Expert Review: Blizzard Rustler 9 Skis
This review is my honest opinion of the skis which I purchased with my own money in October of 2020.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the skis which I purchased with my own money in October of 2020.
The Blizzard Rustler 9 is a playful, forgiving ski that’s a great one-ski-quiver for those skiing a mix of Eastern and Western mountains, or a skier out West looking for a fun, playful, narrower all-mountain ski. It’s narrow enough for Eastern groomers but has enough width and float to be a ton of fun on a powder day.
About the gear
- Model: 2020-2022 Blizzard Rustler 9
- Size: 188 cm
- Height: 6’2”
- Weight: 210 lbs
- Experience: 46 years; teaching for over 20
- When I bought these October 2020
- Days tested: 30
- Mount position: On the line (-7.7cm from Center)
- Boots: 2015 Tecnica Mach1 LV 130
- Boot Size: 27.5
- Bindings: 2021 Marker Griffon 13 ID
- Where I’ve used it: Catskills, Vermont, Snowbird, Alta
- Terrain: Groomers, bumps, trees, powder, steeps, terrain park
How it performs
What I was looking for
I already had a pair of big mountain skis - an older version of the Blizzard Cochise that are super stable in variable conditions, but not super maneuverable in tight spaces, and narrower (68-80mm wide) skis that I use for teaching and carving on Eastern hardpack. I wanted to fill the gap in my quiver with a fun freeride ski that had enough float for the typical 4-6 inch powder day we get in the Catskills, was fun to ski in tighter trees, and still stable enough to hold an edge when carving on hardpack.
Why I chose this gear
As a bigger guy, I was drawn to the Rustler 9’s tapered titanal layer through the midsection of the ski–I wanted a ski that would be playful, but not a noodle. I liked their deep rocker (early rise tip and tail profile) both because it would make the ski easier to turn in tight spots and for the added float it would provide.
I thought about going with the shorter 180 cm width, and also briefly considered getting the wider Rustler 10. I ended up deciding on the 188 cm because I thought the relatively centered mount and deep rocker profile would make the Rustler 9 feel shorter, and so went with those over the Rustler 10 because I wanted that East Coast versatility.
What I love about it
- Speed: I like to ski fast. While these don’t have the same speed limit as GS race ski or Big Mountain Charger, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by how fast I can ski the Rustler 9 in a wide range of conditions.
- Edge hold. The Rustler 9 has a confidence-inspiring edge-hold, especially through the midbody of the ski in short to medium radius turns. I’ve been really impressed with how well this playful, surfy ski holds an edge when it needs to.
- Turns: I love making medium-short to medium radius turns on this ski. Whether slicing and dicing on groomers or skidding turns in the trees, the Rustler is super composed and easy to turn.
- Groomers: The Rustler 9 is very well composed on groomers. It doesn’t have the energy out of the turn of a pure carver, but I’ve had a blast putting the ski on edge and taking advantage of the rocker profile to carve arcs on groomed terrain. On rock-hard groomers (we get those in the East) I prefer a slightly narrower ski, but these are still very capable “low-tide” skis.
- Powder: I could not believe how much float these skis have for a 92-94 mm-waisted ski. The deep rocker lines help keep the tips up—and these skis are my go-to for East Coast powder days. Any time six or more inches fall in the Catskills, I Congratulate myself on my choice of these skis.
- Trees: Eastern powder days don’t last long on groomed trails, but the trees hold powder much longer. I’ve loved skiing the Rustler 9s to find powder stashes in the trees, and the light early rise tips and tails make them ideal for skidded turns around trees.
- Moguls: The Rustler 9 is really fun in the bumps. I love the fact that the softer tips and tails provide a chance to recover if I am slightly off-balance, and give an extra measure of comfort in the transition from the bump to the trough. Very rarely, in super tight, choppy moguls, the longer tail can get a bit caught up, especially If I’m a bit in the back seat, but that’s a trade-off I’m more than willing to make for a ski that is so much fun in the bumps. Durability: I’ve been very impressed by the durability of the base and topsheet on these skis; no chipping of the topsheet, and given that tree skiing in the East invariably means hitting bare spots, the bases have held up very well.
- Switch riding: The early rise in the tip and tail and relatively centered mounting point make this ski a joy to ride or land switch on—something I’ll do frequently when teaching (or just fooling around). Stability: This ski is very stable in short to medium turns in a wide range of conditions. And for a ski that stable, it still has a fair amount of pop–aided in part by the lighter tips and tails. It’s not as poppy as a pure park ski, or as stable at speed as a big mountain charger, but the Rustler 9 is a very balanced ski.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Park: The Rustler 9 is fine for occasional trips through the park, and for taking off and landing jumps. That said, it's a little heavy (and stiffer underfoot) than I would want for a ski that’s going to spend 90% of its time in the park, and I would hesitate before using these skis to learn how to grind rails.
- Backcountry: The Rustler 9 is not the lightest ski in its class, and would not be my first choice for human-powered ascents. The Volkl Blaze 94 might be a better choice for a similarly shaped ski that’s lighter. That said, The Rustler 9 is a joy to ski in ungroomed, soft snow conditions.
- Carving - The Rustler 9 is not a pure carving ski - a true carver is going to be narrower and have much less rocker. And, it does not have the same energy out of a turn that a more front-side oriented carving ski will have. That said, given it’s shape and width - -it is very fun to carve medium-size turns on, especially considering its width and rocker profile.
Favorite moment with this gear
This Spring I had the good fortune to be at Sugarbush on a Sunday after a two-day storm. The Castle Rock terrain was open, but not the lift, and the Heaven’s gate chair was only running intermittently after being closed all Saturday. We got one of the first few chairs on Heaven’s Gate when it opened on Sunday, and I got to put the Rustler 9s through their paces in knee-deep untouched powder. AMAZING! Unfortunately after our run, Heaven’s gate closed for the next few hours, so we spent the time hunting down pockets of fresh snow in Sugarbush’s tight trees. Later in the day, Heaven’s gate opened again, but by now the terrain under the lift had been skied off. So we hiked across from Paradise to the top of the closed Castle Rock Lift and got to ski fresh (knee to thigh deep) lines under the Chair – I was SOOO happy I had the Rustler 9s with me that day because I skied everything from hardpack to deep pow that day and loved every minute of it!
Value for the money vs. other options
The Rustler stands out for its balance between playfulness and stability; there are definitely softer skis out there for less that lighter or less aggressive skiers might enjoy (looking at you Salomon QST 92!) as well as stiffer skis like the Blizzard Bonafide or Volkl Kendo 88, but for the mix of freestyle fun, carvy turns and hard snow composure that the Rustler 9 provides, I think it's a great value.
The Blizzard Rustler 9 is a fantastic choice for an advanced intermediate to expert skier looking for a ski that’s going to stay composed on firmer snow and fun in softer, deeper snow. It has a playful, forgiving side that makes it a blast to ski in a range of conditions, and would be a great one-ski quiver for someone who splits their time between firmer groomers and soft snow conditions.