New vs. Old: a Report on our 16/17 Ski Testing

We’re currently in the thick of reviewing a whole bunch of new skis. And often, lost in the sea of all the shiny new stuff are the products that aren’t new. In the ski industry, it’s all about that new new.

Why? Well part of that is because New is sexy and exciting. New makes news.

And in the world of gear reviews, that’s why the media is always focused on the “latest and greatest.” You know this. And ski companies know this. Which is why companies often—almost always—will change perfectly good products after a year or two, just to stay in the news, just to get that fresh buzz.

But the reality is that the shiny new stuff isn’t, in fact, always better than the old stuff—especially when the old stuff is dialed. By definition, once something is dialed, you can only un-dial it. Your best case is that you make it different, but not better. And you’ll probably end up making it worse.

It’s depressing to see very good things turned into less good things. And it’s frustrating to see very good things get less attention simply because there is some new unproven thing coming to market.

One of the goals we have at Blister is to reward those companies who have created “perfect” products. We want to help create a world where, if you have made something that is incredibly good, we will keep telling the world that it is incredibly good, and all you have to do is keep making it. The onus isn’t on the old equipment to prove itself, the onus is on all that shiny, intriguing, sexy new stuff.

Another goal we have at Blister is to not lie to our readers about the New vs. the Old. Before we started Blister, all we ever heard was that the new stuff was better. Which is a lie.

That’s why we keep talking about and giving awards to the Nordica Soul Rider ever year it comes back unchanged. That’s why we we’re still so glad to have the Moment Bibby Pro / Blister Pro back. And that’s why we’re cautiously optimistic that the Rossignol Squad 7 is back—well, it’s no longer called the Squad 7, it’s now called the “Super 7 RD” (Race Department), and we have been told by Rossi that this new “Squad” is back to being more like the old Squad—which, with its 30-meter sidecut radius, was always supposed to be a beefy, big-mountain gun. We have the Super 7 RD in hand, and we’ll soon see about that. But we’re psyched by the possibility of a proper return.

Jonathan Ellsworth Ski reviews update 2016
Jason Hutchins on the 2012-2013 Rossignol Squad 7

One final example: this past weekend, I was back on the 15/16 Blizzard Bonafide, which is unchanged for 16/17. And I was blown away all over again by how fucking good this ski is. Conditions were firm and very fast, and the Bonafide exhibited very good edge hold on icy, early-morning groomers, was confidence-inspiring in steep, wind-scoured entrances that the conditions were turning into No-Fall Zones, and yet the ski wasn’t a total handful in very firm bizarro bumps down Taos’ Reforma.

And all I could think was that this ski might get less attention in the 16/17 Buyer’s Guides because Blizzard didn’t do some unnecessary and stupid tweaks to it just so a lazy ski media would have a few fresh talking points.

Fact is, the current Bonafide is still amazing, and any new skis in its class are going to have a difficult job of unseating it. Simply being “new” shouldn’t be good enough.

New isn’t always better. Updates aren’t always improvements. I really hope that manufacturers out there remember this, and that they can rest assured that at least one outlet will continue to reward and talk about great products that shouldn’t be messed with.

On that note, we’ll now get back to seeing how the New stacks up to the Old…




5 comments on “New vs. Old: a Report on our 16/17 Ski Testing”

  1. Jonathan,

    Are all Blister reviews done on skis out of the wrapper? Most new skis need some real baseline tune work which can wildly change how a ski works or doesn’t. Is there a set pattern for your reviews?

    • I’d say about 90-95% of the skis we review are skied “out of the wrapper” – or on skis that haven’t yet seen snow and still have the factory tune. Several reasons for this: (1) many, many skiers are getting on skis this way, so it’s relevant to see how well a ski performs right out of the box. (2) In an age where there are so many good skis out there, a company’s factory tune is yet another bit of criteria we can use to judge skis. (3) It also means that we can give a heads up to readers on mods they might want to perform right away. Recent example: detuning the shovels of the Liberty Origin96 really altered that ski, so I want to give that info in case someone jumps on that ski and finds themselves struggling. Of course, that might have only been the case with OUR review pair, but still, I think it’s valuable info to provide.

      So if we go ahead and just throw a 2/1 or 1/1 tune on everything, we lose the ability to weigh in on any / all of the above. And if we DO have any issues after getting the ski on snow, we can – and do – tune / detune the ski accordingly.

  2. Absolutely agree. Also agree on bonafide being a great firm snow ski for those it hasn’t snowed since I was a kid days.

    I hope you guys review the new 4frnt 196 renegade with vibe veil technology. I would have to subscribe then though…

  3. Yeah, and you can throw the PB&J in there too. They should’ve called the PB&J something more aggressive sounding like they did the Deathwish. They made a true masterpiece of a ski, but the name isn’t really representative of what this ski is IMO. Should’ve called it a Bibby Pro Slimline or something.

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