2nd Look: 17/18 Blizzard Cochise

Will Brown reviews the 2015-2016 Blizzard Cochise, Blister Gear Review.
16/17 Blizzard Cochise

Ski: 2017-2018 Blizzard Cochise, 185 cm

Available Lengths (cm): 171, 178, 185, 192

Blister’s Measured Length (straight tape pull): 183.5 cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 136-108-122

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 135.5-107.5-121

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2,376 and 2,393 grams

Stated Sidecut Radius (185cm length): 27 meters

Core Construction: Poplar/Beech + Titanal Metal (2 Layer) + Carbon Tips/Tails + Fiberglass Laminate

Tip / Tail Splay (17/18 – decambered): ~67mm / ~18mm

Tip / Tail Splay (14/15 – decambered): ~57mm / ~8mm

Mount Location: Recommended Line (80.2 cm from tail; – 11.05 cm from center)

Boots / Bindings: Fischer RC4 130 & Tecnica Mach 1 LV / Marker Jester (DIN 11)

Test Location: Taos Ski Valley

Days Skied: 7

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 15/16 Cochise, which was not changed for 16/17 or 17/18]

We ended the 14/15 northern hemisphere season with a bit of a Cochise cliff hanger. We posted Will Brown’s initial review of the 15/16 Cochise, and I proceeded to put another 6 days on the ski in conditions that were growing increasingly firm.

I’m going to assume that you’ve read Will’s review before you read mine, so click the link above if you haven’t yet.

But to do a brief recap and to help orient you to where I’m coming from, there are a few points worth making before we really get going.

This is the 3rd iteration of the Cochise we reviewed. Five of our reviewers put time in on the original Cochise, and we had no notable disagreements about the 185 Cochise or the 193 Cochise. Everybody was basically on the same page.

Then Blizzard tweaked the 14/15 Cochise. Three of our reviewers put significant time on the 185 (Paul Forward, Will Brown, and me), and again, no disagreements. We all still loved the ski, and none of us really felt that there was an obvious performance difference between the original Cochise and the 14/15 model.

The 15/16 Cochise, however, saw some more significant changes than there were from the 1st version to the 2nd. The introduction to Will’s review details those, so I won’t rehearse all of them. But this Cochise definitely feels different to me.

However, before we get to those differences, here are two changes that haven’t (yet, anyway) seemed to make a notable difference to me:

(1) Tip & Tail Splay

We listed these stats at the top of the review, but let’s list them again:

Tip / Tail Splay (14/15 – decambered):   ~57mm / ~8mm

Tip / Tail Splay (15/16 – decambered):   ~67mm / ~18mm

The updated Cochise gets about a 1cm gain in both tip and tail splay. Will Brown skied the new Cochise in fresher snow than me, so you can read his review for what he found. Most of my time on the Cochise happened well after a storm, but my first day was in heavy, wet, fresh snow (it was raining at the base while snowing hard up top.)

My notes from that day (3.19.15): In heavy, condensed piles of pushed-around snow closer to the base of the mountain (e.g., Spencer’s), the Cochise were serviceable, but the ski felt a bit harsh while negotiating the big piles and their accompanying trenches. I would have taken the 190 Blister Pro in a heartbeat here. They have a little more forgiving flex pattern, they are a little easier to pivot, and in really thick snow like this, a little more width is your friend.

Higher up the mountain, however, Pollux (skier’s right of Reforma at Taos) was in great shape — the snow wasn’t quite as heavy or chunky, and it was gorgeous, fairly steep tree skiing through big, pretty well-spaced moguls with nicely filled-in troughs. While these weren’t demanding conditions, the new Cochise felt very good. Nothing much to report here, except to say that this was probably where the 15/16 Cochise felt to me most like the 14/15s.

But all of this is a roundabout way to say that the additional tip and tail splay never caught my attention in the above conditions, and as things firmed up, I did not / haven’t yet noticed that additional splay. In deeper, light, untracked pow? Possibly. But I can’t say that it presented a clear difference to me, which could be regarded as a good thing—the Cochise still feels like it has a pretty big sweet spot. That additional splay hasn’t turned the Cochise into some balancing act of a ski.

Tapered Tips

I can’t say that I think this changes much. So far, the new Cochise doesn’t feel noticeably quicker. Blizzard certainly hasn’t turned the Cochise into a Rossi Soul 7 or anything.

So what does feel significantly different?

The Carbon Tips and Tails

Keep in mind: Will Brown had the 15/16 Cochise in soft, fresh conditions for his time on the Cochise, and he didn’t notice a huge difference.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Blizzard Cochise for Blister Gear Review
Will Brown on the Blizzard Cochise.

Having said that, he still did report: The tails of the new Cochise seem to hook up harder and be a little less forgiving than those of the 14/15 model at times—and sharp edges through the tail of the ski could definitely be responsible for that.”

In my time so far on the 15/16 Cochise, I found this to be more true as the conditions got more firm—and that was even after detuning the tips and tails. I can’t say that, via detuning, I’ve gotten the 15/16s to feel like the 13/14 – 14/15s. Some further detuning may close the gap a bit, but I’m very much inclined to think that the biggest difference isn’t the tune, but the carbon in the tips and tails. In short, the tips and tails seem more harsh, the ski “bites” harder.

For what it’s worth, this is exactly what I love about the 15/16 – 16/17 Bonafide: it has more bite than the previous one, it feels less vague / more precise. And to me, on a 98mm-wide ski that I will typically pull out it in shallow snow to very firm snow, this is a welcome upgrade.

And you’re now going to have to decide whether the updates to the Cochise are a good thing or a bad thing. For me personally, I wasn’t looking for more bite and precision out of the Cochise. We nicknamed that ski the “forgiving charger,” and praised its performance, despite the fact that it wasn’t an exciting ski on groomers, and it certainly wasn’t a pow ski. We didn’t care, because:

1. It was amazing how hard you could push the ski without the ski ever feeling demanding or unforgiving. I don’t think there was another ~108mm-wide ski out there that could be pushed as hard as the Cochise yet was that forgiving (in bad conditions) and easy to ski. That was super cool, and unique.

2. The ski smoothed out crap conditions better than most skis out there, and probably better than any ski in the 108mm-underfoot, directional charger group. I.e., even if it hadn’t snowed for quite a while, the Cochise made crap snow feel a lot less crappy. It let you keep skiing hard and never felt jarring. (See our review of the 14/15 Cochise for more on that.) It was like a trail bike that had perfectly-tuned suspension to smooth out gnarly terrain.

3. The other relatively unique thing about the Cochise was that you had this directional charger that was super smooth and buttery, easy to throw sideways and smear. Again, was it exciting on groomers? No. Was it super exciting in bumped-up, variable conditions everywhere else on the mountain? Definitely.

And that’s what I miss in the 15/16 Cochise. It isn’t the same damp, “forgiving charger.” It doesn’t have that same feeling of perfectly dialed suspension. In less-than-forgiving snow, it now feels like you have to be a bit more precise and calculating. Get on those tails and they feel harsh rather than supportive. Drive the shovels hard through bumped-up runouts, and the ski feels more jarring.

“Smooth,” “buttery,” “damp,” aren’t the words that I associate most with the new Cochise. Is it still a pretty powerful ski? Yes. Can you still ski it like you skied the previous Cochise? Yeah, but it doesn’t feel the same. On Reforma, in all of its firm, double-fall line, massive non-uniform moguls, I found myself having to be more focused on placement, careful to stay in control, while the previous Cochise would have just absorbed and smoothed out the terrain regardless of how fast I was skiing. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Again, it probably depends on what you use your Cochise for, and what you thought of the previous one.

But we’re certainly going to continue to spend time on the new Cochise, and I am slightly curious whether, over time, those tips and tails soften up a bit. But I doubt it—carbon doesn’t exactly soften up.

Bottom Line

Will Brown found that the 15/16 Cochise is still “a very capable all-mountain charger, well suited to skiing hard and fast in steep terrain.” And I don’t disagree. But the feel is pretty different, perhaps especially as you get the two skis into bumped-up / roughed-up conditions.

Those who found the previous Cochise to be “vague” (perhaps exactly as I found the previous Bonafide to be a bit vague), will probably be thrilled with the new Cochise. But those who loved the Cochise for its damp, smooth, forgiving feel in variable snow and off-piste terrain … you might not be quite as thrilled. This new ski is less of a forgiving charger.

3rd Look: Blizzard Cochise

You can now read Brian Lindahl’s review of the 17/18 Cochise.


2 comments on “2nd Look: 17/18 Blizzard Cochise”

  1. Hey Jonathan I’m stuck between the cochise and the bonafide. I’m 190’bs 6’2 tall. Right now in my quiver I have Atomic Automatics 117, and Head Monster 78s. I’m looking for something to round out my quiver a little bit. Looking for a bit more of a daily driver then a specialist. I would describe my skiing style as fast. I would say I ski steep bowls with little cliffs most of the time and short tree runs. When we get big dumps of snow, I generally stay in the trees on my Automatics.

    Im from the B.C Interior. Usually Ski Fernie, Revelstoke, Kicking Horse.

    Would you be able to better explain the subtle differences between the bonadfide and cochise?

  2. Hi Jonathan,

    I am a 52 yr old male expert skier, 5 ft 8 in and weigh 160 lbs. I throw those stats out there to provide context. I have a 13/14 pair of Cochise in the 177 length and absolutely love them. However, while I ski big mountains 2-3 weeks each season (east and west), I live 10 min from a small mountain in the east and ski there 3 to 4 days a week. So, I since I love my Cochise, I was thinking about adding some Brahmas to my quiver. The question I have for you is in regards to length. The 177 Cochise is perfect for me, based on experience. The Brahma as you know is either 173 or 180. Which way shoul I go?

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