Ski: 2018-2019 Blizzard Zero G 108, 185 cm
Available Lengths: 171, 178, 185 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 182.6 cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 136-108-122
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 135-107.5-121
Stated Weight per Ski: 1750 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1733 & 1735
Stated Sidecut Radius: 27.0 meters
Core Construction: Paulownia + Carbon Fiber Sheet + Fiberglass Laminate
Tip / Tail Splay (decambered): 65mm / 13mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~2 mm
Factory Recommended Line: -11.0 cm from center; 80.3 cm from tail
Mount Location: Factory Line
Boots: Salomon Mtn Lab 27.5
Test Locations: Cheeseman Ski Area Backcountry and Porters Ski Area. Canterbury, NZ
Days Tested (updated): 10
[Note: Our review was conducted on the 15/16 Zero G 108, which was not changed for 16/17, 17/18, or 18/19, apart from graphics.]
Blizzard introduced the Zero G series this year with the tagline that “the days of sacrificing downhill performance for light weight are over.” They further claim that the Zero G is the “lightest weight alpine ski construction on the market.” The 108 is the widest of four skis in the Zero G line, which includes the Zero G 85, 95, 108 and a women’s-specific 85.
We brought the Zero G 108 to New Zealand to compare it to several other skis in the 100-110 lightweight touring category. We were also curious how it would compare to the very popular (and very good) Blizzard Cochise.
The Cochise and Zero G 108 share the same dimensions and essentially the same rocker profiles, but the Cochise has a “double Ti construction’ with a poplar-beach core, while the Zero G 108 has no metal, and a lighter, paulownia core.
The 185cm Zero G 108 has a very similar flex pattern to the 185cm 15/16 Cochise. The tails are subtly stiffer than the tips, and we would call it medium+ / stiff- flex overall.
When hand flexing the 15/16 Cochise and the Zero G 108 side by side, Jonathan Ellsworth and I both agree that the Zero G 108 flexes slightly softer throughout than the 15/16 Cochise. (This subtle difference probably has more to do with the weight difference between the two skis than some designed difference between their flex patterns / softening up of the Zero G 108.)
Our test pair of Zero G 108’s has 1-2mm less camber underfoot than the 15/16 Cochise, and is almost flat. The Zero G has 5mm less tip splay than the Cochise and appears to have a little shorter rocker length when measured side by side. These differences are subtle, and could easily be (like the flex pattern) small variations in the manufacturing process rather than intended design differences.
The Zero G 85 and 95 have some very impressive reported weights for their widths—1250g and 1330g respectively, per ski—and are competitive with some of the lighter touring skis on the market.
At ~1750g per ski, the Zero G 108 is comparatively heavier for its width than the Zero G 85 and 95. While those skis are light for their respective categories, Blizzard didn’t shave weight at all costs with the Zero G 108. You can find lighter touring skis of a similar length and width, like the 184cm DPS Tour 1 112 (stated weight: 1550 grams per ski) or the 188cm Black Diamond Carbon Convert (stated weight is also 1550 grams per ski).
Wind Affected and Chalky Variable Conditions
We started our skiing this year in New Zealand on the tail end of a storm that deposited up to a foot of snow throughout much of the country’s ski fields. But high winds followed the new accumulation, and left us with several days of variable, mixed conditions, both inbounds and in the surrounding backcountry.
We started our trip at Porters Ski Area, where much of the inbounds snow was chalky, smooth, and wind buffed. Within my first 100 vertical feet of the trip, I found myself sliding into a short rocky chute that pinched down to slightly wider than my ski length, and poured out onto a smooth apron.
I hopped in tentatively, but was reassured by smooth, grippy snow. By the third or fourth turn, I felt comfortable enough to skid a few quick turns out the bottom and let the skis run onto the smooth chalky apron.
From that first run, I was immediately impressed by (a) how light the Zero G 108 felt while jump turning in the tight chute, and (b) how stable they felt on edge while laying them over on the firm snow.
This became more or less the theme of my experience with the Zero G’s.
Despite having spent most of my ski life riding big, open terrain in Alaska, I get a lot of pleasure out of jump turning through tight chutes and steep terrain. So fortunately for me, the Canterbury club fields offer a lot of this kind of skiing.
At a little more than 1700 grams per ski, it’s not surprising that the Zero G 108 feels quick and nimble in the air. What is more remarkable is how stable the ski feels when finishing the turn upon landing. Whether smashing down on a hard-carved edge, or landing on a soft edge and easing the ski tentatively into a carve on icy snow, the 108 engages predictably and holds a line.
This is a great combination if you’re looking for a ski to use in steeper terrain or situations more akin to ski mountaineering. When dropping into lines that were a bit more exposed, for example, on the south face of Mt. Wall near the Cheeseman club field, I had little hesitation on the Zero G 108 knowing that I could hop and edge with little worry of skidding out of control.
My only quibble with the Zero G in these conditions is much the same as with the new 15/16 Cochise. When making jump turns, I like to land with the tips first and then push the ski into the turn. This allows me to pivot on the front of the ski, and to more easily control how much edge angle I want to apply.
Compared to skis with a more gradual overall rocker (maybe less tip taper?), the Cochise feels somewhat vague in the tips. It’s admittedly a little tricky to explain, but I think it’s a combination of the increased early tip taper and the tip rocker profile. If I make first contact with the tip, easing onto the edge feels somewhat hinged on firm snow. This is something I got used to quickly, but it made an impression on me. On skis with more subtle elongated rocker and less tip taper (like the Volkl BMT 109) the transition from starting the turn to engages the full edge of the ski is smoother.
NEXT: Open Terrain, Chop, Etc.