Jonathan Ellsworth: Founder / Editor in Chief

Age: 47 | Vitals: 5’10,” ~175 lbs. | Years skiing: 30+ | Crested Butte, Colorado

(see my runner profile)


Jonathan Ellsworth - profile

I grew up in the Chicago area, and my first loves were soccer, basketball, and football. In high school, I was a varsity athlete in football, basketball, and track, and I played football in college (wide receiver) until I was sidelined by an injury.

My first time on skis came during my junior year of high school. The second time was a year later. I started making ski trips out West with some friends during college, but it wasn’t until I moved out west after five years of grad school at the University of Chicago (and a few years of teaching philosophy) that I began to get in a whole lot of days skiing.

Of all our reviewers, I definitely got the latest start. I didn’t grow up racing or hitting rails in the park — I was shooting jump shots and running fade routes. But for a couple of decades now, I’ve been getting around 100 days a year on the mountain, happily making up for lost time.

Jonathan Ellsworth, founder / editor, Blister Gear Review
Jonathan Ellsworth, Las Lenas, Argentina. (photo by Will Brown)

When there’s no new snow, I am quite happy zipperlining bumps, carving up groomers, or touring.

Blister Reviewer Bio: Jonathan Ellsworth
Jonathan Ellsworth, Crested Butte, CO.

I also ski trees a lot, but these days, I find myself seeking out more open lines that don’t require you to check your speed the way tight trees do. Fast is fun.

On deep days, I love making turns in open terrain, jumping off whatever I can find, mostly just feeling grateful for it all.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Praxis Protest for Blister Gear Review.
Jonathan Ellsworth, Hokkaido, Japan. (photo by Ryan Heffernan)

Sometimes skiing is about testing your limits, and sometimes it’s about the pure enjoyment of the turns and the snow and your surroundings. And one of the best things about skiing is that those challenging personal tests, and those moments of pure gratitude and joy, often occur on the very same day.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Salomon Q Lab 109 for Blister Gear Review
Jonathan Ellsworth, Taos. (photo by David Spiegel)

Some Favorite Skis: 


Moment Blister Pro, 190 cm; Rossignol Black Ops 118, 186 cm; J Skis Masterblaster; Nordica Enforcer Free 104, 186 cm; Fisher Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm; 13/14 Volkl Mantra, 184 cm; 13/14 Moment Belafonte, 187 cm; 13/14 Volkl Katana, 191 cm; 16/17 Line Supernatural 108, 186 cm; 16/17 Salomon X-Drive 8.8, 184 cm; 14/15 Praxis Protest, 187 cm; 16/17 Blizzard Bonafide, 180 cm; 18/19 Blizzard Brahma, 180 cm; HEAD Supershape i.Titan, 177 cm


4FRNT Raven, 184 cm; Volkl V-Werks BMT 109, 186 cm; Blizzard Zero G 95, 185 cm

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Rossignol Super 7 RD for Blister Review
Jonathan Ellsworth, Taos. (photo by Zach Eannarino)

27 comments on “Jonathan Ellsworth: Founder / Editor in Chief”

  1. Jonathan,

    Great site, I am impressed. I have been skiing since I was in 6th grade. As you know, I too am always looking for an excuse to get out there and make some turns. Hopefully we can get a chance to ski together. If you find yourself out here in Europe, please look me up and we will hit the Alps!

    Good luck to you,


  2. Are you the Jonathan Ellsworth who is the author of the essay “How Walden Works: Thoreau and the Socratic Art of Provocation.” This is one of the most important pieces I have seen about Thoreau in a good long time.

  3. Hey Jonathan – love your reviews and your site is a class act. I also love a lot of the same skis you guys do: 184 Mantra, 190 Bibby, 182 Belafonte… My questions has to do with the new ON3P lineup for 2015. 2 skis I’m particularly interested in are the 186 Jeffrey (114) and the 186 Wrenegades (112). Are you guys going to be reviewing either of those skis this year?

  4. Love ur site , super well done & great reading. I’m a bit of a geek about details of design & you guys do a great job explaining that stuff. Quick question I’m a PNW skier & boarder. And hooky skis in wet snow scare me & my knees. What makes a ski hooky vs not? Figured ud have a good answer. cheers Jim

  5. Hey Jonathan — did I meet you at Taos yesterday? Some guy named Jonathan introduced himself to me at the bottom run-out of Ninos Heros. If so, that was a rippin line! Good times up there. If not, I want to say that I picked up a pair of Rossi E100s pretty much based on your very well-written review. Thanks!

    • Yep, that was me, Dan. I noticed those E100s on your feet — you certainly skied them well down Ninos, so I’m glad they seem to be working out for you!

      And that was definitely a fun line — it was also my very first run on my Blister Pros, so I’ll remember it for a long time. (It’s also probably why I should thank you for talking me out of dropping that rock band near the bottom — those new skis would have got trashed … but it sure looked fun.)

      • Nice — it’s a small world, no? Hope to run into you again up there. We’ll make a few turns!

        Far be it from me to talk someone out of dropping a clean line — that one just looked a bit sketchy… Hope you had a great rest of the day on your new sticks!

  6. Have a group of 4-5 coming to Taos in early February; any lodging recommendations? We repay good advice in beer and tequila. -Matt

  7. Jonathan,
    You mentioned you would like the ski the 2015 Katana 191. I have both the 184 and the 191 mounted with Kingpins, I ski these with Freedom SLs. Will you be in the Aspen Snowmass area this season? Earlier I posted I had a question regarding lightweight performance mountaineering skis. Well, the Kingpin mounted on light twitchy skis (Movement Shift 1400+grams) changes the personality of the ski, it is much more powerful and not nervous at speed. The kingpin tours well, I can change heal risers mid stride and switch to ski mode, and rip the skins without removing the skis. Faster transition then my FT-12s. The interface with the ski is so strong I can use lighter touring boots and achieve improved performance at a net loss in weight.

  8. Great site Jonathan. Did my first season in France last year and all the advice on here was greatly appreciated. Became a member on the back of that just now. Would love to see some reviews of Black Crows if you manage to get hold of any.


  9. Happy New Year. I wont expect a reply but its worth a shot seeing as I love your reviews and actually decided on some 14/15 Volk Mantras based on what you had to say about them. Quick background, 48yr old, 5’8″,190lb and on my 8th ski season (Brek, Abasin, Keystone) so maybe intermediate-wannabe advanced? My first and only skis have been Salomon Storms 162 and they have served me well tackling any and all runs (no terrain park). I actually prefer off piste over groomers tho not into going too fast so never straight-line and moguls are always a challenge but fun.
    I just tried out my new Mantras today, they only had 177 in stock, sales guy said coz they are rockered they ski like a shorter ski but I really thought I needed the 170’s. Anyways on the groomers the skis hauled butt, felt super steady on long carving turns but I had to keep scrubbing off the speed. Moguls were a nightmare especially steep chutes, I couldn’t get into a groove, I would take out three moguls before I could turn. Im gonna try the Mantras out again next week as I don’t expect them to be great after just one day but Im thinking they are too much ski for me and was wondering if you have any suggestions of what might suit me better? I don’t get much powder so don’t need a fat ski. Kendo or Bonafide maybe?

  10. Hi Jonathan,

    The reviews on the site are great. I am considering becoming a member, but I live in the bay area in California and primarily ski Squaw where the conditions are a little different than CO and ID. Do you have any reviewers who live in the area and can make recommendations on skis/snowboards for Tahoe snow?



    • Hi, Dan – we don’t currently have reviewers in the Tahoe area, but we’ve been making ski recommendations to readers in the Tahoe area for five years now, and no one has yet to say that our recommendations were off. Truth is, if you spend enough time in the mountains, you will encounter “Tahoe” type snow. (And the worst Sierra cement I ever skied wasn’t actually in the Sierras, it was down in New Zealand.) All that to say, we’ve been able to help and successfully guide many skiers in the Tahoe area in the past, and I’m certain we will continue to be able to do so.

  11. Hi Jonathan,

    Huge fan of the site – love the methodical nature of the reviews and the philosophical spirit casted in your work. Also, huge fan of the podcasts, especially the discussions that are produced and how you really immerse the listener in interesting topics (my favorite ones are the technicals of the ski) but I also enjoyed the topics in the Townsend interview.

    I am emailing you because, I think after reading a bunch of the sites reviews and skiing on a bunch of skis, I think I know a ski you would like. A reoccurring trend in your reviews of big mountain skis are that you generally enjoy a longer ski 185cm+, damper, directional charger, that has girth.

    I love this type of ski as well. Some of the skis I have laying around the house are 184cm V-Werks Katana’s, 186cm Moment Governors, 185cm Armada JJs, and a pair of 186 Blizzard Bodacious.

    I recently purchased a pair 188 Fat-ypus D’riddums FT with “athlete flex”. The the five point side cut dimensions are 134/144/118/138/129. Overall, the skis is practically flat, has about 22cm of a tapered tail rocker with about 40cm of tip rocker.

    The first time I skied the ski I was not impressed because the recommended mount was the same as the fully rockered version. I did some equivelent fractions to solve for the new mounting point by taking the average mount distance (boot center) from the tail by using the Governor and the Bodacious (similar skis in my opinion). I mounted a pair of Marker Kingpin 13’s to the ski at 82cm from the tail and skied them 5 days at Vail, East Vail, and the backcountry.

    The ski was nimble but wanted to go fast and really open up in above tree-line terrain. Based off of reading your reviews I think you should review the ski. It has girth, charges, and has a nimble feel. Feel free to email me if you would like to see some pictures of the profile of the ski.

    Once again, love the site and everything that you guys represent. Much praise and I hope you take some time to review a sweet ski!


  12. Dec 2016
    Considering x drive 8.8 fs … 5’8″, 196llbs
    Declining fitness 40-10th year !!
    Concerned over length choice …
    love attacking chopped piste with aggressive turns … but get fatigue phased and need a recovery slow and stable run at times too ( or after scarring myself with an over aggressive run !! )
    … realise there is much more info needed for great advice … but … would appreciate your best guess …
    Love the sound of the ski from your right up …
    but edging towards a shorter length …

  13. Jonathan,
    I just read your review on the Black Diamond Boundary 107. I’m set on buying this ski, but need your opinion on length. I am 6’0″ (6’1″ on a good day), and 184lbs. I’ll be using this ski as my almost everyday resort ski as well as for touring and very minimal ski mountaineering. I ski in a relatively neutral stance, and like to throw shifties and 3s off of natural features and backcountry jumps. Do you recommend I go with the 184 or 192?


  14. Hi Jonathan, I was reading your review on the Volkl Mantra and am actually trying to decide on the 177 or 184 (new 15/16 or 16/17 model). Now since I’m 6.5 and 200 pounds the official advice is always the 184. I’m an intermediate skieer (also play sports so I’m athletic) that wants to do it all, go fast and have fun.

    So what would really be the cons of having the 177. It’d be easier to handle but would I really go that much less fast and have less stability than the 184’s? I think I wouldn’t go over 50 mph that often (on snowboard tops is 55ish). And for going off the piste? Appreciate anything you could way in. Thanks!

  15. Greetings Jonathan:
    Requesting your help. Skied for the first time in 27 years this past winter. Wife, kids, job etc…
    Went with my son and remembered why I loved it as a young man. I am lost with skis today. Shapes and construction are much different. About me: HS football, track and college basketball. I am now 55, 6’3″ and 225 lbs living in Minnesota. Good shape and strength. Most skiing will be in Minnesota with a trip or so each year to Colorado. I would say I am an intermediate skier wanting to advance that would value a stable ski that can turn quickly at speeds other than really fast. Good grip. Something challenging that I can push when I feel like it. Something I can grow on. A few bumps and trees. No double blacks for now. The illusive one ski for nearly all conditions. I will not be spending a lot of time in powder over 6″ I am guessing.
    Please give me a push in the right direction. Looking at Nordica Enforcer 100 & 93. Blizzard Bonafide & Brahma, Volkl Mantra & RTM84 Evo, Atomic Vantage 90cti & Vantage X 83.
    Loved Taos all those years ago.
    Thank you for your time.
    Minneapolis, MN

  16. Hello Jonathan

    Its about 90 degrees here in Park City today, so I’m thinking about skiing… :)

    Here’s my question. I’m 67 years old and an experienced skier. Six feet, 190 lbs. Have lived in Park City for 5 years, coming up on season 6. In 2012 I discovered the Rossi S3 (168) for soft bumps. For me the best, easiest, cheater ski I’ve ever been on. I know you are (were?) a fan of the 186 and I get that, but at my age and for my intended purpose, the 168s were perfect. I’ve demo-ed some (most?) of Rossi’s successor designs since then and nothing seems to come close to delivering the pleasure of the S3.

    Is there an S3 ‘ski-alike’ Rossi in the 2017-2018 line up which you think I would enjoy?

    Thanks in advance,


  17. Great job on your site Jonathan. I saw that you are originally from Chi Town. I too am a chicago area native. I’ve been living/skiing in the west for 40 years now. Living in Durango, CO now. The wasatch, san juans, and sangres have been my main stomping grounds these days. Thanks for all your great reviews, I always go to blister first when I’m thinking of adding a new ski to my quiver. I find your assessment to be very much aligned with my own experience on the same skis.
    Very helpful. Keep up the great work.

  18. Thank you for this excellent site. I have made many excellent buys based on your recommendations. It has enabled me to to orientate myself in a endless sea of products, and find out what works for me in different snow conditions both inbounds and out.

    Before Blister i just randomly picked a ski, boot or binding based on a random non informative reviews or advice.

    Being able to pick gear that suits my needs has enabled me to enjoy skiing even more, and caused me to spend many more days in the mountains

    Please keep up the good work.

  19. Blister has the best reviews around. Just picked up a pair of J-Skis The Metal based on your review. On thing I think would help is to better define fast / charging. For example my girlfriend currently tops out at 20 mph, while I prefer closer to 50 mph when I’m blasting groomers and don’t really consider pushing the limits until I’m in the 60s. Better defining the speed would help when you say things like high-speed, high-angle arcs. Or, when you are talking about the 187 Masterblaster, how fast is a “surprising amount of speed” before the high-angle carves?

    Just a suggestion. Keep up the good work.

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