2014 Blizzard Ski Lineup: review and overviews
Here are the 2014 Blizzard ski lineup: brought to you by dawgcatching.com. Reviews are typically a contribution of “staff and friends”, limited to people who can ski well and have been on a lot of product. Also, not on a ski company's payroll!
My personal info: 36 y/o, 155lbs, 5 foot 9, ski 30-50 days a year.
Note: only skis that we have some time on are listed here.
In order of narrow to wide:
Blizzard R-Power 7.2 FS: 113/68/97, 17m radius in 174cm. New slight early rise tip version of the old Power series. Somewhat replaces the old GSR IQ frontside carver/Masters GS board. Plenty stiff.
Dawg's Take:: a top-end ski right out of the classic Blizzard power carver mould. If anything a touch more forgiving in the tail vs. the GSR. Incredible carver, really no speed limit, but plenty forgiving at speed. Wicked confidence. Initiates quite easily for such a strong skier. Thrilling ride: I am glad that Blizzard is still making high performance frontside skis like this. Tested in 174cm
Blizzard S800 Power Suspension IQ; the successor to the much-liked Supersonic IQ, but with a longer tur 120/71/104. I need to confirm the radius, but based on the specs, it has more shape than the listed 18m TR.
Dawg's take: This is the carver for lighter guys like me. The elimination of the Power system makes the ski a bit lighter on the snow and more nimble, but mostly, just allows the ski to give more energy back. A thrilling ski! This is is a fairly pure carver, but doesn't do poorly in bumps. I skied it in the 167cm, and ordered a pair for personal use based on the demo. I like the new early rise tip: it is a little more delayed to set up the turn, but as soon as you hit the ski with edge angle, the result is a roaring across the fall line. Feels like a 14m ski in terms of how it skis. I really, really liked this ski, and could make it an everyday carver. I skied in 167cm, but would like to try a 174cm. It would add stability and take some of fun out of turn exits, though.
Magnum 8.0 CA: no changes for 2014: carbon laminate layup, flipcore construction, 122/80/108
Dawg's take: Skied this a bunch the past spring. Great spring snow model: very floaty, good in bumps. Decent to good edge hold on firmer snow. Lacking metal, it definitely prefers softer snow in general. As a carver, it is OK, but lacks the heft and confidence of the beefer TI versions. Nice in bumps, good predictable feel into the trough. Forgiving tail. After skiing it a bunch, I think it is best for less than expert skiers, unless you are really light. Even at 155lbs, I found myself overpowering it.
Magnum 8.0ti: no changes for 2014: Titanium aminate layup, flipcore construction, 122/80/108
Dawg's take: more substantial than the 8.0CA ,as one would expect. A very good carver: quicker and more lively than the 8.5ti, and has much more bite at the top of the turn than the 8.0. Stability is quite a bit higher. Energy is superb on this model; it is hard to shake at any speed. I skied it in 172 and 179: preferred the 172, as it is quite a stiff ski. It is a ski that likes to go edge to edge, rather than flat, and has a damp, smooth, muscular feel to it. Flipcore is mostly noticeable at the top of the turn (less aggressive) and tail (more energy) than a traditional ski. It is a ski that likes to be skied hard, not to cruise. In bumps, a 172cm can seem short, but it does ski well. This ski seems a touch stiffer than the 8.5ti, which is why I prefer the latter. But, with that said, if you need a frontside ripper, and are a bigger guy, the 8.0ti is a great option.
Magnum 8.5ti: no changes for 2014: Titanium aminate layup, flipcore construction, 125/83/109
Dawg's Take: as there are no changes for 2014, this is an easy ski to review. One of my personal favorites for frontside use, it is also great in not too deep new snow, and an excellent bump ski. It skis with a fluid feel, very progressive flex and release, and is easy to both rip on groomers and blast crud with. I don't think it has the power of a true frontside carver: I skied it next to the Fire Arrow 84 EDT and the Fire Arrow definitely was the superior ski in terms of hard snow grip and power. The 85ti is more of a frontside biased all-mountain ride: it will give you 85% of the FA's hard snow ability, but be much better in junky snow, as well as bumps. Flex is medium stiff, but is mitigated by the Flipcore tip and tail, allowing the ski to ski softer at those points. Energy on this ski is very good; exiting the turn, it is a breeze to load up the 8.5ti. As a bump ski specifically, this one is pretty good! Just does what you think it will do, with no surprises. The tip rocker isn't enough to mess with you: if anything, it will enhance the flex of the tip into the trough. Off-piste, this is a nimble, powerful ski, and comes into it's own. Unflappable in junk especially given the short (174cm) length. So, although this isn't the last word in true groomer race-ski performance, it has a very wide range of ability and a great choice for the narrower ½ of a 2 ski Western quiver. Even more so if the skier in question would rather find himself off-piste on most any day, yet wants something far from boring on groomed snow.
12" of high-quality semi-pack snow, 8.5ti rips it apart
Brahma: new ski for 2014, basically a shrunken Bonafide. It has the flipcore profile of the bigger freeride skis, so more tip and tail rocker. It is quite stiff, more or less the same layup as the Bonafide. Also a different flex pattern than the 8.5ti. 125/88/110, 19m radius in 180cm.
Dawg's take: you could say this is a shrunken Bonafide, and wouldn't be far off the mark at all. This is a great choice for the skier looking for the profile of the Bushwacker, but something more substantial. It rolls at speed, really with no speed limit, and is quite quick and lively on groomers, although it is lacking in real power compared to more typically profiled sub 90mm skis. For me, it was really at home in off-piste conditions, at faster speed, more wide open terrain. I found it to be very nimble yet powerful. In tight spaces, such as bumps, I preferred the Mag 8.5ti, as I also did in bumps. It is also quite stout in the tail, so I think it may be better suited to heavier, rather than lighter, skiers; I found the tail to be exactly the same as on the Bonafide, which is stiff and less than forgiving for lighter skiers such as myself. If you like the Bonafide and want something similar but narrower, this one is a no-brainer.
Making quick work of classic Mary Jane bumps on the Brahma
Bushwacker: no real changes for 2014, except for a larger 187cm length offered. Claimed weight is a good 300g lighter than the Brahma. I will weigh one if I can remember, and post the actual weight. Dimensions also 125/88/110, 19m radius in 180cm. Differences from the Brahma: no metal, basically.
Dawg's take: This ski has been around for a couple of years, but the longer length is definitely welcome. It is a better choice for me personally in bumps and tight trees: lighter, more nimble, and most importantly, more forgiving. I think upper intermediates would be wise to start here in the Blizzard lineup. If you are skiing moderate crud and learning balance off-piste, as well as bumps, this is your ski; it is easy to initiate, won't allow you to get hung up on the tail too much, and is easy to finish a turn. Has a nice flowing rhythm when turning. If you are a bigger skier, or going to be skiing fast, in more wide open spaces, look at the Brahma. I prefer the Brahma for ripping at speed, and also on gromers at speed: it has more beef, and just as importantly, great edgehold, whereas the Bushwacker's edge grip on firm snow is decent, but not the same as a metal laminate ski. Also more energy out of the Brahma. Those looking for a playful, forgiving off-piste ski, and groomer cruiser should check out the Bushwacker. Our resident bump expert said that he prefers the Bushwacker over the Brahma; the tip and tail flex were more agreeable.
Bonafide: no changes for 2014: 133/98/116, 21m radius in 180cm. Metal laminate construction.
Dawg's take: one of the most popular skis the past couple of years, the Bonafide is a solid do-everything choice. For a lighter guy like me, it leans toward a GS feel all over the mountain: no speed limit, can rip anything, totally confident. Great at speed in crud: and excellent float in new snow: although having a wider ski might be nice, you can ski any depth of snow on this bad boy. It is a typical Austrian feel: heavy, damp, muscular. Turn entry and exit are quite easy. It is a solid groomer ski as well: very damp and stable, quite grippy, although it lacks the energy and groomer fun of something like a 98mm Hell n' Back. Feels more high speed cruiser than snappy wide stance carver. I get pushed around on this ski in bumps: the flex is pretty overpowering here, so I like to keep it as a more wide-open ski. Bigger guys will like it everywhere, provided the feel is what you are looking for. It is best at speed to really open it up; one of those skis that isn't a putterer, and definitely one of the most powerful and reliable big-mountain skis on the hill.
Deep snow on the Bonafide
Kabookie: similar to Bonafide, but w/o metal. Weight on my scale was 120g less for the pair. Blizzard markets this as “free mountain lite” which is a great description. A free mountain ski for us lighter skiers! 133/98/116, 21m radius in 180cm
Dawg's Take: this is perhaps my favorite ski in the entire Blizzard lineup. Not as burly as the Bonafide, certainly not quite as good at high speeds in rough snow, but a real performer in mixed snow conditions and in softer bumps. It feels more at home as a jack of all-trades under my feet, perhaps only exceptional in soft snow tree skiing, but more nimble than it's big brother, more forgiving, and easier to handle as an everyday, do-everything ski. I really like this in soft snow conditions: boy, if you know how to ski it, to get long and short, use your feet; this ski will arc around trees like a slalom carver. In soft bumps, it simply drops you from one bump to the next; super forgiving, and super fun: the tail has a sweet flex and release here. Float for me is a bit better than the Bonafide in softer snow, due to the softer tip, no doubt. In bumps, it is one of the best wider skis. There is a bit of a trade-off at really high speeds: it doesn't blast crud or smooth out terrain imperfections as well as the Bonafide, and doesn't have the groomer grip of the Bonafide, but I don't buy 98mm skis for groomer performance. I would rather be on the Bonafide above the treeline, skiing really fast, and rather on the Kabookie in the trees and in places where I have to turn on a dime. A superb choice for those skiers like me, who want a ski that is relatively powerful, but not overbearing, and tend to like many skis that are high end models but without tons of metal. This is in contrast to those skiers who say “I won't ski a ski w/o metal”; those skiers won't be happy with this ski; it is decidedly medium flex.
The surfing Kabookie in new snow
Peacemaker: new ski for 2014, marketed as a Free Mountain Twin. 134/104/124, 23m radius in 186cm. No metal, more tip and tail rise than the Free Mountain or FM Lite lineups.
Dawg's take: This is a really nice change of pace for Blizzard. A fun, loose, playful ski that still has solid stability. It can get a little loose at really high speeds, but if you live for turning, and bouncing from turn to turn (like the Kabookie tends to feel) then check it out. Very floaty, tends to do better in soft snow off-piste. Very confident on-edge in both off-piste conditions and on groomers: skis short, so size accordingly. I was on the 186cm, and wouldn't want a shorter ski for off-piste and skiing fast. Very playful. I don't ride switch or ski anything that would require a twin, so I am not the best reviewer from that standpoint, but as far as a big-mountain, playful over muscle ski, it is very good. I didn't get it into truly deep snow, just a few inches of crud, but it is capable, and I bet it rocks in deeper snow as well. Compared to the Cochise, it feels less “wide big mountain” and more “playful and deeper snow ski”.
Low Angle fast crud skiing on the Peacemaker
Cochise: unchanged for 2014: 134/108/123 in 185cm, 28.5m radius, 2 sheets of metal.
Dawg's take: plenty has been written about this ski, I have reviewed it extensively here and elsewhere, so it is tough to expand on what this ski is, I will instead more relate it to the others in Blizzard's growing lineup.
With that in mind, I place the Cochise squarely in the “big-mountain do-everything, top level freeride ski” category. This ski is unshakable at speed, rips rough snow, can handle bumps pretty well, is solid on groomers for a big ski, and has wicked edge grip. Best at speed, under relatively skilled feet. Alternately, it does well under old folks who can skid it around easily/heel push and ski it statically: I am sure this is a big reason for its overall popularity. Assuming you are a good skier though, is the ski to have your feet if you are going to be lapping up the off-piste vert all day, and have room to let it run. It isn't Blizzard's best pow ski: I leave that to the Peacemaker and Gunsmoke; both of which are softer, and have more tip and tail rocker (and thus float). The Cochise, while it can hold it's own in pow, isn't a powder ski in the typical sense. It is an all-day soft snow resort ski for stronger skiers, and does the job admirably. It is also amped up a bit compared to the Scout: if the level of this ski is a 9-10, the Scout is an 8.5 to 9.5, but with more forgiving flex and a better tight space ski w/more energy. Really, those 2 could be close to interchangeable; which you prefer would likely come to down to ski feel preference and skier size. If you are looking for a big-mountain gorilla that can tackle anything and has no top end, but is as forgiving as anything if this performance caliber, you should check out the Cochise.
Big Snow Day on the Cochise
Scout: same profile as the Cochise, but with less metal. It definitely has metal underfoot (drilling it for bindings makes that obvious) and perhaps one sheet tip to tail? Not a huge weight savings over the Cochise, but a bit lighter in flex and more suitable to many skiers. 134/108/123 in 185cm, 28.5m radius, 2 sheets of metal.
Dawg's take: this is a great ski that nobody is talking about. Shame! It is a bit softer, bit friendlier version of the Cochise: perfect for guys like me who don't mind a bit softer ski. It is also perfect for those seeking a bit floatier, bit more playful version of the Cochise. Overall, it is very similar; the main difference for me come with a bit softer tip and tail (seems a bit floatier overall) and some added quickness in terms of tip engagement. A very surfy ski, with no speed limit, not in a 185cm at least. Great in wind-pack and dense crud, the conditions we often see at Bachelor. It is still a lot of ski in this length, just a bit more forgiving in the tail and playful when you are bouncing from one turn to the next. Still at home at speed: one of the strongest skis in this segment; the snow feels is more typical of a carbon-laminate ski like a Nordica, vs a titanium laminate ski such as the Cochise. One of my favorite off-piste, soft snow skis. Designed as a backcountry, descent oriented board, it probably is going to be as strong as anything on the market designated as such. Not sure why it hasn't gained much traction; it deserves to be in the conversation for a soft-snow oriented big mountain ski.
The Scout in action on Mary Jane
The Scout making quick work of a deep snow day
Bodacious; no changes for 2014: 140/118/130, 32m radius in 186cm. Very stiff, 2 sheets of metal with flipcore construction.
Dawg's take: This is a pretty strong ski, to say the least. I don't know too many people who can really push it hard enough to bring it alive. I have skied it in 186cm only, and it is ridiculously stable for such a big ski, but can feel a bit tank-like in tight spaces. Seems like you need the pitch, the speed, and the room to let it run in order for the Bodacious to be in it's element. Once at speed, there is nothing more sublime than a 50mph+ run down some steep, surfy snow pitch on this ski (we only have 1 pitch like that at Bachelor, bummer). It really needs some room though. Perhaps bigger guys would be more at home than I on this ski; it really won't flex under my weight. The same skiing characteristics that apply to the other Blizzard Flipcore skis also apply here; great tracking up front without a diving tip, very precise on edge, powerful release, stable and muscular.
Edited by dawgcatching - 1/8/14 at 8:27pm