Rating: / 5
Waist Width: 114
Lengths: 179, 186, 193
The 2017 Blizzard Gunsmoke, which returns to the line with a new graphic, is the powder specialist in the Freeride Twin collection. Less expensive than the flat-tailed Bodacious ($840; 118 mm), it’s similar in width and construction (both have wood cores lightened with foam) but with a smearier, bidirectional flavor.
Blizzard’s Freeride Twin men’s collection comprises four twin-tipped versions of the Austrian brand’s highly successful bull-themed all-mountain skis (each is named for a famous rodeo bull). All models return unchanged for 2017, except for new graphics on all but the Latigo. The Freeride Twin collection’s broad span of waist widths ranges from powder-specific (Gunsmoke, 114 mm) to Eastern-knifey (Latigo, 78 mm), with a couple of soft-snow generalists (Peacemaker, 104 mm; Regulator, 94 mm) in between. Compared to the flat-tailed freeriders (Spur, Bodacious, Cochise, Brahma) the twins offer smearier, more youthful, bi-directional performance, but the constructions are the same. All are sturdy laminate layups with edgy, full-length/full-height vertical sidewalls. The wider models are built on cores of durable bamboo and poplar mixed with foam stringers to keep things light (Blizzard’s ISO Core). The narrower models are all wood for maximum durability and strength. All are rockered in the tip in tail, for soft-snow flotation and easy-to-pivot steering, with positive camber underfoot for enhanced edge grip and rebound energy on hardpack. Tapered tips (where the widest part of the ski is moved toward the binding) give all models an added measure of slashy surfiness in deep snow. All are built with Blizzard’s Flipcore construction method: The ski mold is built with rocker in it, and the wood core is flipped so that it fits the rockered mold (arched surface down; flat surface up). Blizzard says no extra pressure is needed tip and tail to bend the ski into a rockered shape, so there’s no material-memory tendency to spring back to an unrockered shape, and pressure distribution is even along the ski’s length. The newer Carbon Flipcore, in all models, has a layer of strong, light carbon-fiber reinforcement through the rocker area in the tip to save weight, increase stability, and reduce the tip-flap that plagues some rockered skis.
Blizzard, founded in 1945, is based in Mittersill, Austria, about 15 minutes from Kitzbuehel. It’s part of the Tecnica Group, which includes Tecnica and Nordica (also Rollerblade, Lowa, and Moon Boot). The Mittersill factory produces both Blizzard and Nordica skis, as well as some skis for other brands. -J.C.