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2015 Skis: Quick Reviews and Overviews: Frontside models from Blizzard, Stockli, Head, Fischer

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

2015 Ski reviews from the SIA show at Copper Basin

 

About me: 5 foot 9, 155lbs.  I am a little rusty this year, 22 hours on the snow prior to this show (blame poor weather at my home hill). In a normal year, I probably get maybe 30 days on the hill, around 100-125 hours of skiing, as many of my days are on lunch breaks for 2 hours at a time.  Still, I am a strong skier, and tend to ski off-piste, bumps, crud, trees, and also groomers when they are good.  I like skis that give me edge engagement early if I ask for it, are progressive in flex (can be bent up when given edge angle, aren’t so stiff that I am just skiing the sidecut, or so soft that they fold), and a tail that finishes the turn so that I can move into the next turn on balance.   

 

Conditions: mostly softer snow, softer bumps, some crud.  It had snowed a couple of feet a few days prior, so overall conditions were soft yet skied out. 

 

General demo impressions: have ski designs hit a wall?  It certainly seems that way.  Skis are changing a bit from year to year, but I am not convinced they are necessarily getting better.  Sure, here and there, things are improving, but elsewhere, some older designs (see the MX series, which has been only sightly modified since 2008) still is at the top of the heap.  Some brands took a step backwards, or at least changed their focus from high performance to more relaxing.  Then again, there is a ski that comes out of nowhere (the Blizzard Power 800s) and absolutely rips.  The Kastle FX is a ski that is “traditional” and outperforms most other skis off-piste.  A ski with a fairly neutral design (the Fischer Ranger 88) skis really well, but there is nothing revolutionary about the design; just a great package that works.  It’s technology could be circa 2009.  Other designs (the Bushwacker) are headed into their 4th year: the Cochise is reverting back to the original 1st gen design.  When looking at skis, we see a lot of early rise, some very minimal early rise, or no early rise, but a softer tip that functions the same way.  Some skis have taper at the tip, some have taper at the tail, some have early rise tail, some have flat tails.  Flex is all across the board.  

 

I do wonder if ski designs are at a point where they can be changed (for change’s sake) but that the improvements year over year have plateaued.  

 

The nice thing is that I can compare all new skis to the MX88, which really hasn’t changed over the years.  It gives me a nice baseline.  

 

 

By category:

 

Frontside-groomer.  Conditions were actually pretty good for these types of skis.  Runs were cut up, varying between soft snow crud piles and firm manmade setup snow underneath. 

 

Head i-Magnum 170cm: no real changes for 2014: ERA 3.0 sidecut, KERS system. 

 

Quick review: only 1 run spent on this ski: feels again like a typical Head.  Classic Monster IM series feel; damp, smooth, powerful, no surprises.  It is a quick turner, wants to rip of slalom radius arcs, but without the slalom ski finishing kick, which makes it a great cruiser as well, also a great ski for doing drills and working on skills. Bumps: quite easy, tip is pliable, fun ski there. It didn’t have quite the edge bite of the more specialized carving machines: this is more of a narrow all-mountain tool than a pure carver.  Loading it on firm snow, it didn’t quite bite as early, nor did the Magnum hold on that scrubbed off snow quite as well as the specialist skis. It was more than adequate though, and in choppy snows, excelled with it’s blend of more mellow tip and tail.  There wasn’t any sort of hooky characteristics on the Magnum: true to it’s roots as a narrower frontside ride, it handled variable snow well.  A great choice for those wanting a versatile frontside ski; the epitome of a good teaching ski, that can do most anything you ask of it, at most any speed. 

 

Who would buy this ski: skier who wants versatile frontside performance, good carving ability, and a wide speed as well as performance range.  

 

Head i-Speed 177cm; 

 

no real changes for 2014: ERA 3.0 sidecut, KERS system.  It is grippy, smooth, powerful: feels damp and SOLID, just like most any high performance Head laminate titanium ski.  No surprises.  

 

I liked the grip on this one, out of all the Supershapes, the best.  Likewise, stability is really high. It has a quick feel, tight radius, easy to engage tip, but feels super solid once on edge.  Moderate power out of the turn.  No real top end, although it wasn’t quite as stable as the Blizzard or Stockli tested here.  Easy to ski: like the Magnum and also Progressor, could be handled by a wide range of skiers.  Nice release, very powerful yet refined.

 

Who would buy this ski: a frontside skier looking for something a bit more slower speed friendly and tighter radius than the 800s. 

 

Blizzard Power 800s 174cm

 

72mm underfoot, slight early rise tip, 2 sheets of metal.  NOT flip core, very traditional construction, softer than the SLR and GSR IQ (I have owned both). Lighter and as responsive as the Supersonic, but has GSR-like stability.  18m dual radius. 

 

Quick review: a very, very impressive ski.  I also own a pair, and am constantly impressed with the best-in-class stability yet nimble feel of this ski.  It feels more like a 15m radius on the snow.  Super quick, a great ski for drills, or going REALLY fast.  Not many skis can boast that.  Flex is moderate: not overbearing like some metal laminate Blizzard skis, easy to bend if you know what you are doing, easy to generate power, easy to arc in slalom turns as well as big GS.  Not a park and ride ski: needs skills to come alive, but a great tool for building those release and feet movement skills.  It is basically a G-power without the IQ reinforcement, and as a result, lacks a touch of it’s power and stability, but is easier at slow speeds, more versatile, still a great hard snow ski.  Still crazy stable: smooth for a Blizzard, which can be a bit unyielding on their other skis.  EASY to ski though for such a big stick.  I think for most people, it is a better choice than the G-Power; it can ski slower, it isn’t as demanding, with very little shaved off the top. Compared to others in it’s class, it is a superb choice. The RX12 matches it, is even more versatile but not quite as laterally stiff, but feels very different on the snow. 

 

Who would buy this ski: a technical skier wanting a versatile turn radius, great stability, and surprising forgiveness out of a carver. 

 

Blizzard G-power 174cm

 

75mm underfoot, variable radius (stated is 18m, actual is more like 15-16m), very slight early rise tip.  Laterally stiff, similar layup to the Power 800s, but with an added carbon bonded section to stiffen the ski underfoot. 

 

Quick review: a downright thrilling ski.  If the Laser GS is a Maserati Quattroporte, a refined high speed power ski, the G-power is a Ferrari 451 Italia.  More demanding, but ever more rewarding.  This thing was ridiculous in stability for “only” a 174cm. Super quick, has no equal in power.  Edge grip was off the charts for a 75mm waist ski: I hit some “blue snow” underneath the new stuff (scraped off mid-day groomers) and the ski would just hook up and sling me.  I had to ski it well: that means no park and ride!  Get into the belly of the turn, relax (or pull your knees up), pull your feet back, move down the hill with your COM, get tipping that inside foot early.  Otherwise, the ski is plunky and unresponsive, feels like a long radius ski.  If you ski it actively, you can arc out tight turns with incredible power.   If you can’t make those moves though, look at a different ski, but if you can, this may be your ride.  FWIW, I spent 3 groomer runs on it, loved every second, but it was a lot of ski, even skiing it cleanly.  I was kind of happy to move on (it was a bit tiring ski), but this is a ski I would not hesitate to own, as long as I was skiing on top of my game.  

 

Who would buy this ski: a skilled skier looking for a supremely stable and powerful GS cheater carver.  Not for the timid or less skilled. 

 

 

 

Stockli Laser GS (non FiS) 180cm

 

I don’t think this ski has changed much from previous years.  Skied in 180cm: 18m radius, fairly stiff flex.  

 

Quick review: did 2 laps: a series of steep bumps, the rest groomers. The ski was surprisingly nimble in the bumps!  I followed a friend down a steep bump line (he is an excellent bump skier, grew up in the East) and stayed with him the whole time. The key on this ski is dorsi-flexion and pushing those tips down.  Once in the trough, it has a predictable flex and is easy to release.  You can’t be timid though, gotta keep the torso fall line and commit.  On groomers, it is what one would expect.  No speed limit, awesome edge hold.  It was also easy to ski, much easier than one would expect, easier than the G-Power in a shorter length.  More of a high speed cruiser than a pure race carver.  With that said, commit to the turn (a recurring theme of this ski) and watch it hurtle you across the fall line once you set those edge and load the ski.  A boat load of fun.  Not tiring whatsoever.  Easy to get your ticket pulled. 

 

Who would buy this ski: skier looking for a ripping frontside ride that is a good Master’s GS ride but also a capable freeski.  

 

Fischer Progressor 900 170cm 

 

This was the first ski I got on that was on the narrower frontside size.  I have owned the 10+, the 9+, and the 900 in the past. This pair is wider, at 75mm underfoot, features a new early-rise tip, 2 sheets of metal, but is softer than previous versions, which was close to the WC RC in flex. This ski is 15% softer, I would think, based on both flexing it on the wall and on the snow. 

 

Quick review: I had a solid 4 runs on this; 2 backside steep bump runs, and 2 groomer runs.  Quickness and agility have definitely increased on this ski; it gets onto and off edge quickly.  With the softer flex and easy to bend tip, it has more of a slalom characteristic than the previous generation, making it more approachable and snappier.  Characteristic damp and solid Fischer feel.  It has, however, lost a bit of top-end power.  Bump performance was very good: the tip handles the extension well, the tail is not too aggressive.  Edge hold was what one would expect: not overpowering, but solid.  I found the ski to be very fun, but at really high speeds in GS arcs, not burly enough. It felt like a hybrid of the old Progressor 8+ and 9+, but with a modern design.  If you aren’t skiing warp speed, the 170cm length is a good choice for someone my size.  For GS turns, get the 175cm.  This is a more approachable ski than the old, super stiff 9+. 

 

Who would buy this ski?  Someone looking for a fairly versatile, quick and snappy frontside ride that also is decent in bumps. 

Full selection of 2015 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

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post #2 of 12

Dawg,

 

How would you compare the Laser GS (non FIS) to the SX? Do you feel it's as versatile and can vary turn shapes as well?

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteNitro1 View Post
 

Dawg,

 

How would you compare the Laser GS (non FIS) to the SX? Do you feel it's as versatile and can vary turn shapes as well?

 

I don't think it is as turny, but it can do a wide variety of shapes.  No doubt, it is versatile for what it is.  I loved it.  But I wouldn't call it a pure carver, more of a softer GS feel that can handle a wide variety of turn shapes. 

Full selection of 2015 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

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post #4 of 12

Dawg,

 

Thanks for the help. I'm in the market for a cheater GS ski and the SX is on my shortlist. My local dealer doesn't have the SX in stock but has a laser GS in 180. Was thinking the GS in 180 might work in place of the 178 SX. (FYI....I'm 6'3" 220#). I'm looking for my cheater GS to be able to make shorter turns on steeps and (rarely) in bumps. I was impressed by your comment that the GS was surprisingly nimble in bumps (for a GS I'm sure). It sounds like the GS would be workable enough on the occasions I need to make quicker turns but the SX is more suited for what I'm going to be asking of the ski. Leaning towards holding out for the SX. Your one of the few people I've found that has skied both skis, so let me know if you think I'm off track.

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteNitro1 View Post
 

Dawg,

 

Thanks for the help. I'm in the market for a cheater GS ski and the SX is on my shortlist. My local dealer doesn't have the SX in stock but has a laser GS in 180. Was thinking the GS in 180 might work in place of the 178 SX. (FYI....I'm 6'3" 220#). I'm looking for my cheater GS to be able to make shorter turns on steeps and (rarely) in bumps. I was impressed by your comment that the GS was surprisingly nimble in bumps (for a GS I'm sure). It sounds like the GS would be workable enough on the occasions I need to make quicker turns but the SX is more suited for what I'm going to be asking of the ski. Leaning towards holding out for the SX. Your one of the few people I've found that has skied both skis, so let me know if you think I'm off track.


They are pretty similar. I have owned the SX in 170cm.  No speed limit on that ski, GS character.  Great ski.  But slightly more turny than the 18m GS.  Not really that much difference between the 2 I would say.  The 170cm SX may be similar in flex to the 180cm GS; being a similar layup and slightly wider.  Honestly, after skiing both, I don't know which I would choose.  Maybe the GS, I like the longer length, and then get a Laser CX for my carver? 

Full selection of 2015 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

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post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
 


They are pretty similar. I have owned the SX in 170cm.  No speed limit on that ski, GS character.  Great ski.  But slightly more turny than the 18m GS.  Not really that much difference between the 2 I would say.  The 170cm SX may be similar in flex to the 180cm GS; being a similar layup and slightly wider.  Honestly, after skiing both, I don't know which I would choose.  Maybe the GS, I like the longer length, and then get a Laser CX for my carver? 

 

Splitting hairs I guess. The 178 SX is only 1m shorter radius than the 180 GS and I'm guessing they're similar stiffness/flex? Have to ask, though: why would you not consider either of these skis a "carver," but you would the CX? Is your definition of carver a short turn radius?

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteNitro1 View Post
 

 

Splitting hairs I guess. The 178 SX is only 1m shorter radius than the 180 GS and I'm guessing they're similar stiffness/flex? Have to ask, though: why would you not consider either of these skis a "carver," but you would the CX? Is your definition of carver a short turn radius?


Carver in my mind being more of a slalom feel, but that is just me.  I always thing of a GS ski being more of a GS ski, carver is more like a closer to slalom, snappy feel, comes across the fall line pretty quick. 

Full selection of 2015 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

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post #8 of 12

Have you been on the Laser CX?  It has the most shape of Stockli's carvers; only their slaloms have a tighter radius.

 

Also, I noticed the 2012 SC has an uneven flex balance -- stiffer tail, softer tip.  Would you happen to know how the CX or SX are in that regard?

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chemist View Post
 

Have you been on the Laser CX?  It has the most shape of Stockli's carvers; only their slaloms have a tighter radius.

 

Also, I noticed the 2012 SC has an uneven flex balance -- stiffer tail, softer tip.  Would you happen to know how the CX or SX are in that regard?

 

Yeah, considering ordering a pair of CX's actually. I loved that ski.  Not super tight turn radius, but energy in spades. The CX is a little stiffer tail than the tip: the SX stiffer throughout, feels more like a tight GS.  The CX just pulls you through the turn in a hurry, the SX more deliberate.  Been awhile since I have been on the SC, but I liked it! 

Full selection of 2015 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

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post #10 of 12

When I hand flex the SX (2015) before demoing it, I was surprised by how supple the tip was... But it is really just the first part  of the tip that is so supple because when you flex it holding the ski more near the binding, it is much stiffer... And the tail is definitly stiffer than the rest of the ski...  When I tried the SX, I realised that the flexible tip allow you to vary easily your turns and to make the ski easy to ski in crud or 3-d snow... One thing that amazed me is that it allowed all that but at the same time, the edge grip in icy conditions was amazing! 

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

I was on the Blizzard Power 800s again today. I re-ground them flat (they came a bit railed out of the wrapper) with a .75/2.  Talk about $$$$$.  Simply a superb ski.  Maybe the best carver I have yet tried.  Just the perfect blend of top of the turn, not to edgy, till you set up the turn, counter, angulate, and them bam.  Superb edge grip.  Such a nice predictable release too.  And the turn radius, at what feels like 15m, in 174cm, is just money for really any type of turn.  As  much as I like all of the skis in this test, I really feel the 800s is the best of the bunch. That is probably because Blizzard took a little off this ski; it is just a touch softer tip and tail (stiffer than a Rally, much stiffer laterally).  Durn the release, when I am flexing to down-unweight, I can really get those tails pulled backward and turn on the tip, generating some rapid-fire direction changes during the transition.  Some skis are too stiff for this move, you have to be so committed. On the 800s, they are supple enough at the tip, that little move is easy, it allows me to set up and get down the fall line quickly to really get balanced for the opposing forces about to build.  

 

It is crazy they never brought this into the states in normal numbers.  

Full selection of 2015 skis available right now from Dawgcatching.com.  PM for current deals and discount codes: save up to 25% on mid-season deals. 

Reply
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
 

I was on the Blizzard Power 800s again today. I re-ground them flat (they came a bit railed out of the wrapper) with a .75/2.  Talk about $$$$$.  Simply a superb ski.  Maybe the best carver I have yet tried.  Just the perfect blend of top of the turn, not to edgy, till you set up the turn, counter, angulate, and them bam.  Superb edge grip.  Such a nice predictable release too.  And the turn radius, at what feels like 15m, in 174cm, is just money for really any type of turn.  As  much as I like all of the skis in this test, I really feel the 800s is the best of the bunch. That is probably because Blizzard took a little off this ski; it is just a touch softer tip and tail (stiffer than a Rally, much stiffer laterally).  Durn the release, when I am flexing to down-unweight, I can really get those tails pulled backward and turn on the tip, generating some rapid-fire direction changes during the transition.  Some skis are too stiff for this move, you have to be so committed. On the 800s, they are supple enough at the tip, that little move is easy, it allows me to set up and get down the fall line quickly to really get balanced for the opposing forces about to build.  

 

It is crazy they never brought this into the states in normal numbers.  

All you say for the 800 is exactly what I would say for the R-Power! I must say that I'm amazed by Blizzard capacity to build so nice skis in the last couple of years... I usually will like 1 or 2 skis from one mark, or one part of the collection, but with Blizzard, I really like a lot of their skis! R-Power, G-Power, Brahma,and some older ones:M-Power, Magnum 8.5 ti,...

 

BTW, to my knowledge, Blizzard is the only company to have had the courage to go against the trend by ceasing to produce high-end piste or race skis with tip rocker

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