Skis: 2016-2017 Blizzard Gunsmoke, 186cm
Available Lengths: 179, 186, 193 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 183.5 cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 140-114-130
Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 139.5-113.5-129.5
Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 2248 grams & 2273
Sidecut Radius: 22 meters
Core Construction: Bamboo/Poplar/”ISO” (Synthetic) + Fiberglass Laminate
Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): ~77mm / ~66mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~2 mm
Factory Recommended Line: – 5.95cm from center; -85.75cm from tail
Mount Location: +2 cm from Recommended Line
Boots / Bindings: Fischer RC4 130 Vacuum / Marker Jester (DIN 10)
Days Skied: 5
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 13/14 Gunsmoke, which was not changed for 14/15, 15/16, or 16/17, except for the graphics.]
This 2nd Look will mostly expand upon what Jason Hutchins reported in his review of the Blizzard Gunsmoke, mainly explaining where I feel the Gunsmoke fits relative to other skis in its class. Jason did this well, but I think I can add some relevant comparisons to the picture.
I think of the Gunsmoke primarily as a powder ski—a very versatile one, but a powder ski first and foremost. So we’ll start there.
I agree with everything Jason said about the Gunsmoke’s performance in pow, but I want to echo an interesting characteristic that affects the way the ski handles—one that makes it so surprisingly versatile in variable / off-piste conditions.
As Jason mentions, the Gunsmoke doesn’t have the loosest, most smeary feel in soft snow, largely because its sidecut radius (22m) is a little longer than skis like the Line Opus or the Salomon Rocker2 108.
The Gunsmoke’s tips and tails are not hugely fat relative to its waist width, so while the ski provides a nice amount of float in powder, its shovels and tails don’t feel as if they plane over or hook up on the snow more than its width underfoot. What this means is that the Gunsmoke is generally nice and predictable in powder, and will remain stable at speed, but requires that you initiate turns more deliberately at slow speeds than other comparable skis. As Jason says, a ski like the Atomic Bent Chetler or Opus is probably going to feel a little lighter, more maneuverable, and more intuitive than the Gunsmoke when skiing powder in trees or steep, tight terrain (especially in older or wetter heavier snow).
I noticed this especially when skiing 8-10” of dense, heavier powder in Lorelei Trees at Taos over Thanksgiving weekend. The Gunsmoke definitely does not feel like a “pin-tailed” powder ski—its tails resist easily sinking and smearing out in soft conditions. The less speed I was carrying, the more deliberately I had to work to pitch the ski sideways through the trees.
I don’t mean to say the Gunsmoke feels directional, as it definitely prefers a more upright, centered stance, and will absolutely smear out a turn quickly. It just requires some encouragement to do so (not unlike the Moment Bibby Pro).
The 190cm Salomon Rocker2 108 and 190cm Moment Deathwish will also feel a little more lively in terms of swing weight at lower speeds, but neither will float as easily as the Gunsmoke. They are very capable in fresh powder so long as you can remain light and balanced on the ski, and both have fairly centered mount points and softer tips and tails that don’t do too much to plow through snow if your weight happens to fall heavily forward or backward.
The Gunsmoke feels more genuinely at home in fresh snow. Compared to the Rocker2 108 and Deathwish, the ski’s flex in the tips and tails feels a little sturdier, more supportive, and more reliable in heavier, more demanding powder.
As Jason makes clear, the straighter shape of the Gunsmoke, which requires it to be skied deliberately in powder, makes it surprisingly stable in variable conditions (even given its surfier, playful feel).
When skiing hard in a mix of bumped-up, firm, packed powder and light (maybe an inch) of soft snow on Reforma and Al’s Run at Taos, I did have to be careful not to overpressure the Gunsmoke’s rockered tails. Like Jason, I found that they would wash out if I pressured them too hard over firm patches. However, the tails on the Deathwish or Rocker2 108 will fail you sooner when pressured, as they aren’t as firm as the Gunsmoke’s in the first place, and are more likely to get deflected and rattled by variable conditions as they’re a little lighter and less damp.
At slower speeds, I found I could pivot and smear the Gunsmoke through short-swing turns fairly easily, so long as I initiated turns forcefully. Though it takes a little more effort, I can weave short turns through lower, spacious bumps on the Gunsmoke just as well as on the Rocker2 108 or Deathwish.
So despite being a slightly wider, powder-oriented ski, to me the Gunsmoke feels just as predictable and more stable in off-piste conditions as the Deathwish and Rocker2 108, which are more wide, “freestyle-oriented, all-mountain” skis. Relatively speaking, none of these skis excel in variable conditions, but the degree to which the Gunsmoke maintains good performance in variable snow while being so capable in fresh is impressive.
Groomed / Firm
As for the Gunsmoke’s performance on groomers, I don’t have much to add to what Jason has said. It’s easy to smear out of firm snow, but it is also easy to set an edge and bend the ski through a carve. Even if you’re dealing with very firm, hardpacked groomers—the kind you’ll often find during early season skiing in Colorado, for example—you can still have a lot of fun on the Gunsmoke.
Trick / Jib Performance
Compared to the Moment Deathwish and the Salomon Rocker2 108, the Gunsmoke is better in powder, and arguably just as good in variable conditions and on groomers.
So where do those more all-mountain skis have the upper hand? Is there any penalty for the added dampness and width that the Gunsmoke provides? This is where I’d want to expand on a point Jason makes in his “Playtime” section, where he writes:
“There are skis out there with lower swing weights for those inclined to get super duper tricky off pristine backcountry booters, especially with the latest trend in designs at the tip and tail of skis to reduce swing weight. But for chopped up resort powder day conditions, the Gunsmoke feels just about right: it’s able to motor through a chopped up in-run, take-off, or landing pad, and will still allow you to get pretty fancy in the air.”
Those other skis out there that Jason is talking about would include ones like the Deathwish (which is lighter in the air than the Gunsmoke) and the Rocker2 108 (which is a little lighter still). Compared to those, I’d definitely agree that the Gunsmoke is more difficult to throw and spin around, but I think I found the difference to be more pronounced than Jason.
The Gunsmoke’s slightly heavier feel and slightly stiffer tips and tails led me to be more hesitant to throw tricks around the mountain in spots where I don’t think I would have thought twice about it on the Rocker2 108 or Deathwish. Like Jason says, you definitely can throw butters and presses on the Gunsmoke, but I just want to underscore that the ski doesn’t have the same snap or rebound to it that the others do. (If, however, I was 30 lbs. heavier, I might feel differently…)
* Sidenote, like Jason, I’m really curious about the 186 Blizzard Peacemaker. Though I don’t think it could begin to match the float of the Gunsmoke, at 104mm underfoot, I’m hoping it can provide in-air quickness closer to that of the Deathwish / Rocker2 108, but maintain some of the dampness and predictability (especially in soft snow and chop) of the Gunsmoke.
Blizzard Gunsmoke vs. Moment Bibby Pro?
The Gunsmoke is a fun, substantial ski that can be pushed pretty hard while still allowing you to play, too. In that sense the Gunsmoke bears some resemblance to the Moment Bibby Pro…
I haven’t spent much time comparing the two, however, because the Bibby still strikes me as more of a powder ski on the whole, though it does surprisingly well in firm conditions.
I don’t think the Bibby Pro can butter and jib terrain or ski variable hardpack as well as the Gunsmoke, which can more legitimately be compared to all-mountain jib skis like the Moment Deathwish and Salomon Rocker2 108.
Given the Bibby Pro’s width underfoot (118mm in the 190cm length), its stiffness in the tips and tails, and its swing weight, it feels less suitable than the Gunsmoke as an everyday ski. But the 190cm Bibby Pro will probably float a little better than the Gunsmoke and feel more stable and intuitive in soft, choppy conditions, ultimately making it the better powder ski.
In sum, the Bibby Pro’s versatility is shifted more toward the soft-snow, powder end of the spectrum, so much so that I don’t feel inclined to include it in a conversation about all-mountain jib performance. On the other hand, I think that the Gunsmoke is well worth discussing in that category.
There are more intuitive powder skis out there that will make skiing fresh conditions a little easier than the Gunsmoke does, but I can’t think of any that are as surfy and capable in powder while also seeming so at home in more firm conditions.
On the feet of a strong skier with good technique, the Gunsmoke is a good powder ski that can also be used well as a surfy, all-mountain tool, capable of fast, stable turns in variable conditions. It’s also happy to throw down some jibs, though not as easily as the Salomon Rocker2 108 or Moment Deathwish—but those skis can’t provide the same level of stability as the Gunsmoke.