to me. The 8.0ti is a very good junky snow ski. It gets in and out of the crap well, the tip and tail are the right profile and flex to do so, without being overly rockered and slid-y on icy/firm snow steeps. After skiing both these narrower skis and wider skis in the conditions, it makes us wonder why people would prefer would want, say a Bonafide (which we also skied this day), for these conditions. Narrower skis offered us more control, we could ski faster and and stay in the fall line more. This was true across the 5 brands we skied at the demo.
Newer snow and softer off-piste bumps: Again, no complaints. Quicker than a scared jackrabbit in bumps, super easy to turn in any snow condition. Very versatile, although compared side by side with the 8.5, I thought the 8.5 had the bigger sweet spot off-piste. Close though, but I would opt for the 8.5 as slightly less aggressive in terms of grip, and a bit larger sweet spot.
Overall; the 8.0ti was a very impressive ski. It is impossible to say how much of an improvement it is over the current 8.1, but my feeling, having skied both, is that it is likely better in off-piste conditions, while a bit quicker and lighter as well. The current 8.1 is a bit stiffer ski, it rails on hard snow, but can feel a bit challening in junky off-piste snow like we were skiing here. Close to a pure carver, versatile in poor snow conditions, super quick.
Groomer power: 9.5
Off-piste junky snow, short/medium turns: 7
Deeper new snow: no rating
Thin new snow: 7.5
In conclusion, these 2 skis are quite similar. My feeling is that for someone such as myself, who enjoys a powerful ski on groomers, but will opt for off-piste skiing most of the time (unless it is terrible), I would look more toward the 8.5 as a go-to, every day ski when it hasn't snowed recently. The 8.0, as powerful as it is, perhaps is a little too aggressive in “interesting” snow, while the 8.5 is just a touch mellower. If one were looking for a ski that was a bit more biased toward groomers, quickness, and near race ski power, while still remaining versatile, the 8.0 would be the obvious choice, or if you skied really hard snow recently. As I didn't have an ice rink to test them, I couldn't comment on their true ice grip, but for Western conditions, either ski would be adequate. What makes these such superb skis is how well they ski in most all conditions. Live in the West? Get a Magnum 8.5, and a wide deeper snow ski, and you are set for most any condition.
Both might have lost a touch of power compared to the current 8.1 and 8.7, but gained in versatility, and work better for lighter guys such as myself. These skis will hit the sweet spot for a lot of skiers.
As far as the video goes, it is likely most useful in showing the conditions we were skiing. I don't expect people to be able to pull out too much in way of ski flex and grip from looking at it, at least not with 2 skis that are quite similar.