up to date review of the blizzard titan xxl (last year's)Hey, i work(ed) as a full time ski tech at last frontier heliskiing for the past five years. In those five years i've had the chance to demo the following boards. Volkl- explosive (180), vertigo cmh edition (180). Rossignol - xxx bandits circa 2000 (188), B3 (184). Volant old chubb (180/190), new chubb v2 genisis (186?). Atomic helistar (180), Beta REX (191). I weigh about 178 pounds, stick my feet into the garmont mega rides with a customized raichle tongue and bomber alpine version of the intuition liners...stiffens up the boots dramatically. I am a finesse skier. I live and ski primarily in northwestern british columbia where conditions range from bone dry baby's breath to epic storms of coastal cementons with everything in between and on top and underneath. Put it succinctly, very variable conditions. Perfect for allround testing of boards. My previous personal ski was the atomic rex 191. They lasted only a season before being relagated to expensive wall dressings. Their shortcomings: Too stif for touring boots. don't float in upside down powder. don't float in deep coastal cement. tips wander in denser new snow. tips deflect in windcrust. Tips nervous in raincrust. when skinning, low profile tips will catch on crust and frozen crowns, etc... , when skinning the stiffness of the ski combined with the relatively narrow dimensions usually submerge tips under crust. Get bounced around in moguls, rather than absorb the terrain undulations and features.
Pros: Carve like banshees inbounds. They're light on the feet for skinning uphill in perfect conditions.
I purchased some Blizzard titan xxl's 188cm's last spring, took em out on a few summer ski days, and wondered if i had made the right choice. on the firm firn snow i found that they overturned, felt overly damp and washed out the tails.....
I'm glad i was openminded and optimistic about real world winter condition performance. Quite simply, they're the best all round backcountry/ inbounds soft snow performance board i've ever skied. In ALL natural snow conditions they failed to fail in any situation. DEEP cementons-nice big shovel and moderate/soft flex provides great float. a bit of a turned up tail and just a hair less stiffness in the rear turns these babies into wicked floaters. In less than ideal snow like breakable rain, wind, temperature, anything crust, these boards just eat it up. They give consistent predicatable return of energy and always maintain directional stability without any tendency to twitch or get nervous. I always found that stiffer boards tend to deflect when not driven with stiff boots, and softer skis with any appreciable sidecut feel 'hooky'. Not so with the titans.
Nice terrain absorbtion and damp feel without feeling dead. If you load em up they will return the energy. As for prefered turn shape, they do favour midradius turns over really short swings, though it steep terrain in the trees, and deep snow, the ample sidecut really shines in helping bring the boards around and i never felt like i was overly working the ski to get em around. In groomed soft snow conditions, these puppies carve nicely when driven with a smooth intention. On hard snow, they skid predictively and given their damp nature, do it very smoothly. With sharpened edges (i usually keep mine untuned for the backcountry) their performance envelope expands and i found i could carve if i was careful with my edging.
The only conditions i haven't tried em in are firm bump runs, but given their dimensions, this would be out of their optimal condition range anyway.
It's really hard to adequately describe the feeling of confidence these skis impart, it's an intangible....kinda like driving a porsche...just a really ego boosting ride that truly does step up your skiing, like i read in someone elses post. I just hope Blizzard hasn't messed up a perfectly good product by putting more metal in it and wrecking a nicely balanced flex with the 2005/6 model...i guess time will tell.