Head REV 105 and Blizzard Kabookie
Conditions: 15 degree temps, light to moderate weight crud, new snow up to 2 feet deep. Also soft cruddy bumps, and soft groomers.
Skier: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, like to ski off-piste conditions mostly, groomers are fun too. Can ski pretty much anything on the mountain. I tend to prefer skis that aren't too stiff, good blend of finesse and power. Some favorite skis in the past: Stockli Cross SX, Kastle stuff, Elan 888/999/1010, Head Monster series, Blizzard Magnum 8.1 and 8.5, Dynastar Sultan 94.
I ski around 40-50 days a year.
Blizzard Kabookie: similar to the Bonafide. Basically a bit lighter, bit softer Bonafide w/o metal. 98mm underfoot, 20m radius, skied in 180cm Mounted on the line with Marker Griffon adjustable bindings
Head REV 105: new ski for 2013, 105mm in the tip, very slight tail rocker, fairly large tip taper (close to as much as the Super 7 from Rossi, when side by side) and generous tip rocker. Soft flex, no metal. 16M radius, big running width for a 105mm ski. Similar to an elf-shoe in front, but very little tail rocker and tail taper. A good blend of tip forgiveness and a solid tail. Skied in 181cm. Mounted with Head PowerRail bindings
These couldn't have been more different! It was an interesting test, considering they aren't that different in terms of waist width, and are likely designed for similar skiing (soft, off-piste conditions). 2 completely different skis for 2 different skiing styles.
Overall feel: I will start here, and it really is all I need to say about these skis. Everything following this section is just an amplification on how each of these skis feels and who they are designed for.
I will start with the Kabookie, as it is the first ski I tried. Straight away, one can tell it is a Blizzard. If you were the skier who really liked the Bonafide's snow feel and turn radius, but found it stiff and planky, this is your ski. The Kabookie doesn't really lose any stability over the heavier Bonafide: it just becomes more manageable in junk and tight spaces for lighter skiers, and those skiing with softer AT boots. It is still a fairly aggressive, powerful ski with a “real” tail. The Kabookie really likes to be skied powerfully and at speed: it loves GS arcs in crud and snow, but seems more easily maneuvered into different turn shapes than the Bonafide, which prefers to hang around the printed turn radius. This ski, I can really bend into tighter arcs if I want to work it, and if I decide to keep it fall line, the ski is really happy there. It rails tight crud like a luge sled, as long as I was releasing aggressively with a down-unweight motion at the end of each turn; so much so that I got bruised ribs when the camcorder in my pocket ended up getting crunched into my ribs. It was a very dynamic ski: quite stable, but with energy; the tail really blasted me from turn to turn, and as long as I was releasing in the crud and keeping my feet moving. It was definitely more power than finesse, and it liked to be driven from the cuff of the boot. For a ski w/o metal, it still feels like a ski designed by and for good skiers and ex racers.
Next up, the REV 105. This ski was a completely different animal, and at first, I didn't like it. The ski seemed unstable in junk snow, but after a couple of runs, I learned that this is a ski for dancing down the hill, not muscling through crud. With the forgiving tail and big, fat, soft tip (144mm tip width!), and softer overall flex profile, this ski did not really feel the need for charging through crud in GS turns at speed. Rather, it was all about the release: load it up: relax, pull the feet back (instead of an aggressive down-unweight move) and follow terrain. Ski the crud like they are soft bumps, as the tip is so soft and forgiving, I found it nearly impossible to dive into soft snow. Load and release, but stay light on the ski. Once I got in to this rhythm (not my normal style of skiing), the REV 105 really came alive! It proved to be insanely quick in tight spaces and skied out trees, just as long as I let my feet more fore and aft to follow the terrain and snow. It was a ski that likes a light, but skilled touch. Skiing the REV really was a revelation, and taught me something about my skiing in the process: that I have more tools in my toolbox than a hammer!
Following up on that; here is how each ski performed in various conditions.
Crud: The Kabookie was more stable in bigger arcs. It liked to rip crud at speed, whereas the REV 105 got tossed around at high speeds. In the fall line: they skied differently, with the Kabookie preferring flattening to release (the down-unweight move discussed above) while the REV 105 wanted the feet to keep moving: at the top of the turn, pull the feet back and stay active. The REV felt like it had a shorter turn radius and was more of a happy camper fall-line, while the Kabookie was more versatile in it's turn shape in rough snow. I also though the Kabookie packed more punch in the tail, and skied with more energy. A more deliberate skier will like the REV: faster skilled skiers look at the Kabookie.
Groomers: again, 2 different skis in terms of feel. The Kabookie had that GS feel, fairly soft but capable groomer ski feel, not unlike the old The One from Blizzard (less turn shape though, not as quick). The REV 105 was very quick, like a slalom ski that some of the wider elf-shoe style skis lean toward. It didn't have the high-speed heft, though. Again, fall line is REV territory, GS arcs lean Kabookie.
Trees: Here, the Kabookie was quite quick and easy to manage. I certainly had more confidence than I do on the Bonafide at speed in trees, as the Bonafide is simply punishing if I get pushed backseat. On the Kabookie, I can recover and re-assert myself, but don't get back there as much to start with. The REV is even more forgiving: it again leans more toward feet pull-backs as a way to quickly correct out of balance moves, and feels like a slalom ski there, even in skied-out terrain. It follows snow variations and mini bumps so well in these conditions. Exceptionally forgiving. Slight edge to the REV 105.
Deep snow: this is the REV 105's really playground. That big 144mm tip (it has the same running surface as my Super 7 188cm, if you take away the pintail on the Rossi) really won't dive, and it just surfs. It is always hunting for the top of the snow, and the tail will pop you from turn to turn. Windpack is even more fun: the carvy nature of this ski makes a wind-buff surface feel like a slalom set. Simply put, this is a great pow ski. I was skiing nearly waist-deep pockets in spots, and can't imagine needing more ski than this for any condition at my weight. Having been on my BMX128 the day prior, I don't think I was really getting more float on that ski. Certainly more stability and length, but not pure float. The Kabookie, on the other hand, it decently wide for these conditions, and got the job done. Float was well above adequate. I had to ski a bit cleaner in terms of technique, but did get nice pops in and out of the snow on it. Great width for these conditions. Felt more at home in bigger arcs, again at speed. The tip would dive if not careful: I think it only measures low 120's. With that said, it skied quite well for pretty deep snow, and gave me plenty of confidence. On the slabby windpack, it was also a hoot: whereas the REV was dancing, the Kabookie was slaying big arcs at higher speeds. My style of skiing prefers the Kabookie: 80% of the skiers I see on the hill would be better on the REV 105.
Overall: If you like the idea of a powerful, GS bred all-mountain ski that isn't super stiff, then Kabookie is definitely worth checking out. It reminds me of the Head Rock n' Roll, only with less sidecut and a stiffer tip. Doesn't ski at all like my BMX98: that ski is more of a REV with added power underfoot and in the tail. For my weight, the Kabookie might be the most versatile Blizzard made, at least in terms of backside, soft snow skis. If you are the type of skier who likes a technical, yet finesse skier, flowing with the mountain and following terrain, and have liked skis like the Armada TST in the past, check out the REV 105. It is a fun, playful, rewarding ski, that rewards technique over brute strength and power.
Edited by dawgcatching - 12/22/12 at 11:11am