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Video Review: Blizzard Atlas Ski 180cm

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I got some time on the Blizzard Atlas ($799 w/Slider plate) a couple of days ago, in 180cm. I am 5 foot 9, 155lbs.  Conditions were around 4 inches of heavy snow over "snow" that was rain-infused the prior day.  Basically fresh on top of death cookies; probably standard conditions for you East Coast skiers.  I did around 10 runs on it.  The camera died due to moisture before I could switch skis, but the other ski I tried that day was the Peak 88 in 175cm, from Head.

Review (no sound unfortunately, the camera does not like warm, moist snow): This ski measures a bit shorter in 180cm that alot of skis: it feels relatively nimble in this length.  It has a solid 20m turn radius, stiff flex, and 94mm underfoot, marking it as a bigger-mountain crudbuster for the advanced to expert skier.  This one was mounted with a Slider plate and a demo binding, so stack height was somewhat negligible: I want to say around 39mm from ski base to binding toe AFD, if I remember corrrectly.   Ski-wise, the Atlas definitely comes across as a fairly stiff, laterally aggressive crudbuster and solid big-arc ski.  In the crud, the ski is fairly stiff, and defintely wants to move the snow "out of the way" instead of more of a floating, supple feel that is common with some lighter skis.  It barrels through the wall, rather than using the door.   It has a damp, powerful, big Austria muscular feel to it.  Very stable, no real speed limit.  It turned quite easily: the turns I am making are fairly short radius, due to the icy bumps lurking just underneath that are somewhat dictating where I am skiing (ignore the crappy bump skiing, I am terrible at bumps, as that short bump line is the only bumps anywhere on this mountain and I am lacing practice).  On bigger open groomers, at speed (not really seen on the video, again due to dead camera) this ski is rock-solid.   It wants to just hold it's line and not get deflected.  Not really nimble, but responds to input when the skier says "move".  I have skied this on firm snow previously and it does well in those conditions too: a big turner and not the quickest edge-to-edge, but solid edgehold.  I really felt the Atlas required a bit of speed to come alive: it isn't as forgiving at slow speeds, and it likes to exist in the fast lane.  A little stiff in bumps,and probably more work than some skis in crud, due to the stiff flex and relatively stiff tip.  In softer, uncut snow, it was superb, and really only got deflected when the snow got bouncy and a semi-boot packed-like surface presented itself.  Overall, this is an excellent crudbuster: one of the most powerful skis in this category without a doubt. The running length is a little short for this ski: it was only 2cm longer than the Head Peak 88 in 175cm, so keep that in mind when choosing a length.  I found the 180cm to be just about perfect.  This ski is probably a very good 1-ski quiver for the Western skier who wants a ski that does everything, with minimal compromises anywhere.  It floated well at the end of the day (when snow was getting around 8 inches deep) and also was fun in the dust-on-crust stuff.  A decently sized sweet spot, and not too demanding, but this is no ski for intermediates. I could easily have this as my mid-width ski.  A confidence-inspiring ski.
Stability: 9
on-piste performace: 7
off-piste peroformance: 8.5
ease of use: 6
versatility: 6 
energy: 5.5
sweet spot: medium
category: 60% off piste/ 40% on piste

Head Peak 88 175cm: not really a full review, but a quick comparison: the Head was almost as stable, but not quite. It floated and followed the snow a bit more, and had more finesse.  Release was easier at the end of the turn, as the tip always seemed to flex out and release just when you were ready to bring the skis flat.  Much better in bumps: this might be the best 88mm bump ski around.  Better for slow speed skiing and really rough snow, where the Blizzi was a bit too stiff.  The Blizzi had the edge in lighter crud and soft turns at bigger speeds, the Head was a bit turnier and softer, and not quite as stable in big arcs.  Still acceptable though.  For my weight, I probably slightly preferred the Peak 88 if I didn't have a softer, turnier bumping-type ski available, or the Atlas if I had that type of ski in the quiver already and wanted a big crudbuster for speed.  Both are very nice skis, just at opposite ends of the spectrum and styles of skiing. I will get a video review of this one sometime after Christmas.


post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 
Just an update: this is a very, very good ski. Super solid at speed, smooth, fairly damp, and holds as well as any mid-90's ski I have tried.  Definitely one of the best skis in the shop this year.  It has a little more stout, muscular feel compared to our MX98's from Kastle, and a bit more damp, heavy, power feel than also another favorite of mine, the Elan 888.   

I am skiing the 187cm tomorrow, and hopefully will see how it stacks up against the 180cm for someone my weight. I have a feeling the 180cm is a better do-everything ski, the 187cm better for warp-speed skiing in rough snow.  

My opinion on these haven't changed: they require a bit larger and or/stronger skier, but this has to be one of the very best do-it-all Western skis around.  Especially if you prefer the typical Austrian type of ski: smooth, damp, powerful, and high performance.
post #3 of 9
Nice review.  This ski looks like a nice ride, much friendlier than the Kastle MX78 you reviewed.  The Kastle looked like more work than play.
post #4 of 9
The Kastle looked like more work than play.

????????....    Atlas looks stout, you can see it over cruddy snow, has that bulldozer look..  I'll bet this ski is Much more work than the MX78..
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Steeper pitch, tougher snow on the Kastle. Plus, it is a much narrower ski; the Atlas is more than 20% wider.  When we filmed the Atlas video, the steeper back side of the mountain wasn't yet open, which is where we did the Kastle video.  I would say the Atlas is a touch friendlier, but isn't any more stable.  Running length on the Atlas is actually shorter than the MX78, due to the big tip and tail.  I would be happier if Blizzard dumped the turned up tail and ran it flat. They have plenty of BC twins available, so no need to make their bruiser all-mountain line into twin tips as well.

I would recommend comparing the MX88, FX94, or MX98 to the Atlas. It is a much better comparison.  Really, the MX78 isn't going to be as good in variable windpack as any of the wider skis, but I found it to be quite acceptable. 
post #6 of 9


Really want to try the MX88 and 98..  They look to be great skis..  Maybe replace my Thunders as a daily driver..  Out of the MX line which is your favorite? 

post #7 of 9
!SDkier if you are going to drop your thunders and want to ditch em cheap....shoot me a pm
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by 1SDSKIER View Post


Really want to try the MX88 and 98..  They look to be great skis..  Maybe replace my Thunders as a daily driver..  Out of the MX line which is your favorite? 

I skied the 88 a couple of years ago, and have only skied the 78 and 98 this year.  I have to say it all depends.  If you need the extra float, the 98 is a bit softer in the tip and better in softer snow. The 88 is a bit better carver and quicker edge to edge.  Most would be happy on either; the 98 is as close to a race ski feel of any wider ski I have tried, while the 88 does feel like a GS ski up on edge.  If I could only have 1 pair, I would probably grab the 88.  If I could have 2, then the 78/98 combo is a bit better.

post #9 of 9
 Im with you on that..keep the tails flat.  I'm looking for a Blizzard all mountain ski. I had the ATV way way back and was a Blizzard fan ever since.  Curious is the Atlas a "western" ski..or decent for all terrain/condition types.

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