Ski: 2019-2020 Blizzard Brahma 88, 180 cm
Available Lengths: 166, 173, 180, 187 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 177.6 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 2000 grams ± 50 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1997 & 2001 grams
Stated Dimensions: 127-88-111 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 127.1-87.8-110.7 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius: 17 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 69 mm / 9 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 3 mm
Core: poplar/beech + titanal (2-layer) + carbon tips/tails + fiberglass laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -11.1 cm from center; 77.7 cm from tail
Blister’s Recommended Mount Point: on the line
Boots / Bindings: HEAD Raptor 140 RS / Marker Jester
Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley, NM; Arapahoe Basin, CO
Days Skied: 5
[Note: Our review was conducted on the 17/18 Brahma, which was not changed for 18/19 or 19/20, apart from graphics and a name change to “Brahma 88.”]
While this full review has been a long time coming, if you purchased our 17/18 Winter Buyer’s Guide last fall, you would have read this about the redesigned 17/18 – 18/19 Brahma in our “All-Mountain, More Stable” category:
“While we typically prefer the wider Bonafide for use over the entirety of the mountain, those who prefer a narrower all-mountain ski have an easy choice here. We say more about the Brahma in our “Frontside” section of this guide, but in short, the Brahma is a great call for those who know how to put a ski on edge and carve, but who want a more versatile option for venturing off-piste. Advanced and expert skiers — or heavier skiers (190+ lbs) — who want a stable ski but not a long ski (e.g., 180 cm), the Brahma should be on your list.”
And then this is what we wrote in our Frontside section:
“In our opinion, the Brahma is the first ski in this section that really feels like it straddles the line between being a good frontside carver and a narrower all-mountain performer. Especially in the 180 cm and shorter lengths, the Brahma is a strong and fairly snappy carver. Its tails are a bit softer than all of the more carving-oriented options that appear before it in this section, but that is not to say the tails are soft — they are just a touch softer than the HEAD Monster 88’s. For those who really are looking for a ski to shine in all 3 of the “frontside” categories we’ve listed, the Brahma is a very good option for high-intermediates to expert skiers.”
I hadn’t read those Buyer’s Guide descriptions since writing them last Fall, and I confess that I hadn’t remembered what I wrote, since, to date, I’ve mostly tried to repress all memories of producing the Buyer’s Guide each year. But if the production process tends to be brutal, I’m happy to report that, having been back on the Brahma this past season, I think our Buyer’s Guide descriptions were on point. And now that we’re very hard at work on putting together our 18/19 Buyer’s Guide (more info coming soon) — and comparing the 200+ skis that will be included — I keep coming back to the conclusion that the Brahma is dialed.
Here’s what Blizzard says about the 17/18 – 18/19 Brahma:
“The all-new Brahma is the go-to ski on days when cold temps and dry spells make for firm snow conditions.
New sidecuts and rocker profiles make them easier to ski, while the proven Carbon Flipcore technology with two sheets of metal smooths the ride, grips hard snow and blasts through crud. At 88mm underfoot, the super versatile Brahma makes those tooth-rattling hard-snow days fun but also excels in variable snow conditions. You’ll be linking turns on this quick, responsive ski all season.”
Shape / Rocker Profile
Compared to the previous Brahma, this new Brahma has a touch less traditional camber underfoot, and a lot more tip splay. Like the previous Brahma, this iteration still has a deep tip rocker line, and a much deeper tail rocker line (though tail splay is about the same on the two skis — ~10 mm vs. ~9 mm).
So when Blizzard talks about this Brahma being even easier to ski, well (1) they’re right, and (2) a lot of that easiness has to do with the increased tip splay, deeper tail rocker line, and (perhaps least significantly) that touch of reduced camber underfoot.
Hand flexing the ski, here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the 180 cm Brahma:
In Front of Toe Piece: 9-10
Behind Heel Piece: 9-8.5
There is nothing wild or really uncommon about this flex pattern. Rather, it’s just quite nice and pretty rounded.
Compared directly against a few other ~88mm-wide skis, the Brahma’s shovels are in line with the 18/19 HEAD Monster 88 Ti, Renoun Z-Line 90, Armada Invictus 89 Ti, Volkl Kendo, and new Blizzard Rustler 9 — with the Monster 88 being the stiffest in the group, then the Kendo, then the Brahma, with the Invictus 89 Ti and the Rustler 9 bringing up the rear.
Comparing the back end of those same skis, it’s worth noting that the very end of the Brahma does ramp back up in stiffness. But in terms of the overall stiffness of the tails, the Brahma is similar to the Armada Invictus 89 Ti and 18/19 Monster 88, while the Volkl Kendo and Renoun Z-Line 90 are both a touch softer, and the Blizzard Rustler 9 has the softest tails in the group.
For reference, here are some of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for a few notable skis.
1585 & 1586 Head Kore 93, 180 cm (17/18, 18/19)
1790 & 1831 Salomon XDR 88 Ti, 186 cm (17/18, 18/19)
1839 & 1842 Black Crows Orb, 178.3 cm (17/18, 18/19)
1864 & 1882 Armada Invictus 89 Ti, 187 cm (18/19)
1869 & 1894 Atomic Vantage 90 Ti, 184 cm (18/19)
1920 & 1940 Volkl Kendo, 177 cm (17/18, 18/19)
1931 & 1932 DPS Foundation Cassiar 94, 185 cm (18/19)
1943 & 1968 Liberty V92, 186 cm (18/19)
1959 & 1985 Renoun Z-Line 90, 180 cm (17/18, 18/19)
1997 & 2001 Blizzard Brahma, 180 cm (17/18, 18/19)
2049 & 2065 Volkl Mantra M5, 177 cm (18/19)
2053 & 2053 Blizzard Brahma, 187 cm (14/15, 15/16, 16/17)
2062 & 2063 Rossignol Experience 94 Ti, 187 cm (18/19)
2077 & 2092 K2 Ikonic 84 Ti, 177 cm – weight includes binding plates (17/18, 18/19)
2114 & 2133 Nordica Enforcer 93, 185 cm (17/18, 18/19)
2115 & 2149 J Skis Masterblaster, 181 cm (17/18, 18/19)
2171 & 2176 Head Monster 88 Ti, 184 cm (18/19)
As always, be sure to note the particular lengths of all of our measured skis to keep things more apples-to-apples.
If anything, compared to our measured weights of the 187 cm 14/15-15/16-16/17 Brahma, the new Brahma has not lost any weight. If anything, I imagine that a pair of new 187 cm Brahmas will weigh just a touch more than the last iteration of this ski in a 187 cm length.
Snarky Joke: Apparently Blizzard didn’t get the memo that, going forward, frontside skis designed to excel on very firm (often harsh) snow are supposed to weigh the same as touring skis.
Diplomatic Recovery: Just kidding. There is a time and a place for a lightweight, frontside ski. Some folks out there certainly seem to be enjoying them. Ski whatever the hell you like.
Since I (#1) wrote a whole lot about the previous 187 cm and 180 cm Brahma, and (#2) we started this review with our Buyer’s Guide overview, I’m going to spill less ink here on the current 180 cm Brahma.
But I do think this new version is easier to ski and is a bit more forgiving than the previous version, while at the same time, I have yet to find it lacking in terms of top end. To be clear, I am not interested in or ready to argue that the Brahma has the biggest top-end in this category, but rather, given how good this ski has felt pretty much everywhere, I am also impressed by how hard it can be pushed.
Put otherwise, the 180 cm Brahma feels remarkably dialed to me. It is stable yet maneuverable. It is very comfortable carving hard on piste, but it feels very comfortable off-piste, too — navigating very steep, bumped-up lines, sliding turns through narrow chokes, zipperlining moguls, and, maybe most surprising, not getting stuck or hung-up in untracked snow that varied from very light to sunbaked and dense.
I always roll my eyes when I see someone commenting about how beautifully their frontside-oriented, sub-90mm-wide ski handles 12-18” of powder. Stop it people. In deeper and / or grabbier and / or variable snow, something wider than sub-90 is simply better and more fun.
But if you are only going to own a single ski — or you’re looking to put together a ski quiver, then it becomes extremely important to know the performance bandwidth of your sub-90 ski.
Some such skis are definitely best left on-piste. And other skis don’t carve with nearly the same power or precision as the leaders in the category. But with the Brahma, there are very, very few skis I’ve been on that I would feel as comfortable taking literally anywhere on the mountain.
To be clear:
I wouldn’t want to go nuke around on steep, sheer ice on the Brahma — there are some much narrower, much more on-piste-specific skis (68-73 mm wide) that will be better for that. (Still, on sheer ice, you can easily slow things down on the Brahma and feather and slide your turns in a predictable / non-scary fashion.)
And in 18” of pow, I would most definitely prefer to be on a wider ski. But when I had the Brahma in 12-18” of both light and pretty dense snow, the ski handled it much better than I’d expected.
Who’s It For?
I believe that many, many directional skiers — ranging from intermediates to experts — will get along really well with the Brahma — for use on-piste, off-piste, in firm conditions, and in soft conditions.
There are a number of (mostly skinnier) skis that I would take over the Brahma if we’re talking about skiing true ice. But if you mostly ski softer groomers — and especially if you tend to ski a lot of soft groomers that very narrow skis tend to knife / punch into — then the more the Brahma would ascend in the rankings as a ski I’d want to use on groomers.
But if we’re going to rip groomers for an hour, then go ski a mix of good bumps, weirdly-spaced bumps, or really steep bumps, I’ll still be extremely happy on the Brahma, and I suspect I’ll be happier than you will be on your narrower carver.
And if in the afternoon we are then going to start tree skiing or hiking up to steeper, off-piste lines, my mood will range from something between uninterested to terrified (depending on the ski) to be taking a more carving-specific ski than the Brahma into such terrain.
In a word, I think this Brahma is dialed.
Those looking for a very particular set of characteristics will have reasons to opt for other skis.
But given its impressive range of on-piste and off-piste performance; its combination of maneuverability and stability; and its capabilities in both forgiving and demanding conditions, the Brahma is one of the most versatile sub-90mm-wide skis on the market.
Deep Dive Comparisons: Blizzard Brahma
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber and check out our Deep Dive of the Brahma to see how it stacks up against the Nordica Enforcer 93, K2 Ikonic 84 Ti, 17/18 Rossignol Experience 88, Salomon XDR 88, Atomic Vantage 90, Black Crows Orb, 17/18 HEAD Monster 88, 18/19 HEAD Monster 88, DPS Cassiar F94, Armada Invictus 89 Ti, and more.
NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics