Expert Review: 2023 Blizzard Rustler 9 [with Video]
Ski Experts Daryl, Theo, and Thomas tested the 2023 Blizzard Rustler 9 skis on carving, freestyle, and freeride at Powder Mountain in Utah.
Curated Ski Experts Theo, Daryl, and Thomas got their hands on the 2023 Blizzard Rustler 9 this spring and put it to the test at Powder Mountain in Utah. Check out how it performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories, but consider the fact that each and every skier is different. If you have any questions about the Rustler 9 or need recommendations on which ski would be best for you, reach out to a Ski Expert here on Curated.
One final point before we dive in: It's worth noting that Curated Experts are not sponsored by any brands. All of these reviews are completely unbiased.
What does Blizzard claim about this ski? [Daryl] The brand claims that this is going to be a really sweet all-mountain ski. It's going to do basically a little bit of everything. It's got a fair amount of tip and tail rocker, pretty stiff underfoot. Yeah, I think they nailed it, to be totally honest with you.
[Theo] Blizzard markets to this is a real all-mountain option in the on-snow groom. That said, they don't discourage taking this off-trail. It's meant to be versatile. In fact, they even say this could be a quiver of one out west. I refute that claim for most skiers who ski off-trail in the western states. They could do with another ski. However, if you're a groomed snow-only kind of skier, this is an option that could fulfill your needs.
[Thomas] Blizzard has this ski as their narrowest, all-mountain ski with Titanal metal underfoot and not in the tip and tail. So it's got that kind of power for the groomers but isn't too stiff.
What is your overall impression of this ski? [Daryl] If I had to describe these skis, it would be in two words: very fun. I had a great time on these skis. It was recommended to me to size up in these from a 180 to a 188, and that was definitely the call for me. They carve really hard. They're super fun. I had a great time on them. They're extremely nimble, and I honestly felt like they shouldn't market these with just one turn radius because they were perfectly fine doing short radius turns and carving the entire thing. I had no problem asking these skis to do anything; they were just happy to oblige.
[Theo] I really enjoyed skiing the Rustler 9. I've rarely been on a ski this precise, as easily malleable into any turn shape I wanted. It almost turned before I initiated the movement. It was anticipating where I was going. I know that is verging on magical realism in the ski technical category, but I felt like that. That's how much I enjoyed the ride on these. I was on a 180, which is a shorter length by a few centimeters than what I usually ride. I found it to be a perfect amount of ski.
In fact, compared to the Rustler 10s, there was a lot less chatter on these. Not that the Rustler 10 suffered from underfoot chatter, but I think that the Rustler 10, with the extra material on the ski, just gave it more room to vibrate on the snow. This is a slimmed-down version. As opposed to a semi-truck, it's more of a U-Haul. As opposed to a bike, it's more of a scooter. And I don't think it suffered from that at all. It was precise, nimble, and agile in every movement that I put it through. If they give me time here to ski a little more today before the lifts close, I'll take out the Rustler 9.
[Thomas] I love the ski I've skied, the different wrestlers, the nine to 10, the 11. They are super intuitive to ski. They are really confidence-inspiring on a groomer actually. And it's a really great transition out of rentals or narrower all-mountain ski for someone who's not looking for super top instability but either more playfulness or just a softer-flexing ski or not a super stiff ski.
How is the shape of the ski and the ski profile? And how does it impact the ride? [Thomas] This ski has some pretty serious rocker in the tip and tails. This is going to help it float and powder and also give it a more pivot, turning feeling. So it'll carve well, but it's going to be really good for quick turn. It's going to be a good ski for trees or one of my favorite skis for bumps.
What is the edge hold like? [Daryl] The edge hold on these is really great, which surprised me because they have a relatively short, effective edge for what the ski is. The edges are thick, the same thickness as any other brand, but the way that the ski is constructed and the way the flex pattern changes from tip to tail allows you to utilize the entire effective edge and just carve really hard.
How does it turn? How is the stability and flex when turning? [Daryl] This ski turns on a dime. It will also turn on a long radius turn; it has no problem doing any of that. I smeared my turns, carved a bunch of turns. Really what these things like to do is carve. Again, I pushed them to do long radius and short radius turns and didn't feel like I was having to make the ski do it at any point. They were just happy to do whatever.
I would definitely describe these skis as stable skis. A lot of times, skis that I ski that are stable compromise on maneuverability, but I didn't get that sense with these. They're stable for high speeds, for sure, and they're also highly maneuverable. I was very pleased with these skis.
When I think about flex of ski, I like to think about where it's flexing at the tip and where it's flexing underfoot. I like a very progressive flex that has stiff and hard-charging metal underfoot, but then a softer tip and tail. That being said, I like a ski that's able to blend those two together in the front of and the back of the ski. These skis do that super effectively, so the tips are soft. Tails are soft, but they're very stiff underfoot, and that allows you to have both maneuverability and the ability to charge really hard and carve.
[Thomas] The Teton all-metal underfoot is going to make this ski more confidence-inspiring on the groomers and give it some of that like ice-busting power to get an edge in. It feels really good when the snow's not awesome. The lack of the metal in the tip and tail is going to make it softer and more flexy, easier to turn. It's going to kind of fit the shapes of the moguls, and it's just going to be like, overall, a really easygoing ski that's going to be fun to pop and bounce off of stuff with.
What about dampness? Any chatter in the ski? [Daryl] I did not experience any chatter at all whatsoever.
[Thomas] This ski is more lively than it is damp. It's not going to be something you can punch through cruddy snow with. It's going to be more like you bounce off of the cruddy snow with it, so more of a flexy playful ski than a hard charger.
How does it perform at speed? How easy is it to control? What about it makes it harder to control if not? [Daryl] At high speeds, these skis skied incredibly well. They control very, very well. They excel at dumping speed. They excel at going fast. Both speed trying going from high speed to low speed, consistently skiing, high speed skiing, any turn radius that you want in the trees, off piece, they handled extremely well. They were very responsive to any changes in terrain, any changes in turn radius, any changes in speed.
How is the energy acceleration? [Daryl] On the topic of energy in these skis, there definitely is a lot of energy that gets stored in the core of these skis when you fully put your weight into them. That being said, they roll over into their next turn on the other side very smoothly and don't give you that same weightless shooting feeling that you can get on other skis. They're much more cohesive in terms of their energy storage at use from turn to turn. So they're highly energetic, but all of that stored energy is going to really set you up nicely for your next turn.
How playful is it? [Daryl] The ski is definitely playful and poppy but also stable. I've popped off a few things. Yeah. As I was skiing, I popped off a few little side hits and rollers, and they land very well. The ski does a good job of keeping you balanced in the air. When you go off a jump, as long as you're over your feet, you're going to land exactly there. It doesn't feel like there's too much weight in the tip or the tail that's causing you to have to readjust in the air. You just kind of go off the jump, go off the side, hit, and land right where you want to.
[Theo] This isn't a particularly playful ski. It's also not a ski I would take on jumps. If you're looking for a jump ski, I did ski and switch. It was fine. It has a little early rise in the tail. I did hit a few jumps with it. It's not going to stand out in any of those categories. This is a ski for beautiful turns of all shapes and sizes down groom and terrain, weaving through trees, and getting in some fresh snow, especially if you're on the east coast.
[Thomas] This ski is pretty playful. It's going to be a fun bouncy ski. It's not a park ski, but you could take it to the park. I think it would be pretty fun.
How is it for skiing switch? [Daryl] It can be ridden switch. I rode it switch for a little bit and was really surprised by how comfortable I felt when doing so. I honestly felt more comfortable riding switch on this than I have on a few park skis or wider skis. I was very surprised by that. I think that part of it is that I typically see a wider ski than this. I felt that these were really easy to control but definitely can be ridden switch. And yet, they are designed to be skied forward and directionally.
[Thomas] It's going to ski switch, no problem. It's not a twin tip or a twin ski, but for an all-mountain ski, it is pretty freeride, freestyle oriented.
How would it be in powder? [Daryl] As far as powder is concerned, I would opt for something else on deep days. I think that these skis would do just fine in up to 10 inches or so, but they would not be my first choice for true powder days just because they are so narrow. I think that given that there are two wider waist widths of this same ski, there are better options for wider house skis.
If this were the only ski that you owned, you would definitely be able to ski it in powder, but I would say it would be much more work and less fun if you were to ski it upwards of 12 inches.
[Theo] Unless you're skiing in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and, God forbid, Connecticut, this is not a ski I would ever take out on a powder day, especially out west. But for the Northeast, it's a good powder option. You might find, on those three days a year where it snows more than 10 inches, that you might want something a bit wider. But for the western states, this is not a quiver killer at all.
[Thomas] This ski, for its width, is going to float very well in powder. It still is not very narrow. This ski, for its width, is going to float very well in powder, although it's not a very wide ski, so it's not really meant to float. It's going to do great in the trees.
How about uneven terrain and chunder? [Thomas] It's a quick turner, and it's going to do really well in all sorts of different snow. It's just not going to be the most powerful ski in the chunder or the crud.
What kind of terrain does it perform well on? [Thomas] These skis will ski anything. These are a really good do-it-all everyday ski.
What kind of terrain does it not perform as well on? [Thomas] Once there's more than three to five inches of snow, something wider is going to help you float a lot better. It's not going to be the greatest for the deepest powder day. It's also not going to be the greatest carving ski for solid ice.
Who would you recommend this ski to? [Theo] This is such a good option for a skier who loves groomed terrain. They might be on a bit of an older ski. They might be coming off a rental ski even though they consider themselves an advanced expert skier. Maybe they've always gone on ski trips but just haven't pulled the trigger and got in their own setup. This is a ski you can rely on. It's a ski that's not going to be too demanding in any situation, but an expert could absolutely ride the ski. I would consider getting a pair if I moved back east, for sure. It's a great ski to have fun on low snow, icy days and experiment with turn size and shape. It's really just a good tool for groomed snow and for a little bit of off-trail riding.
[Thomas] These skis have two different categories of people that are going to be a great fit for them. One of them is the East Coast all-mountain skier looking for something playful, looking for something that skis ice well, and looking for something that can also ski powder and the bumps in the trees, something that's going to be really maneuverable for that.
And then the other side of it is more like the western, newer all-mountain skier. This is a fantastic ski for someone who is looking to get out of rentals, feels that they're athletic, and wants to just go ski the whole mountain. This is going to be really intuitive to jump on right off the bat and also not something that's going to hold you back as you grow as a skier.
If this was someone's first pair of skis, would it help? Or should these even be someone's pair of first skis if they were just on rentals? [Thomas] These can be someone's first pair of skis if they feel like they're really confident on their rentals, if they're kind of overpowering them, and they're looking to ski the whole mountain. If they are wanting to just stick to the groomed runs, for the time being, this is not going to be the most optimal ski for them.
If you want help finding the right ski for you, chat with Daryl, Theo, Thomas, or any other Ski Expert here on Curated. We’ll help you get unstuck and find the right skis for you.