2020-2021 J Skis Hotshot

Ski: 2020-2021 J Skis Hotshot, 183 cm

Test Location: Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado

Days Skied (so far): 15

Reviewers:

  • Luke Koppa: 5’8”, 155 lbs / 173 cm, 70 kg
  • Dylan Wood: 5’11”, 155 lbs / 180 cm, 70 kg

Boots / Bindings: Tecnica Mach1 130 MV, Atomic Hawx Ultra 130 S / Tyrolia Attack2 13 AT

Available Lengths: 177, 183, 189 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 180.6 cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2295 & 2344 grams

Stated Dimensions: 134-106-124 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 133.5-105.2-123.1 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius (183 cm): 18 meters

Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 75 mm / 43 mm

Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 2.5 mm

Core: maple + titanal (2 partial layers) + fiberglass laminate

Base: sintered, “extra thick”

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -7.6 cm from center; 82.7 cm from tail

Ski: 2020-2021 J Skis Hotshot, 189 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 186.6 cm

Stated Weight per Ski: 2450 grams

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2449 & 2493 grams

Stated Dimensions: 134-106-124 mm

Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 133.9-105.3-123.2 mm

Stated Sidecut Radius (189 cm): 19 meters

Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 73 mm / 41 mm

Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 3 mm

Core: maple + titanal (2 partial layers) + fiberglass laminate

Base: sintered, “extra thick”

Factory Recommended Mount Point: -7.7 cm from center; 85.6 cm from tail

Blister reviews the J Skis Hotshot
J Skis Hotshot — Ryan Schmies "Nocturnal Daydream" edition
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Review Navigation:  Specs //  First Look //  Full Review //  Bottom Line //  Rocker Pics

Intro

Many of our reviewers were big fans of the J Skis Metal. It was a ski that combined great suspension / damping with a forgiving flex pattern and a playful rocker profile. That’s a rare combination, and why we’ve found ourselves recommending the Metal to everyone from directional skiers who want the stability of a metal-laminate ski but with added maneuverability, to freestyle skiers looking for something that’s playful but capable at high speeds, to larger beginners and intermediates who want a ski that’s not demanding but that also won’t hold them back as they improve.

For 20/21, J Skis got rid of the Metal, but they replaced it with the new Hotshot and this new ski looks like it maintains many of the elements we love about the Metal, along with some potential improvements.

Two of us have now spent several days on the 183 cm Hotshot in a pretty wide range of conditions, and you can check out our full review below. Then we’re also planning on updating this review once we’ve spent more time on the 189 cm length. But first, let’s dive into the design of this ski:

What J says about the Hotshot

“This is a completely NEW SKI that replaces The Metal. The Hotshot charges harder and surfs easier, backed by a huge sweet that feels intuitive and easy to handle in all terrain and conditions with no speed limit. We optimized the shape and location of the “Light Metal” Titanal laminate to add more power where you need it, and reduced weight where you don’t. The result is a powerful, smooth, stable ski that will boost your confidence blasting through chop, bumps, and stomping landings like a pro. Like all J skis, The Hotshot maintains unmatched precision when ripping groomers. Just roll it over and the entire edge including the rockered tips become fully engaged for a solid reliable feel.”

Based on this, the things that haven’t changed between the Metal and Hotshot are that the Hotshot is still designed to have a big sweet spot, it’s still supposed to be smooth and stable, and it still uses a version of J’s “Light Metal” titanal laminate. The big difference is supposed to be that the Hotshot is even more stable and easier to surf around in deep snow.

Construction

The construction of the Hotshot is very similar to the Metal. The Hotshot still has a maple wood core, thick, sintered base, extra-thick edges, and a quadraxial fiberglass laminate. Both skis feature two layers of titanal, with those metal layers running over the center of the ski but tapering to a point near the tips and tails and not spanning edge-to-edge. The idea with this is that you get some of the damping / suspension of metal-laminate construction, but with less weight (particularly at the ends, in an effort to decrease swing weight in particular).

Shape / Rocker Profile

This is one of the most noticeable changes while looking at the two skis. In my eyes, the Hotshot looks a bit like a narrower version of the current J Skis Friend. Compared to the Metal, the Hotshot’s tips look a bit more tapered with a longer “straight” section in the shovel, which seems like it could be one of the bigger factors in terms of making the Hotshot easier to pivot in fresh snow vs. the Metal. On the flip side, the Hotshot’s tail looks a bit less tapered than the Metal’s, or at least the Hotshot’s tail doesn’t taper to as much of a point, which we think could help improve edge hold on very firm snow.

Overall, the Hotshot’s shape looks fairly similar to the ON3P Woodsman 108, Armada ARV 106Ti, and Moment Wildcat 108.

The rocker profile of the Hotshot isn’t super different vs. the Metal. They both have very deep tip rocker lines for ~106mm-wide skis, but those tip rocker lines are pretty low-slung until you get close to the tips of the skis. The tail rocker lines of both skis are much shallower than their tip rocker lines, but they both have twinned tails. The rocker profile of the Hotshot is pretty similar to the new J Skis Slacker, with the Hotshot having a slightly shallower tip rocker line.

Compared to the rest of the market, the Hotshot has deeper rocker lines than many similarly wide skis, especially compared to most metal-laminate skis, though the Hotshot’s tail rocker line is a bit shallower than some of the freestyle-oriented skis in this class.

Flex Pattern

Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the 183 cm Hotshot:

Tips: 6.5-7
Shovels: 7
In Front of Toe Piece: 7.5-9.5
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-8
Tails: 7.5-6

And here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the 189 cm Hotshot:

Tips: 6.5-7
Shovels: 7-7.5
In Front of Toe Piece: 7.5-9.5
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-8
Tails: 7.5-6

Like the Metal, the Hotshot is not some super burly, stiff ski, though the Hotshot does have notably stiffer tips. And between the 183 cm and 189 cm Hotshot, the ski’s flex pattern remains extremely similar, with the 189 cm version having subtly stiffer shovels.

The Hotshot’s tips are pretty easy to flex and it slowly and smoothly stiffens up as you move to the middle of the ski. There’s another slow-and-smooth ramp-down in stiffness as you move behind the bindings to the tail, and it finishes with a tail that feels very similar to the tips in terms of stiffness.

This flex pattern is pretty similar to the J Skis Slacker & Friend, it’s not super far off from the flex pattern of the Liberty Origin 106, and it’s a bit softer overall than the ON3P Woodsman 108. None of J’s skis are extremely stiff, but they all have pretty round flex patterns (that most of our reviewers really like).

Lengths

This is another difference between the Metal & Hotshot. The Metal came in 173, 180, & 186 cm lengths, while the Hotshot will be available in 177, 183, & 189 cm lengths. We’ll be putting a lot of time on both the 183 cm and 189 cm versions this season.

Sidecut Radius

Not much change here — the 186 cm Metal had a stated sidecut radius of 19.1 meters, while the 183 cm Hotshot’s stated sidecut radius is 18 meters and the 189 cm Hotshot’s sidecut radius is 19 m. 18-19 meters is neither super short nor super long, though it is on the shorter end of the spectrum if you’re specifically looking at the metal-laminate skis in this class (e.g., Blizzard Cochise 106).

All of J’s skis feature blended sidecut radii, with each ski reportedly having 5 different radii blended throughout the sidecut of the ski. So the stated sidecut radii for each ski is the average of those different radii, and J says that the Hotshot’s radius underfoot is a bit tighter than the Metal’s, in an effort to improve carving performance on groomers.

Mount Point

The Metal’s recommended mount point was around -6 cm from true center, while the Hotshot’s is a bit farther back at around -7.6 cm from true center. That’s still fairly far forward, but not as far forward as most freestyle skis like the J Skis Vacation. The Metal’s moderately progressive mount point was likely a big factor in terms of just how many people got along with it, and we suspect the same will be true of the Hotshot. I’ll also be curious to see how this ski responds when I move the bindings a couple cm in front of and behind the recommended line.

2020-2021 J Skis Hotshot, BLISTER

Weight

As frequent readers of Blister know, we don’t view a resort-oriented ski being heavy as a downside, and often, we think of it as benefit. Heavier skis tend to be better at smoothing out rough snow typically found in the resort, and in turn, that weight can actually make them easier to ski than super light skis that get knocked around a ton and consequently force you to ski with a really active, light-on-your-feet style to compensate for the skis’ lack of inherent stability.

With that in mind, we really liked the heavier weight of the Metal. And we’re very glad that the Hotshot isn’t notably lighter.

When we got the production versions of the Hotshot, we were even more excited, since they came in closer to J’s stated weights than our lighter, pre-production pair of the 183 cm Hotshot.

At an average measured weight of around 2319 grams per ski, the 183 cm Hotshot is definitely on the heavier end of the spectrum.

And I’ll be honest and admit that I giggled a bit in excitement when I weighed the 189 cm Hotshot — at an average measured weight of 2471 grams per ski, it is very heavy. It’s actually one of the heaviest skis we’ve weighed that’s currently on the market. And again, we are not upset about that whatsoever.

The 186 cm Metal (avg. weight of 2329 g per ski) is pretty similar to the 183 cm Hotshot in terms of weight, so we expect this new ski to offer similar, if not better suspension on rough snow. All in all, the Hotshot is definitely one of the heavier skis on the market, but unlike many similarly heavy skis, it is not wildly stiff, it’s got a fairly progressive mount point, a moderately tapered shape, and deep rocker lines. It’s rare that you can get all of those traits in a single ski, and given that they’re all traits I tend to like in an all-mountain ski, that makes me extremely eager to spend more time on the Hotshot.

For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try to keep things apples-to-apples.

1787 & 1793 Fauna Pioneer, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
1800 & 1824 Luke Koppa’s ROMP 100, 183 cm
1806 & 1862 Armada Tracer 108, 180 cm (19/20–20/21)
1807 & 1840 Atomic Bent Chetler 100, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
1814 & 1845 Elan Ripstick 106, 181 cm (17/18–19/20)
1848 & 1903 Line Sick Day 104, 186 cm (17/18–20/21)
1875 & 1881 Line Sir Francis Bacon, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
1883 & 1898 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender, 178 cm (20/21)
1896 & 1942 K2 Reckoner 102, 184 cm (20/21)
1976 & 2028 Parlor Cardinal Pro, 182 cm (19/20–20/21)
1985 & 2006 Parlor Cardinal 100, 185 cm (16/17–20/21)
1999 & 2020 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender Ti, 180 cm (20/21)
2005 & 2035 Liberty Origin 106, 187 cm (19/20–20/21)
2006 & 2065 Head Kore 105, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2011 & 2028 Moment Wildcat 108, 184 cm (19/20)
2030 & 2039 Rossignol Soul 7 HD, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2049 & 2053 Whitedot Altum 104, 187 cm (19/20–20/21)
2080 & 2089 Sego Big Horn 106, 187 cm (17/18–19/20)
2079 & 2105 Kastle FX106 HP, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2096 & 2100 Salomon QST 106, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
2097 & 2113 DPS Alchemist Wailer 106 C2, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2101 & 2104 Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm (18/19–20/21)
2110 & 2119 Moment Wildcat 108, 190 cm (19/20)
2111 & 2125 J Skis Vacation, 186 cm (18/19–20/21)
2112 & 2125 4FRNT MSP 107, 187 cm (18/19–20/21)
2113 & 2140 Armada ARV 106, 188 cm (18/19–19/20)
2120 & 2134 Blizzard Rustler 10, 188 cm (19/20–20/21)
2131 & 2189 Nordica Enforcer 100, 185 cm (15/16–19/20)
2133 & 2134 Faction Prodigy 3.0, 183 cm (18/19–19/20)
2143 & 2194 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2153 & 2184 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender Ti, 187 cm (20/21)
2165 & 2211 K2 Mindbender 108Ti, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2165 & 2219 Icelantic Nomad 105, 191 cm (19/20–20/21)
2170 & 2180 Dynastar M-Free 108, 182 cm (20/21)
2190 & 2268 Armada ARV 106Ti LTD, 188 cm (18/19–19/20)
2191 & 2204 J Skis Hotshot, 183 cm (pre-production)
2202 & 2209 Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105, 186 cm (19/20)
2218 & 2244 Volkl Mantra 102, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2232 & 2242 Blizzard Cochise 106, 185 cm (20/21)
2232 & 2244 ON3P Woodsman 108, 187 cm (19/20)
2233 & 2255 Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2283 & 2290 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 189 cm (18/19–19/20)
2295 & 2344 J Skis Hotshot, 183 cm (20/21)
2312 & 2386 Prior Husume, 188 cm (17/18–20/21)
2318 & 2341 J Skis The Metal, 186 cm (16/17–19/20)
2321 & 2335 Fischer Ranger 107 Ti, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2325 & 2352 Folsom Blister Pro 104, 186 cm (19/20)
2326 & 2336 Nordica Enforcer 100, 186 cm (20/21)
2353 & 2360 Volkl Katana 108, 184 cm (20/21)
2449 & 2493 J Skis Hotshot, 189 cm (20/21)
2603 & 2604 Dynastar M-Pro 105, 192 cm (16/17; 20/21)

Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About

(1) The most obvious question: just how different will the Hotshot feel compared to the Metal that it replaces?

(2) On that note, will the Hotshot seem similarly ideal for as broad of a range of skiers as the Metal?

(3) With its less “pointed” tail and tighter underfoot radius, will the Hotshot’s firm-snow performance be notably better than the Metal?

(4) On the other hand, how much looser and maneuverable will the Hotshot’s shape feel in deep snow?

(5) How will the lengths of the Hotshot compare to the lengths of the Metal? E.g., for those who liked the 186 cm Metal, will they be better off on the 183 cm or 189 cm Hotshot?

(6) The 189 cm Hotshot is a very heavy, big ski. But it’s not a very stiff ski, it’s got deep rocker lines, and it features a fairly progressive mount point. So will it feel like a true charger that’s only fun when going ludicrously fast? Or is it going to feel more accessible than its weight and size might suggest?

Bottom Line (For Now)

The J Skis Metal was a great ski, and the Hotshot looks like it could maintain much of what we loved about the Metal while potentially being better in certain conditions. The Hotshot has a forgiving-yet-not-noodly flex pattern, a rocker profile that looks like it’ll make the ski playful and easy to maneuver, and a very heavy weight that seems like it’ll make the ski do a good job of absorbing and muting out rough snow. Stay tuned for updates this season.

Flash Review

Blister Members can now check out our Flash Review of the Hotshot for our initial impressions after skiing it for a couple days this summer. Become a Blister member now to check out this and all of our Flash Reviews, plus get exclusive deals and discounts on skis, and personalized gear recommendations from us.

2020-2021 J Skis Hotshot, BLISTER

FULL REVIEW

We’ve now skied the 183 cm Hotshot for about 15 days in a variety of conditions at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, ranging from icy groomers to soft chop. Dylan Wood and I have both become big fans of this ski, and we’ll both be adding our thoughts here.

[Note: we sent the 189 cm Hotshot up to reviewer Paul Forward a month ago but shipping got delayed substantially, so we’re planning on posting an update on the 189 cm Hotshot once we have enough time on it.]

Groomers

Dylan Wood (5’11”, 155 lbs / 180 cm, 70 kg): My first few days spent on this ski consisted of skiing early season groomers that ranged from icy to pushed-around piles of sugary, man-made snow. I was immediately surprised by the carving performance of the ski. While it’s obviously not some skinny, ultra-precise carver, it carved much better than I expected.

The Hotshot held an edge nicely on anything except for large, scraped-off, icy patches of snow. And when it was necessary to shut it down (possibly to avoid dismembering a child on the white ribbon of death), I could predictably and easily get the ski to feather and release from a carve.

While I don’t expect anyone to buy this ski solely for its carving performance, I think those interested in a fairly rockered, playful ski like the Hotshot will be happy about how it carves back to the lift.

Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs / 173 cm, 70 kg): Yep, agreed on all fronts. The Hotshot carves far better than I expected.

Blister reviews the J Skis Hotshot
Luke Koppa on the J Skis Hotshot, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

In the first couple weeks of the season, I got antsy and mounted up the Hotshot, despite the fact that man-made groomers were all that was available at the time. But I was just too eager to try it, and as soon as I headed downhill, I quickly became confident laying over this ski on firm, smooth snow.

The Hotshot requires just a bit of pressure on the front of the ski to get it to start carving across the fall line, and its edge hold is deceptively good. It’s not a wide ski that makes me want to really push my limits and attempt to drag my hips on piste (few are, but the Volkl Katana 108 comes to mind). But the Hotshot is not only predictable on piste, it’s also pretty dang fun. It’s comfortable making large turns at moderate edge angles, or pretty tight ones when you really lean into it.

Moguls, Trees, & Tight Terrain

Dylan Wood: The Hotshot immediately felt intuitive to me in soft moguls. Despite how heavy the ski is, it felt maneuverable and required little effort to turn through big, tight moguls and it was easy to prevent the ski from running down the fall line and picking up more speed than I wanted. That being said, the 183 cm Hotshot still weighs about 2300 g per ski and certainly isn’t the quickest or most maneuverable ski I’ve ever been on. Lighter skis like the 4FRNT Devastator definitely feel more nimble in tight spots.

While it’s not a really light ski that you can easily flick around from your ankles, the Hotshot’s weight makes it stand out from lighter options when I ski faster and / or the snow is firmer. The Hotshot did not feel overwhelmed or twitchy as I picked up more speed, making bigger turns and gapping between moguls or boosting off mid-run cat tracks. Despite this, the Hotshot still provided a fairly forgiving ride when things got a little out of hand. If I got a little too backseat in moguls, the tails of the ski didn’t punish me as much as the tails of a stiffer, more directional ski might.

Blister reviews the J Skis Hotshot
Dylan Wood on the J Skis Hotshot, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

In trees, the Hotshot displayed similar characteristics as in moguls, and particularly in more open trees, I liked it even more. I was able to open it up when I wanted to, letting the Hotshot run down the fall line and pick up speed, knowing that the ski would remain impressively composed. And yet, when the trees tightened up out of nowhere and it came time to shut it down, it was easy to throw the Hotshot sideways and shed my speed. Even when skiing tight trees with sloppy technique, its forgiving tails allowed for less than perfect technique when shedding speed.

It’s probably in moguls where this ski’s fairly large sweet spot becomes most noticeable. The Hotshot can be skied with a forward or centered stance and provides a large margin for error in terms of skier technique. I did have a few moments when I felt as if I was going to go “over the bars” due to being a little too far over the front of the Hotshot in moguls, and very directional skiers coming from skis with mount points around -9 cm from true center and farther back may need to adjust to the Hotshot. But I think a large range of skiers will get along with the range of stances that the Hotshot can cater to. And again, the tails don’t punish backseat skiing very much, so those who ski upright and occasionally get backseat shouldn’t worry too much about the Hotshot being very challenging to ski.

Luke Koppa: Once again, agreed. The Hotshot feels very maneuverable in that it’s easy to get “off edge” and skid through the troughs, but it’s got the mass to smooth out really firm moguls and not get knocked around a bunch when I inevitably lose my rhythm and end up bouncing from bump to bump much faster than I’d prefer.

Especially given that there are a lot of lightweight skis in this class now, the Hotshot does require more physical effort to flick side-to-side than the numerous lighter options around. You can’t just twitch your ankles and expect the ski to immediately follow. But I wouldn’t say the Hotshot is a technically demanding ski — as Dylan noted, the Hotshot has a big sweet spot and there have been many instances when I knew a more directional ski with a stiffer tail would have punished me for a mistake, but the Hotshot’s tail just sort of absorbed the pressure and I was able to get back to a centered or forward stance. It lets me get sloppy, but feels composed at speed. As someone who loves to ski on the edge of control in bumps, that’s a combo I really appreciate.

Blister reviews the J Skis Hotshot
Luke "edge of control" Koppa on the J Skis Hotshot is, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

And on the note about weight, the Hotshot’s swing weight feels lighter than I expected. Most of the weight of the ski feels like it’s centered around the bindings, and combined with its fairly forward mount point, I didn’t feel like I needed to muscle the Hotshot around as much as, say, the 184 cm Volkl Katana 108 or even the 183 cm Salomon Stance 102.

Soft Chop

Dylan Wood: I have skied the Hotshot a few times on days when it had either snowed the day before, a few inches fell during the day, or a run had just opened for the season and the conditions consisted of half-tracked and half-fresh snow. This is where I feel the Hotshot shines — it blasted through soft chop with minimal deflection. Other skis around this width that are lighter get knocked around notably more than the Hotshot in these conditions. The Hotshot gave me the confidence to boost off cat tracks into soft chop, knowing that the ski wasn’t going to get knocked around much during the fast runout.

In my opinion, choppy conditions are where the Hotshot stands out the most among more forgiving, playful all-mountain skis. Where many other skis get deflected, the Hotshot continues to allow me to drive it through weird sections of choppy snow. The Hotshot also felt very solid when making fast, big turns through smaller, soft moguls, staying composed and making predictable turns.

Blister reviews the J Skis Hotshot
Dylan Wood on the J Skis Hotshot, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Luke Koppa: I’ve professed my love of soft chop many times now, and the Hotshot is one of the skis that makes how I approach soft chop the most fun. This comes down to a few things.

First, this ski is not easily deflected. I wouldn’t say it’s a ski that I can just lean into hard and rely on to blast through absolutely everything. For that, I’d look to something similarly heavy (or heavier), but a bit stiffer and with a more rearward mount point. The 189 cm Hotshot may differ in this regard, but as someone who typically prefers skis around 183–188 cm, the 183 cm Hotshot felt best in chop and crud when skiing with a stance that fell somewhere between really forward and really centered. For my skiing style, that stance is ideal, and particularly compared to the current crop of all-mountain freestyle skis, the Hotshot feels very composed, smooth, and calm.

At the same time, the Hotshot is forgiving of sloppy technique. And it’s easy to throw sideways. And it’s poppy. And it feels pretty balanced in the air.

So while I’ve had a blast, ahem, “blasting” through chop on the Hotshot, it also feels generally playful enough to still encourage me to get it in the air and maybe throw in a spin or two. On more directional, rearward-mounted skis, popping them off patches of snow always feels a bit awkward, and they tend to require that I’m really over their shovels all the time. The Hotshot does a great job of blending the damp, calm ride of similarly heavy skis with a shape, flex pattern, rocker profile, and mount point that also cater well to a more playful approach to the mountain. And as in moguls, the Hotshot is easy to throw sideways and shed speed, whether I’m driving its shovels or even leaning back on its tails. That’s a trait I always look for in a ski that encourages me to ski fast.

Blister reviews the J Skis Hotshot
Dylan Wood on the J Skis Hotshot, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

We haven’t yet been able to get more than a few untracked pow turns on the Hotshot, so we’ll see what Paul has to say about how the 189 cm performs in pure pow. (Paul lives in Girdwood near Alyeska resort, which has reported 475 inches of snow as of January 15h, so I think it’s safe to assume he’ll be able to get it into some pow … maybe send some of that our way, Paul?)

That said, if I were to speculate, I think the Hotshot will perform very well for its width in fresh, deeper snow. It’s got a very deep tip rocker line, lots of tip splay, and fairly soft shovels — all of which tend to equate to good flotation.

Firm, Rough Snow / Crud

Dylan Wood: Despite its relatively wide width, the Hotshot impressed me on hardpack and firm, inconsistent conditions. On several hardpack runs in Crested Butte where large moguls had not developed, I was able to carve the Hotshot nicely without feeling like I was getting knocked around a bunch. It was predictable and intuitive. The smooth suspension of this damp, heavy ski made very bumpy, firm runs feel more pleasant than they did on lighter skis like the Volkl Revolt 104.

Luke Koppa: Skiing conditions that are both really firm and bumpy / inconsistent / rough is never all that fun, but the Hotshot is definitely a ski that makes them more enjoyable than most lighter skis. Pretty much everything I said in the Soft Chop section applies here. The Hotshot feels calm and composed, but its big sweet spot and maneuverable ride mean that I can just take it easy and slide around at slower speeds when I finally give up on trying to prove to everyone on the lift that the conditions aren’t actually that bad.

Blister reviews the J Skis Hotshot
Luke Koppa on the J Skis Hotshot, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Playfulness (& Mount Point)

Dylan Wood: There are a few aspects of this ski that skiers with a playful style will enjoy. First, the tails of the Hotshot are pretty easy to flex and pop off. I had a great time tail pressing over rollers and tail buttering off cat tracks on this ski. While it’s easy to initiate a tail drag, the tails of the ski also become supportive the harder they’re flexed, making it possible to launch off the tails and catch some extra air off a side hit.

The Hotshot is also pretty easy to break loose. Those who ski with a slashy, surfy style will appreciate that the Hotshot is not very hard to throw sideways.

As far as flipping and spinning goes, the Hotshot isn’t the best ski for it, but also far from the worst. Spins and flips are certainly possible, despite how heavy this ski is. In fact, I did my first flips of the season on it. In the air, I noticed the weight the most when spinning — since this ski’s recommended mount point is around -7.5 cm from center, I have to account for more of the weight being in front of my boots. That said, after some recalibration after spinning a lot on the relatively center-mounted (and far lighter light) Volkl Revolt 104, I had no issues doing my favorite tricks on the Hotshot.

Taking off, landing, and just simply skiing backward on the Hotshot was just fine on firm snow. A more center-mounted, freestyle-oriented feels a bit more natural when skiing switch, but unless you ski switch a lot in the park or are trying to throw big rotations with little effort, the Hotshot should suffice for those who occasionally lap through the park.

Luke Koppa: Overall, I’d call the Hotshot a very playful ski. It’s not the most balanced in the air, and certainly not the lightest. But as someone who likes to slash, spin, ski switch, and get in the air as much as possible, the Hotshot feels like a great ski for me.

Blister reviews the J Skis Hotshot
Luke Koppa on the J Skis Hotshot, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Despite being very damp, the Hotshot still produces a good bit of pop when I flex it (which is fairly easy to do). While it’s not as ultra-loose as something like the Dynastar M-Free 108, I never once thought the Hotshot was difficult in terms of slashing out its tails, whether on firm snow or in soft, choppy conditions. And while it does require some extra effort and pop off the lip of a jump, doing my ugly little 3’s on the Hotshot never felt particularly challenging or awkward.

During my time on the Hotshot, I spent about half of it with the bindings on the recommended line, and the other half with the bindings bumped forward to around -6 cm from true center (when measured via a straight-tape pull). The ski feels pretty similar mounted in either location, with it feeling just a bit more balanced in the air and when skiing switch when mounted at -6 cm from true center. And at that mount point, I could still drive its shovels as hard as I personally wanted to, so that ended up being my preferred mount point. Given how big the sweet spot is on this ski, I think you could get away with moving a cm or two away from the recommended line, depending on what you want to prioritize.

2020-2021 J Skis Hotshot, BLISTER

Who’s It For?

Beginner through expert skiers who are looking for a versatile ski that feels smooth and composed in rough conditions, but that’s also forgiving, playful, and that caters well to a playful skiing style.

If you are a very directional skier who’s gotten along very well with stiff, heavy skis with very rearward mount points, you may find the Hotshot too soft or its mount point too close to center (if that’s you, see the “All-Mountain Chargers” section of our Buyer’s Guide).

And if you don’t often ski very fast and / or value a ski with a really low swing weight, you’ve got better, lighter options (see the “All-Mountain More Forgiving” and “All-Mountain Freestyle” sections in our Buyer’s Guide).

But there are a lot of folks in between those two groups that have many reasons to check out the Hotshot. It’s a versatile ski that is surprisingly good on firm snow for its width, but also floats well and is easy to maneuver in deeper snow. It does an excellent good job of muting out / absorbing the harsh vibrations of rough snow conditions, yet it doesn’t require perfect technique and is easy to ski at slower speeds. And while it can be skied quite fast with a directional style, it has the flex pattern, rocker profile, shape, and mount point to feel natural in the air and conducive when throwing tricks.

Bottom Line

The J Skis Hotshot offers a really nice balance of suspension, stability, maneuverability, and playfulness — and does so in a versatile package. Those who ski with a very aggressive, directional style have some stiffer, more stable options, and those who ski with an agile, light-on-their-feet style have many lighter, more nimble options.

But the Hotshot is a very appealing option for those who don’t fall on either end of that spectrum. It feels damp and composed when skiing fast in challenging conditions, yet it’s not a ski that requires you to be on your A-game all the time. And while directional skiers seeking a maneuverable, forgiving ski can get along with it, it’ll also work for more playful, freestyle-oriented folks looking for something that won’t get bounced around a bunch when they’re skiing fast between hits.

Deep Dive Comparisons

Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the Hotshot to see how it compares to the Dynastar M-Free 108, ON3P Woodsman 108, Moment Wildcat 108, Moment Deathwish, Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, Fischer Ranger 102 FR, Whitedot Altum 104, Salomon QST 106, K2 Reckoner 102, Line Sir Francis Bacon, Sego Big Horn 106, Black Crows Atris, Volkl Revolt 104, 4FRNT Devastator, Season Nexus, Volkl Katana 108, & Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105.

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44 comments on “2020-2021 J Skis Hotshot”

  1. Shitya, thanks Luke! Always appreciate how thorough you guys are.

    For anyone wondering The Hotshot will be available on August 1st, but we’ll be releasing more info on it this Summer prior to launch. Shoot me an email anytime if you have questions or just wanna chat: info@jskis.com

    • The Hotshot 189cm is going to be a beast. With the new tail shape / profile will have the same effective edge as what a ~192cm version of The Metal would be if we were to have made it. It should be an extremely confidence inspiring ski for the bigger, out West skier that didn’t have a great option in our lineup previously.

      • So with that logic will the 183 have the same effective edge as the 186 Metal? The 186 hit the sweet spot for length for me.

        • Exactly. The 183cm Hotshot has the same effective edge as the 186cm Metal so that should be right on the money for you.

        • Hmm, very interesting. Wasn’t considering this for my daily but now I am.

          I wonder if the bindings forward, this will feel like a skinnier black ops 118? Interested in full review.

  2. Any intuition how 180 versus 183 lengths compare for someone on the edge? Does the Hotshot “ski shorter” than the Metal (which already skis short … and is a good thing)?

    I’m on my second second pair of 180 Metals and the 180 feels perfect. It was a stretch for me to order that length due to my height/weight. It’s probably not a big deal, but ….

    The name Hotshot inspires some (perhaps scary to me) ideas for graphics for this organic, animal/tree hugging, tele skier. Now if you were to name it “Smart Ass” ….

    • The Hotshot skis ~3cm longer than The Metal did, i.e. effective edge of The Hotshot 177cm will be almost the same as on your 180cm Metal ski. This is because it has a more semi-directional profile and longer tapered tail for grip further back on the ski.

      We called it The Hotshot because it’s the ski you’d use for showing off. Straight lines, cliffs, etc…

      Two graphics ready to go. One soulful and the other badass, demented Schmies. Should be good

  3. Metal is my go-to ski. Stoked on the 189 length. I have 2 pair in 186. J, you guys got a trade in plan? haha.

    • Thanks for the continued stoked and support! If the 186cm Metal has been your go-to then the 189cm Hotshot will be the choice for cranking it up a notch.

      Nope, but Limited Edition graphics keeps Craigslist resale value at an all-time high ;)

  4. Sooo now I want a hotshot. :o

    hoping for our currency vs USD to stabilize soon, its more expensive than most kastle here now :p

  5. Did not see this coming but the 189 Hotshot may have just jumped over half a dozen skis I was considering (Wildcat 108, Woodsman 108, Devastator, Mantra 102, Black Ops Gamer). Looking for a good mix of damping, maneuverability, and fun factor for playful but fairly directional skiing out West. Cant wait to read full review and deep dive. Sick graphics too.

    One question: you note stiffer tips than the Metal but looking back at the Metal review it looks like all of the numbers are higher, especially underfoot. Is the right way to think of this as similar to the Metal or notably stiffer throughout? Hoping the Hotshot can be driven a bit harder.

    • I’d say the Hotshot is slightly stiffer overall, though most of the J Skis we’ve flexed have felt pretty similar, and I think the more noteworthy aspect of the Hotshot vs Metal in your case is the Hotshot’s slightly more directional design. The Metal was basically the old J Skis Vacation (freestyle ski) with added metal, but it happened to work well for many directional skiers. The Hotshot strikes me as a more directional ski, with a slightly less symmetrical flex pattern, more rearward mount point, and longer effective edge — all of which make me think it will be more accepting of a driving, forward stance. When mounted back a cm or two, the J Skis Friend felt pretty content being skied with a forward, directional style; given the Friend and Hotshot’s similarities, if I had to bet, I think I’d wager that the Hotshot feels slightly more similar to the Friend than the Metal in terms of stance. Obviously it’s still too early to tell for sure, but especially for the 189 cm length, I suspect that a lot of directional skiers will be able to get along with the Hotshot.

      • Thanks, Luke. Very helpful. After rereading the review of the 189 cm Friend I’m even more excited about this ski. Any thoughts on how it will compare to the Woodsman 108 for stability and maneuverability? Getting close to pulling the trigger on one of these skis.

        • Hmm, again, tough to say for sure at this point, but I think the Woodsman would feel easier to pivot and slash around in tight terrain, while I suspect that the Hotshot will be the better carver of the two. I doubt it’s a massive difference, but the Woodsman’s rocker profile makes me fairly confident it’d feel more maneuverable. As for stability, I think it’s going to be quite close, and I’d need more time on the Hotshot to say for sure. My guess as of right now is that the Hotshot will feel more damp / smooth / plush, particularly on really firm conditions, but I think the stiffer flex pattern of the Woodsman might help narrow the gap in terms of stability at speed, at least in softer conditions like soft chop. We’ll definitely be comparing the two in a Deep Dive later this season, but those are my thoughts right now with limited time on the Hotshot.

    • Hotshot seems like a different ski vs. the metal to some degree as Luke points out below, but my two cents anyway. I have skied ~60 days on the 180 Metal and a handful of days on both mantras in a 177 (only weigh 150 pounds). They are very different skis. Metal is pivoty, slashy, and trickable while staying plush while the mantra is really not at all in the same ballpark from a playful regard. I don’t ski switch or throw shifties or whatever on the mantra. That being said, every time I try and ski hard through somewhat nasty snow I really wish I was on the mantra. It is much better. The longer / heavier J Ski may close the gap some, but I imagine it gives up some of that fun-factor, at least for someone not too physically strong. I imagine if you bumped up in length in the mantra the difference would be even more obvious..

      Anyway, of the skis you list, mantra is the biggest outlier I think and if I were you I would get both :)

      • Thanks for the 2 cents—helpful feedback. Not surprised to hear that but also not primarily looking for something quite as locked in and chargey as the Mantra. I live on the east coast so will probably eventually get a Mantra or Kendo or maybe even a more dedicated frontside ski but for now I’m focused on what will be the most fun on mediocre to great conditions for trips out West. I don’t spin or flip but do like to spend most of my time in steep and sketchy areas so prioritize maneuverability and cliff-stomping potential but also want to be able to gun it back to the lift on the run outs.

  6. Hi Blister!
    I am pretty sure you’ve explained this to boredom, but I am quite new member, and even if I really enjoys your review, I do not understand how to use your flex patterns measuring?
    Do you have it explained somewhere?
    Rolf

    • Hi Rolf,

      No problem: for our flex pattern numbers, you can read them basically like a tip-to-tail explanation of how stiff the ski feels in certain areas along the length of the ski, with higher numbers being stiffer and lower numbers being softer.

      So in the case of the 183 cm Hotshot’s flex pattern, we’d say the very end of the tips start at a “6.5” and the flex transitions to a slightly stiffer “7” as you move closer to the shovels, stays at a “7” through the shovels, and then gets significantly stiffer (from a 7.5-9.5) as you move from the shovel to the area just in front of where the binding’s toe piece would be. Then you get to the underfoot section of the ski, which is even stiffer (10). Then as you keep moving from the area behind where the binding’s heel piece would be toward the tail, the ski softens from a “9.5” down to an “8.” As you get even closer to the tail, it softens a bit more to a “7.5” and then the very end of the tail is an even softer “6.”

      The point of our numbered flex patterns is to provide a way for people to compare the flex patterns of different skis. E.g., if you compare the 183 cm Hotshot’s flex pattern to the 178 cm Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender (link below), you can look at the numbers and know that the Sender’s flex pattern is pretty similar to the Hotshots in the front-half of the ski, but the Sender stays much stiffer / does not soften nearly as much from its underfoot section to its tail.

      (Sender review link: https://blisterreview.com/gear-reviews/ski-reviews/2020-2021-rossignol-blackops-sender)

      Hope that helps!

    • I think the suspension / damping is similar, but the Hotshot hasn’t felt nearly as loose / eager to go sideways as the M-Free 108 so far (which I’d expect, given the uniquely loose feel of the M-Free), which makes me think the Hotshot will feel more stable on firmer snow and in choppy / cruddy conditions.

  7. Guessing Deep Dive wont come out until we have snow again? Am I correct that reading between the lines your pretty excited about the ski?

    Owning the mantra 102 191cm, and fisher ranger 102 FR 191cm, I’m guessing the hotshot would place somewhere in between there? I enjoy going 60-70mph and carving, but I also enjoy playing/going switch, hitting rollers/sidehits. How would you rate it for manovering in trees? as hopeless as the mantra? or enough tail rocker that it wont make you regret you ever tried?

    Also.. do they do custom topsheets? like the cross country slacker graphics on it… just because it would be fun.

    • Yeah, we’re going to need to ski it in a much, much wider range of conditions before we can post a Deep Dive or Full Review. But yes, I’m very excited to spend more time on it.

      And I think saying it slots between the 191 M102 and 191 Ranger 102 would be pretty accurate. I would be extremely surprised if the 189 cm Hotshot’s swing weight felt as heavy as the 191 M102’s (and surprised if it felt lighter than the Ranger 102’s). I also think it’s very safe to assume that, compared to the Mantra 102, the Hotshot is going to be easier to throw sideways and will let you get away with sloppier / more playful technique. If I had to, I’d guess that the 189 Hotshot would feel fairly similar to the 186 cm Rossi Blackops Gamer in tight spots — not punishing or difficult to pivot, just heavy and potentially fatiguing if you spend a ton of time in tight terrain and like to ski that terrain fairly quickly.

      As for custom graphics, I don’t believe they do them, but always worth sending them a note (the J team is typically very responsive).

    • Not yet, but will definitely be trying it there. But yeah, I’d say that’s reasonable and I doubt moving a cm forward would have any significant downsides.

  8. This might be more apparent on the 189cm version, but you can really feel the short radius on this ski in my opinion. It doesn’t slarve big turns in off-piste terrain like other skis with similar constructions and weight which is a shame because I absolutely love how the construction of this ski feels.

    I agree with the rest of the review though and think if you don’t ski at a mountain with tons of open terrain this ski would be a blast.

    • I have the metal (see comment below) and I agree with this. It maximizes fun in bumps / tight spaces / under lift lines in weird tricky spots and even works pretty well on park jumps. Perfect for almost all my skiing in CO. On open terrain I think it struggles to make composed larger radius turns without feeling awkward. This is the 180 metal, so shorter and a different ski, but I have had the same experience.

  9. I’m a 5’8″ 154 lb woman and I’m on the 177. I would agree with both Luke and Dylan on their interpretation of this ski. It combines ease of use, playfulness, and stability in a way that I think is lacking in a lot of other skis I’ve tried.

  10. 100 days or so on the metal in the front range. My review would be “in control when you should be out of control.” Idk something about the forgiving flex and shape plus the weight. You can just rip tight / bumpy / weird runs with lil drops and features that are standard in CO barely in control but somehow making it work. Sounds like the hotshot still has a lot of that going on. I don’t love it on groomers or steep wind buff / more open firm terrain, but my comparison is to something like a mantra rather than a more playful ski.

  11. as a 60 year old bump skier who still loves steep, organic technical terrain (i.e. mad River Glen) I picked up som Hotshots from the Blister reviews.Half my days are in the east,western NY and Vermont and the other half usually on the Powder Highway,Louise,Kicking Horse, Revy, Fernie As I grow older the buzz is about control (sorry Luke) and not so much aggression.This year we’re going to hit Whitefish then head south to Big Sky and Jackson. Can’t wait to see what Santa brought me.Gotta feeling I done good.Thanks so much for your thorough, comprehensive reviews. So helpful in eliminating the guess work. To all you young chargers out there,know that there are so many ways to keep the dream alive if you care for yourself. It only gets better. Love to the whole big ski family.

    • I’ve got probably 18-20 days on my new Hotshots, mostly at Snowbasin
      So far really good at everything, groomers, soft bumps and tracked or untracked powder. I’ve never had them get squirrelly at speed.
      Skied the first day of the recent 50+ ” cycle at Sun Valley on them and never felt that I needed more width. 2nd day was between my Line Supernatural 115’s and my Line Pescado’s. Left my legs shot, once you hit the cut up snow the Hotshot is so effortless compared to the Pescado. Wish that I’d given it a shot in the ultradeep. It reminds me of a slightly lighter, narrower Helldorado ( I’m a 2 time owner). Does everything well, fast and inspires you to push it.
      5’8″ 15.4 stone

  12. I’m 6’3″ 195 lbs. Should I go for the 183 or 189? I’m a bit concerned about the weight of the 189 in the air but I do like to ski aggressively. Tough decision! Currently on Black Crow Navis 185s.

  13. Back from a full 14 days skiing the Hotshots at Whitefish, Discover,Big Sky and Jackson. I can say the Hotshot proved to be the perfect one ski quiver for out west. Lots of pow and stormy days at Whitefish where the ski floated as well as my Enforcer 110’s. As a forward oriented skier, really enjoyed playing around pressuring the tails in a wide variety of conditions [ new fun for me]. I felt like I could use and feel the whole ski. At Disco skied big ,steep, technical lines all day off the backside and found the ski so solid and easy to keep under me. Again, the tails never punished me for getting back on big drops. Really fun. On steep chalky chutes at Big Sky the Hotshot was always right there, confidence inspiring. Love having a ski on consequential terrain that lets me control the speed and don’t have to rein it in. Ended up at Jackson in a freeze thaw cycle so got to ski groomers in the mornings and had a lot of feel in the carve. Second half of the day spent in full on spring bumps and found the ski so fun. After 12 days pretty much bell to bell wanted to slow down and groove on the sunshine, beauty and soft snow.I found I could round out full carves through pretty gloppy conditions using the whole ski. Big thanks to Blister for such specific reviews that enable us to find the right ski.

  14. How do these compare to the Line Supernatural 108? These are a similar weight, shape, and materials. I love the SNs for mixed conditions in Tahoe, looking for something similar but a little easier to whip around in tight trees and moguls. I ski the SNs in 186 so would probably be looking at the 183 here.

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