Ski: 2014-2015 Black Diamond Zealot, 182cm
Dimensions (mm): 135-110-123
Turn Radius: 27 meters
Weight Per Ski: 2,300 grams / 5.10 lbs.
Mount Location: Factory Recommended
Boots / Bindings: Lange RX 130 / Marker Jester (DIN 10)
Test Location: Alta, A-Basin
Days Skied: 7
(Editor’s note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 Zealot, which is unchanged for 12/13, 13/14, and 14/15. This review is also of the 182cm Zealot, not the 192cm Zealot, which has, according to Black Diamond, a tail that is “less rockered than the 182cm version.” Thanks to George, our reader in the UK who noted that we ought to underscore this difference between the 182 & 192. Good lookin’ out George, and good luck with the ACL rehab! )
The 12/13, 182cm Black Diamond Zealot has grown on me over the course of my time on it.
I’d never skied previous iterations of the Black Diamond Zealot, I just knew of its history as a pretty stiff comp ski.
What I find most surprising about the Zealot is that, while the ski itself has undergone quite an overhaul, nobody seems to have told the marketing department.
BD’s website says of the Zealot, “Part big-mountain gun, part semi-rockered play ski, the redesigned Black Diamond Zealot [is an] ultra-damp ski [and] is built using our new 3D Metal Sandwich construction-a sidewall-style layup with machined Titanal sheets for ultimate stability at speed.
Another website takes it a step further:
“You’ll appreciate the Zealot’s unmatched stability and enhanced durability as you embark on your mission to slay those big, intimidating lines…[it’s] rockered tip, [width] underfoot, and a semi-rockered tail deliver a supremely versatile freeride ski that gets up on edge just as well as it charges.”
Okay, let’s recap: “Part big-mountain gun”… “ultimate stability at speed”…“unmatched stability as you embark on your mission to slay those big, intimidating lines”…”supremely versatile freeride ski”…“gets up on edge just as well as it charges.”
Of all these statements, I would only be truly inclined to keep one (though I might drop the adverb and just say): the Black Diamond Zealot is a “versatile freeride ski.”
In my experience, versatility is the real story with the Zealot, not its mindblowing stability or its charging prowess; that’s the story of the old Zealot.
I think it makes more sense to center the conversation about the 11/12 Black Diamond Zealot around its attractiveness as a potential one ski quiver, rather than it’s uber stability and supreme chargitude. (Yes, chargitude. You may now officially use it next time you play Scrabble.)
And after a handful of days on the Zealot, and a little recalibration of my expectations, I came to like the Zealot quite a bit.
But this ski doesn’t charge crazy hard. In fact, and this isn’t normally the type of thing you’d want to hear about a ski designed to “slay those big, intimidating lines,” I really liked the Zealot as a bumps ski.
May 1st at A-Basin, skiing beautiful slush bumps down the Gulch and through Exhibition was a blast, an easy blast. The Zealot has a forgiving tail and turns quick.
I really like the tail of the Zealot. It’s forgiving but stable, and it was much less prone to wheelie out than the rockered pintail of the Black Diamond Amperage. Actually, there was no wheelie effect on the Zealot at all.
On May 22nd at A-Basin, we did a series of laps that started by bombing down under the Montezuma chair, then continued into Log Roll for some steep trees and bumps. The Zealots were impressive. Lots of skis could handle either that top section or that bottom section, but it would be a much shorter list of skis that could handle both sections as well as the Zealot. (The Nordica Girish (139-110-129mm) and the MOMENT Belafonte (135-106-124mm) would have been more stable than the Zealot at the top, but less fun and more demanding on Log Roll.)
On another day, I skied back to back laps down the same line on Lower East Wall, first on the Amperage, then on the Zealot. As I mention in the Amperage review, when making fast, larger radius turns, I had to stay upright and centered, bases flat. I was getting bucked around a bit, and the tails didn’t feel very supportive. The Zealot’s tails were much more supportive, and the only issue I had was that the significant camber underfoot made it so that the skis didn’t always want to release out of a turn. Admittedly, the snow was pretty wet and heavy, which didn’t make things any easier, and that was really the only situation or conditions in which I experienced this “stuck” effect and felt that the ski was overly-cambered.