Soft, Lightly Bumped-up Snow
High Speed / Big Turns
Reforma, one of our favorite runs to test skis on at Taos, was skiing better than it ever has a couple weeks ago. Taos had received over 73 inches of relatively heavy new snow the week prior, and with some help from the wind, Reforma buffed to a really nice smooth and soft state from top to bottom.
I’d skied Reforma about ten times the day prior on the 2014-2015 Cochise, and I kept taking the same line on the new ski the following day. The run had gotten noticeably firmer and more bumped up in spots by the second day, but I was still able to make pretty fast turns down the left side on the first pitch, cut back to skiers’ right above the bottom pitch, air off a nose, and haul through the runout. (See the first clip in the video below, and for what it’s worth, know that my legs were pretty tired and noodly on the Reforma run shown, which was our last run of the day.)
In terms of high speed stability and damping qualities, I can’t say the new Cochise felt any different to me than the 14/15 version. Given that the lower portion of Reforma had gotten noticeably more bumped up since the day prior, there may be something to Blizzard’s claims that the carbon added to the new Cochise’s tip and tail helps to stabilize those portions of the ski. I can’t say I felt limited by the stability of the new Cochise, and was able to ski just as fast, just as comfortably on it as on the 2014-2015 version.
However, I am keeping in mind the fact that again, on the whole, these were generally really favorable, soft conditions. Maybe as things firm up and become more harsh, we’ll start to notice more of a difference between the new Cochise and the current model when it comes to high speed stability. Jonathan Ellsworth has continued to ski on both versions of the Cochise in more demanding conditions than I did, and he’s also 25-30 lbs heavier than I am, so we’ll see what he has to say on that front soon.
Low Speed / Quick Turns
As I mentioned above, where I think I noticed the biggest difference in feel from the 14/15 Cochise to the 15/16 version was while making quick, tighter, more dynamic turns through large, spaced-out bumps, and during hop turns in narrow chokes off Taos’ West Basin.
If anything, the 2016 Cochise is a hair heavier than the 14/15 version on a scale (it’s no lighter, that’s for sure), but the ski did seem to pivot a little more readily under my feet and seemed to take a touch less effort to get across the fall line at times.
In other words, occasionally I thought the new Cochise felt SLIGHTLY more like the Line Supernatural 108, in that it felt a tad bit more energetic and dynamic than the 2014-2015 Cochise. That is not to say I thought it felt just as quick as the Supernatural 108, though; the new Cochise definitely still has some of that familiar planted, metal-laminate-feel of the 2014-2015 model (that the Supernatural 108 doesn’t really have).
A Big Caveat
Our test pair of the new, 2016 Cochise has a minty fresh tune, while the the edge in the tips and tails of the 14/15 Cochise have been detuned, and the edge underfoot is pretty burred-up. Our 14/15s have been skied quite a bit at this point on firm snow, so the base bevel of the edges on the whole length of the ski has probably increased, too.
The difference in low-speed maneuverability I felt between the 2016 Cochise and the 14/15s was slight enough that I’m pretty sure the fresh, sharp tune on the new skis had something to do with it. The edges of the new Cochise were probably biting harder and engaging more quickly as I was smearing those quicker turns around on Reforma, and I could see how the ski would have felt a little snappier as a result.
The tails of the new Cochise seem to hook up harder and be a little less forgiving than those of the 14/15 model at times, too, and sharp edges through the tail of the ski could definitely be responsible for that.
So our big questions right now are: (1) Does the 14/15 Cochise feel as quick/snappy with a fresh tune on it? And (2) Will the new Cochise feel a little looser and a little less reactive once it’s been detuned? (Jonathan’s currently skiing around Taos with a gummy stone in his pocket, so we should have an answer soon.
But for what it’s worth, assuming the slightly quicker feel of the new Cochise wasn’t only due to its fresh tune, and that it does have something to do with the new ski’s tweaked construction (slightly tighter sidecut, slightly lighter swing weight, etc), I expect that properly detuning the ski could still give it more of the the same slarvy, steamroller-like feel of the previous model, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Otherwise it seems as though the new Cochise may have a more cambered, more energetic and bite-y feel though shorter turns in steep terrain, while the ski’s top end still seems comparable to that of the 2014-2015 version.
So we still have some work to do, but that’s what’s on my mind at the moment.