About me: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, fairly athletic skier, 50-60 days/year on the hill, can ski most anything
Ski: Blizzard Magnum 8.1 Max 172cm, 2010 model. This ski is changed for 2010: a bit softer tip, 2 sheets of metal (laterally stiffer supposedly), same dimensions (17m radius, 122/81/108?)
Conditions: dust on crust, fast groomers, death cookies off-piste, aggressive conditions.
The conditions were pretty challenging for testing these skis. I had skied these a few weeks ago and had a very favorable impression. Today, I got around 3 hours on them. I haven't skied the 8.1's from this year to make much of a comparison, but I can say that this is a very, very good ski. Even on the crust, it held like a race ski, and had the power and lateral stiffness close to what I expect from my Dynastar 4x4's. Just a real power carver. Somewhat demanding, not the biggest sweet spot, but tons of energy from the tail, and considering the level of performance, a pretty easy ride to get hold of. It just explodes you across the fall line when it hooks up, and made me feel like a "hero" on groomers, due to the edge angles I was getting and the grip this ski was giving me. Turn radius is about right for a carver: feels quicker than 17m, more like a 15m feel, and has the same stability as the 4x4. This ski is all horsepower, but due to the softer flex, I could bend it up easily. Perhaps the raciest 80mm+ ski I have yet tried, and feels beefier and more stable than the Supersonic IQ. Off piste, it was workable: not really a soft, forgiving off-piste ski, but more of a mid-width carver. I did take it into a few bumps and it was fun and predictable, but in the death cookies off-piste, it was a bit too stiff laterally and would toss you around.
Conclusion: this will be a big winner for those looking for a powerhouse frontside carver with zero speed limit, and a bit of versatility. Not the last word in off-piste performance, but OK if you venture off the groomed, and a true thoroughbred on hard snow and groomers. As thrilling of a ski as I have tried in this width. I do think that more of the race-carver style ski does hook up a little quicker, but this is every bit as powerful once on edge, and stable, as the Blizzard GSR IQ. You may notice the narrower skis have the edge on really bulletproof Eastern ice, but for out West, a skier would be wanting very little if they had one of these in their quiver. I do think that some of the race carvers (like a Progressor 9+ or GSR IQ, Elan Waveflex GSX) do give you a bit more GS-like ride; whereas this one is a bit snappier, more carver-like feel to it. This is a really, really exciting ski that will put grins on alot of faces.