Quattro, Carbon, and Carving: Previewing the 2017 Blizzard Skis Lineup // Ski Reviews
Back in December the SkiEssentials.com and Pinnacle Ski and Sports staff got a private early preview of the 2016/17 Blizzard Ski and Tecnica Boot lineup. We had to wait until the industry trade shows to share the pictures with you, but now that SIA is under way, we thought we’d take you through the changes to the line for 16/17. Blizzard has retained much of what has made their skis so popular over the past few years, especially in their Flipcore line. Blizzard’s frontside skis, which have undergone some significant changes, now make up their brand new Quattro line. Think of the way Audi all-wheel drive grips the road; these skis are designed to grip firm snow the same way.
Fine Tuned Classics:
Before we dive in to the brand new Quattro line, let’s take a look at what has changed in the Flipcore all mountain line. The Brahma has joined its bigger brothers and has added carbon to its construction. I think we all expected this to happen, but it’s still really exciting to finally see it in person. On the men’s side, the Latigo is the only ski in the Flipcore All Mountain line that doesn’t use carbon in its construction, hinting that it’s still targeted towards frontside rippers who want a solid, stable, quiet platform that they can still take off-piste from time to time. We also see a graphics update in the Freeride Twin category, with the Gunsmoke, Peacemaker, and Regulator all retaining their build, but boasting new graphics and colorways that we think look great!
The biggest change in Blizzard’s Flipcore line, however, is seen on the women’s side of things. The entire women’s line has received updates both in their construction and graphics. Blizzard’s introduction of carbon to their Flipcore all mountain skis was met with rave reviews over the past year, and it’s no surprise it’s now found in the entire women’s line! After experiencing how well the new Bonafide performs after receiving carbon in its construction we know women skiers out there are going to be absolutely thrilled with Blizzard’s new freeride line. Somehow, seemingly impossibly, the carbon has made their skis lighter, more energetic, and damper all at the same time. To add to the new construction, Blizzard has also given the women’s line entirely new graphics! We can confidently say 2016/17 will be home to the best looking Blizzard graphics we’ve seen recently. The women’s Flipcore skis all display a subtle feather graphic over each skis respective color. It brings a sense of cohesiveness we haven’t seen on the women’s side from Blizzard. Men have the bull graphic, now women have the feather graphic!
So, now we’ll start diving into the meat and potatoes of this article, and likely what you all came here to read about, the new Quattro line. Quattro is Blizzards new frontside category and is full of new technologies, designs, and a new overall concept. To take it straight from the horse’s mouth, Blizzard has “determined that Stability, Precision, Agility, and Control are the four key performance benefits that every skier is looking for in their ideal ski. However, we understand that these benefits have different meanings for each individual skier based on their ability and personal preference. Conceptually, each Blizzard Quattro model is specifically designed to optimize these key benefits for you.” Essentially every ski in the Quattro category uses a different mix of those four elements resulting in a wide range of performance in which every skier can hone in on their personal preference.
So let’s break this down ski by ski, as the Quattro line on the men’s side consists of a total of eight different skis over four different construction styles. First we’ll look at the flagship Quattro models, the RS and RX. These skis set the tone for the rest of the line and are the hardest charging, most aggressive skis of the collection. The skis use Blizzard’s IQ Sandwich Sidewall Ti and also include strategically integrated carbon fiber. The RS and RX also boast the burliest bindings of the category, coming with an integrated IQ Plate XCell 14 binding. The plate for this binding is significantly different than the rest of the line designed to transfer power to the snow with ultimate precision. Construction wise, the RS and the RX are essentially identical, which is a trend carried through the whole Quattro line. In their shapes, however, is where we start to see a difference. The RS is a high speed, groomer shredding machine. Its 72mm waist and full camber design suggest a ski that will absolutely rail on-piste. The skis are available in a wide range of lengths ranging from 153cm to 181cm with turn radii that range from 10m to 17.5m for a relatively quick turning ski across the board. For those of us on the east coast, the RS will be a go-to ski for those firm groomer days. If you live or ski somewhere that often has fresh snow, but still like to spend most of your time carving powerful turns, look to the Quattro RX. The RX is much wider at 84mm under foot and uses 2mm of tip and tail rocker for extra stability and easier turn initiation in soft snow. With similar turn radii, however, you still get a very snappy, responsive ski.
Next we’ll look at the Quattro 7.2Ti and the Quattro 8.4Ti. If you’ve been following closely, you might notice that the names of these skis suggest they might be the same shape as the RS and RX. Well, if you guessed that, you’d be right! The Quattro 7.2Ti and 8.4Ti are the exact same shape as the RS and RX, but are slightly toned down. The RS and RX are designed for extremely aggressive skiers. If you hold back a little more than you used to, but still want a powerful ski, these may be the right skis for you. Again, just like the RS and RX, the skis use Blizzard’s IQ Sandwich Sidewall Ti construction and integrate carbon for increased power and stability. The big difference in these skis compared to the RS and RX is the binding and plate. The IQ Plate XCell 12 binding uses a shorter plate that’s designed to let the ski flex a little more naturally, especially under foot. Where the RS and RX will be extremely powerful, the Quattro 7.2Ti and 8.4Ti, although still very powerful skis, will be slightly smoother and won’t require as much energy when initiating turns. Again, just like the RS and RX, we see two shapes that are designed to accomplish the same thing, but in different snow conditions. Fast and firm? Go with the 7.2Ti. More soft, fresh snow? Stick with the wider, rockered, 8.4Ti.
In the next segment of the Quattro line we also see skis that share shapes, but use different constructions. As we move through the Quattro line the skis become slightly softer flexing, less aggressive skis due to their changes in construction. The next up is the 7.4Ti and 8.0Ti. You’ll notice we’ve moved into different widths from the RS, RX, 7.2Ti, and 8.4Ti, giving a nod towards more significant differences. Although the 7.4Ti and 8.0Ti still use metal in their construction, the skis have dropped the carbon fiber. This affects both the price and performance of the ski, but does not necessarily make it worse. The 7.4Ti and 8.0Ti will likely be the smoothest skiing skis of the entire line. Metal makes a ski very damp and quiet, while still retaining plenty of power. They won’t, however, be quite as responsive as their bigger brothers who use carbon fiber. Another big difference here is both skis use a 4mm rocker profile. This makes turn initiation a bit easier, while also providing a little more stability. If smooth skiing is your preferred style, definitely check out the 7.4Ti and 8.0Ti. Similarly to the previous skis we’ve looked at, if you spend more time on firm snow, go with the 7.4, if you live in an area that gets abundant snowfall, you’ll likely be more happy on the 8.0.
Still with us? Next up in the men’s Quattro line before we take a look at the women’s side is the 7.4Ca and 8.0Ca. These skis use the exact same shape as the 7.4Ti and 8.0Ti, but have gone a step further and dropped the metal in their construction. We also see a change in the binding system, moving to an IQ Plate TP 10 binding. If you’re more of an intermediate skier who typically sticks to smooth, blue square groomers, and perhaps prefer slower speeds, these are your skis. The 4mm tip and tail rocker makes turn initiation a breeze, while the lack of metal and lower DIN binding help keep the overall weight down. Less aggressive than the skis we've looked at thus far, but still a high performing ski for intermediate to lower advanced skiers.
Last up in the men's Quattro line are more budget conscious skis that still pack plenty of performance for intermediate skiers. Neither the Quattro 7.3 or the 7.7 use any metal or carbon in their construction, rather stick to proven wood cores and composite sidewalls to help keep the weight, and the price, at a minimum. With 6mm of tip and tail rocker on both skis, the 7.7 and 7.3 boast the easiest turn initiation. Their use of a 10 DIN, TP10 binding, and relatively soft flex compared to the rest of the line help position them as the best option for beginner and intermediate skiers.
Quattro Women's Series:
So what about the women’s side? The women’s Quattro collection is like a condensed version of the men’s collection. We see almost direct comparisons to the men’s skis in the Quattro W 7.4Ti and 8.0Ti. You might notice that the names are essentially the same as the men’s collection, and that’s because the skis are essentially the same as well. Just like the men’s side, these skis drop carbon from their construction, but retain the titanium. Just as we mentioned for the men’s skis, these will likely be the smoothest skiing women’s Quattro skis as they retain the damp, quiet characteristics of metal, but lose the extra energy provided by carbon. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We think most women, even aggressive skiers, will really enjoy the 7.4 and 8.0Ti. The stiffest, burliest skis aren’t always the most fun, so if you’re not looking for a borderline race feel, maybe lean towards these over the 6.9Ti.
Lastly we have the least aggressive skis of the women’s Quattro line, the W 7.4 Ca and the W 8.0 Ca. Just like their metal sisters, these skis are essentially a direct comparison to the men’s line, except they use an even lighter wood core for lighter weight women skiers. They also use 4mm of tip rocker for extremely easy turn initiation and a 10 DIN binding system helping to keep the weight down even more. So if you’re an intermediate skier that still wants a fun, responsive ski, but you aren’t skiing fast or hard enough to require metal, see if you can get on a pair of the 7.4 or 8.0 Ca. Once again, just like the men’s line, if you mostly ski firm snow, stick with the 7.4. If your ski resort gets frequent snowfall, you’d likely prefer the 8.0.
Lastly, the women's Quattro line finishes up just like the men's line, with the Quattro W 7.3 and 7.7 Neither the Quattro 7.3 or the 7.7 use any metal or carbon in their construction, rather stick to proven wood cores and composite sidewalls to help keep the weight, and the price, at a minimum, just like the mens collection. With 6mm of tip and tail rocker on both skis, the 7.7 and 7.3 boast the easiest turn initiation. Their use of a 10 DIN, TP10 binding, and relatively soft flex compared to the rest of the line help position them as the best option for beginner and intermediate skiers.
So what’s our overall take on Blizzard’s offerings for 2017? We love the subtle changes to the Flipcore freeride category. The women’s graphics and the addition of carbon are both amazing and we’re happy to see the Brahma has been given carbon fiber as well (although I think a lot of us expected this to happen). The Quattro line is what we’re really excited to sink our teeth into. As the season goes on we’ll be testing as many skis out of the Quattro line as possible and we’ll certainly keep you updated with our findings. Based off initial impressions and close visual inspection of the skis, we’re extremely excited to get on them!