Ski: 2012 - 13 Blizzard Magnum 8.5 Ti 167cm; sidecut: 125-85-111
Test location: Big Sky, MT, March 29, 2013
Me: 5' 7", age 50, 135lb., level 8, east coaster, beer leaguer, prefer old-school areas with natural snow bumps and trees
Comparison skis: Armada TST 174cm, Blizzard Samba 173cm, Dynastar Sultan 85 165cm
Executive Summary: Snappy, crisp ski; does many things well; general groomer orientation makes me question the rocker.
Details: Spent most of a day on this ski at the Gathering.
First run of the day on these: hard, nasty corduroy on the top half of a wide groomer - the kind you get when the groomers hit it when it's still soft and then it freezes solid afterward. I could feel the integrity of the ski, but the edge treatment on this demo pair from Lone Mountain Sports was not quite up to the challenging surface. Although I was able to get the ski on edge and carving without a problem, I found myself wishing the tip rocker was absent so that I could get into the turn more gradually, with full-length edge contact from the very beginning. (This kind of concession is to be expected and probably makes sense with a wider, more soft snow-oriented ski like the Samba I was on the day before, but I'm not convinced the trade-off makes sense in a narrower ski like this that is otherwise very well prepared to handle groomers superbly.) Toward the bottom of the run the surface softened and the ski really started to rock. It was easy to make nice, round, medium-radius turns, and there was plenty of snap out of the tail. Edge-to-edge quickness was good. I didn't notice that I was on a "wide" ski. I'm tempted to say that I could feel some family resemblance between this model and the high-energy Supersonics I've been on at home for several years now. Fun.
Soon afterwards, I transitioned to some low-speed groomer runs with a more mellow group. We were working on short- to medium-radius drifting turns on a firm but not icy surface. It took me a while to get the hang of this skill on the Magnums because they are quite edgy and I had to be careful to keep angles low and not hang onto the turn too long. Otherwise I ended up with some unpleasant chatter. That's a technique issue on my part, but my point is that the ski was not notably forgiving in that kind of turn.
Later in the day we ended up in some steep bumps, trees, and softer snow that I wouldn't have expected to find, given the morning's experience and the weather. (This is what a couple good guides and a bit of late-day snowfall will do for you.) In large bumps, the firm tip and fast rebound of the 8.5s was a minor problem for me. I had to be a little bit careful not to bend the ski into troughs that were too deep or I'd have a handful of "boing" to deal with ... more quickly than I was prepared to deal with it.
Probably for someone with a bit more mass it would have been a non-issue. Maybe some folks would even like that. Personally I like something a bit softer and damper in moguls. Interestingly, in a layer of transformed but still soft snow on a couple of steep pitches, including one called "Outer Limits" that cgeib took FairToMiddlin and me down not once but TWICE, I liked the behavior of this ski. Maybe this
is why they designed that bit of tip rocker in.
This ski at 167cm felt just right for my height and weight.
Coda: I own a similar ski with nearly identical dimensions and intended use, that I was not able to bring on the trip. My Dynastar Sultan 85 - original version with no rocker - is damper, smoother, and slower to decamber at the end of a turn. Edge grip with a comparable tune would probably go to the Blizzard. If the Blizzard didn't have the rocker, it would clearly be the better carver (though the Dynastar is not a slouch in that department). It appears to me that Dynastar decided to build some off-piste friendliness into the Sultan by making it a bit softer at the tip, a bit slower in rebound, and perhaps torsionally softer by a smidge too. Blizzard took a different route and left the Magnum Ti stiffer, kept it lively and edgy, and attempted to introduce the 3D snow capability by way of rocker instead of flex pattern. Personally I prefer the Dynastar. I just like the quieter, more forgiving feel when I'm dealing with mixed conditions, bumps, etc. It's all preference; these are both good skis.