Blizzard Carver: Power 800s IQ long-term review
Ski length 174cm
Ski: Blizzard Power 800s, 2013-2014-2015 model (No changes, including color, for upcoming season)
Binding: Blizzard IQ suspension system (non Power Carbon model), DIN 12 Griffon-style binding
Skier: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, 60+ hours on the hill this year. See video for technical style
Terrain for review: everything; early season crust and ice, softer groomers and weird bumps as seen in the video.
About the ski: the Power 800s is a 2-layer titanium layup, similar somewhat in flex to the superb Magnum 8.5ti. It has a tiny bit of rocker at the tip; not much, just enough to enhance quickness, but not detract from initiation. The ski is NOT as stiff as the R-Power or G-power or 810xTI: those skis are pretty burly and can feel like more work than fun; the 800s is a tad bit softer, in the mold of an Elan SLX Waveflex. Radius is listed at 18m.
I have been on this ski all season; it has been my main groomer ride, along with the Elan Waveflex SLX in 170cm. The Power 800s is overlooked for some reason, super hard to find, but we got ours pre-season, and I grabbed the 174cm for myself after being tired of fighting my all-mountain skis on icy groomers, which we were skiing through January.
First thought of this ski: it doesn't feel like the typical Blizzard frontside carver. They have a repuation as burly skis: from the old M-Power 8.7 and GSR IQ, through the current G-power, 810 xTI, and R-power. Those skis are all burly: for me, they either feel like they need a 225lb skilled skier to get the most of out of them, or they work well for park and ride skiers. For guys like me trying to work a ski and improve my skills, not the best choice. The 800s is different: there is something just right about the flex. It flexes at the tip and responds to moderate feet and hip movements, just like a good race carver should. Comparing it to my SLX Fusion 170, it is quite similar in flex, if not sidecut. Great for me: the Elans have always been stellar in the flex department for lighter but aggressive skiers.
This ski has very subtle “rocker” at the tip (printed on the topsheet as well, in case you forgot). I don't know if it is a plus or minus: when skiing the ski, is isn't apparent that the tip is curved upwards a couple of mm. The tip feels dynamic and powerful, ready to do the skier's bidding. Tip it, pull the feet back, pressure the top of the turn, and you will soon be rocketing across the fall line. There is not a hint of vague initiation here. Wow. Super powerful, yet not bulky or wanting to make me work too hard. Once in the turn, grip is excellent. It is also subtle in how it engages: many Blizzards can be very on/off, either locked in or skidding. Not so on the 800s: it progressively gets grippier when you add edge angle, which is another hallmark of a great ski, and not so easy to do.
The Power 800s feels more like a 15m ski than the printed 18m. It is quick: not slalom quick, wanting to constantly turn, but it has much more life than a typical GS carver. For a do-everything carver, a good comparison could be made to the Stockli SX, or the Kastle RX12, both of which feel similar in TR. It is capable of slalom turns, especially if you get your feet working and are aggressive with the down-unweighting.
The power on the tail of this ski is outstanding, but manageable. Many times, upon turn exit, I feel myself weightless as I float off of the snow for an inch or 2, while I tip my toes forward and get the ski bending again for the start of the next turn. The energy level is more slalom than GS, but the TR as noted above is not quite slalom. Nice mix of feeling.
Stability: this ski really shines here. Despite the rise/rocker at the tip, it feels every bit as stable as a 174cm frontside carver should. It matches the stability of the old 174cm GSR IQ, the 170cm Stockli SX, and slightly exceeds that of the RX12 in 168. There is really no “top end” on this ski, short of running it flat down the fall line. Insane stability in big turns. It easily outruns the SLX 170cm Fusion, which is very stable in it's own right.
Off-piste, it is pretty manageable, but not superb. I skied it through some funky big bumps (see video) without issues, but the 800s was far from ideal here. In crud, it is likewise OK, pretty stiff, moves through crud well. In heavier snow, it can feel stiff and have a tendancy to dive a bit. If I was on it on a new snow day, definitely it would be easy to have a good time, but it wouldn't be my first choice. It actually felt like a narrower Magnum 8.5ti off-piste, easy to turn, not punishing, but could use more float. A little too powerful for skiing tight trees.
Overall, I couldn't be more impressed with this ski. It is everything I want out of a frontside ride. Power, stability, fun factor, ease of use, capable of various turn shapes, great flex that suits my skiing style. There is no shortage of grip on icy snow. Some skis are just a lot of fun to ski, moreso than others which can be more work than fun. The Power 800s is a ski that allows me to look forward to skiing groomers; it is hard to get that buildup of G forces anywhere else on the mountain. Highly recommended.