Dimensions (mm): 140-114-130
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 183.5cm
Turn Radius: 23 meters
Weight Per Ski: 4.6 lbs.
Boots / Bindings: Nordica Supercharger Ignition / Marker Jester (DIN) 11
Mount Location: -5 cm from true center
Test Location: Niseko, Japan
Days Skied: 5
New for the 2012-2013 season, the 114mm-waisted GunSmoke fits between the Cochise (108mm) and the Bodacious (118mm) in Blizzard’s “Free Mountain” lineup. But Blizzard isn’t simply looking to bridge the gap between the Cohise and the Bodacious with the GunSmoke; the GunSmoke is an altogether different ski.
The GunSmoke is Blizzard’s first freestyle-oriented ski to incorporate their flipcore technology. Since we’ve already said a lot about flipcore already (check out our “What is Flipcore?” article, that we will be updating soon), I’m not going to go into much detail about that here.
In our reviews of the flipcored Cochise, Will Brown and Jonathan Ellsworth agreed that the ski was surprisingly forgiving, yet able to hold up to a high level of riding. After spending a full day on the Bodacious and five days on the GunSmoke, I can add that I’ve also found these other two skis to provide a unique combination of forgiveness and stability.
It is still unclear how significant of a role flipcore plays in giving these skis this feel. What is certain, however, is that Blizzard is making some killer skis right now, and the GunSmoke is the most recent example.
While I have been skiing a lot of deep powder here in Niseko, I’ve also had the chance to ski the GunSmoke in a wide range of conditions over the past week. I’ve experienced everything from icy, windswept groomers to thick, creamy snow and sun-baked chop. The GunSmoke has been very good in all these conditions, providing one of the most versatile rides I have ever experienced.
But since powder is the most fun to talk about, let’s start there.
The GunSmoke is not a pure powder ski, and this was evident when I had it in the deep stuff. In waist-deep blower and knee-deep wind-compacted snow, I was experiencing some tip dive at slower speeds; not flip-head-over-heels tip dive, just some downward force on the shovels.
But when I could get the GunSmoke up to speed, this sensation went away. With a little speed and a centered, balanced stance, I was able to flex the tips and get them floating in bottomless snow.
The relatively soft tips give the GunSmoke a playful feel in pow. They allow you to flex into turns of a variety of shapes and are springy enough to pull you out of tighter-radius turns when you take pressure off the shovels.
The GunSmoke also has a solid flex underfoot that prevents the ski from folding and slowing you down.
The GunSmoke couldn’t quite pull off super quick slashes in deep pow, however. It lacked the surface area to catch me at the end of the slash and carry me through the turn. I would end up losing a lot of speed, almost stopping at times. In the GunSmoke’s defense, the only skis I’ve found that can really pull off moves like that have massive splay, like the ON3P Caylor or reverse sidecut skis like the DPS Lotus 138 or the Armada ARG.
But versatility is the characteristic that makes the GunSmoke a great ski, and a sunny day of lapping the Mizuno no Sawa area best demonstrated the ski’s range of capabilities.
The first runs consisted of untracked, creamy snow from top to bottom. In these conditions, the ski provided a nice combination of floatation and agility. The GunSmoke glided through the thicker snow, easily making turns of varying sizes. I could confidently make short, smear turns, or quick turns through tight trees; but I also felt equally comfortable holding long, Super G turns down open faces.
Even in wind scoured snow and foot-deep heavy chop, I was still able to fly down Mizuno no Sawa as if I were still skiing the fresh surface of creamy snow from an hour earlier. The GunSmoke’s moderately soft tip and tail didn’t get bounced around much. That stiff flex underfoot and carbon fiber stringers in the core helped to provide a solid and dynamic ride.
While I was able to drive through bumpy sections, I was also able to pop out of and reenter the chop comfortably. Relatively narrow dimensions and gradual rocker allowed me to slice back into crud, rather than bounce around on top. The GunSmoke cut through crud while still riding high enough to prevent me from getting bogged down.
When I encountered two-foot-deep troughs, I had to reel back my speed a little. I couldn’t fly down this snow as if it were untouched. But when I dialed back my speed, the GunSmoke felt almost as stable as it did in mellower chop.
On smoother firm snow and groomers, the GunSmoke carved well. As in other snow conditions, I found it easy to mix up turn lengths. Cruising down Misoshiru in Niseko Village, I liked linking snappy GS turns together, but I also felt equally comfortable making just a handful of turns down the whole run, or throwing in a slash here or there. The short running length created by the tip and tail rocker made it easy to disengage the edges and slash, even at high speeds.
So far I have only talked about the GunSmoke’s all-mountain performance. But this ski is also an excellent jibbing tool. While all of the characteristics I have discussed help to make the whole mountain your terrain park, let’s talk a little about freestyle performance, specifically.