A quick run-down review of skiing 3 different skis in tough conditions. What had been 30" of blower pow the day before succumbed to March sunlight and high-30's temps. Lots of wind-affected ridges and natural bumps building up, due to 120mph winds the week before. Snow was totally skied out, heavy crud setting up to mid-sized bumps. Snow was really firm and quite tough to ski, very rough ride.
Testers: myself (5 foot 9, 155lbs, ski 25-40 days a year, 34 y/o, can ski most anything on the hill): good friend of mine: 5 foot 9, 150lbs, grew up racing alpine with MBSEF, now a competitive nordic skier and races Cat 1 on road bikes with me. A very good skier). We basically came to similar conclusions about each ski
2013 Blizzard Cochise 185cm
2013 Kastle BMX98 178cm
2012 Elan Olympus 183cm (going back to the 1010 name for 2013, no change in the ski, mounted -1cm)
First off, the Cochise: this ski feels like a charger. I have skied it a bunch in the past, and always felt comfortable when the snow was relatively easy to blast (lighter crud) or I had room to let it run. Not the ski for this day, however. Really stiff, not absorbing bumps well, and demanding. It kept throwing each of us in the backseat upon any mistake, or just variable snow that got us into a defensive position. When it was wide open, it was the best ski of the test; I did find some new snow and the Cochise is a great ride when the skier needs float and stability. I think the 177cm would have been a better ski to test: it felt significantly longer than the others in terms of how it skied, and how much I had to work it. The last time I skied it was at Snowbasin, in wide-open terrain. It was much more "in it's element" there.
BMX98 was a huge improvement. I felt the width difference immediately: much more precise when handling bumps, much easier in the crud piles that were becoming bumps. Much quicker, much less work, and more forgiving. The snow still pushed me into defensive positions at times, but the difference on the 98 was that I could just pull my feet back and recover within 1/2 a turn. So much more forgiving in the flex and the tail. Tip absorbed terrain the best of this group. Not the greatest float, but in skied out crud, float isn't the issue, precision and the ability to absorb odd snow is. I was a much better skier on this ski.
Elan Olympus/1010: had a character and flex similar to the 98, but wider. That was somewhat of a negative: it was slow and ponderous in comparison, but still an improvement on the Cochise, as it did a much better job of absorbing terrain and having a more forgiving tail. I could flex and bend the ski to somewhat do what I wanted. Nice soft tip, gets out of the way, very smooth, and I could run it over the top of the bump and know it wouldn't toss me into the back seat. Great float. Skis shorter than the Cochise, felt equivalent in length to the 178cm BMX98. Not as quick as the BMX, more work to get up onto edge, but workable in these conditions, and much easier to ski than the Cochise, without a doubt.
Conclusion: both the BMX and the Olympus felt more like resort skis in these challenging conditions. Cochise felt more like a big-mountain charger in comparison: the ski that you would straight-line chutes on and huck cliffs with, not ski trees, tight crud, and bumps. One isn't necessarily better than the other, just different. Weight also plays a factor: The 98 and Olympus are quite a bit softer than the Cochise, which is a pretty stout ski. 98mm width was better than the wider skis, as float was really a non-issue in this skied-out snow, and I value quickness and precision in a ski, especially in tight spaces and unpredictable snow.