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Review of Blizzard Supersonic, 8.1, 8.7; Head iM78; Nordica Mach 3

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Me: 6 ft, 162 lbs, advanced, middle aged, like to turn/rec race back east and do backside out west, moving more toward AT.

Relevant skis I like/own: Head SS, WC1200SW/iSpeed, iM88, Mojo 90; Rossignol WC 9S, Rosignol 9S VS, Blizzard Cronus.

Location: Waterville Valley, NH; using my Head SS with 1/3 recently tuned.

Conditions: Challenging. -3 to +8 degrees, 10-20 mph wind, clear. Rain for two days prior, then 40 degree temp drop, so refrozen crud, death cookies, coarse granular man made over sheet ice, some fresh snow gun “powder.” Gotta love New England.

Skis in order of testing:

Blizzzard G-Force Supersonic (174) – First demo of the day, so best tune. These felt something like Fischers with a softer rear and stiffer front, more metallic sound. Near race-ski like grip, but easier to initiate and less pop out of the turn. Light, surprisingly quick edge to edge for a 72 mm, lot of snow feel, but still planted and fairly smooth. No tip deflection in stiff small chop/irregular granular. Handled 4-6 inches of fresh snow gun drift smoothly, with the tips up, and danced through undulations and forming bumps.

Conclusions: I kept running out of mountain. No negatives as long as you like snow feel and light handling. Maybe not for a linebacker turned expert skier. These and Contact 4x4’s would head my list for a western groomer zoomer that could handle light chop and powder.

Blizzard Magnum 8.1 (172) – So-so tune, otherwise surprisingly similar handling to the Supersonics. Very quick or a mid-fat, easy to initiate, but nice progressive flex and no surprises anywhere in the turn. Oddly, didn’t float quite as effortlessly as the Supersonic in the snow gun goop. Somewhat damper than the Supersonics or 8.7’s (see below), realized that titanium alloy actually does feel different than magnesium/alu alloy. Despite others’ comments, did not find this anything like a AC4/40; lighter, not as stiff, more snow feel, (potentially) better grip, much easier to initiate.

Conclusions: Really nice mid-fat, no serious negatives, but unclear what niche it fills. (But then I have that problem with all skis between 75 and 85 mm). Perhaps as the front sider in a two ski quiver at a place like Aspen or Telluride.

Blizzard Magnum 8.7 (174) – These were sitting freshly tuned and unloved because of the conditions. I thought, what the hell, took them out. Revelation! As grippy as a race carver, feel big and wide but ski narrow and small. Light, with Fischer like snowfeel, but secure steering. Not nearly as quick edge to edge or as damp as the 8.1’s (or my 173 Cronus’s), noticeable stiffer than either through the body, same easy tip and smooth, lower energy tail release, which I take to be Blizzard’s new trick, borrowed from Stockli. Easy to pivot or feather the tail. Unlike another reviewer's experience, did not find these snowploughs or chattery. They glided tips up through drifts of snow gun goop over refrozen crud without missing a beat, railed big fast arcs on rough ice, even pivoted effortlessly through small frozen bumps with granular frosting. Had the same hollow metallic sound as the Supersonics, assume it’s the magnesium. 3/4 as rock solid as my iM88’s, not as happy straightlining, bit grippier, more usable at lower speeds or tight places.

Conclusions: Even more impressive than the reviews indicate for decent skiers who (actually) ski the whole mountain, not just wait for backside powder. No real negatives; you have to like lots of snow feel and accept that weird hollow metallic sound. I’d buy these in a heartbeat if I could figure out a way to rationalize it. Next season, they may end up replacing both my iM88’s and Cronus’s, which is saying something.

Head iM78 (171) – Took these out with high expectations, having liked the 77’s, and otherwise big fan of Heads. So-so tune and so never felt comfortable in these conditions. Very easy initiation, secure in belly of turn, a touch loose at end. Not particularly happy running fast in these conditions, asked for a lot of forward pressure to keep the front from wandering. Excellent in the few bumps I could find, easy to pivot or feather. These would be fun in tight places. Surprisingly, not that fine in the snow gun goop over frozen chop; wanted to plough instead of float, and got knocked around a bit.

Conclusions: If I demoed this again, I’d look for the 177. In general would be a fine intermediate through advanced one ski quiver for out west if you kept the edges tuned and slapped a plate on it. Again, not sure what niche it fills, but probably a better one-ski quiver than the 8.1.

Nordica Mach 3 (170) – Tried these last year in the next size up, not impressed. Decided that was too long, so here I go again. Glad I did. A heavy ski that skis light; smooth and easy to initiate, but secure in the belly of the turn. Fun and forgiving in the forming bumps and the snow gun goop. Some tip deflection in rougher stiffer snow, and definitely a speed limit on the ice. Would like this even more out on the frontside out west.

Conclusions: Nordies are growing on me. They remind me of a what Rossi’s should have become; a versatile, accepting ski that doesn’t rule any one area but takes care of everything exceptionally well, and without hoopla.
post #2 of 6
I would throw out a couple of suggestions at you:

The Mach 3 Power will be more suitable for you, considering the other skis you own and that you are aggressive. The new Mach 3 Power is slightly softened from year's past (something to do with the binding interface) and it makes it access-able for any good skier, not just big dudes. I loved it last year on groomers: as good, if not better than the 4x4 on pure hard snow (not as versatile though).

The second suggestion (which you already picked up on) is the iM78's best length for you is 177cm. 171 is a little short: I used to love that length, but am finding for skiing in cruddy conditions, the 177 is nearly as easy to ski and much more stable. It compares well to the Magnum 8.7 in 174 length-wise, but the 171 iM78 is considerably shorter in terms of how it feels.

I am still thinking of getting a Supersonic IQ for frontside use, but having never skied makes me a little nervous. And, it doesn't seem to be as much ski as the Dynastar 4x4 judging from reviews, which is a downside. I like race-ski power from a carver, and "easygoing" may not be what I am looking for.
post #3 of 6
Beyond,

I think I suggested the 177 iM78 for you to demo, as it comes favorably to the 174 8.7 Magnum up to a point, but is not as powerful, or doesn't have as high a speed limit...
The 171 iM78 doesn't have the beef of the 177...

The Head is a little more forgiving and doesn't require as much attention, but the 8.7 Magnum is by no means a difficult ski to enjoy...

Check with ptex 1 for sick prices

nfp
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks to both of you for the advice about the iM78; will reserve judgement until I can locate a 177. And as much as I'd like the 8.7 right now, my plate is already, uh, overflowing. Gotta get rid of some stuff first.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
I am still thinking of getting a Supersonic IQ for frontside use, but having never skied makes me a little nervous. And, it doesn't seem to be as much ski as the Dynastar 4x4 judging from reviews, which is a downside. I like race-ski power from a carver, and "easygoing" may not be what I am looking for.
From what you've said about various skis over the years, agree that you should demo before buying the Supersonic. Given my very limited experience with race skis, it gives back remarkable performance if you ask, but not quite as solid steering, not the kick at the last 1/3 of the turn. Have you thought about the GSR IQ?
post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
Thanks to both of you for the advice about the iM78; will reserve judgement until I can locate a 177. And as much as I'd like the 8.7 right now, my plate is already, uh, overflowing. Gotta get rid of some stuff first.

From what you've said about various skis over the years, agree that you should demo before buying the Supersonic. Given my very limited experience with race skis, it gives back remarkable performance if you ask, but not quite as solid steering, not the kick at the last 1/3 of the turn. Have you thought about the GSR IQ?
Yes, I have thought about the GSR IQ, but as far as I know, the distributor has sold out of them. I was on the 182cm GSR a few seasons ago (with a VIST plate) and it was superb. If I go the true race carver route at this point in time, it will be an Elan GSX Waveflex. The 2008 GSX was the best race carver I had ever tried (it felt like it was made for me) and the new Waveflex version won't be worse, and likely better. They are just so powerful and with atypical energy for a GS race carver.
post #6 of 6
I demo'ed the Supersonics and "had to have them". I love this ski. Those used to racing skis, may be disappointed as they are longitudinally softer and have somewhat less rebound energy, but this said, they give up very little in terms of stability and edge hold. They are extremely forgiving, with the widest performance envelope I have ever experienced. Any good intermediate could use this ski without getting beat up, yet a skilled rider can make it rip.

I was interested to see that both Weems and Troy Walsh were on this ski at ESA-Stowe. Clearly they made them sing more than I, but there was general agreement that this was a special and extremely versatile ski.

Anyone looking for a narrow (72mm) waist in a high performing but extremely forgiving package should demo this ski.

My take: Hard snow, soft snow, bumps---this ski rocks. Don't be put off by the silky smooth feeling, this ski can growl, but never bites.
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › Review of Blizzard Supersonic, 8.1, 8.7; Head iM78; Nordica Mach 3