2022 Blizzard Brahma 88 Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2022 Blizzard Brahma 88 Ski Review

Full disclosure: I’ve always been kinda scared of the Brahma. When they first came out, on paper, it sounded like the ski for me. I even thought the 187, at the time, was on the short side. And then I skied it. My initial impressions were that, 1) I needed a formal racing background to properly carve this ski (which I do not have), and 2) You have to be going at least 40 to get this thing to behave the way it’s intended (which I do not feel like doing all of the time). For years, I thought this was just an inaccessible ski for most skiers on the planet. The Brahma 88, for 2021 and 2022, remains an elite ski—one that’s best-suited for expert skiers who know how to drive into the front of the ski and hold an edge at speed. The changes they’ve made, though, over the past year, have increased the range and reach of the Brahma, bringing more skiers into the fold, without compromising the no-nonsense philosophy of the ski in general.

Two main changes have made the Brahma 88 a more successful ski for 2021/22, and all of my previous ill thoughts of the ski completely went out the window when I hopped on the 183 cm ski a few weeks ago here at Stowe. What changed? First, their use of True Blend technology is a big one. By using two different densities of wood stringers in the core, they’re able to alter the flex and behavior of the ski per model, per length. This gives Blizzard the advantage when it comes to fine-tuning the performance of the ski. Stiffer and denser stringers are found in the central chord and in the middle of the ski while the lower-density stringers run through the tips and tails, creating a more playful and engaging character. Second, and this is where we’re going to get a lot of questions and comments, is the changing of the lengths. Similar to the Bonafide 97, the Brahma 88 will be available in a 165, 171, 177, 183, and 189. They’ve tightened up the span of the sizing, and this should help skiers get on the proper length for them. Normally, I’d just be on the longest length. I’m 6’2” and 220 pounds, so the 189 is certainly in play, but I just had so much more fun on the 183. I’ll go into more detail a bit later, but in general, the changing of the sizing is a good thing, and certainly goes well with the implementation of the True Blend wood core.

AT A GLANCE


2022 Blizzard Brahma 88 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

165, 171, 177, 183, 189 cm

16 m at 177 cm

128 / 88 / 110 mm

True Blend with Metal Laminates

Power, Stability, Edge Grip


There is a bit more of a tapered shape to speak of, and when that’s combined with the difference in lengths, it does make the ski feel like it wants to turn more than before. The first two versions of the Brahma were fantastic carvers, but it did require a fair amount of effort to get the job done. The Brahma 88, on the other hand, uses that taper to help initiate the turn, making it feel a bit shorter and more carvy than before. While we got a pretty traditional east coast day for testing this year, it certainly highlighted the ski’s preference for firmer snow conditions. The rocker profile remains fairly generic for an 88 mm underfoot ski, with Blizzard’s use of mild tip and tail rocker and some pretty positive camber underfoot. It’s not going to make the ski float through the fluff like the more rockered Enforcer 88, but it’s certainly going to charge through crud and chop with supreme confidence.

2022 Blizzard Brahma 88 Ski Review: Full Camber Image

What stayed the same, then? You’re still getting a dual-metal laminate ski with bi-directional carbon in the tips and tails, much like the previous version. The high-end performance level of the ski remains largely unchanged, and I can’t think of one instance in which one of the older editions of the ski shines brighter or is more useful than the current iteration.

Last year, I skied the 189 during testing at Pico in Vermont. The conditions were firm. Loose granular piled up throughout the day, so with hard snow in between these softer piles, we dealt with some pretty typical eastern conditions. Perhaps it’s my own mental misgivings, but I certainly thought at the time that the 189 was the proper size for me, and that there was no reason to even try the 183. Due to my heard-headedness, I wasn’t a huge fan of the ski until just a week ago. On the 183, the ski came to life. The 17.5-meter turn radius in that length suited the conditions and terrain quite well, even so far as to explore some of the rock-hard moguls that we had on the mountain. Yes, stiff for the bumps, but at the 183, they were maneuverable enough to manipulate to keep up with even the tighter lines. I’d imagine their capabilities would only grow in softer moguls, but I was happy to have the edge grip and responsiveness of the tail given the firmness of the conditions.

2022 Blizzard Brahma 88 Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 1 2022 Blizzard Brahma 88 Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 2

Moguls aside, these skis were really designed to excel on the groomers, and it’s in that light where I was most impressed with the 183. From the moment I tipped it on edge, I was expecting the ski to continue to go straight, much like my experience on the 189, but I was very pleasantly surprised with the way the ski leaned with me, allowing me to dig in and create a higher edge angle and a more lateral movement across the hill. Transitions were smooth and quick in between turns, and strong skiers will be rewarded with incredible energy and power at the finish of the turn. I do not have that strong race background, but I’d imagine that former racer will really gravitate to these skis and their ability to rip carved turns with the utmost of confidence and precision. Stable as a rock and smooth as a Cadillac, the Blizzard Brahma 88 in the 183 exceeded my expectations and made me a believer in the Brahma.

A few days later, I got back on the 189 and actually had a more positive experience than I expected. I did note, however, that the 189 has much more of an obvious speed minimum versus the 183. You really have to be moving right along to get the 189 to come to life, and when you do, you’re getting one of the most stable skis on the planet at higher speeds. Strong, large, and aggressive skiers can gravitate to the 189, and I enjoy skiing it when I have wide-open trail in front of me, but when you’re navigating skier traffic like we do around here a good amount of the time, it’s nice to have something that you can turn a bit easier. Perhaps it’s my advancing age and diminishing flexibility, but even while I chart out to the 189, I’m skiing the 183 any day of the week. I’m getting out of my own head and just enjoying the ride.

2022 Blizzard Brahma 88 Ski Review: Buy Now Image

Written by Bob St.Pierre on 01/21/20

16 thoughts on “2022 Blizzard Brahma 88 Ski Review

  1. Hey, trying to do some research before buying my first skis! I'm 5'6 160 lb and ski almost exclusively New England, mostly the smaller MA mountains with the occasional trip farther North, so usually somewhat icy stuff. I'd say I'm fairly advanced, I don't feel uncomfortable on any of the blacks in even at the bigger Northeast mountains. I do like to carve at speed (and if I have to pick one, carve for sure), one of the reasons why I'm looking to buy skis is because I feel like rentals are always floppy at speed, and I love the "snappy" feeling that better skis give when I'm able to borrow from friends. No glades or anything, always on the groomed stuff. From the video/your website, I've considered the Brahma 82 or 88, Kore 87, Ripstick 88, Experience 88 Ti, any help narrowing down (or even another suggestion altogether)? Also any recommendations on length for that pick (I like the lightness of rental 160 but I like the speed of 170... so I'm guessing somewhere in between? Though I imagine speed has something to do w/ wax job as well...) My wallet would like to keep it to ONE ski!

    1. HI Alex!
      I think the Kore 87 and Ripstick 88 stand out to me as strong options. They're both light and snappy, but not overpowering like the Brahma skis can feel. Between those, I'd say the Kore is the more accomplished carver while the Ripstick is your playful option. I'd say the upper 160's to low 170's is appropriate in those models. Have fun, and you'll be buying multiple skis before you know it.
      SE

  2. Bob - couldn’t agree more about sizing. I’m 6-2 and about 200 lbs. On the B97 - I tried the 183 and 189 based on your feedback. I initially thought the 183 was a tiny bit twitchy - which was consistent with your reaction. After 2 days on the 183 in NE I fell in love - I needed some time with it but it was quick and now they are totally comfortable and dialed, I think it’s because it’s such a powerful and precise ski. Totally comfortable on it now and wouldn’t consider sizing down or up. Edge grip continues to shock me and slow speed skiing is great too.

    Other thing is that the higher end Blizzard skis have a fantastic and consistent tune from the factory. Both the Brahma and B97 are razor sharp on their effective edge and detuned perfectly on the tips and tails. I need to look up their base and side edge angles. These are truly high end skis IMO and rival the quality of kastle, and blow other skis at similar price points out of the water - for the right skier. I’ve never felt this precision and control before.

    I do think this Brahma is a better carver and piste oriented ski than last years version. But I think that’s a good thing - these rip like dedicated carvers and can be solid all mountain skis in NE as long as they’re sized appropriately - not just weight and height but technique and intended use too. When it’s zero degrees and windy like today - I’d take the brahmas over anything else. When it’s mostly soft and powder day I’ll take the enforcer 104s (just ordered next years graphics from you guys). Any other day (which in NE is 60-75 percent of the time) I’ll take the B97s. And when I’m beat up and sore and kids want to ski, take the stance 96 which is a great user friendly ski but still pretty powerful and damp.

    So many great skis out there. These reviews are great.

  3. 2021 Blizzard Brahma 88 v. Volkl Kendo 88 for east coast (PA) skier

    Hey there Ski Essentials! I'd like to start by saying how happy I am that I discovered your site. I love your thorough, in-depth content and reviews!

    I am a long time skier looking to make an even longer overdue ski purchase. I live in Northeast PA and ski pretty much nothing but hard pack and groomers. I do make the occasional trip up north to Vermont or upstate New York where snowfall may be greater, but not on a regular basis by any means. I’m in my early 40’s, 5’8” and 178 lb. with an athletic build. I also spend more time skiing with my kids these days than I do ripping or getting after it.

    I’ve done a good bit of research on frontside, on-piste, all mountain skis and keep coming back to the ‘21 Brahma 88 or Kendo 88. I’m looking for something competent and versatile, but also not all out punisher or racer. I’m hoping to glean some real feedback from those of you who have experience with either or both of these skis and can share your experiences. I don’t really have demo days around me either so will need to purchase site unseen so to speak.

    I’m coming from an early 2000s Solomon X-Scream 9 (not sure of width but 174cm) so anything modern will be a big improvement.

    Thanks y’all.

    1. Hi Jake!
      I really gravitated to the Brahma 88 in the 183 this year for testing. I thought it was incredibly confident and solid, but I'd also say it is on the punishing side. I did not have the same punishing feeling with the Kendo in the 184--rather I thought it had a great range of abilities, from flexibility in moguls, quickness in trees, and supreme carving ability. I was not expecting this from the Kendo, as I've always found it to be planky in the past. While not a feather, it is lighter than the Brahma, and since it still does have that high ceiling, I'd say for you and your application, the Kendo is a better choice. I'd think the 170 would be the best size in that ski for you. Have fun!
      SE

      1. Thanks so much for the feedback, it is really helpful and perhaps the Kendo is the better fit for me. While I like the stability and strong edge grip of the Brahma, I am also equally as interested in maneuverability, quickness and overall comfort. Given my initial post, do you think there is anything else I should be taking a hard look at? Would want to stay in the 80-90mm all mountain range.

        Thanks!

  4. Hey currently own a pair of 2013 Blizzard Bushwackers that are pretty beat up. Switched to the Nordica Enforcer 100 a few years ago and initially loved the ski but i find myself gravitating back to the Bushwackers for their sheer playfulness on the mountain (east coast skier). Such a fun all around ski and so light and easy in the trees and moguls especially for my size (5'5'' and 145lbs). Also better on the knees since i'm 47 and not getting younger. I'm thinking of buying a 2020 pair of new bushwackers but i want to see if anything has changed since the 2013 construction? I'd demo but they don't seem to make them anymore but i can score a pair to buy if i look hard enough. Thoughts on the difference between 2013 and 2020 Bushwackers? Ruslter 9 is also on my list.
    Thanks!

    1. HI Kevin!
      It's a shame they don't make that ski anymore, becuause it's a ton of fun! They do, however, make the Black Pearl 88, which is/was the same construction as the Bushwacker, just in shorter sizes and more lady-like graphics. If you want a current Bushwacker in a shorter length, the Black Pearl 88 might be the way to go. They also make it in a 97, so if you liked the width of the 100's but were looking for a more playful ski, that's a good choice too. They added carbon to the build in all of these Pearl/Buswhacker skis since 2013, so they will be a tad stiffer, and the shape is more tapered but less rockered, so they're smooth and stable with good edge grip. Rustler/Sheeva 9 is another great choice, a good blend of the wood/carbon builds of the Pearl/Wacker and the dual-metal Enforcers. Have fun!
      SE

  5. I have a dilemma similar to Jake's. Based on reading reviews (many on here - thank you!) and talking with a salesman at my local shop, I think I have my short list narrowed down to Kendo 88, Experience 88, Enforcer 88, and Brahma 88, probably in that order. Also the Stormrider 88 but it seems like the other 4 are very similar and in a more comfortable price range.

    I'm in may late 40s, 5'11", 175, in decent shape. Many years ago (we are talking Rossi 4S/3G) I was a high school racer, and I still love to ski fast on groomers, so I'm not afraid of the relatively beefy construction. Over the last several years I haven't skied much, and most of my snow time has been spent teaching and skiing with my kids. I'm currently on Kastle LX82s (180s), which I find perfect for that type of easy going cruising. Now that the kids are growing up, I want to start spending time in more challenging terrain (NY/VT). I realize these skis I am looking at are not much wider than the LX, but I'm not interested in building a quiver. I'll keep the LX for chill family days but I want something else for when I meet up with my friends and pretend I'm 20 years younger than I am.

    Question about size: I think 177 sounds right for me in Kendo/Brahma, 180 in Experience, 179 in Enforcer. What would you recommend for me?

    Also a question about bindings - seems to me anything with a DIN range up to 12 should cover me, is there any reason to spring for something like the Jester16? Seems like overkill but maybe I'm wrong about that. Any specific binding recommendations?

    1. HI Rob!
      The Experience is the friendliest of the four, with a shorter turn radius and a carve-loving personality. The Kendo is the next up, and while it's got a pretty metallic ring to it, the 3D Radius and the titanal frame actually make it pretty easy to turn, despite it's high-gear potential. Enforcer is heavier still, and feels quite dense, but is likely the most versatile and freeride-oriented on this list, as it shares rocker and taper technology with the wider skis in the Enforcer line. Lastly, the Brahma is the race horse of the group, with edge grip for days, and the stiffness to show for it. They're heavy, burly, and demanding, but you can sure eke an absolute ton of performance out of them. I think the Kendo is a nice middle-ground, with a high-end and a low range that will accommodate a lot of different snow conditions, terrain, and turn style. For bindings, we pair these skis with either the Marker Griffon or the Tyrolia Attack, and there's not a whole lot of difference between these and their 16-DIN counterparts except for the spring. So yes, it's a bit overkill as you're not maxing out the 13, so why the 16? At the same time, why buy a truck or an SUV if you're not towing or offroading? You can have it if you want it, and you don't need to use all of it, and nobody should get mad at you about it. I run Look Pivot 18's at a 9 DIN on most of my skis because I'm a Pivot snob, but I wouldn't be any better or worse off with a Griffon. Hope that helps!
      SE

  6. Hey, I currently have a pair of Rustler 9 180's that I love and have been my one ski quiver since they were released. I am an east coast skier in northern ny and I would like to add a pair of more dedicated frontside/ice and hard snow/carving skis to the mix. Right now I am considering the Brahma 88s and the Brahma 82's. I think there would be too much overlap between the Rustler 9s and Brahma 88s and am leaning towards the 82s. I am 6'1" and 170 lbs and would probably get 180s or 183s depending on the sizing for the 82s this year. What are your thoughts? Any other skis that you'd recommend with this in mind? Thanks

    1. HI James!
      I do think it's good to keep about 10mm between your skis, so I would go with the 82's over the 88's as a result. In the 180. On the high end, the Stockli Laser AX is a phenomenal ski, but certainly is finance-dependent. Volkl Deacon 80 is another solid choice to check out. Have fun!
      SE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *