*Location of review: Mt Rose
*Runs Taken: Lots! split up between 5 different skis (6 counting my own)
*Snow Conditions: Day 2 at the gathering. Day after a big dump with lots of fresh wind loading.
*Demo or Purchase: Demo, thanks to the Gathermeister
Me: 165lb. Reasonable skier (for an old guy!) Competitive Masters Racer, typically 50+ days a year on snow. Like to drive the ski from the tip, and lay it over in big fast GS turns so no noodles wanted!.
Boot: Atomic RT TI 130
Lots of Race stock skis (not really relevant to this test I guess!)
185 Blossom Hook
184 Blizzard The One
181 and 188 Blizzard Titan 9
Previously Owned Free-ski
185 Praxis Powder
184 Blizzard Answer
185 Nordica Blower
My test objectives: Identify a potential 100-120 waist ski for powder days (just like this!) that could work in trees and chutes but still reasonable on the groomers if required (the biggest downside of the Praxis Powder which filled the bill otherwise)
Nordica Patron 185
Rocker tip and tail with traditional camber, no metal, 113 waist. Jumped on this and first run was in my favorite post-storm tree stash. Still lots of fresh tracks as well as chopped up junk. Initiates very easily, can drive the tip or smear the turn whichever is your preference, smooth ride through the junk, tip stays up well. Next run they dropped the ropes on the Chutes so dived in (trying to avoid the bony entrance in deference to the demo skis). Again, really sweet, just think turn and they respond, good float and no problem with porpoising. On the way back to change over let them rip in GS turns and (which surprised me) good grip, minimal chatter from the tip and was able to lay them over without worrying about tip wash out . Overall - I really liked this ski, lots of energy, good "feel", versatile (again relative to width) not as one dimensional as a lot of skis in this category. Definitely on my short list!
as a long time (pre-viral!) Blizzard fan and with 5 pairs in the current quiver I was looking forward to trying some of these and had high expectations
Blizzard Gunsmoke 186:
140/114/130mm, 23r, no metal, flipcore. First took it into some big soft bumped up junk. Worked OK but harder to initiate than the patron, definitely had to push it more. Soaked up the terrain OK, Found some soft stuff still around and it felt like less float than I had expected but not a full test. On the smoother stuff, once you got it up on edge, tracked and held like a wide GS ski, plenty stable, felt like a bigger radius than 23. Didn't feel like taking it into the trees or chutes, just not lively or responsive enough for me. Felt like a bigger, heavier ski than the Patron. So, overall OK, but didn't do it for me, a bit too dead
Blizzard Bodacious 186
radius: 32.0, 142/118/132 mm. When I gave my feedback on the Gunsmoke, the Blizzard rep suggested the Bodacious might work better for me. Took it on the same route as the Gunsmoke. Felt a bit smoother, metal helps i guess. Initiation/turn-in was also fairly similar despite the bigger radius. Again, able to hold up OK when I skied it fast (Both it and the Gunsmoke felt a little more solid and damp than the Patron when maching GS type turns). So for me, preferred it to the Gunsmoke, but less life/pop/feel than I would have liked
Blizzard Cochise 185
135/108/123 Turn Radius: 28.5. went narrower ( ) with the Cochise. Felt better to me than the previous 2 so took it into the same trees and chutes as the Patrons. Trees were filling in OK so comparable conditions but the Chutes were more chopped up. A bit quicker to turn in than Gunsmoke or Bodacious, could smear turns or drive the front as required. No real issues with tip dive but definitely preferred a more centered stance. Good solid feel, again no issues, solid feel when pushing it hard on the way back to the demo tent.
Overall thoughts on the Blizzards - all good solid skis, probably the Cochise was my favorite among them, but none of them floated my boat enough to make me think "I want these". I think what did it for me was that none of them had the "lively/pop" feel that I like in a ski. Jumping back on my Blizzard the One for a couple of runs at the end of the day confirmed it. The One has some life about it and is much more ready to turn in. But I can fully understand that a lot of people may not want that much response and prefer the more damped feel that I experienced. YMMV so try them and see.
Dynastar Cham 97, 178
Lunch time was on the horizon and legs were starting to flag a little so thought I would dial it back with the Cham 97. I had been interested in these having seen the previous reviews and on hearing the good feedback from Nolo on the Cham 87 earlier in the day. Plus, unlike the Nordicas and Blizzards, I loved the graphics!. Plenty has been written already about the "five point" (?) shape so i will not bore you with that. Same test route again, into the trees (which fortunately not too many of the Epic crew had found!) and then into the Chutes. Can you say Cham Wow?. This was a real surprise. That big weird (to me) tip rocker seemed to do what it was supposed to. Great turn-in/initiation, easy to smear/steer in tight spots and, surprising to me, I could still drive from the front of the ski if I wanted without going over the front. Decent float as well despite the narrower waist. Lots of life and fun to it. In the chutes, which were getting pretty junked-up by now, the quick turn-in was very welcome and there was enough beef to cut through the chop without feeling like it was being overpowered. Heading back to the tent, I had some misgivings that the bent, (sorry heavily rockered!) front section might lose too much traction. However, it acquitted itself pretty well - ain't going to replace a GS ski, but can give a decent account of itself. Definitely a nice ski, that i could see myself interested in. Better in my mind than The One based on this test. I think i would gravitate to the 184 instead though, just to a have a little more ski under me and probably a touch more float.
So, a very worthwhile demo day. Nordica Patron definitely at top of my list for consideration, closely followed by the Dynastar Cham.based on my preferences. YMMV. I strongly encourage you to try them both (and i guess the Cham 107 as well) with an open mind
Big thanks to Phil for setting this up and to the reps for putting their stock on the line!. Tried very hard to avoid hits but some were inevitable. A superb demo day, never had a situation where I had to wait around for a ski to come in, managed to try the ones i wanted, could not ask for more.
Edited by ScotsSkier - 2/29/12 at 10:16pm