In Jonathan Ellsworth’s review of the Blizzard Cochise, he describes the ski as one “born to slide and slarve.” The same is true of the Dakotas. By sliding those tails around, I not only felt the tails catching less, but I could also manage speed much more effectively.
This was also true on groomers and steep pitches where the skis gained momentum very quickly. Trying to slash turn or otherwise quickly scrub speed took a lot of strength and energy, but by slarving down the steeps I could control speed with significantly less effort.
Once I had the sliding dialed, I realized how much these skis have to offer. Although fully rockered, the splay is gradual, and the shovels are stiff, which enabled the ski to bulldoze through crud yet also float over powder. In addition, the gradual rocker allowed for more edge engagement when skiing hardpack. Although flat underfoot, I felt that the Dakotas handled very well on groomers for a ski of its dimensions.
As such, the Dakotas are simultaneously burly and nimble, unlike any ski I have tried before. I think this unlikely combo could be a result of the metal and wood construction. Like Julia, I didn’t find them to be particularly playful, but the ski is still responsive and maneuverable. This is likely attributable to the lighter paulownia and bamboo wood core. The two sheets of metal are apparent, however, in how damp and stable the ski is at high speed and in variable snow.
Although I didn’t get the chance to try the Dakotas in really deep, dry powder, I was impressed with their floatation in wet snow. They have been ideal in the spring skiing we’ve had in Jackson for the last few weeks. This ski is capable of handling a wide variety of terrain and conditions, which makes it an attractive choice for a one-ski quiver. I think they would especially shine on the West Coast, where the powder is often denser.
I wouldn’t recommend these skis to everyone, however. They are best suited for strong, aggressive skiers who aren’t speed shy. The Dakotas don’t feel like they were designed for mellow ski days; they have little patience for tired legs or slow turns. But these skis give back what you put in.
I have to commend Blizzard for putting out a women’s ski that is in the same league with the men’s skis. In a male dominated sport, it’s refreshing to see a company acknowledge that there is a market out there for hard-charging women’s skis. The Dakotas are the answer for women looking for a ski that will allow them to push their limits.