Rating: 3.85 / 5
Waist Width: 104
Lengths: 158, 165, 172, 179
Stability at speed: 4.10 / 5
Hard snow performance: 3.30 / 5
Crud performance: 3.99 / 5
Flotation: 3.70 / 5
Forgiveness: 3.73 / 5
Overall: 3.85 / 5
No ski has ever earned the top ranking in every performance criterion. But the category-demolishing Sheeva came tantalizingly close this year, with best- in-show scores in eight of the nine, including an all-time record-smashing high in Overall Impression. With Deer Valley cloaked in six to eight inches on Day 1, the testers—and the Sheeva— went wild. The Sheeva’s a little narrow by powder-ski standards, so it settled for second in Flotation. But otherwise it excelled in every facet of the game. Cunningham: “The Sheeva shreds! Cuts through crud magnificently; fun flotation and playfulness in powder; carvy on groomers too. Incredible versatility. A great all-mountain powder ski for the adventurous ripper.”
Notes: The 2017 Sheeva is the widest and most expensive women's ski Blizzard makes. With its 104-mm waist width and rockered/tapered shape, it's designed to surf and smear in all but the deepest powder yet still be versatile enough for everyday resort conditions in Western locales.
Blizzard's Women's Freeride collection includes four women-specific versions of the Austrian brand's highly successful bull-themed all-mountain skis (each is named for a famous rodeo bull). For 2017, all models return unchanged except for new graphics. Waist widths range from a soft-snow-surfing 104 mm (Sheeva) down to an Eastern-hardpack-carving 78 mm (Cheyenne), with two all-conditions candidates (Samba, 98 mm; Black Pearl, 88 mm) in between. All are sturdy laminate layups with edgy, full-length/full-height vertical sidewalls, and all feature the same core construction-a mix of poplar and beech, for durability and responsiveness, with thicknesses tuned to be appropriately lightweight and softer flexing for women. All are metal-free, so they'll be light and lively, rather than too heavy, edgy or overdamp. Rocker tip in tail enhances their soft-snow flotation and makes them easy to pivot and steer; positive camber underfoot gives them enhanced edge grip, rebound energy, and carvability 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 soft 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.