An Expert Guide to Blizzard Skis
Whether you're a resort skier or a backcountry skier, Blizzard skis has the perfect skis for you! Read on to learn about the different ski options from Blizzard!
The European Alps are home to some of the best-known ski brands in the world, and it can be hard to distinguish between them all—Salomon versus Rossignol, Volkl versus Fischer, Faction versus Dynafit. But over the last decade, one European company, Blizzard, has risen above the others due to its focus on blending the old-school simplicity of hard-charging skis with modern technology to create some of the most durable and fun skis on the market. As a company, it's no overstatement to say that the global ski industry would be quite different without the Blizzard brand; several other brands, including Nordica and Black Diamond, have their skis built at the Blizzard Sports factory in Mittersill, Austria. Blizzard’s cutting-edge technology paired with a commitment to quality materials and world-class products is a major driving force behind the constantly evolving ski market across the world.
A Quick History
The roots that would become Blizzard were established in 1945, when a young Anton Arnsteiner returned home to the small town of Mittersall following World War II to build furniture in the family factory.
On a whim, Anton decided to build some skis alongside all the furniture, but it wasn’t until 1953 that the Blizzard brand was officially established as a ski company. Shortly after in 1954, Blizzard became the first company to mass-produce the first skis with polyethylene ski bases (what is now known as P-tex, the most ubiquitous material used for ski base production). The company was also one of the earliest adopters of introducing metal and fiberglass into ski production.
Over the next few decades, Blizzard made vast strides in the racing scene, including Christl Haus winning the 1964 gold medal in the Men’s Downhill Event at the Innsbruck Olympics, and then the notorious Franz Klammer claiming the World Cup Downhill Overall Crown in 1983 on Blizzard skis.
Blizzard most recently proved its lasting power when the Austrian Mario Matt took home the Slalom Gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. But despite its success on the racing circuit, Blizzard has also branched out into other ski disciplines—namely the freeride world—and it paid off huge when Loic Collomb-Patton claimed the Freeride World Tour Crown in 2014 while riding a pair of Blizzard Skis.
Today, Blizzard builds skis to fit every type of skier, from the complete beginner to the burgeoning intermediate; from a determined carving specialist to a veteran all-mountain skier, or a dedicated powderhound to an expert big mountain devourer. Below, we break down the different skis within the Blizzard lineup and explain what makes them tick!
The Black Pearl is easily the best-selling women's ski currently on the market over the last few years, and for good reason. This all-around favorite is aimed at female skiers looking for a smooth and effortless ride for ripping groomers, and it comes in three very distinct packages. The Black Pearl 82 is a forgiving and easy ski best for female skiers looking for their first ski out of rentals, or for intermediate skiers looking for something easy for cruising green circles and blue square runs. The Black Pearl 88 has proven to be the most versatile of the Black Pearls and is heavily sought after at every ski resort. It offers a stable and intuitive ride on groomed runs, allowing for both high-speed and low-speed turns. Female skiers of all ages and skill levels will enjoy the amazing confidence of the 88 model.
The Black Pearl 97 is a much different beast altogether. Whereas the Black Pearl 82 and 88 are a carbon and wood build, the 97 incorporates a Titanal metal binding plate with a much stiffer TrueBlend core, resulting in a much stiffer and more demanding ski. The Black Pearl 97 is a hard-charging and crud-busting ski for expert lady rippers who want the opposite of a light and playful ski for ripping high-speed turns on groomed runs and over chunder. If you are a competent pilot and want a ski that gives back everything that you put into it, the Black Pearl 97 is hard to beat!
The Brahma 82 and Brahma 88 are the men’s models of the Black Pearls, but they utilize a bit more material in the design. They sport two sheets of metal to make the Brahmas confident and predictable groomer skis but also makes them a bit more demanding than similar skis in their class, such as the Volkl Kendo or the Nordica Enforcer 88. As opposed to other skis, the Brahma 88 requires a bit of speed to really get the ski to perform at optimal efficiency, but for an aggressive skier looking to arc high-speed turns on corduroy, it is really hard to beat the Brahma 88! The 88 in particular is a great choice for east coast skiers.
Lastly, the Blizzard Bonafide is the closest thing to a high-speed race ski disguised in an all-mountain package. Built with two layers of metal combined with a dense wood core, the Blizzards are a tank in ski form. They have an incredible, awe-inspiring edge hold and they arc precise, demanding turns with little to no chatter. Off-trail, the Bonafides plow through any and all crud, while having just enough rise in the tip and tail to float in powder. Make no mistake, the Bonafides are not for the faint of heart; if you have a tendency to get in your back seat, the Bonafides will immediately let you know. But if you want a ski that is stable even at Mach speeds and will give you nothing but utter confidence when roaming the slopes out West, then the Bonafide is a no-brainer.
Rustler / Sheeva
Despite the popularity of the Black Pearl and Brahma and Bonafide lines, Blizzard sought to complement their hard-charging mentality with a softer, more all-mountain freeride lineup built for soft snow and powder conditions. Thus the Rustler and Sheeva lines were born and were designed to be updated, but direct descendants of the well-loved Gunsmoke and Peacemaker skis. The construction of the Rustler and Sheeva lines are the epitome of the Dynamic Release Technology, sporting an edge-to-edge Titanal layer underfoot, but allowing the metal to taper out before reaching the tip and tail of the ski.
As such, the Rustlers and Sheevas are much more nimble and agile than their stiffer brethren, and perform much better in soft snow conditions and off-piste, as well as being much better suited to navigating tight areas, like trees and moguls.
The skis are numbered according to their waist width, with the 9 in the lower 90mm waist width, the 10 in the lower 100mm, and the 11 with a 110mm plus waist. The Rustler and Sheeva 9 are phenomenal intermediate-level all-mountain skis, while the 11 editions are absurdly fun powder skis. The 10s are arguably the most versatile, being fun and sporty all-mountain skis aimed at skiers anywhere from upper intermediates to expert skiers.
Thunderbird / Phoenix
As well-known (and well-loved) as Blizzard is for its all-mountain and freeride lines, the brand has not forgotten the simple joy of ripping a fresh lane of groomed corduroy. The Thunderbird and Phoenix lines are designed for skiers looking to tackle the groomed trails. They sport a slimmer waistline and more progressive sidecut, which is then combined with the Trueblend Piste wood cores, which maximize camber and minimize rocker profile to create a magnetic edge grip and a ridiculously fun carving sensation.
Both lines start with the 7.2 and 7.7 models, which have a softer and more forgiving flex geared toward beginner and intermediate skiers. The R15 (men’s) and R14 (women’s) have a much stouter construction of two Titanal metal layers to create the ultimate carving machine for advanced and expert skiers looking to lay down railroad tracks on groomed runs.
With more and more skiers flocking into the backcountry with every passing season, more skiers than ever are looking for a hybrid ski setup that they can use both in the resort and touring in the sidecountry. For 2023, Blizzard acknowledged the demand for this type of ski and introduced a brand new ski to the lineup: the Hustle.
The Hustle was designed with the motto, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” meaning that they took the fun-loving and playful profile and shape of the Rustler line and made it lighter.
Blizzard did away with the Titanal layer underfoot and installed a Carbon DRT layer instead, in order to stiffen the ski at a fraction of the cost of a metal layer.
It also comes in the same variations of the Rustler and Sheeva, with a 9, 10, and 11 model. The Hustle is built to hit the skintrack first thing in the morning, but then go shred the resort once the lifts start spinning. If you are looking for a ski you can shred on and tour on, the Hustle is as good as it gets.
For skiers looking to explore far beyond the boundaries of the ski resorts, you would be hard-pressed to find a more reliable option than the Zero G line of touring skis from Blizzard. When Blizzard first released the Zero G line back in 2017, it immediately reset the bar regarding what a lightweight ski built sans metal was capable of.
The original Zero G was uncompromising in its downhill stability and precision, but shockingly efficient in its uphill mobility. In fact, the previous version of the Zero G turned out to be good. For the vast majority of backcountry tourers, the Zero G proved to be as beefy, if not beefier, than some of the rowdiest resort-specific big-mountain skis on the market. So Blizzard set out to redo the Zero G and make it more approachable for us mere mortals.
For 2023, the Zero G has incorporated Blizzard’s Carbon Drive 3.0, keeping the ski in the same lightweight build but in a bit softer and more approachable package. The Zero G comes in a number of models—the 105, built for backcountry powder days, the 95, a versatile ski for both touring and ski mountaineering, and the skinny 85, designed exclusively for racking up massive vert deep in the unknown. They are certainly not the lightest touring options, and they may no longer be the burliest ski, but for the everyday tourer looking for a ski light on the uphill and strong and confident on the downhill, the Zero G line gets it done.
Blizzard’s Ski Technology
Much of Blizzard’s recent success can be tied back to its emphasis on ground-breaking new ski construction and revolutionary ski profiling. Blizzard’s Flipcore technology, combined with Dynamic Release Technology and their Trueblend Woodcore, has created exciting new possibilities for modern ski construction.
Almost all of Blizzard's new all-mountain skis are built with their proprietary technology, Carbon Flipcore. Flipcore can be hard to describe, as it involves how the wood core of the ski is pressed, but at its most basic, it involves flipping the wood core of the ski before pressing it in the mold, which creates a ski with a more natural camber, and a less forced rocker design in the tip and tail. This results in the ski's flex being much more natural and intuitive. FlipCore was once only utilized in certain skis, but it has now been introduced throughout the entire all-mountain lineup, from the infamous Black Pearl and Bonafide line to the Rustler and Sheeva line as well.
Dynamic Release Technology
In more advanced skis, a metal layer is usually paired with the wood core not only to increase torsional rigidity in the ski but also to absorb any bumps and vibrations encountered on the snow surface. Blizzard’s Dynamic Release Technology (DRT) aims to strategically place the metal layer, as opposed to using an entire single sheet, in order to make a more versatile ski with more maneuverability.
In the Blizzard’s rockered skis, DRT implements a full sheet of metal underfoot, in order to give the ski a strong and stable platform in the midsection of the ski, but then the metal is built to taper out before reaching the tip and tail of the ski. This results in a ski that can both carve and ski at high speeds but can also be playful and nimble in trees and tight spots, like moguls.
TrueBlend is a unique way to construct the basic wood core of a ski. Instead of using one single piece of wood to define the core of a ski, Blizzard blends different types, such as beech, poplar, and paulownia, to customize the flex of each ski in different parts of the ski. By combining higher-density woods with lower-density woods, Blizzard can manipulate where the ski is stiff and strong, and where it is loose and playful.
Indeed, Blizzard mixes and matches different densities not only between different skis but even between different lengths of a ski, meaning that a shorter model of one ski will be more forgiving than a longer version of the same ski. In this way, Blizzard customizes each ski to the specific rider who will be using it.
From wide all-mountain shredders to narrow carving machines, Blizzard has built its reputation on appealing to whatever your skiing style may be and providing a fun, rewarding, and ultimately unforgettable ride along the way. If you need any help picking out the right Blizzard ski for you and your skiing style, please reach out to me or my fellow Curated Ski Experts!