By Tony Crespi
Each season the ski industry unveils new ski collections boasting advancements and refinements in technology and design. Often unrecognized by the public are the complexity of engineering and design principles involved in this process. The tip to tail shapes and dimensions used in a ski are crucial to its performance as even minor modifications can change how a ski reacts dramatically.
“For the East a great ski is a ski that’s versatile enough for softer snow, but quick enough edge-to-edge to function everyday in the groomed and harder snow we see daily,” said Jed Duke, product marketing manager for Blizzard Skis. “From Blizzard, it’s the X Power 810, which is an 81mm waisted ski with a wood core, the new Latigo is a new ski 78mm underfoot and its basically a front side ski with a back side feel.
Honestly, the range in the 2014-2015 skis is extraordinary. That is, not all new skis are equal. In addition, performance can vary widely because of skier weight, strength, as well as skiing style.
Ski testers try all the skis on the same trail – the same test track – in order to create a standard for comparison. Interested in our results? Welcome to the test track.
Exploring the 2014- 2015 ski line: Blizzard
Over the past few seasons Blizzard skis have increasingly captured hearts of Eastern skiers with their solid edge grip and powerful performance. A perennial favorite for the testers, what started as a small niche brand has become a benchmark for excellence. In fact last year Snoweast Magazine Tester Bill Bird was so impressed that he chose a pair of Blizzard R Powers as his personal ski. Now, with 42 models this line is as deep as, well, a blizzard.
Free Mountain series
Bodacious: The 118 mm waisted Bodacious is the widest in this series, coming flat for those seeking personal binding choice. That 118 mm waist is built for powder and off-piste. If I lived in the West it would be in my quiver. The turn radius is 32 m – for big big arcs. What’s your speed limit?
Waist 118 mm. Lengths: 176, 186, 196.
Cochise: The 108 mm waisted Cochise uses a 28.5 m radius. With beautiful blue graphics it seemed more versatile than it’s older sibling while still offering a wide platform for off-piste performance.
Waist: 108mm. Lengths: 170,177,185,193.
Bonafide: The Bonafide has a 98 mm waist and a 21 m radius. It arcs. It holds with amazing grip. Truly this is an extraordinary all-mountain ski. Perfect for the West. Ideal for those who venture off piste East or West.
Waist: 98mm. Lengths: 166, 173, 180, 187.
Brahma: This was a surprisingly stunning ski. With that 88 mm waist it demonstrated surprising edge grip on hard conditions. And with a 19 m radius it was surprisingly versatile. Honestly it held beautifully here in the East and will appeal to those seeing this kind of wide all mountain ski.
The Power and X Power Series
The Power and X Power Series together offer seven models ideally married to Eastern hardpack and front side cruising. Built with the IQ System and using carefully matched Marker bindings, these were my personal favorites on the test track. In fact, the X Power 720 IQ seemed remarkably powerful for a ski and binding offered with a suggested retail price of $399!
G Power Full Suspension IQ: The G Power is one of two skis in the Power Series and the strongest of these models. With a 75 mm waist and 17 m radius it carves like a razor. What’s your power quotient? This skied the test track like a race track.
Waist 75 mm, Lengths: 167,174, 181.
Power 800 Suspension IQ: The Power 800 Suspension IQ lacks the long arms in the front and rear of its sibling, something many racers have requested, but remains a powerful ski. I used this as a benchmark. It held like Velcro. And it turned amazingly well for a speed demon with a 18 m radius. The smile factor? It was off the scale.
X Power 810 TI IQ: The 810 TI uses a 81 mm waist with a 18 m radius arc. With stunning black and green graphics this is ideal for those looking for that wider waist balanced with Titanium for solid edge grip. It’s strong. Versatile. It’s almost an ideal one ski quiver.
X Power 770 TI IQ: With that 77 mm waist and Ti construction this seemed a great blend for Eastern skiers. Like all Blizzards, it boasts solid edge grip, was well-tuned from the factory, and was versatile. Let’s take another run. It deserves a second test flight.
X Power 77 IQ: With a 73 mm waist, this was made for high performance intermediates and low key experts seeking a great ski at an amazing price. The 15 m radius is, just, playful, and the black and blue graphics are appealing. It’s fun. Fast. And affordable!
X Power 730 IQ: The black and orange 730 IQ also uses that 73 mm waist and 15 m radius arc in a more forgiving frame. It’s remarkably versatile and could appeal to emerging intermediates while offering surprising power for those developing new skill sets. Nastar? X Power on board!
Race Series (non-FIS race skis for experts)
SRC Racing Suspension: With a 70 mm waist and 13 m radius this ski is ideal for those seeking a slalom flavor in a consumer oriented product. This is a Ferrari. For experts wanting a great ski on hard snow days this sets a standard for high performance front side groomers.
Waist 70 mm; Lengths 156,160,165.
Personal Pick: I liked the Power 800 Suspension IQ so much I used it as a benchmark. Interested in a front side charger? That SRC took my heart away!