Ski review: 2014 Blizzard Brahma
Length Skied: 180cm. Skiers; 5 foot 9, 155lbs; 6 foot 1, 195lbs (ideal length is 187 on this ski)
Conditions: firm bumps, crusty off-piste snow, some grippy groomers
Skier levels: see video
The Blizzard Brahma is new for 2013/2014. It features 2 sheets of metal and a Flipcore profile that is similar to that of the Bushwacker. Whereas the Bushwacker has no metal and is really geared toward tighter terrain and slower skiing, the Brahma is a bit more high-power ski that is more stable at speed and has more juice. You can think of it as a narrower version of the Bonafide: the Bonafide also has 2 sheets of metal and a similar layup to the Brahma.
Overall feel of the ski: to distill it down, it is what one would expect from a narrower Bonafide. Very powerful tail, tons of edge hold, solid at any speed. For lighter skiers, it tends to favor big turn GS and big-mountain style skiing, although on hardpack, it is very quick, as you are essentially skiing something closer to low 170's in length, due to the long tip rise. It really excels in big, powerful turns, especially in choppy snow, and is a great tool for big-mountain skiing. Bigger skiers will especially like it, as it is pretty stout in flex; the tip stands up to speed under a big guy. It is damp, powerful, muscular: typical Blizzard metal laminate feel.
Turn shape: the turn initiation on this ski isn't as aggressively tipping-oriented, as say the Magnum 8.5ti is, likely due to the longer profile of the rise at the tip. It tends to feel vague at the tip, which is a good thing in choppy snow, as it won't be overly aggressive and hooky: in fact, it tracks very well in a straight line, and also is why it is so good in big GS turns. The flip-side is that it tends to have a less responsive feel than the 8.5ti, which is quicker to engage and more powerful at the top of the turn. Skiing style and terrain will dictate which ski would be preferable for your application.
Performance in various terrain types:
Groomers: very quick, almost slalom like. Punchy tail, plenty of grip, skis very short, hence the slalom quickness feel.
GS turns in off-piste conditions: this ski tracks through junk well: it is smooth and damp, and easy to turn and release. Very good in weird snow, as long as you can open it up.
Bumps: bigger skiers will like it here, the tip is stiff and direct. I found it to push me around in bumps, probably because it is pretty stout for my weight.
Trees: very quick in trees, doesn't like as much fore and aft movement as it likes edge to edge lateral movements.
Hard snow: tons of grip for any sort of icy or firm conditions. 2 sheets of metal; definitely the edge hold isn't going to let anyone down.
Comparison to the 8.5ti: these are pretty close in terms of width and stiffness. There is a large difference in profile, however. More camber on the 8.5ti, much less length of early rise on the tip, and virtually no early rise in the tail, make the 8.5ti a more responsive and aggressive feeling ski. The 8.5ti actually is a very powerful carver, it is the one with a race pedigree that really skis like a power carver on hard snow, yet handles bumps exceptionally well. The tip is much more prominent on this ski: it demands to be told what to do, otherwise it may do it's own thing. Energy on this ski is really off the charts: it almost feels like they took the outstanding S-Power and gave it some all-mountain abilities. The Brahma is more mellow, the tip less engaged, it skis lower energy than the 8.5ti, and really is a different feel overall. I wouldn't say it is more or less suited to groomers or off-piste skiing: rather, it is just a completely different ski that likes a different skiing style than the 8.5ti. When using car analogies, the 8.5ti is the AWD Sport Sedan, the Brahma is the crossover SUV. Skiing junky snow on the Brahma, it was blasting through the crud, tip not looking to engage until I wanted it to, super stable, tracked straight. On the 8.5ti, you are blasting out of each turn with a lot of energy, and you need to keep them on edge more, or they will do it for you. More exciting, and more work. If you want a more mellow, solid but non aggressive feel (like on the Bonafide), more GS-oriented vs. the carver feel of the 8.5ti, then check out the Brahma. If you like energetic and powerful, looking for a versatile responsive ski, the 8.5ti will be your first choice.