Blizzard 2013 lineup reviews/overviews
The following is a list of reviews and ski overviews for Blizzard, going forward for 2013.
Please note that I have only listed skis I have tried and are very familiar with. This is the meat of the line, though..
Disclaimer: I am a Blizzard Dealer, but I do tend to like what I sell.
Magnum 8.5 TI
S-Power SL: updated for 2013, integrated with the M-power system, but in a slalom length and 68mm width. Similar in flex to the old Supersonic and SLR-IQ. Skied in 167cm
If you need a hard snow ski, this should be on the list to try. It is more of a high-performance power carver than a detuned race ski. For me, I found a ski that really worked well in terms of flex and edge grip. Edge power is instantaneous, and the tip has a great flex: not too stiff, just perfect for working it a the top of the turn. On hard snow, power is very impressive at the tail; this is one of those skis that you can really work on developing skills with; getting the feet to be more active, and feeling the ski bend, absorb, and rebound as a result. I also found it to be a superior ski in bumps.
This ski feels different, more damp, quieter than the old SLR IQ. It still is an IQ system, but with the built-in “Power” layup and shock damper. Flex is much friendlier than the old M-power 87mm ski was. Fairly soft tip, stiff underfoot, moderately firm tail. Compared to the RX12 in 168cm, it is more energetic in the tail and yet a bit more grounded. The RX12 is less damp, but smoother, not as energetic, more GS in feel, and more stable in big arcs. RX12 waits a bit more for input, while the S-power pulls you into the turn with less effort, based on it's larger tip. I would ski either as a frontside ski, but the RX12 would get the not for skiing really fast, while the S-power gets the nod for skiing fast but wanting a turnier, less passive feel.
It has more of a carver feel than the RX12 in 168 and the Stockli Speed SX in 170cm. A little quicker, a little more energy. I think a 174cm would be an exceedingly fun ski as well; more stable, but not a GS board. I would add a 167cm to my quiver if I could, but they are sold out for the year already. RX12 and SX are sweet to, just a different flavor of fun. I think everyone owes it to themselves to have a high-performance carver in their fleet: not only do they really show you if you can ski and expose any defeciencies in technique, but they are so much fun in the right conditions. Not unlike slipping a “base” model 911 w/PDK tranny onto a session at the track. Too bad they are hard to find: probably about the same percentage of people that want a carver ski these days as want to track their cars.
Verdict: one of the best carvers on the market, not overpowering for light guys.
Magnum 8.0ti: length 179cm. New for 2013, a moderately rockered flipcore frontside ski. It has a bit of rocker tip and tail, but not as aggressive of a rise as the Bushwacker. TI model has metal, CA model is softer w/o metal. As a rule, bigger guys should look at the TI, lighter guys at the CA. This is the same program that Nordica runs for many of their skis.
I was able to keep the test pair for a couple of months during the spring, so I really put it through it's paces. This is a much different ski than the outgoing Magnum 8.1. Whereas the Magnum was one of the premier groomer and hard snow skis in this width, the new Magnum gives up groomer performance for more all-mountain versatility and ease of use. On groomers, the old ski was very powerful, almost near race like. It had a very torsionally rigid tip that was quite aggressive, and really accentuated any movements. The new 8.0ti is more mellow. Not softer at the tip, but it does take a bit longer to get to the contact point, hence the delayed response. Once you are there, it will arc into the radius the ski is bent, but lacks the power and pickup of the 8.1. Again, more mellow, middle of the road in feel. Stability is excellent: if anything, equal to the old ski. Exiting the turn, it was still lacking that energy of the more powerful, carver oriented 8.1. I would rate it competent as a groomer ski, and preferrable for those looking for a calm, fairly mellow but stable ride. There is energy in the tail, but you have to find it. It won't search you out.
In bumps, the 8.0ti is a step above the old 8.1, and in new snow, probably 2 steps up. Off-piste, in snow that isn't super deep, is really where it shines. The rockered tip gets out of the way. No hanging up in mis-shapen crud or bumps: it is smooth, predictable, easy to pilot, but man, it rips. Zipper line bumps on this ski can be skied fast and aggressive, with confident feet pushing down into the troughs. The CA is better in bumps, but the TI is still really darn good. I loved this ski in junky new snow and crud: it has the right amount of width for a guy like me in those 6-10 inch days that get cut up quickly but stay soft. Float at the tip is quite good, the ski is stable, but even more importantly, is has a smooth power that gave me confidence to let the ski rip in trees. Not hooky in the least in tricky crud, either. Stability for this length, is very, very good.
I tried both the 172 and 179, but came away more impressed with the latter. The 8.0TI skis short (due to the rocker, no doubt) and 172cm just isn't much ski. The 179cm, however, was more like a 176cm from most manufacturers, and very dialed for how aggressively I like to ski, as well as my height. Most people my size will be happier on 172's. The target for this skier, at least how it skied for me, is the person looking for a high-performance, narrower all mountain ski. It isn't a carver, not particulary awesome at skiing groomers compared to the competition, but does it handle off-piste skiing. Likely a great everyday EC ski for tight spaces and hard, but uneven, snow. That being said, it is quite interesting to make a ski like this, as 90% of the skiing population never ventures from groomers. It does cruise well, though, so lower level skiers will find it a relaxing ride, but this review is intended for performance minded skiers who are either experts, or looking to get there.
Magnum 8.0 CA: same ski as the TI, but with the carbon layup, not metal. This brings into play a couple of obvious differences: The ski is softer, and lighter. Otherwise, dimensions are identical.
The CA is a great ski, and perhaps preferrable for many. It seems to dance, where the TI is more of a bull. I found on hard snow, that I could work the CA better, get earlier tip engagement (due to the softer flex), get more energy out of the tail. Grip isn't quite the same, but Western skiers won't mind. EC guys may want the beefed up metal ski, though. Stability is off just a bit from the damper, heavier TI, but still acceptable. Definitely the 179cm is the better length for how I ski.
In bumps, trees, and crud, a case could be made for either ski. The softer flex of the CA is preferrable in bumps, but the ski feels lightning quick in trees as well. The ski is a bit more lively (think Nordica Hell n' Back) in crud, which I didn't particularly care for. I am a big “damp ski” fan for crud skis, and the TI simply is calmer at high speeds. The CA was effortless to turn, but it wanted to be on edge more than the TI. In the end, it was the CA that felt a bit more traditional for an 80mm ski, and the TI that was starting to border on “narrow big mountain” status in terms of performance. At this point, I recommend the TI to more aggressive and bigger skiers, and the CA to lightweights, those still developing skills, those looking for more fun in the bumps.
Magnum 8.5TI: length tested 174cm. Similar layup to the 8.0TI, maybe a touch more rocker? Also mounted with the marker system binding.\
This is another worthy choice for the all-mountain skier. The flex is similar to the 8.0, which is no surprise, but the length makes a big difference in feel. I found the 174cm to be even quicker, but with tons of power underfoot, and a more lively carver. Starting off with groomers, I found the 8.5 to be best suited to soft, Western style groomers. While it certainly isn't the equal of the old 8.7 on groomers, which was a prototypical “wide carver”, it did ski them pretty well, with good energy in the tail, and plenty of grip. I could work the ski and smear it better than the 8.0, which felt more railed on groomers. A lot of that was probably the length difference too.
Off-piste is one place the 8.5 really shines. Great in bumps: nice length, solid flex, not too burly in the tail, very good width. It definitely is above average, once one considers it is a pretty stiff ski with metal. No complaints: I got much better at skiing zipper line bumps this past spring on this ski. If they were even a little forgiving, I got to the point where I was actively trying to pick up speed and work the bump, rather than brake and keep it under wraps. In deeper snow and crud, the 8.5ti is defintely my friend as well. Maybe not a ton of float, as the tip is pretty narrow, even for an 85mm waisted ski, and it doesn't seem to really get out of the snow all that way. If you are in snow that doesn't requite much float though, or if it is punchy crud, then the ski really comes into it's own. That tip is stiff enough to move snow, and yet still track well. The ski remains playful in skied-out crud; it is definitely a ski that wants active feet, and working the ski tip to tail. I don't think it would be as much fun for a park and ride type skier; the flipcore really begs to be driven at the top of the turn and loaded coming out. It is a spunky ski in new snow, if skied well. I think it requires a well-skilled skier to take advantage, though. Lower level skiers will be better served on a more mellow, soft ski. Forgiveness is about the same as the old 8.7, in that is on the high performance end of the spectrum, and also fairly demanding. A good skier can handle it, though, and a lesser skier can ski it, just not get as much out of the ski. That could be said for most skis, though.
Bushwacker: 88mm underfoot, no changes for 2013. Skied in 180cm length.
The main words to describe this ski are “versatile” and “easy”. The Bushwacker is just one of those skis; it handles a wide range of conditions without fuss. It is a ski that you could put a high intermediate on, and not see them pushed around. Yes, throw an expert on it, and they will be zipper-lining bumps and rocking crud at speed. Skied in 180cm, which is the longest length, but good for someone my size. Perhaps they will offer a 187cm one of these years, for skiers bigger than 5 foot 9.
On groomers, this ski is, frankly, nothing special. Flipcore isn't the most exciting layup for a groomer ski, and throw in no metal and a fairly soft flex. The result is a mellow, predictable ski with low energy. It holds an edge pretty well, but comes across as a Honda CR-V crossover SUV in terms of hard snow performance.
Get this ski in the bumps, though, and I feel like a Plinko disc rallying down the board. I mean that in a good way: just on the edge of control, and I can push the ski very hard and fast (or what passes for hard/fast for me skiing bumps). The flex is such that it is hard to make a fatal mistake on the Bushwacker: it sucks up terrain, and should you screw up, it will forgive you for that mistake, and allow you to get back into rhythm before the next bump. In crud, same thing, as long as you don't push the ski too hard. I can find a speed limit on the Bushwacker, while I cannot on the Bonafide; both are predictable and easy to ski. One is just more solid at big speed than the other, and therefore more suited to high-level, fast skiers. One think I noticed on the Bushwacker is the ease of which the tip tracks: it is hard to deflect unintentionally, and seeminly stays hook-free in junk snow. Float is better than on the 8.5ti: due to the softer tip, it gets out of the snow, and is more suited to fresh snow than it's stiffer little brother. The Bushwacker, especially in the 180cm length for me, is a very solid ski for off-piste conditions, as long as I don't ski ridiculously fast. For skiing fast, look at the Bonafide
Blizzard Kabookie: 180cm, same sidecut as the Bonafide. No metal, still flipcore construction with a substantial amount of rocker tip and tail. For example, the rocker is approximately twice as long as twice as tall as the Mantra from Volkl.
This being basically a Bonafide w/o metal, has for some interesting reason been branded a “sidecountry” ski. This is a mistake; this is a real ski, not some sloppy touring ski that doesn't hold up to steep walls of snow. In fact it skis really, really well. For lighter guys like me, it is likely preferrable to the Bonafide. depending on how you ski. Austrians always assume everyone who buys their skis is 6 foot 2, 225lbs and used to race Europa Cup; it is nice to see a softer ski. It cuts through crud well, and has the same smooth, damp feel of the Bushwacker. Stability over the Bushwacker is enhanced, likely due to the increased surface area and weight of the ski. It actually feels like a better application of the Bushwacker concept than the BW itself, at least for Western skiers. Living out here, I want more carving power and fun out of an 88mm ski, which the BW is lacking, but in a wider, soft snow oriented layup, like the Kabookie, it works really well for our typical everyday conditions. This ski eats up crud just as well as the Bonafide, and there is no loss in stability. With it being lighter, I found I could work the ski and bend the tip quite a bit more than the Bonafide, which is more or less making me ride the sidecut unless I am very aggressive with pulling my feet back. The Kabookie is so much easier to pressure and get into a small arc. Very fun in tight spaces, trees, and bumps. Where it gets left a bit behind is at big speed in rough snow. Moderate speeds, they are similar, but at high speeds, this tends to take on the feel of a Gotama, which is a little loose and unstable in tip-slapping crud. On groomers, I skied both on some really firm hardpack, and edgehold was solid on both skis. Both had a fresh tune, as far as I am aware. The Kabookie has a touch more energy in the tail: it felt like the tail was flexing and releasing more than the stiffer Bonafide.
I think Blizzard will have a winner here, although they should change their branding. No reason this should be a “sidecountry” ski; it is every bit as good as the Bonafide, and better for a lot of folks. Maybe it is because “guys like metal in their skis” which I think is a bunk idea, at least if you are like me and weigh 155lbs. Most of my favorite wide skis don't have metal in them, or if they do, are still really soft. Stiff skis can be 2x4's in soft snow. I would love to see this layup in the Cochise design as well!
Blizzard Bonafide. No changes for 2013, tested in 180cm. 98mm underfoot. Blizzard has been out of stock for awhile now, and shops are starting to run low. If you are planning on purchasing a pair, do so sooner than later, otherwise, you will find yourself waiting for fall of 2013. Layup is slight rocker tip and tail (flipcore) with 2 sheets of metal. Flex is on the stiff side. Mounted on the line.
Review: no real surprises with this ski. It is solid and reliable, very good at speed, especially in choppy snow. Basically, it rocks in open spaces. I have skied this a lot now, both last winter and last spring, and probably have 10 days on them. After all of that skiing, I would still lean toward recommending this to more aggressive, and heavier skiers. I love it in open spaces, as it is stable and smooth. Very damp, a bit more damp than the Nordica Hell n' Back, which feels a bit underdamped in comparison. As a result, l liked it better in rough, cut up snow. This ski is most at home in an open bowl, ripping GS turns. It seems to have less use for tight spaces and trees. Not that it is bad there, it just isn't as good as the Elan 999, which is much softer and easier to get the tip initiated on. Both the Nordica and Blizzard really like to be opened up. I would recommend the Bonafide as a great Western style ski, something similar to the Mantra, but easier to ski in the junk, better damping, and more control in rough snow.
On groomers, it is above average. I am not a big fan of Flipcore on groomers, as it tends to make the ski feel vague, but the metal and stiffness of the Bonafide somewhat makes up for it. Great stability in a wide GS package. In uncut snow, float is as good as you will find in a 100mm width ski.
In comparison to the Volkl Mantra, this ski is better damped, smoother in rough snow, more stable and forgiving, a bit more ponderous in bumps, not quite as snappy a carver.
The only real downside of this ski is it's relative stiffness for guys my size. If I were skiing bumps and tight trees, I would want a softer ski, as this one puts me in the back seat if I make a mistake. For open crud fields and general tree skiing, or off-piste prowling, it works really well. It has the right flex and rocker profile to ski most any sort of open style Western terrain, and is adequate in the bumps, probably even better than that if you weigh enough to flex it. If you are looking at this ski but think it is a touch too stiff, the closest non-metal version of the Bonafide currently that I have skied would be the Head Rock n' Roll, in terms of feel.
Blizzard Samba: new ski for 2013, a softer Bonafide. Skied in 173cm, on the line. Still 98mm underfoot.
My review: felt like a shorter Kabookie. Super fun tree ski, bump ski. Other than that, see Kabookie review above. Rep claims it is “basically the same”. Again, a ski I would buy if it came in 180cm. A lot of skiers out East should check this out; could be money in tight spaces where a stiff ski could get away from you real quick, but a nice soft flexing tip combined with some rocker and stiffness underfoot is just the ticket. The graphics are pretty neutral, too.
Blizzard Cochise, no changes for 2013, skied in 185cm. Width is 108mm underfoot. Was a top selling ski last year.
Review: as it hasn't changed, I will just expand on what I wrote last spring. This ski rips in Western style soft snow, period. It is a big-mountain ski. No speed limit, loads of confidence. Great in trees, crud, open bowls, anything where you have room to let it run and speed for the ski to come into it's own. I wish I had skied the 177cm, but as I haven't, I will limit my review to the 185cm, which seems to be the go-to length for averaged sized skilled skiers in the West. This ski is at the top of it's class in terms of crud skiing, and ease. It just absorbs bumps so well: that tip reacts to changes in tip pressure, and allows me to work crud to extend and flex through a good range of motion, and really bring the skis under my body quickly. I felt I was skiing crud exceptionally well on this ski, just getting long and short. Look at the following pics: the skis are really following the snow, allowing me to feel confident relaxing, extending, and tipping, getting good movement with my lower body and flowing with the crud.
In tight trees, I won't lie: if the snow is skied out, the wood comes awfully fast at you in th e long 185cm length. In soft snow, I can put the skis where I want, but in firm off-piste hardpack, the shorter length would likely be better. 185cm can get away from you real quick when you only weigh 155lbs. I It was ponderous in icy bumps and boring on groomers, which is to be expected: It is a wide ski with a lot of metal, and it's element is soft snow and high speed. It can be managed by less skilled skiers, as long as they are on the heavier side of a scale, but really comes alive for good skiers. For a Western new-snow ski though, the Cochise might be close to as good as skis get. Sure, it does well in new snow, but isn't excessively floaty. Once things are skied out though, as inevitably happens at a busy resort, the Cochise has the right amount of flex, stiffness, and snow feel to rip crud and soft bumps. Great ski! Definitely a worth quiver addition!
I like this better than the Volkl Katana: more responsive in mixed snow, absorbs terrain better, not as planky. Kastle BMX108: a little stiffer, not quite as stable, but turnier and easier to ski than the big 188cm BMX. Elan 1010: a bit stiffer, better in open crud and at speed; Elan has the edge in bumps and trees. Head Inferno: a little stiffer and more aggressive than that ski, otherwise very similar.
For out here, definitely go 185cm. 177cm is going to be the better choice in the East, but I might lean toward something softer, or at least narrower, back there, for most locations, as it would likely be better late in the day when icy bumps underneath the soft snow re-appear. Maybe a Bonafide in 173cm, Kabookie or Samba in 180cm would be money!
Blizzard Gunsmoke: 186cm, new for 2013. Much more rocker, a soft-snow ski first and foremost.
I skied this in 8-10” of new snow, as well as some crud with death cookies lying in wait just under the snow. Overall impressions were mostly compared to the Rossi Super 7 I tried the following run, as they are quite similar skis. The Gunsmoke was a bit stiffer, less damped than the Super 7. It was also more maneuverable, a bit quicker in terms of swing weight, probably a lighter ski. The Super was a bit more powerful, liked to charge a bit more (skied off some steeps on the back side of No-Name peak) and was plenty quick enough. Float: both were similar. Fun factor: this was tougher: the Super 7 felt looser than the Gunsmoke, which was locked in more, and wanted to rail rather than slarve. Either ski would be a good choice for someone looking for a deep snow tool for skiing fast. There isn't as much to talk about on deep snow skis, as they really only do one or 2 things well, so I didn't bother taking them in bumps or skied out crud and groomers. Actually, I had to so that I could access the lift, but I won't write about my experiences here. For soft snow, eithe would be a great choice, and offer a contrast to a more traditional deeper snow, big mountain ski such as the Bodacious.
Blizzard Bodacious: no changes for 2013. 118mm underfoot, seriously stiff and powerful.
I haven't re-skied this for 2013, as there were no changes, and it wasn't a good seller for us. It is limited to big skiers with skills, and that is a pretty small market. I liked it when I could really open it up, also finding it scary in trees and bumps. Definitely a big-mountain tool. If I were hucking cliffs all day and running things out (things of which I have little opportunity to do here in Bend), I would look at a pair. For general resort skiing, the Cochise or Gunsmoke is a better option for most people. I only personally know a couple of people that would be really happy on this ski, and both used to ski big mountain comps, as well as have thighs the size of Ponderosa trunks.
Overall, Blizzard's lineup is getting really good. They added the Kabookie for us lightweights, added a powder ski, revamped the S-Power, and made the Magnum series less carver oriented while adding versatility. They will continue to be strong sellers for the coming years.