2020 Blizzard Brahma 82 Ski Review: // Ski Reviews
Narrower feels like it's a theme for 2020 skis. We've already looked at a new narrower Enforcer, the Kendo is narrower than ever before, and if you ask just about anyone in the ski industry what the overall trend is right now, a lot of people answer with "narrower." This ski continues that trend, and arguably takes it to a whole new level: the Brahma 82 from Blizzard. Blizzard's all mountain skis (technically referred to as All Mountain Freeride) have been making waves in the ski industry for about 10 years now. While they've undergone some changes over the course of their existence, they've become synonymous with precision, power, and performance. The Brahma and Bonafide come up in conversations and comparisons all the time, and usually sit at the powerful end of the performance spectrum. This also comes along with a fairly demanding feel, and we've talked a lot about how these skis are best on the feet of fairly accomplished skiers with good technique. If you're looking for that upper-echelon all mountain performance, it's hard to do much better than Blizzard's offerings.
Now, we've seen some narrower skis in this collection before. Remember the Latigo? So, in theory, this isn't a totally new concept, but Blizzard's really doubled-down on the concept behind this ski. Let's go over the thought process behind adding a Brahma 82 to the line. Blizzard has recognized that there are a lot of people out there that want high end groomer performance, but also want to be able to take the ski into un-groomed terrain from time to time. Sure, lots of people turned to the Brahma for this application, but there has also been a big segment of skiers turning to what we'd refer to as "wider system skis." Think Quattro 8.4, RTM 84, etc etc. These wider system skis had (have) designs that are rooted in groomer performance, but come along with the message of "hey these are wide enough for softer snow too!" While that's certainly not wrong, Blizzard's thought process is a ski like a Brahma 82 is going to retain the groomer performance that people are looking for, but because it's a flat ski, it's going to be much more fun in those un-groomed situations. System skis are typically pretty heavy because of the system binding, and often have a very stiff flex underfoot due to that same binding system (similar to a race plate.) In theory, a ski like the Brahma 82 mounted with your favorite alpine binding is going to be better suited for moguls, and really any other application where you're not just carving, compared to these system skis.
So, because of this new theory, you're not going to find a single "system" carving ski wider than 80 mm underfoot in the Blizzard line. Also, Quattro has been significantly trimmed to just three men's skis, and the highest performing versions of those skis are gone entirely. There's more emphasis on the Firebird collection now. If you want a dedicated frontside ski and don't plan to take it off groomers much at all, Firebird is the way to go if you want the most precision and the most power. The widest ski in that collection is the new HRC, which comes in at 76 mm underfoot, and, without going into details, is a whole lot of fun. So, anyways, back to the Brahma 82. This ski is designed to compete against and offer an alternative to skis we've become accustomed to: RTM, SuperShape, Vantage X, iKonic, the list goes on and on.
If you're familiar with the construction of the Brahma and Bonafide, you're familiar with the construction of the Brahma 82. It shares the same Flipcore Carbon Drive construction. Two sheets of metal sandwich a poplar and beech wood core. Multi-directional fiberglass, bi-directional carbon fiber in the tip, and an anti-shock layer underneath the binding round out the construction. As we've talked about plenty before, this construction is a recipe for a ripping ski, and doesn't stray too far away from what we see in dedicated race ski construction. The shape of the Brahma 82 also follows the theme of the Brahma and Bonafide. Camber underfoot with subtle rocker in the tips and tails. The rocker is longer in the tip, but doesn't rise high off the snow, so you're not losing much effective edge in any scenario.
Alright, alright, you want to know about performance. The easiest way to describe this ski is that it feels like a Brahma that's quicker edge to edge, but that's probably pretty obvious. On firm snow is feels more knife-like than the wider Brahma. This ski takes precision to a whole new level, which is saying something because the Brahma is already a very precise ski. It actually has a slightly longer turn radius than the Brahma 88 too and really likes to be driven aggressively. In fact, it requires a certain amount of skier input. This isn't a Sunday-cruiser, it's a hard-charging daily driver all mountain ski that will satisfy the demands of the best and most aggressive skiers on the mountain. We've talked about this plenty before, but the Brahma is not for the feint of heart, and the Brahma 82 continues that trend. Intermediates may find it's a bit much for them, but aggressive advanced and expert skiers will really appreciate its performance and overall feel.
Another thing we've talked about before is the relatively unforgiving feel of the Brahma at slower speeds and in un-groomed terrain. The Brahma 82 is similar, although there's something about the narrower shape that actually makes it feel easier in certain scenarios. Quicker edge to edge translates to a slightly easier time in moguls. In fact, the Brahma 82 is a fantastic mogul ski, but only if you're a pretty high level mogul skier. Slower speed skiers who prefer pivoting and washing their turns might not like it as much as a softer-flexing ski with more rocker, but those of you that can ski a down-the-fall line, zipper-line will fall in love. Also, compared to a system carving ski, it's way more fun in situations like this. So, for those skiers that want that high level feel on groomers, but more versatility than a system carving ski, the Brahma 82 is a refreshing choice. Also, going back to how demanding it is, on firm snow it actually doesn't require as high of an edge angle as the Brahma 88, and especially the Bonafide. So, while it's still a ski geared towards advanced and expert level skiers, it's a little easier to get it up on edge than its bigger brothers.
So, what's the takeaway here? For one, this is definitely a valuable addition to Blizzard's collection. We're perfectly happy to see it take the place of skis like the Quattro RX and 8.4 Ti. While those skis were a lot of fun, they were too stiff and too demanding for a lot of off-piste applications and arguably a little wide for a dedicated frontside ski. What Blizzard is doing makes sense to us, and we're interested and intrigued to see if any other companies follow suit. We expect others will, and we're already seeing some similar concepts from other brands. Nordica, for example, is offering a flat version of their Spitfire 80. That ski is a little more geared towards true frontside use, but by keeping a lower center of gravity with an alpine binding with plenty of elastic travel, it's going to flex easier underfoot than a system ski with a plate.
You've probably got an all mountain ski in your quiver. You might have a powder ski too. Do you have a ripping carving ski that you can slay moguls on too? Probably not, or if you do, it's probably in the 90-100 mm range and doesn't feel nearly as quick as a ski like the Brahma 82. Alternatively, if you spend most of your time on a system carving ski, ask yourself whether it has the versatility you'd ideally be looking for. For some, a system carving ski doesn't need versatility, it's just for carving. For others, the Brahma 82 is going to change your world.