7th Annual Blister Awards, SIA

‘Tis that much-anticipated time of year, when we produce our annual Blister Awards from SIA — the most prestigious, not-at-all subjective awards in the industry.

We’ve crunched the numbers and ran various data sets. There are no alternative facts here; we won’t call any of these new products the “Best New Gear” of the show or whatever, since that “Best New Gear” hasn’t been reviewed yet.

So rest assured, the Blister Awards are decided with the utmost competence. And just like all the best leaders, we “call our own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data.” No fake news here.

And so, without further ado…


• The “Rest In Peace” Award •

Each year, we have to say goodbye to some of our favorites. We really need to do an Oscars-style “In Memoriam” montage that shows footage of all of the great skis that are leaving us. So cue the sad music, and let’s get to it:

– Line Supernatural 108

One of our favorite playful chargers shall be no more.

– Line Sick Day Tourist 102

Ouch, Line. In the “Best Of” selections of our Buyer’s Guide, we praised the Tourist 102 for being one of the most predictable, remarkably composed, lightweight touring skis available. May you tour in peace, 102.

– Salomon X-Drive 8.8

Another “Best Of” selection, the X-Drive 8.8 hung on there for quite a while, and – by today’s standards – enjoyed a good run. But the search begins to find a new ski that will allow us to go terrifyingly, irresponsibly fast on groomers. So to those orange SLOW signs that get posted at ski areas I say, enjoy this news.

(And because we do not wish to denigrate the memory of the newly deceased, we do not want to say too much here about the new XDR line that replaces the X-Drive line, or that there is a decent chance that a greater number of skiers might prefer the new lineup to the old one. This is not the place.)

Salomon XDR skis, SIA 2017 Blister Awards
Salomon XDR Skis


• The “Sayonara” (aka, the Good Riddance) Award •

– 14/15 & 1617 Blizzard Bodacious

Sorry, 14/15 – 16/17 Bodacious. You just weren’t what we wanted out of the Bodacious, which was a fat destroyer of crud & chop.

And More Good News!

For 17/18, the old Bodacious comes back, in all of its metal-having, non-tapered-tips glory:

2017/2018 blizzard bodacioius ski, SIA 2017 Blister Awards
Blizzard Bodacious

According to Blizzard, this new Bodacious is the first iteration of the Bodacious “in its original and unaltered state,” just as Arne Backstrom had envisioned. And a percentage of sales will be donated to the Arne Backstrom Memorial Fund.

– Nordica Patron

To be sure, this is a controversial award. We personally know and ski with some Patron lovers. But that Patron tip needed to go — that Spear / Pancake tip was dangerous when nuking through firm, moguled-up terrain. So we say Good Riddance, and we welcome the brand new Enforcer 110 (which replaces the Patron) with open arms.

Note: Revisiting our “Good Riddance” Award from Last Year…

Last year, we gave the Good Riddance award to the entire category of Frame-Style AT bindings.

Salomon Guardian Binding, Frame Bindings, SIA 2017 Blister Awards
Salomon Guardian Binding


Well, turns out, frame-style bindings are a bit like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill 1 & 2 — they seemingly can’t be killed off, and our reports of their demise were grossly exaggerated.


People continue to buy and ski frame-style bindings, despite our objection to them. So screw it, we’ll stop ignoring them and acting like there aren’t legitimate reasons to use them, and instead, we’ll start putting real time on them and get up some in-depth comparison reviews.



• The “Thank you for Not Screwing Up a Good Thing’ Award •

– Nordica Soul Rider

While we mourn the passing of some of our favorite skis and applaud the discontinuation of some of our less-than-favorite skis, we like to give props, too, to those companies that leave “well enough” alone.

Seriously, Nordica, this is awesome. The Soul Rider hasn’t changed since like the Nixon administration.  It’s like a vampire (or my friend Amaryllis) who simply doesn’t age. (New theory: my friend Amaryllis is a vampire.)


Nordica Soul Rider
Current Soul Rider

Anyway, this ski is still awesome, and it’s a solid reminder that new materials or reducing weight or doing god-knows-what-else does not always — or even often — make a product better.

We aren’t against change, but we’re against changes that make good products less good.


• The “Biggest Loser” Award • 

– Physics?

We talked about it on our Blister SIA podcast, but the single most mind-blowing thing at SIA is how everybody seems to be making a sub-1500 gram 130-flex touring boot. This is crazy. And if all or even some of these new boots actually ski well, then yep, Physics, you’ve been defeated. Apparently Mass is no longer a big part of the equation, and you’ve been bested by boot designers around the world.

And ski designers — inbounds ski designers — are also picking a fight with physics, too. (More on that in Part 2)

Scott S1 Carbon 130
Scott S1 Carbon 130

Then again, physics might rightly remind us that it’s gone almost undefeated for millennia. I say “almost” because Michael Jordan, Candide Thovex, and Danny MacAskill.

Michael Jordan Freethrow line Dunk, SIA 2017 Blister Awards
Before uberlight, high-performance AT boots, we had to just sit around watching basketball.

NEXT: The Dying To Try It Award, Extreme Makeover Award, Etc.

13 comments on “7th Annual Blister Awards, SIA”

  1. -Line Sick Day graphics totally ripped off from Burton Customs of a long time ago, 1997-1998.
    -Fischer graphics might be improved and might appeal to close minded 40 year olds but they are still way too euro tech for me!
    – Please try out the Armada Tracer 118, might be a gooder.

    • I think the under 40 whiz kids in the ski design rooms are drop dead color blind. Graphics are horrid. A simple black or white ski that doesn’t look like a multi colored bill board will go with all clothes. Have you kids ever heard the term color coordination? Think about it.

    • Triple that vote had to order a set to see for my self bring the snow the specs looked good technology as well. From what I’ve heard from the pros its a ripper. Surfy stable yet quick in the trees. I’m a lighter guy and prefer more directional skis as to a a neutral stance charger like the bibby. Rossignol super 7 is too soft and 190cm too long. Hopefully the tracer 118cm in a 180cm for a guy who’s is 5’8″ 140 and skis majority of the time in the trees off piece in the powder.

  2. The new Head graphics are hot. Sick Day topsheets are not. The new Fischer topsheets seem pretty mediocre. Where is the imagination?

    All-time winners – Line Sir Francis Bacon – topsheets white with blue trees. Atomic Coax with Indian Chief circa 09-10? Atomic Bentchetler – several years; Line Mordecai – female; Ski Logik – several; Bibby Pro.

    An article on some of the best topsheets in recent years might be interesting. Probably lots of opinions out there. However, I imagine there would be strong consensus on a few designs.

    • Hi Ben,

      if you like wood veneers, check out the new Majesty Skis catalogue:

      Some of my top picks: Moment Vice 2014, Line SFB 2015 (seen live it really looks like an oil painting)
      and Line MPO 2014.

  3. Awesome stuff. Thanks!

    Just say no to asymmetrical skis. If I get a nice digger on a left ski’s inside edge in the middle of an epic Jackson pow day, I want to shrug my shoulders and say “sorry, you’ve been demoted to the inferior role of right ski for the rest of the day”.

    Vin Diesel?! I hope all you guys have seen Pitch Black.

  4. Nice write-up – Thank U. The New Head Kore series are no joke. I had a chance to demo the 90 and the 105. The 90 was smooth yet powerful yet strong on edge. I could not believe that it had no metal in it. The 105 was a beast and I demoed it in a size down from the longest length ( I think it was a 180cm). They both rip***

  5. So what’s the difference between the Descensionist kit and the rest of the Patagonia line? Have the Powslayer bibs for storm days and have been thinking about getting the Reconnaissance for spring/sunny/all round days. Do these new pants seem to be a better option? Thanks!

  6. Update the Armada Tracer 118 rips! No chatter great in the trees light stable damp rips. Firm flex no joke tails and tips are soft but it is a stiff ski. Great fro skiing the chopped up crud. My legs felt fresh all day really impressed with how well it performed in the trees a well balanced ski. Seems to be very durable edges like to rust but keep them clean are your goood to go. They can charge too as well! Steep tree powder skiing is what I do and they did awesome in those conditions 10/10

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