2014-2015 Blizzard Kabookie, 180cm
Dimensions (mm): 133-98-118
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 178.2 cm
Sidecut Radius: 21 meters
Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 2,008 grams & 2,004 grams
Boots / Bindings: Nordica Enforcer / Marker Jester (DIN at 10)
Mount Location: +1 cm from recommended
Days Skied: 10
Test Locations: Alta Ski Area, Park City Mountain Resort
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 13/14 Kabookie, which is unchanged for 14/15, except for the graphics.]
When Blizzard introduced their flipcore line of skis a couple of years ago, both the Bonafide (at 98mm underfoot) and Cochise (at 108mm underfoot) were instant successes.
Well, Blizzard realized those full-metal laminated skis might be a bit much to haul up the mountain, so they’ve recently released a few skis based on the original line but with a lighter core and without a full sheet of metal.
But this change in construction seems to have done more than just decrease the weight: Blizzard has also made versions of the originals that are a little more user friendly, and a better match for lighter skiers.
In this review I cover the 98mm-underfoot Kabookie, and you can also check out my review of the 108mm-underfoot Scout.
On-Piste / Groomers
Blizzard may be marketing the Kabookie to sidecountry chargers, but this ski won’t disappoint many skiers inside the resort ropes, either. Like most of the Blizzard skis I’ve been on, the best line down the mountain on the Kabookie doesn’t stray far from the fall line, and this is especially true on groomers.
Blizzard uses a full-length vertical sidewall along with a titanium flipcore construction (with titanium only placed underfoot) to provide a very torsionally stiff and damp ski that craves speed.
The Kabookie held an edge very well while carving early morning frozen groomers at Alta, only giving way to a bit of tail slip when pushed very aggressively over the iciest sections at top speeds.
The Kabookie I have been riding is only 180cm and has both tip and tail rocker, so locking onto an edge obviously doesn’t feel quite as solid as the monster 192cm Black Diamond Zealot I rode earlier this season. But while the Kabookie might not gain much in terms of stability from usable edge length, it does in its heavy, damp feel, and predictable sidecut profile.
Although this ski lacks the full metal laminate of the heavier Bonafide, there hasn’t been a single instance where I have wished for a stiffer or damper Kabookie, not only on groomers, but off-piste as well.
The Kabookie doesn’t offer a ton of energy from turn to turn with either carved or skidded turns, unless you really focus on working the ski from tip to tail. Over time, I found the Kabookie to offer the most exciting ride when I really threw the skis out to the side and back up the hill during transitions (moving my center of mass farther inside turns and ahead of the skis than I’m accustomed to), then pressuring the ski hard all the way through the finish of each turn, really loading up the tail. These dynamic weight shifts made the ski feel a little more aggressive at the start of turns and much more energetic from turn to turn.
The tradeoff, however, is that the dynamic movements and high speeds the ski loves make for a more demanding ride when speeds are lower.
My first two days on the Kabookie were spent at Park City Mountain Resort teaching lessons for the National Ability Center, and quite honestly, the ski grabbed my attention quickly in subtle but not-so-positive ways. I have spent a lot of time on skis that are fairly easy to ride this season, including the Salomon Rocker2 108, Atomic Bent Chetler, Nordica Soul Rider, and Line Opus. But jumping on the Kabookie, I immediately noticed that the sidecut shape and rocker profile combination at the tip didn’t pull the skis into turns with much enthusiasm. Unlike those other skis I mentioned, which require only a very subtle amount of foot steering and edge to pull the tips into a new turn, the Kabookie required a conscious effort at the beginning of turns to make sure the tips were far enough down the fall line to safely apply pressure to the inside edge. The first morning on the ski, I surprisingly caught an edge a few times moving from turn to turn. (And in case you’re wondering whether I detuned the skis before heading out, I did.)
I’m inclined to link these sensations to the gradual nature of the sidecut at the point where the tip rocker starts its move toward the sky. With this shape combination and low edge angles, there just isn’t much help from the sidecut profile to help initiate turns. The take-home message here (and as you’ll see elsewhere) is that the ski takes some effort and technique, both at high and low speeds.
Shallow Crud (Consistent Base Layer)
Although Blizzard says the Kabookie only has a portion of titanium under the bindings, the ski feels like it has a full-metal laminate when cruising through chopped-up new snow, and also because of its fairly heavy swing weight. In new snow tallies around six inches, if you didn’t look down at the snow, it would be hard to tell the difference between skiing untouched fresh spots or sections of cut-up leftovers. As long as the underlying layer is smooth, the Kabookie provides an incredibly calm and predictable ride through the new snow, which allows for confident high-speed, aggressive skiing. There is absolutely no deflection due to the sidecut shape, and even though the ski has a softer shovel, the flex ramps up quickly in the forebody, allowing for complete confidence when plowing into shallow chop at speed.
Deeper Crud (Consistent Base Layer)
For such a small ski, I have been really impressed with how the Kabookie handles deeper, cut-up conditions.
When Alta received a decent-sized storm a couple of weeks ago, I strayed from my usual High Traverse laps, opting instead to play around over on the slightly more relaxed areas accessed by the Supreme and Sugarloaf lifts.
The Kabookie worked best when the reins were kept loose. Using long-radius turns, soft edge angles, and a more relaxed, centered stance, the Kabookie’s soft shovel kept the ski riding high in chop, while the heavy, damp feel of the ski made for easy transitions from pile to pile.
Though the ski felt great on the lower-angle slopes, on steeper or more technical terrain where more speed control was needed, I found the Kabookie to become more of a handful in the deeper crud. As I’ve mentioned, the ski has a fairly stout, damp flex, and has a surprisingly heavy swing weight. Combine those characteristics with somewhat narrow dimensions, a flat tail, and minimal rocker splay, and the result is a ski that requires a lot of energy to scrub speed, slash, and maneuver in tight places when the snow is deep and variable.
I found that the keys to success in these situations was to stay really light on the edges and keeping the bases as flat as possible (so as not to have the flex working against you so hard), or just upping the energy level and skiing very powerfully.
The important caveat here is that I am a fairly light, balanced, finesse-style skier. Heavier, more aggressive skiers may not find the ski to be as much work.