I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed at first. When I initially heard of the Blade from Line, my mind instantly went to Snowblade land and I was super-excited that we’d be reviewing and selling a new version of a ski board. I like weird ski stuff. I like straight skis and old skis and new skis. I wasn’t prepared for what I was getting on and when I first saw them, I was a bit conflicted. I’d skied and seen the Sakana and Pescado from this past year and I’ve always thought that there’s a time and place for those very specific skis. The Blade looked silly at first glance but the more I’ve skied it and looked at it, the more it makes sense. They’re building it and marketing it as a carving-specific ski, and it does that remarkably well, but if that’s all they’re hoping it’ll do, they’re in for a pleasant surprise.
The massive shovel is the first thing that people notice about these skis, and for obvious reasons. It’s a squared-off shape with a ton of width, so it has a very blocky look. At 154 mm wide, the tips are about as big as it gets in the ski world, and specifically for a non-powder specific ski. When you’re told it’s a carving ski, you are likely to have the same reaction as I, in that it just looks too wide to carve a proper turn. Secondly, and what I think is a pretty cool name, is Line’s Gas Pedal Metal laminate that sits atop the Aspen wood core. This metal laminate actually consists of two separate sheets with a gap in the middle. The concept is that the shape of the sheet, which kind of looks like the feather of an arrow, properly disburses energy along the length of the ski. Skis this wide should generally not be torsionally stiff because Physics, but the Blade’s use of the Gas Pedal Metal bucks that trend. The two-piece design allows for a flexy spot underfoot in order to fully allow the ski to bend, which is really the most important part of these unique tools. When the tip shape combines with the 95 mm waist (which seems small given the tips) and the 124 mm tail, a “Tight” turn radius is generated. They’re not claiming a number on their site, but their design engineer states that the 176 cm length creates a 13.5-meter arc.
Let’s talk about that tail shape and profile for a second. It’s like a swallow tail and a twin tip had a kid and this is the result. It’s totally different and unique way to finish a ski but like the rest of this thing, it actually works. The twin-tip shape allows the ski to get some extra bend to really round out the turn and can also be easily broken for more skidding and smearing styles. Any way you choose to finish your turn, this tail shape allows you to do so. At 124 mm wide, the thing is robust, so by milling out the central part into more of a swallow tail design, it’s more maneuverable and less-catchy in softer snow. Aside from the tip shape and the Gas Pedal Metal, the tail is easily the third-most interesting part of the ski, and that’s really saying something.
So does it all work? Will it really do all the things it says it’s going to do? Is it any good? Is it any fun? These were my questions heading into the week in which we skied these things, and as I learned, many other skiers who saw me on them had them too. First off, we get to ski a lot of different stuff and it’s one of my favorite parts of the job but it’s rare when we get on something and find that it’s ACTUALLY something totally different and unique versus all other skis on the market that we have access to. It’s refreshing in a way because we spend a lot of time nitpicking between a Kendo, a Brahma, and an Enforcer 88. When you get on something uncommon, it allows you to open your mind and have some fun sliding on snow and not worry too much about a millimeter’s difference in tip shape.
It took me about a quarter of a run here at Stowe to get used to the shape, as it is an intimidating shape to be standing on for what it’s supposed to do. Wide tips are usually attached to wide waists and tails rather than narrowing with an absurd amount of taper from tip to waist. As such, the optics of the experience took a second to get used to. You can tip in and start to lean into the ski, and even though I thought I’d be crossing my tips all the time, it’s actually a very smooth transition between turns. You can lean in and push harder and harder until you start to hit that radius, and it does take some time to really get comfortable leaning over as far as they’ll allow. It certainly takes a smooth trail and hopefully minimal traffic to really let these skis run because they want to go across the hill. If you’ve got the place to yourself, try carving a circle! As previously stated, they’re built to bend and flex, so they’re not too stiff and this can take a second to get used to. I personally would ski the 181 length rather than our 176 tester, and the only time I really noticed the ski being too short was on steeper and firmer trails. At that point, I was pushing through the tails and not getting the pure carve that I could on less-pitched terrain.
Since they’re compelling skis, I wanted to test them in interesting conditions and terrain as well. The snow gods smiled on us last week and we were able to test some off-piste and powder capabilities of these skis as well. A ski with a tip like that and a 95 mm waist and a swallow tail has got to float, right? In short, yes. In some wider-spaced trees, they stayed right on top of about six inches of dense snow, creating all the sensations of a modern powder ski that we know and love. The added bonus was the fact that they turned pretty quick. As such, I took them in some tighter woods to see if they held up there as well. Again, I was surprised at how agile they were, and I attribute that to a combination of the turn radius as well as the shorter length. They zipped through narrow openings and slashed through gaps in the woods with no problems whatsoever. A similar experience with the tails happened in the woods, so when trying to push the skis around in a tight spot, there was some washout to note. For a ski that was designed to be a carving ski, the powder and tree (and even mogul) performance is well above average. Line keeps pinning the Blade as a carving ski, but I found it to be so much more than that. I keep coming back to the idea that they’re fat slalom skis.
So what does Line have here? Do they only have a carving ski and nothing else or do they have a totally and completely different ski experience from anything else on the market? There are a lot of questions when it comes to a ski like this but I found that all it takes is a couple of runs to really find your center and build a relationship with the Blade. For anyone who has ever said that they want something to float like a powder ski and carve like a slalom ski needs to put this at the top of their list. Do not be intimidated by the shape or profile as they have little to do with the overall personality of the ski. As soon as you lean it over and learn how to handle the balance and g-forces, you’ll be sold on the fact that the Line Blade has a specific set of skills that are not to be overlooked.