2018-2019 J Skis Masterblaster

Luke Koppa reviews the J Skis Masterblaster for Blister
J Skis Masterblaster

Ski: 2018-2019 J Skis Masterblaster, 187 cm

Available Lengths (cm): 175, 181, 187 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 184.6 cm

Stated Weight per Ski (181 cm): 2100 g

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski (187 cm): 2344 & 2367 grams

Stated Dimensions (mm): 125-96-114

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 129-95.5-114

Stated Sidecut Radius: 17 meters (average radius, 181 cm)

Core: Maple + Titanal Laminate

Base: Sintered

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 65 mm / 33 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm

Recommended Mount Mark:

  • 84.45 cm from tail / – 7.85 cm from center
  • – 6 cm from the center of the ski’s effective edge

Test Location: Crested Butte, CO; Mt Bachelor, OR; Ski Santa Fe, NM

Days Skied: 17

Boots / Bindings: Fischer RC4 130, Atomic Hawx Ultra 130, & Nordica Strider 120 / Marker Jester

Ski: 2018-2019 J Skis Masterblaster, 181 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 178.8 cm

Stated Weight per Ski (181 cm): 2100 g

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski (181 cm): 2115 & 2149 grams

Stated Dimensions (mm): 125-96-114

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 129-95-114.5

Stated Sidecut Radius: 17 meters (avg., 181 cm)

Core: Maple + Titanal Laminate

Base: Sintered

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 65 mm / 36 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm

Recommended Mount Point:

  • 81.5 cm from tail / -7.85 cm from center
  • – 6 cm from the center of the ski’s effective edge

[Note: Our review was conducted on the 16/17 Masterblaster, which was not changed 17/18 or 18/19, apart from graphics.]

[Update: 12.2.18 — We’ve now got time on both the 187 cm and 181 cm Masterblaster, and Luke Koppa has now also spent time on the 181 cm Masterblaster and added his thoughts on the ski.]

Intro

The Masterblaster is positioned as an all-mountain, directional ski that is supposed to hold up well in firm conditions. J Lev says this about the Masterblaster: “Unlike my other skis, it has a directional shape with a lower tail so there’s more edge length in contact with the snow for the most grip possible on groomers. All of this is backed by my unique metal laminate construction for extra power and responsiveness when charging hard.” But Levinthal says that the Masterblaster is supposed to feel at home in pow, too: “I engineered it with ultra quick race-like handling and precision yet a unique split personality that’s also incredibly fun and playful when you get it in the powder.”

Ok, that all sounds fairly straightforward — lots of all-mountain skis claim to perform well in both firm and fresh.

But I have to say, I have found four pretty big surprises about the Masterblaster, which I’ll outline below.

Surprise #1: Flex Pattern

I don’t notice any significant difference between the flex patterns of the 187 cm and 181 cm Masterblaster, and I’d categorize the Masterblaster’s flex pattern like this:

Tips: 6/7
Shovels: 8
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel piece: 8
Tails: 8/7

The skis have a really nice flex pattern — solid, but not super stiff. And I will be very surprised if the result isn’t a strong ski that is still relatively forgiving. (We’ll find out soon if I’m right, and exactly how forgiving it actually is.)

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the J Skis Masterblaster for Blister Gear Review
Jonathan Ellsworth on the J Skis Masterblaster, Mt Bachelor.

The Masterblaster’s flex pattern most closely resembles the Nordica Enforcer 93, and I’ll say a bit more about the Enforcer 93 below, and a lot more about the Enforcer 93 in my Deep Dive article. Compared to its inspiration / bigger brother, the J Skis The Metal, the tails of the Masterblaster are slightly stiffer, while the tips of the two skis are quite similar — though the Masterblaster ramps up in stiffness more quickly than The Metal does. (This makes sense; The Metal is a wider ski that is supposed to perform well in deeper snow).

The stiffness of the Masterblaster surprised me a bit. As a fairly gross generalization, J Lev isn’t into stiff skis; instead, he likes “fun” skis. (Go read everything I wrote about The Metal if my claims sound confusing.) So to be honest, one of the primary reasons I wasn’t initially all that excited about the Masterblaster is because I was assuming that, like The Metal, it would be a fun, softer ski that was still pretty playful for a directional ski, but not the sort of ski you’d want to break out when conditions got very firm and fast.

There are certainly burlier ~96mm-wide skis out there, but based off a hand flex, J did not under-gun the Masterblaster. So to any of you living in areas that see more firm conditions than soft or deep conditions, you shouldn’t necessarily assume that this is another one of those fun-sounding skis that probably doesn’t make much sense for where you ski. More on that next…

Surprise #2: Rocker Profile

While the Masterblaster has a decent amount of tip splay (cf. the rocker pics on the next page), this ski has a more subtle rocker line than I was anticipating. I don’t expect the Masterblaster to be best-in-class when it comes to performance on ice (in the 95-100mm-wide all-mountain ski category, the Head Monster 98 is still probably the king of the hill), but I do expect the Masterblaster to offer a nice combination of firm-snow and soft-snow performance.

Surprise #3: Weight

At ~2350 g per ski, the 187 cm Masterblaster is significantly heavier than many of its direct competitors. You can see my Deep Dive article that lays out these comparisons directly, but personally, I am pretty psyched about the weight of this ski. While so much of the industry clamors on about how light they are making their skis and boots and bindings, it is refreshing to see an all-mountain ski come out that is effectively throwing its middle finger at this trend.

And here’s the other thing, which I talked about in my review of The Metal — just because you make a heavier ski doesn’t mean that you also have to make it super stiff. And the combination of heavy + medium stiffness can result in a relatively forgiving ski that has excellent suspension and produces a great ride. I can’t say yet whether that is true of the Masterblaster, but we certainly found it to be true of The Metal. So to all you companies who are coming out with lighter and lighter skis that are supposed to hold up well in crappy, everyday, resort conditions, you might want to take note. And to all of you skiers who are still drinking the ‘lighter-is-better’ kool-aid when it comes to inbounds gear … you might also want to keep an eye on what we find here.

Surprise #4: Mount Position

The Masterblaster is said to have a recommended mount point of – 6 cm “from the center of the ski’s effective edge.” – 6 cm is technically the same as the mount point of The Metal, but there is a qualification here.

I discussed this with Levinthal, and long and short, if measured from the tail of the ski (with a straight tape pull, along the top sheet), the Masterblaster’s recommended line is actually -7.85 cm behind “true center.”

Point is, when the Masterblaster’s mount point is measured in the same way that we measure all of the skis we test, it actually has a more traditional, more set-back mount point than The Metal, and it moves the Masterblaster closer into the realm of other directional skis like the Blizzard Bonafide, Nordica Enforcer 93, Nordica Enforcer 100, Line Supernatural 100, etc.

(BTW, the Masterblaster has stickers on the topsheet indicating where the recommended mount point is. But note that there is, actually, a fairly subtle raised bump that’s pressed into the topsheet itself. Best thing to do is trust that mark — unless it is widely off from our mark-to-tail measurement of 84.45 cm.)

Bottom Line regarding mount points: if you want to be on J’s recommended mark, go off of the raised bump that’s pressed into the top of the ski (unless for some reason you find that it’s way off from ~84.5 cm from the tail).

Some Comparisons:

We’ll include a number of further comparisons in our Deep Dive article on the Masterblaster, but for now, here are a few of the most interesting comparisons:

J Skis The Metal

Given that the Masterblaster was inspired by The Metal, we’re very curious to see how much performance overlap there is between the two skis.

Nordica Enforcer 93 & Enforcer 100

The Masterblaster has a very similar flex pattern to the Enforcer 93, and it isn’t at all far off from the Enforcer 100. It’s going to be interesting to see if the Masterblaster feels closer to the 93 or the 100, or maybe splits the difference? Stay tuned…

Blizzard Bonafide

We are huge fans of the 180 cm Bonafide, and we have yet to ski the 187 cm Bonafide. My hunch — though it is admittedly not very well founded — is that the 187 cm Bonafide will feel like more ski than the 187 Masterblaster. (I say this mostly because I still can’t imagine that J built that big of a gun here. So maybe my imagination may simply be lacking.)

Weight-wise, the 187 Masterblaster and 187 Bonafide are probably going to be pretty similar.

NEXT: The Review

45 comments on “2018-2019 J Skis Masterblaster”

  1. Hi, sorry for a question not related to this ski, but I had posted one on your Dynastar Powertrack 89 review and did not see a reply, so thought I’d try again; hope you don’t mind.

    I have the Dynastar Outland 2013 and it’s been a fabulous all mountain ski and looking to pick up a pair of the PowerTrack 89’s. I currently have a 172 cm in the Outland and thinking I might stay with this length as it has been an adequate length in that ski, but wondering if I should up to a 179? I’m 5’9″ and around 160-165 and although not an overly fast rider per se, ski technically for all mountain use from teaching and PSIA related clinics to general riding primarily in the Pacific NW, Whistler and Midwest ski areas. Appreciate your recommendation.

  2. Most Excellent! I have been waiting for this review for a while! Sorry Jonathan to bug you so much about it. I have the Metal and a Prototype Masterblaster, so I am anxious to see how the final product turned out. As always, keep up the good work.

  3. Will be very interested in the Deep Dive comparisons of the Master Blaster. Can you indicate where it sits on the Blister Spectrums for All Mountain skis published in the 16/17 Buyers Guide?

  4. The Deep Dive comparison I’d like to hear about most is the Liberty Origin 96. In particular, the edge hold and even more particular the edge hold on ice. The Blister reviews give some mixed information about the Origin 96. Outside the Gear Guide, your reviews are very positive about its edge hold but in this year’s Gear Guide it’s dead last in edge hold (page 17). Yet, it’s also selected as a one ski quiver winner and part of a two ski quiver (page 109). Wondering if that was an oversight or there’s an explanation for that. Out east, and in particular Mad River Glen, you can’t have a quiver winning ski that isn’t at least mediocre on ice. Would love to see if you can address this in the Deep Dive against the Masterblaster to see what’s better on steep, hard, uneven, tight and often bumped up conditions that we have at Mad River. Thanks.

    • Hi, John – I actually don’t think that there is any “mixed information” on the Origin 96. It is a heavily tip and tail rockered ski, with a relatively short running length. That is not the profile that is going to excel on ice, but on anything relatively soft, the edge hold is excellent on the Origin 96. All One-Ski-Quivers – by definition – have their relative strengths and weaknesses. “One-Ski Quiver” does not mean “excels everywhere” – because that is a fantasy. So I think it sort of goes without saying that if you are most concerned about performance on EC ice … then the Origin 96 is not the ski for you, and the Spectrum in the Guide ought to prove quite useful for helping you get a handle on the skis that may be right for you.

  5. Thanks Jonathan. I’ll cross the Origin 96 off my list. What I like most about Blister is the in depth AB comparisons. They’re really helpful in establishing reference points for performance attributes and what separates Blister from the other reviews. Keep up the good work in this regard. Regarding edge hold, I know the whole industry is currently using the “running length” argument as a basis for edge hold but that doesn’t make complete sense to me. I’ve skied super short slalom skis with short effective edges that held like ice skates (ice skates themselves have very short running length) and super soft stainless caped skis that also had bombproof edge hold (Volant 15 years ago – don’t know about them today) I suspect the key is torsional rigidity and wonder if manufacturers are relaxing torsional rigidity to improve looser, more playful, more forgiving characteristics. So, when the review referred to the Origin as being comparable to the Enforcer 93 in edge hold, which is rated fairly highly in this area (e.g., also your experience with it on Stauffenberg), and with J Skis – like so many other manufacturers these days – stating the Masterblaster has race ski carving performance, it lead me to think the stiffness underfoot of the Origin 96 may indicate acceptable hard snow edge hold. I believe the Enforcer 93 could be sufficient for my needs and look forward to the Deep Dive AB with the Masterblaster.

  6. I purchased the 181 Master Blaster going completely off of Jason’s description of his goals with the ski and target performance. I had a hard decision between the 181s and next size up, but went for the shorter skis given that I expect to use them in some tighter spaces versus full speed top to bottom runs. I just got them mounted in time for a quick trip over the Thanksgiving weekend. The first day was old, hard snow and blown snow with the occasional rock thrown in to keep things interesting. The skis performed exactly as advertised. Great carving performance on the hard stuff, including holding their own on ice. The turn radius was on the short side (which matches the ski spec) which I was looking for. We had an unexpectedly large amount of snow overnight and completely different conditions the next day. I spent most my time on my Moment Blister Pros given the deep snow, but I did take a spin on the Masters. Again, they performed as advertised and were capable in the conditions. While I don’t have a lot of time on them in a lot of conditions, my first impressions are that the ski does what is was built for. I’m very happy to own a pair and look forward to more time on them. For what it’s worth, they are beautifully built and a pleasure to look at. I love J-Skis focus on design and keeping things interesting.

    • Hey Robert – how tall are you if you mind me asking? I am 5’9 about 190lbs, and thinking about the 181’s, but not sure if i should drop down one below. Thanks!

  7. Hi Robert, Can you fill us in where you skied the Masterblaster and if you A/B them against any other skis (e.g, Enforcer, Brahma, Origin, etc)? I am also considering a two ski quiver with the Moment Bibby as the wider ski and the Masterblaster or competitor as the narrower ski.

    • As background, I’ve been trying to replace a two ski quiver of 2010-era 184 Volkl Mantras and 190 Gotamas. This has proven difficult to do since I really love both skis and they’ve been perfect for me. Last winter I bought a pair of 187 Liberty Variant 97s. These are awesome skis for bombing top to bottom; they really love long radius turns and have no top end that I could find. Kind of scary fast, actually! I really like the Variants, but my sense is that they aren’t the best option for steep, variable, and tight conditions. Could be the length or combination of length and stiffness. This is the reason I pulled the trigger on the MB’s — basically still looking for something to replace my Mantras. To you questions, John, my time of the MB’s were at Mammoth, and I didn’t have a lot of time on the ski. As I previously noted, though, the first impressions of the ski were very positive — I think the J-Skis description is very accurate. While it wasn’t my goal, I’m kind of stoked to end up with a three ski quiver since there are times when top to bottom speed runs are the norm, and I’ll break our the Variants. I hope to get some more time on all the skis in the next few weeks and will provide an update if anything new emerges.

  8. Robert, I’m also coming off the Mantras – 2007 version. They were paired with Fischer World Cup Slalom skis. I ended up ditching the Fischers and going with the Mantras as a one ski, all mountain quiver for east and west. Now I’m looking at the Moment Bibby paired with something like the Masterblaster, Bonafide, Enforcer, Origin 96. Let me know if you ski any of these or if you have anything new to post about the Masterblaster.

  9. Hello Jonathon,

    I’m late to the party. Have you actually skied the MB’s yet?
    I purchased them purely on Jason’s description having frequently been frustrated with skis either being too stiff or too soft.
    Could you tell me a little more about the -6cm vs your recommended -7.8cm? Seems like a pretty substantial difference
    Cheers from France

  10. Throwing in my 2 cents – I bought the MB’s in 181 cm. I live in Minneapolis and have about 5 hours on a local hill (300′). 2 hrs in 6″ on a firm base which took a while to be skied out and 2.5 hrs on hard pack. I was skiing K2 Apache Outlaws, a heavy damp ski until I bought the MB’s. While they are not much lighter than the K2’s they behave like a much lighter ski essentially because of the swing weight, and also because the have more pop. After my first couple of runs in 6″ I was wondering if I should have gone for the 187, but as I got used to the ride I became more comfortable with the length. Pressuring the tips is different and after I stopped trying to do that, I realized the were very controllable from a neutral stance. Getting them up on edge seemed normal to me and I would describe them as medium to quick edge to edge. They definitely hold an edge in hard pack. Had no problem switching from long to short turns and they are easy to smear. No bumps yet, but so far pretty happy with my blind purchase. Looking forward to getting them out West.

  11. I absolutely love these skis. Last year I demoed the Enforcer 93’s and was set on buying them until J released this ski. I made my decision here based on I really like the LIne Prophet and these were billed as an improved version, which I feel they are. I think Jonathan’s review is pretty spot on. The one exception being that I can pretty easily make shorter turns but I’m also around 220 Lbs. so I tend to flex skis pretty easily. I’d give the Enforcers a slight edge on carving but find the Master Blaster to be a bit more playful and in the 6″ I’ve had them in they float well enough for a guy of my weight. I have other skis for deep days so not really worried about that. I was looking for a ski for maching groomers and busting through crud and that’s exactly what I got! I’m on the 186’s and I’ve yet to find a speed limit on these skis. I have about 10 days on these and they’ve been so much fun! It’s real nice to be back on a directional ski with a nice flat stiff tail when I’m on the hardpack. I’d also point out the J’s graphics are sick and the build quality is as nice as I’ve seen. These are a high quality ski and worth every penny. I think I’m going to try and get on a pair of Metals next!

  12. Hi gents I have recently invested in 187cm masterblaster based on this review and in particular the rocker pic profiles. I currently use 186cm atomic theory skis which I love a lot as I like to ski everywhere Inc park and pow. Being an ex racer I like to charge the piste as well long fast turns being the order of most days. I’m looking forward to getting these skis this week and seeing how the live up to expectations. I’m only relaxing the atomically because I pulled the binding toe piece out when I took a fall off a 360 in the park. I had a great time with atomic as my one ski setup and hope the MB does the same.

  13. Sorry for the typo my autocorrect is poor. That was meant to read “I’m replacing my atomics”…..

    Also when you say a straight tape pull to measure the mount point do mean straight not following the curve of the ski at the tail? But rather direct hypotenuse from mountain poitou to the tail tip elevation? Just looking to ensure I get them set up correctly.

    Thanks again for a great review. It would be of benefit for manufacturers to add photos similar to yours to show rockers lines. I am not a fan of large rocker skis and simply won’t consider buying any ski unless I can verify the profile in this regard and I found your photos and reviews to be invaluable in that regard to stop me ending up with something I don’t want.

    • Brian…I mounted mine right on the little bump on the ski, disregarding the sticker they put on there that was slightly off. When I measured from tail I got right about what Blister got which was 81.5 from tail. I didn’t do the curvature of the ski, just put your measuring tape on the tail and pull it straight towards the center of the ski. Hope that helps.

  14. I mounted mine on the bump also, which is about 7.85 cm behind the “boot” center if you match it up with the stickers. Trying to do the measurements tip to tail etc was a little confusing. I bought mine in a 175 so the mount for the binding is about 79.65 cm from the tail laying it flat. Not sure why J has the stickers this way, I think the instructions could be a little more straight forward.

  15. Thanks for the comments chaps I believe my mb’s will be arriving today so I’ll be getting them on snow Friday once the saddles are applied to the bump. And so I know for complete clarity it is mid-sole on the ski boot for the bump as would be typical of mount points?

  16. OK 187cm skis mounted and waxed yesterday and tested today in Val Thorens, France. A blue sky day with about 15cm fresh pow around. A few laps of that and it is clear they are going to be very effective in deeper powder as well owing to the softer tip and gentle rocker. I didn’t go too far with this as there’s less snow around this season in Europe generally so off piste is dodgy with lots of rocks around.

    On piste they are a great ski as well. I was impressed how well they went in a straight line down steep bumpy piste at speed. Good stuff for getting the last run of the day out of the way when the snow has got slushy. They carve nicely as you would expect and this can be varied reasonably well, but I would, if I could, ask Jason to do one thing and have a longer radius turn on this ski in my view it would be very popular with more like 22m radius on it. There is only a minimal tip flutter at speed on perfect flat groomer because of the rocker this is not even noticeable when the snow is chopped up a bit.

    In the park!! I like skiing park, the big kickers are my interest and I stay away from rails, as in the words of Danny Glover I’m too old for that sh1t at 43yrs. I was impressed again, the directional stability of the ski is great for the 18 to 20m kicker lines. I was also playing around skiing switch to check them for this as well. I would say they’re good in this department too although I probably need to blunt off the tip and tails just a little too make them more friendly in that dept as I hadn’t done that prior to going up today.

    All in all a great all rounder in all areas and i think I’m going to enjoy my mb’s a lot. Thanks to blister for a great review that helped me choose these boards.

    For those who are interested I’m 6ft 1in and around 80kg or 175 pounds. I’m an ex racer and ex freestyler and despite my age am hanging on to it as long as possible :-)

  17. Any thoughts on how the 175cm would fit me? I’m 169cm 145 lbs advanced skier. I’m a bit concerned it may be too long for a guy my size.

    • Hi, Zach – It really all depends on how strong of a skier you are (physically strong and / or have good technique). An intermediate or advanced skier of your size who is comfortable with speed – and likes to ski with some speed – shouldn’t have any problem with the 175, especially since there is a significant amount of tip & tail rocker on these. (I’m 178 cm tall, and happily ski the 181 cm and 187 cm Masterblaster.) So I wouldn’t worry about the “guy my size part,” It’s more of an issue of strength, ability level, and whether you prefer making short turns at slower speeds (where shorter skis can make more sense) or bigger, faster turns (where longer skis provide more stability).

  18. Hey Blister, love the reviews! I’m trying to decide on a one-ski quiver for the east, and am considering the masterblaster, but I’m curious on it’s performance in icier conditions. Were you guys able to get it in less than ideal conditions after this initial review, and does it give up enough edge hold where I should opt for the blizzard bonafide or enforcer 93 instead?

    Thanks for your time,

    Manny

  19. HI Jonathan,

    Any chance for some input on how the Masterblaster feels compared to the Fischer TI Motive 182? Would it fall into the burlier, stiffer side or more playful? Having tore an edge loose on the Motive last week I wonder if master b. might be a good replacement.

  20. Looking to replace a pair of worn out 187 Viciks and a damaged pair of 182 Motive 86’s leave it to Blister to me decide.
    Ikonics are on order and earlier I ordered a pair of MasterBlasters in 181cm. Being of medium size I figured the 181 would likely be a good fit. I like skis built with the stability of a full sidewall and these are beautifully constructed. No extra polish where it doesn’t matter, just solid, journeyman work. Hats off J-skis. $#&@ are these fun skis! At -6cm mount they are the most forward of any ski I own. For me, I put them in the “Partner in crime” category as they tend to coax me into lines I otherwise may not have considered. Love the energy out of deeply a loaded turn. Awesome.

  21. Just skied two days on my new Masterblaster 181 cm skis. Crystal Mountain served up 6 inches of new snow in two days, supplementing a very low snowpack with lots of off-piste rocks and roots. I skied the edges. I really like these new skis. The are fast, playful and precise. I never really powered the tips too hard and found they skied really well in a neutral stance. They are easy to pivot off of a terrain feature and floated nicely in areas with 6-8 inches of powder (mixed with little bushes…). This week is supposed to snow 4 feet at Crystal so I’ll know more next weekend about how they handle deeper snow.

  22. Update. On unskied (first day they opened the chair) double black terrain off of Crystal Mountain’s High Campbell chair, the skis floated nicely and had no tip dive in 20″ of powder. Railed the groomers as I lapped around for more. By the end of the day with tired legs, the warming and cutup powder tossed me around a bit; 187 cm skis might have been better. Still feel the 181 cm skis are perfect for everyday skis in the Pacific Northwest. I love how easy it is to initiate turns of any shape. I’m 6’3″, 190 pounds, 58 years old.

  23. East Coast Slayers!
    Got out on my new 181MBs for the first time at Stratton (hold your boos) last weekend at Winter Wondergrass. (yeah!) I am coming off pre-rocker Prophet 100’s which I loved and was looking for that same solid but lively feel. I am 5’11”, 180#, and am an aggressive bump and tree skier. After consulting with both Blister and J Lev, both steered me to the 181 MBs.
    Conditions ranged from classic east coast “dust on crust” on day 1 to sweet sun softened bumps on day 2. The MBs railed on the barely edgeable surface allowing confident high speed arcing turns. Like the Prophets they easily transitioned from slalom to GS arcs, but unlike the Prophets they remained rock solid at Super G speed. I think the touted side cut matched with tip rocker is no BS. These babies can hold an edge.
    On day 2 the sun was out and the surface began to soften the man made on the east side of the hill. Most of the better skiers recognized the opportunity and congregated on Bear Down working the softening surface into some sweet bump lines. The snow was heavy but the MBs blasted through the piles without a twitch. They are heavy enough to remain stable but are lively and quick edge to edge in the bumps. Like the Prophets they seemed equally comfortable skiing either a neutral or aggressive forward stance in the bumps. I had a blast lapping Bear Down a dozen times until my early season legs were mush and I could hear sounds of Jam Grass cranking at the bottom of the hill.
    Overall first impression is that everything I heard about these is true. Can’t wait to try them on some packed powder bumps at Mad River and determining how deep a day it needs to be to switch to my V-Werks Katanas. Will post an update once I get some more turn on them.

  24. On December 1 and 2, I skied my new Masterblaster Predators in 168cm at Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia – my first days skiing since a meniscus injury. This is my first ski with metal in it (my others are Head Venturi 95s and K2 Apache Interceptors). Conditions were… not great. The snow was entirely man made. On Saturday, it was drizzling and foggy with temps having risen to the 40s in the last 24 hours. The snow was still firm-ish in the morning. I started the morning skiing with my advanced beginner 9 year old before she went to ski school. My initial impression was that these skis don’t prefer low speeds. LOL. I dropped my daughter off at ski school, did a couple greens to get acclimated to skiing again (I’m 46 years old, and ski everything at Snowshoe, blues and single blacks out west with an occasional double black thrown in). Then moved on to the blues and the one black that was open.

    Adding speed up to 30-40 mph brought the Masterblasters ALIVE. In the firm-ish conditions Saturday morning, the ski was very stable, handled speed really well, and pushed thru any rough stuff. After a couple blues, I headed over to the black, which was ungroomed. The Masterblaster did fine on my initial, tentative run, and I’d have probably done laps on it, but the thick fog made it basically impossible to see the variations in the snow… and my knee is still not 100% after surgery on October 30. So I went back to the blues. Conditions softened as the day went on and there was a lot of chop/crud. The Masterblasters basically ignored the chop and carved right down the mountain. I went back to the room and got my Head Venturi 95s. One run with those made the difference clear. The Head is considerably softer and sort of floated over the soft stuff while the Masterblaster’s metal, weight, and design cut thru it. The Head would probably require less effort to ski at low speed in soft conditions with my daughter, but anything over 25 mph, the Masterblaster would be a better choice. However, at higher speeds, the Head “floating” over the chop means it didn’t feel as stable as the Masterblaster.

    Sunday was sunny… but in the 50s. Seriously. The 50s. Ugh. But hey, it wasn’t foggy and we weren’t going to get cold. I spent the day on the Masterblasters skiing with my daughter. Basically found the same thing – at low speed in really soft, choppy snow on green runs, I had to work a bit to make the ski turn. When I’d speed it up after letting her ski ahead, the Masterblaster would turn easily and it was almost as if the chop wasn’t there.

    I found that at speeds I would normally be skiing (25-50 mph), the Masterblaster was very stable, was effective at both short and long turns, and ignored chop. I wish conditions had been better, though. I’ll post another review once I get to ski in conditions that are more ideal. I expect I’ll REALLY like the Masterblaster on firm/hard conditions.

    I have only one minor complaint about the Masterblaster in 168cm. I wish the snake head in the graphic had been moved about 2″ further back on the ski. Half the snake’s head is covered up by the heel of my binding. Obviously not a big deal and doesn’t affect performance. But it would be nice if a main part of a custom graphic like that were entirely visible.

    Days 3 and 4: skied again at Snowshoe on December 16. Conditions were much firmer. Icy in some cases. I was at rope drop at Western Territory (two 1500 vertical foot blacks).

    These skis love speed. GoPro shows up to 49 mph at the bottom of Cupp Run. Totally damp and stable. I’d have gone faster, but I’m still a bit nervous about my recent knee injury/surgery.

    When the sun came out and the snow softened… OMG. What a fun pair of skis. Short turns, long turns, medium turns – all great from 25 to 50 mph.

    Color me satisfied. Two weeks in Utah in late January should be a blast on these skis.

  25. Got to ski my 181 MasterBlasters for the 2nd time last weekend at Sugarbush after the 20″ they got that week. (I skied my VWerks Katanas at Mad River on the true powder day the day before.) It was the first time I got to try them on truly technical terrain and they rocked! Left over powder clumps on Castlerock bumps with a very firm base, powder stashes in the woods, windblown boilerplate, you name it the MB’s tore it up. Knowing that your skis will do anything you ask of them is a great feeling. Well done J Lev!
    I skied on the MBs with a group of work associates at Okemo on the following day. Normally I would avoid skiing a mountain groomed into submission but I took one for the team and thought I would be bored. I had a blast searching for the limit of what the MBs could do on the groomers. I never found it.

  26. I’m seriously considering some Masterblasters—wondering if you guys could give me any recommendations for other skis I should be consider. I’m looking for a narrower ski in my quiver for harder-snow days, that’s damp enough to blast through crud, yet gives energy in turns when ripping groomers, and is smeary enough to pivot around in the trees.

    I want to replace my 184 Kendos. I like their dampness and ability to rail groomers, but want something that gives a bit more energy out of turns. I like that I can easy smear out of a turn with the Kendos, but ultimately, I feel like they aren’t that “fun”. I love how playful and easy my 188 Rossi Super7s (from before they added carbon to them) are to ski, but want something better for days when there isn’t much fresh. Also enjoying my Voile Superchargers in the backcountry.

    This year I also demoed 185 Enforcer 83s, and loved how easily they laid train tracks on groomers, but wanted just a bit more burly a ski when I took them in the chop (especially some refrozen rained on shit at the bottom of Squaw). I also tried some I think 187 Brahmas, but those felt a bit long.

    I’m 155lbs and 6’1″ advanced skier, and ski mostly Squaw/Alpine, Kirkwood, and Mammoth, with 5-10 days in the Wasatch and Rockies every year. For Masterblasters, I’m leaning towards 181s. I feel that the 184 Kendos are a bit long for me and should go shorter, though the 188 Super7s almost feel short. Any reason you think I should look at the 187 MBs?

    Any other skis you think I should be looking at?

    • Hey, apologies for missing your question. Did you pull the trigger on something already. Long and short is that given your pretty specific set of criteria, I really can’t think of something else that I think would be a better fit than the Masterblaster. The only thing that gives me some hesitation is that I wouldn’t say that the 181 cm Masterblaster is a lot more stable than the Enforcer 93, but if you aren’t after a huge step up, then I think we’re back to being okay here. And there is no narrower ski that I can think of that will be definitely burlier than the Enforcer 93 while also being smeary and also providing good energy out of the turn. (Possibly the 192 cm Black Ops 98, but it doesn’t sound like you want to go that long, and we want a bit more time on the 192 anyway.)

      At your height and weight, I do worry that the 187s might be a bit more work than you want. But the 187 *will* hold up better in chop than a 185 cm Enforcer 93, for sure.

      Anyway, the 181 Masterblaster might not tick every single box that you’re looking for, but it sounds to me like it might, and none of us would have any reservation about using the Masterblaster in the conditions & terrain you describe.

  27. I have a feeling I might be one of the few dessenters about this ski but I really didn’t enjoy it. It’s fun in the air but around anything else and I wish I was on a different ski.

    For the record I’m 6’0″ and 175ish lbs usually skiing shorter shots at PC, DV, Brighton, and Solitude. I tend to ski aggressively but I’m not a “point them straight” charger. I skied the 181 at Solitude today with 3-7″ fresh with some wind affect and a pretty hard layer underneath that could be found semi-frequently.

    First thing first on what little groomer terrain there was today I did not enjoy these. Zero confidence The tips hooked up stupid hard into shorter radius turns and the tails pivoted around like a dog chasing its tail causing serious distrust on edge. What was causing this I have no idea, the tune was consistent and the mount position was on the recommended line. I’ve skied stuff with similar rocker profiles, DPS 106 178cm and Rossi black ops 182cm, and never had an issue with the tails feeling unsupportive.

    Second is the pow and chop. These skis are definitely surfy and fun in pow when the tips are playing nice and you’re in consistent snow. But if the tips start to dive I was very bucked about and did not enjoy it. Same story in chop, tips would dive and over the front I went unless I was already hanging out in the back seat.

    Moguls! Actually not that bad, worst part was again the tip grab and tail pivot. I didn’t have any other major issues so hurray.

    Drops and hucks. Eh, they get the job done but again I had very little confidence riding these out at speed through chop for fear of my acls being ripped apart by a poorly timed tip deflection. Well, riding it out not in back seat which I didn’t feel great about either due to the softness of the back half of the ski. Basically with any speed I was afraid for my life on these.

    Playfulness and jibbyness, if that’s what you want these are awesome. Popping off cat tracks and other little features was a ton of fun and these did that really well as to be expected.

    I considered the 187s but like John said above the 181s should perform better in tighter terrain which is mostly what I ski, lots of steeps, moguls, and tighter trees.

    Anyways, my thoughts. Cheers.

    • Hey, Eric – thanks for the feedback! I’ve gotta say that this all certainly sounds pretty weird. We ski a ton of very steep (underscore *steep*) moguls in Crested Butte, and can’t say that we’ve experienced anything like you’re describing when on the 181s.

      I’d normally say that it sounds like a tune issue .. but you seem pretty confident that that isn’t the case. The other thing that seems odd is the talk of experiencing tip dive in 3-7″ of snow? I’ve literally skied these in 2-3 feet of snow, and as I noted, there are few skis this narrow that I’ve tested in 8 years that clearly float better? And given the amount of tip rocker on these, it seems extremely strange that you could even get something like “tip dive” in such a relatively little amount of snow (3-7 inches).

      The only thing that would make your description seem a lot less strange is if you said that you were skiing extremely warm, wet, sticky spring snow, where that snow can feel like glue, so you’re left feeling like you’re getting bucked forward over the tips of your skis. But I suspect you’re familiar with that feeling, so would have mentioned it. Anyway, if that was the case, I wouldn’t call that tip dive, I’d call that difficult spring snow.

      Anyway, I’m not sure any of my comments help here, so apologies for that. But yeah… it all sounds really odd.

      • Hey Jonathan thanks for the reply. It all does sound odd indeed, it felt odd skiing for sure which is a bummer because I had high hopes and really wanted to like them. I would like to try them again next year under more ideal conditions to get more specifics for why I didn’t get along with them and hopefully change my first impression.

        You’re correct in the conditions weren’t that weird suction cuppy snow but lighter grapple and afternoon linoleum down low.

        The tip dive I mentiomed I would change to more a bogging down feeling and struggling with the tips not wanting to plane easily. Probably an easy fix with the longer ski or a slightly rearward mount.

        I can say though we had similar conditions today and I skied the Dictator 2.0 in the 179 length and really enjoyed it. I didnt have hooking issues on the linoleum run outs or the runs back to the base lodge. They also planed just fine in the light fluffy we had this morning or the dense sun baked snow on the east aspects.

        As for the tune I’m very hesitant to throw a ton of blame on that as the shop would’ve had to f’d up real bad for it to be that out of whack. It probably plays a factor in my discomfort with the ski on hardpack though.

        Anyways really enjoy what you guys put out and the in depth reviews. Cheers.

  28. Anyone’s perceptions of a ski’s performance are likely conditioned by their style and preferred ski characteristics. My comments regarding the Masterblaster’s edge hold are directed at skiers who prefer the carving characteristics of directional, shallow/low rocker, all mountain skis such as the Bonafide and Mantra.

    This past March I would daily choose between skiing 181 cm Masterblasters or 180 cm Bonafides (2016-17 version). Typical of spring conditions, the packed piste gradually became quite firm with occasional icy sections.

    On soft to moderately firm snow, compared with the Bonafides, the Masterblasters were more nimble edge to edge, carved almost as well, and did not require as powerful a stance. In these conditions, the MB’s felt precise and responded well to aggressive lines, eagerly snapping off a variety of medium and large turn shapes at moderately fast speeds. In powder and chopped up snow the MB had a much looser feel compared to the Bonafide, and were BIG fun. Skied fast, they required a touch more pressure than the Bonafides, and my guess would be that the Bones have a noticeably higher speed limit in turns and straight lines.

    However, on very firm snow at moderately fast speeds, the Masterblaster abruptly lost some of it’s precision, and would sometimes fail to hold an effective edge along it’s front rockered section. This failed edge syndrome changed the entire feeling of predictability in the ski. In identical conditions the Bonafide held most of it’s edge, flexed predictably into a usable arc, and responded very well to precise adjustments. A less aggressive rolling of the MB’s edges on very firm moderate slopes yielded an improved effective edge, but on very firm steep slopes the MB’s appealing sweet spot and flex/pop characteristic was completely negated for lack of an effective bend and carve. Worst case was a steep section of tracked up pow over a very firm base — the MB’s tips and/or tails washed out every time the old base was engaged. In those same conditions the Bonafides were a much better tool, keeping a more effective edge thru the transitions and slarving instead of washing out.

    I’m looking forward to big fun on the Masterblaster in soft mid winter Colorado conditions, and I will experiment with new techniques/expectations on the occasional firmed up section. However, I purchased the Masterblasters as a possible replacement for my Bonafides in my two ski travel quiver (Bibby Pro’s being the other ski, which BTW holds a very good edge and flex on hard snow transitions). With variable spring conditions in mind, the Bonafide ’16-’17 is, for me, a much better blend of all mountain, all season strengths.

  29. Been looking hard for a new ski in my 1 ski quiver. I am 178cm (5’10), 73kg (161 lb) and have been skiing on the ski punisher for the last 9 years. It’s a 182cm but given its 16.5m radius, 89mm under foot and turned up tail I am wondering weather the 181 or the 175 will be right for me.
    Here in Australia, we are normally skiing good groom, ice, soft crud, sloppy powder or the occasional nice stuff but she ain’t deep (6inches at best).
    But do plan on a but more o/s to Japan, NZ and Europe. I like to ski everything, edges in fast and snappy to floating and ski at an expert point. What the suggestion on ski length for me on MB., I am struggling to make up my mind.

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