Ski: 2014-2015 Blizzard Scout, 185cm
Dimensions (mm): 134-108-122
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 183.2
Sidecut Radius: 28.5 meters
Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 2,080 grams and 2,087 grams
Boots / Bindings: Fischer Vacuum RC4 130 / Marker Jester (DIN at 10)
Mount Location: Factory Recommended
Days Skied: 6
Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley, NM; Summit County, CO.
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 13/14 Scout, which is unchanged for 14/15, except for the graphics.]
In his review of the Blizzard Scout, Jason Hutchins talks about the Scout relative to the Blizzard Cochise, which makes a lot of sense, since the Cochise directly inspired the Scout’s design. The Scout has the exact same dimensions and sidecut as the Cochise and a nearly identical camber profile, but is about 150 grams lighter per ski.
Having said that, I don’t think this is the only way to think about the Scout, nor is it the most helpful or instructive way.
In fact, Blizzard doesn’t mention the Cochise at all in their own description of the Scout (and with good reason, I think):.
“Part of the Free Mountain Lite Category, the Scout is not the lightest ski for touring, however it is the most performance oriented. Built with Flipcore technology, the Scout will go up, and then will give you the confidence to rip giant lines on the way down.”
In short, similarities can be deceiving, and I’m going to spend most of my time here explaining why most people shouldn’t think of the Scout as a “Cochise-lite” or “Cochise Tour Edition.” There is a small group of people for which that is the case. Hopefully I can make clear who those people are, and why if you’re not part of that narrow market, then you’ll need to be looking to ski in a very specific sort of terrain/conditions if you’re going to like the Scout (as something other than a lighter Cochise).
Jason has said he wouldn’t call the Scout “an exciting carver and, like the Cochise, doesn’t pull aggressively across the hill or release with much enthusiasm, no matter how hard it is pushed.” I would agree, and I’ve said very similar things about the Cochise too.
The Scout, like the Cochise, will hold a nice high-angle carve if you’re on any pretty soft snow, but thanks to its long sidecut radius and practically non-existent traditional camber, it doesn’t provide much snap or rebound out of carved turn.
(Note: where the Cochise is flat underfoot, Blizzard’s website says the Scout has some traditional camber, but I have to admit I didn’t even notice this on the Scout while looking at the ski, and wouldn’t have guessed it from the way it feels on snow.)
The Scout may feel a little bit lighter than the Cochise on groomers, particularly when initiating short turns at slower speeds, or in carving over slightly bumped up spots, but this difference felt pretty minor to me. Though it is lighter and a bit easier to push around, the Scout still has the same 28.5m radius of the Cochise, so the ski’s initial feel on edge isn’t really any more energetic.
Jason is right to point out that the Scout does feel a little lighter in the air than the Cochise. I agree, but I don’t think this amounts to much. The Scout is a very directional ski (so you’re probably not going to want to be throwing many spins on it in the first place), and still doesn’t feel nearly as light as a more jib-orineted, bidirectional ski like the Salomon Rocker2 108. All and all I couldn’t really appreciate the Scout’s lighter weight in the air. I’m not all that heavy (160 lbs.), but I’d still rather have the added heft and stability of the Cochise, especially on landings.
Chop / Crud
As I’ve said, the Scout feels a bit quicker and more easily maneuverable than the Cochise at slow speeds on groomers, the only penalty being a slight loss of dampness in stability—which at my weight—I didn’t have an issue with. The same could be said for the way the Scout handles in more challenging, variable conditions at slower speeds.
Making slow, fluid turns at the top of steep chutes at Taos (Oster, Fabian, and Fifth Chute) in a mix of firm hardpack and blown-in chalky snow was pretty comfortable on the Scout.
Just like the Cochise, the ski felt well balanced and predictable, not out of its element at all. It’s straight shape and lack of sidecut wasn’t helping me snap and carve the ski across the fall line (nor was it causing any hooky, grabby behavior), but the long, gradual rocker let me “foot-steer” and smear out turns quickly and smoothly. It’s been a while since I’ve been on the Cochise in those type of conditions, but I feel like its heavier swing weight would have required me to spend a bit more energy pivoting the ski through those smeary, slow turns.
With respect to how the Scout feels at slower speeds on groomers, and here in more variable conditions, Jason mentions a few times that he feels lighter skiers would prefer the Scout over the Cochise. That’s probably true. Jason and I are both pretty light guys, and while I never felt burdened by the extra weight of the Cochise at slower speeds, I’d take a ski that’s a little easier to maneuver at those times.
But Jason and I both found the lighter Scout to struggle in firmer variable conditions when skied with any real speed and aggressiveness. Through the middle of those chutes off Taos’ West Basin and out their runouts, I found I wasn’t able to move into longer, faster turns with increased edge pressure without the Scout chattering and getting kicked around quite a bit. As Jason found, I only felt I was skiing the Scout within its speed limit when I would “slow way down and totally finesse the ski through turns…it seemed the less input I tried to have on the Scout, the better they felt.”
Now it wouldn’t be fair to expect a ski that is intended as a lighter, backcountry-oriented model to hold up very well through long-radius, fast slarve turns in firm “off-piste” conditions. But at the same time, I wouldn’t expect such a ski to have a 28.5 meter turn radius originally intended (on the Cochise) to enable that kind of riding. At least, not without some kind of metal laminate to accompany it…but then you’ve added weight to the ski.