2011 Blizzard Magnum 8.1 and Kastle MX78: redux
I had a chance to ski both of these again, this time in comparable lengths. 179cm for the 8.1, and 176cm for the MX78. Running lengths are identical, and this time, the Blizzi was tuned: 1 base, 2 side, pretty dialed, as was the MX78. I am skiing both “longer” than is typical for someone my size: they both have a GS feel to them. When I compared them last year, I was on the 172cm 8.1 and 176cm MX78, with an "out of the box" tune on the 8.1, which isn't really a fair fight.
Conditions: challenging. It had warmed up a bit, iced, and froze. Groomers were firm, yet grippy. Bumps were kind of soft and weird (we only have 1 bump run on this mountain, it is about 20 bumps long, and they get carved out by snowboarders and other idiots. Pretty lousy excuse for bumps-the "line" resembles a luge track more than a bump line). Off-piste, the snow was punchy; firm on top, hollow underneath. Not great ski conditions, but one of those days that made you very happy to have narrower skis in the bag; still a fun day with the right gear.
Since I have reviewed these together last year, I will just do a quick back-to-back. I get questions regarding these 2 skis all the time.
Groomers: about even performance. The Blizzard is a bit more aggressive onto edge: the MX78 rolls very smoothly and engages cleanly, but not aggressively. The Blizzi is more on/off: it isn't there, and all of the sudden, it is, and it accelerates. Slightly more race-ski in feel. Also, a touch more energy in the Blizzard, mostly in the tail. It really released and wanted to put you in the air, if you were coming out of the turn with some heat and edge angle. The MX78 is uber-smooth, but doesn't quite have the kick that the 8.1 has. Stability-wise, it is a dead heat. Performance here is a draw. The 8.1 feels like a wider Supersonic G-Force, or even along the lines of a softer GSR-IQ. Both are clearly race-bred skis.
Bumps: The 8.1 is a touch stiffer underfoot and at the tail than the MX78. It is slightly less forgiving. If you are skiing bumps well: getting your feet back, driving the tips back down the side of the bumps, you won't notice it, but if you do hit the back seat, the MX78 won't punish you quite as much. It still will punish you, though. Just a touch easier on the MX78, but both skis can charge bumps, and neither is really training wheels for bumps; best to have some skills developed when skiing bumps on either of these skis.
Edge hold: both are seriously locked-in on firmer snow. The MX78 is perhaps a touch stronger, but it could be the 1/3, instead of the 1/2, tune. The MX78 allows you to do more with the turn radius, whereas the 8.1 is basically going to carve the arc that it is in, and not want to break loose.
Off-piste: the snow being hollow, the 8.1 did feel slightly wider, enough that the tip was a bit more resistant to punching through. Both were easy enough to turn where I wanted, easy enough to stay out of trouble, and neither had any qualms about going really, really fast, although I like to keep it under wraps a bit when the snow is hollow and unpredictable. The sweet spot on the MX78 here was slightly larger: it is probably marginally better in off-piste conditions.
Mostly, these skis had similar performance, but the sweet spot on the MX78 is a bit larger, and it has a slightly more predictable flex, which makes it also feel more forgiving: you knew exactly what to expect, and had no surprises. The 8.1 is aggressive enough (at this length, which is substantial for a guy my size) that you need to show up, ready to ski. This is not an issue with the shorter 172cm, which is VERY forgiving. The 8.1 is an outstanding ski, one of the best skis in it's class, and the MX78 is the best ski in it's class, in my opinion. Both are a whole lot of fun to ski.