Ski: 2020-2021 Line Blade, 181 cm
Days Skied: 9
Available Lengths: 169, 176, 181 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 178.8 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 2050 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1999 & 2060 grams
Stated Dimensions: 154-95-124 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 154.0-95.3-124.0 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (all lengths): “tight”
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 49.5 mm / 27 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 6 mm
Core: Aspen + titanal sheet w/ cutouts + fiberglass laminate
Base: sintered 1.3 mm
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -7.0 cm from center; 82.4 cm from tail
As Jonathan Ellsworth noted on our GEAR:30 podcast, the 2020-2021 season seems to be the one where many companies are dialing back the taper, rocker, and low weight of their past skis and reverting to more traditional ski designs.
That’s true … but the Line Blade and women’s Blade W are two of the very obvious exceptions. These are not traditional skis in any regard. They have a super tight sidecut radius for their width, a unique metal construction, and a shape and top sheet that many skiers would call a bit … odd.
Personally, I got excited about the Blade as soon as I saw it, mostly because it looked a lot like the Line Sakana that I love. I now have one day on the Blade and Blister Members can check out our Flash Review for my initial on-snow impressions, but in the meantime, let’s discuss the wacky design of this ski and how it compares to the other skis in its class. Spoiler alert — it’s not really similar to anything.
What Line says about the Blade
“Created to carve, cut, slash, and burn, the Blade will reignite the euphoria of the turn, leave only deep cut trenches in its wake, and a sh*t eating grin on your face. Featuring a versatile 95mm waist width, a massive shovel, and Gas Pedal Metal technology, the Blade is an aggressive and agile all-mountain charger that will allow you to carve, slash, drift, and power through turns like never before.”
Just looking at the Blade, I don’t think Line is far off when they talk about its ability to carve, leave deep trenches, and leave a “sh*t eating grin on your face.” Just look at its giant shovel.
But their talk about its ability to slash, drift, and be “an aggressive and agile all-mountain charger” seems like more of a stretch. Why? Let’s dive in:
The Blade starts pretty normal with an aspen wood core, but then Line mixes it up by adding what they’re calling “Gas Pedal Metal.”
In layman terms, that’s essentially a sheet of titanal metal that’s separated into two portions (front half and back half), both of which feature cutouts in the middle of the sheet. Line’s ski designer, Peter Brigham, said that the goal with this metal construction was to get much of the damping and torsional rigidity you typically get with a full sheet of titanal, but cutting out some of that sheet lets you get more energy and rebound when you flex the ski.
Shape / Rocker Profile
It’s immediately obvious that the Blade has a unique shape. 95 mm underfoot is nothing crazy, but when you combine that with a 154mm-wide tip (!!!), you get something very, very different. The Blade’s shovel is extremely wide compared to its waist, and its tail isn’t exactly narrow at 124 mm wide (though it is significantly narrower than the tip).
In terms of taper, well, there’s almost none. The Blade’s shovel does technically have a tiny bit of taper, but it’s very minimal compared to most skis in its class. And when I was measuring the Blade, the widest point in its tail is essentially at the very end — functionally, the ski has no tail taper. In other words, this ski has a ton of effective edge.
In terms of rocker, the Blade is definitely on the more conservative side for modern, 95mm-wide all-mountain skis, though the Blade has slightly deeper rocker lines than most narrower carving skis. Usually, we wouldn’t compare a 95mm-wide ski to much narrower carvers (in the ~65-85 mm range), but given the Blade’s shape, those actually seem like fair comparisons. The Blade’s rocker lines are shallow compared to something like the Volkl Mantra M5 or J Skis Masterblaster, but they are deeper than narrower carving skis like the Head Supershape i.Titan, Fischer RC4 The Curv Curv Booster, etc. And while the Blade has a lot of camber underfoot, it also has a semi-twinned tail.
So, as will be a theme here, the Blade doesn’t share a lot in common with most skis in its class. It has a very minimally tapered shape, and while its rocker lines are shallower than most 95mm-wide skis, it does still have tip and tail rocker and a pretty high tail (for a directional ski).
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the Blade:
In Front of Toe Piece: 7.5-9.5
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-8.5
Unlike the Blade’s shape, there’s nothing crazy going on here. The Blade has a pretty accessible tip and shovel, it then slowly and smoothly stiffens up in the middle, and finishes with a tail that feels pretty similar to the tip.
If anything, the Blade does stand out in that its flex pattern is pretty round / symmetrical, and not crazy stiff. It’s softer overall compared to the Volkl Mantra M5 and Nordica Enforcer 94, though it’s not crazy soft and overall I just like how even its flex pattern feels.
Line actually isn’t disclosing the true sidecut radius of the Blade, but they do list it as “tight.” Looking at the size of the Blade’s shovel and tail and its much narrower waist, I think that’s accurate.
Our pair of the 181 cm Blade has a mount point of -7 cm from true center, which is fairly progressive, especially for a ski with this much sidecut. Most skis we see with super tight sidecut radii have very traditional mount points, but the Blade does not. It’s not as far forward as most of Line’s freestyle skis, but it is fairly far forward for a directional, metal-laminate ski in this class.
In what has not been a theme in this First Look, the Blade is fairly average in terms of weight. At around 2029 grams per ski for the 181 cm version, the Blade is heavier than some skis like the Elan Ripstick 96, Atomic Bent Chetler 100, and Black Crows Daemon, but lighter than skis like the Volkl Mantra M5, Nordica Enforcer 93 & 94, and J Skis Masterblaster.
For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try to keep things apples-to-apples.
1629 & 1684 Elan Ripstick 96, 180 cm (17/18–19/20)
1734 & 1750 Renoun Endurance 98, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
1807 & 1840 Atomic Bent Chetler 100, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
1863 & 1894 Blizzard Rustler 9, 180 cm (18/19–20/21)
1894 & 1980 Black Crows Daemon, 183.6 cm (17/18–19/20)
1896 & 1919 Dynastar Legend X96, 186 cm (18/19–19/20)
1921 & 1968 Head Kore 99, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
1925 & 1937 Liberty Helix 98, 186 cm (18/19–20/21)
1928 & 1933 Moment Commander 98, 178 cm (19/20)
1931 & 1932 DPS Foundation Cassiar 94, 185 cm (18/19–19/20)
1937 & 1945 Fischer Ranger 94 FR, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
1966 & 1973 Liberty Origin 96, 187 cm (18/19–20/21)
1976 & 2028 Parlor Cardinal Pro, 182 cm (19/20)
1985 & 2006 Parlor Cardinal 100, 185 cm (16/17–19/20)
1994 & 2011 Fischer Ranger 99 Ti, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
1998 & 2044 4FRNT MSP 99, 181 cm (17/18–19/20)
1999 & 2060 Line Blade, 181 cm (20/21)
2007 & 2029 Armada Invictus 99 Ti, 187 cm (18/19–19/20)
2042 & 2062 Dynastar M-Pro 99, 186 cm (20/21)
2049 & 2065 Volkl Mantra M5, 177 cm (18/19–20/21)
2050 & 2080 ON3P Wrenegade 96, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2053 & 2057 Atomic Vantage 97 Ti, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
2062 & 2063 Rossignol Experience 94 Ti, 187 cm (18/19–20/21)
2085 & 2096 Dynastar Menace 98, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
2101 & 2104 Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm (18/19–20/21)
2114 & 2133 Nordica Enforcer 93, 185 cm (16/17–19/20)
2115 & 2149 J Skis Masterblaster, 181 cm (16/17–19/20)
2124 & 2137 Blizzard Bonafide, 180 cm (17/18–19/20)
2131 & 2189 Nordica Enforcer 100, 185 cm (15/16–19/20)
2218 & 2244 Volkl Mantra 102, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2233 & 2255 Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2256 & 2284 Nordica Enforcer 94, 186 cm (20/21)
2311 & 2342 K2 Mindbender 99Ti, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2324 & 2359 Kastle MX99, 184 cm (18/19-19/20)
2325 & 2352 Folsom Blister Pro 104, 186 cm (19/20)
2326 & 2336 Nordica Enforcer 100, 186 cm (20/21)
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) Line says that the Blade is supposed to be able to both carve and slash, so will that actually be the case, given its tight sidecut radius and minimal taper & rocker?
(2) Given that the Blade looks a bit odd on paper, is this a niche ski for a very particular end-use, or could it serve as a true all-mountain ski for some skiers?
(3) Few of the current 95mm-wide skis have as little taper and rocker as the Blade, so will it be a standout in terms of turn initiation and edge hold, and how maneuverable will it feel when you take it off piste?
(4) The Blade uses metal in its construction, but Line is emphasizing its energy and pop. So how damp vs. energetic will it feel, or will it offer a nice combination of both characteristics?
(5) One of the only skis on the market that looks similar to the Blade is Line’s own Sakana, so how will the two compare?
Bottom Line (For Now)
While many skis are looking more similar to each other, Line is taking a step in a different direction with the Blade. It has a super tight sidecut radius, metal-laminate construction, minimal rocker and taper, and all in all looks like nothing else on the market. Blister Members can check out our initial on-snow impressions in our Flash Review, and then stay tuned for our full review later this season.
Blister Members can now check out our Flash Review of the Blade for our initial impressions. Become a Blister member now to check out this and all of our Flash Reviews, plus get exclusive deals and discounts on skis, and personalized gear recommendations from us.
Given the rather heavy times we’re currently living in, I figured it’d be a good time to discuss a ski that certainly brought a lot of fun to my life this past season, the Line Blade.
As we noted in our First Look — and as you can probably tell just by looking at it — the Blade isn’t like most other skis on the market. Given that, I was a bit worried that it’d feel like a pretty weird ski. But as soon as I got on it at Crested Butte, those worries went away.
Let’s start where this ski really excels.
The Blade is one of the most fun, and most “different” groomer skis I’ve been on. We’d normally make fun of a company for saying, as Line does, that a ski “will leave nothing but … a sh*t eating grin on your face,” but as cliché as it sounds, I couldn’t help but smile as soon as I started carving the Blade. In fact, as I noted in my Flash Review, I began audibly making racecar noises during each turn transition. This wasn’t a deliberate choice, it just had to happen. I think the Blade reawakened the 5-year-old part of my subconscious.
Seriously though, the Blade’s instant turn initiation feels unrivaled to me in the ~95mm-wide category. While there are several ~95mm-wide skis out there that do a very good job of “pulling you into a turn,” the Blade is in a league of its own. Basically, all of you have to do is think about putting pressure on the shovels and the ski will start cutting across the fall line.
Once you’ve got in edge, the Blade’s tight sidecut radius immediately becomes evident. This is not a ski for making big turns. But seeing as so many ~95mm-wide all-mountain skis have sidecut radii much longer than the Blade’s, it was refreshing to get on something so different. Tight turns aren’t for everyone, and I definitely like making big turns at times on any given day. But man do I love the feeling of laying over a ski super hard on edge and cranking out slalom turns. It’s something I loved about the Line Sakana, and it’s something I love about the Line Blade.
And the really nice thing about the Blade is that it doesn’t get scary or unpredictable if you decide to venture outside of its preferred turn radius. Instead of aggressively continuing to pull you across the fall line if you try to make giant-slalom-sized turns, the Blade’s tail will just predictably release, which is what Line’s designer Peter Brigham was aiming for with its wide tip and narrower tail design. It’s pretty easy to feather turns on the Blade; it’s just that it’s the most fun and easier to keep the whole ski truly on edge when you stick to turns smaller than GS size.
As a result of that — coupled with how little effort it requires to both get the Blade on edge and get energy out of a turn — it’s one of the most enjoyable skis I’ve used on mellow groomers. I really wish I had this ski during the early season days last year when we were limited to green groomers.
On that note about energy, the Blade is great in terms of launching you out of a turn. I think some of this is due to its “Gas Pedal Medal” construction and I also think a lot of this is due to its accessible flex pattern. The Blade is a ski where I can feel the whole ski (front and back) bending around my boot when I’m skiing it hard, and it releases a lot of energy back during the apex of each turn. I hate “dead” skis, I love poppy skis, and so I love the Blade for this reason.
The other thing to note is that, due to its softer, round flex pattern and more progressive mount point (-7 cm from true center), the Blade is pretty accepting of a variety of stances. For me (5’8”, 155 lbs), I never felt like I was folding up the 181 cm Blade when skiing it aggressively, though I could certainly see that happening for larger or more aggressive skiers who are accustomed to longer and / or stiffer skis (the Blade is much softer than most traditional carvers). And I think those larger / more aggressive skiers might also find the Blade less energetic than I did — they might not be able to get the same amount of rebound out of this softer ski.
But the fun thing is that you can still ski — and carve — the Blade from a not-super-aggressive stance. Due to its softer, super wide shovels, the Blade doesn’t require a lot of force nor a super forward, driving stance to bend it, get it on edge, and have it pop you into the next turn. In my mind, this seems like it could be a great training ski for people who want to improve their carving skills, especially if you want something more versatile than dedicated carvers like the Head Supershape i.Titan (another ski we’ve said is great for improving your carving).
Now, I think the Blade’s softer flex pattern does have a potential downside for some people / conditions, which brings us to:
Super Firm / Icy Snow
I want to start this section off by saying that the Blade has remained predictable on all the conditions I’ve used it on, including ice. (And yes, that is sometimes a thing in Colorado.) I’ve never had the Blade randomly slide out / lose an edge, and it was totally manageable to ski on ice.
But one thing that I thought about when I first saw the Blade was “Oh, that could be a really fun ski for the Midwest.” I figured a tight-radius and more all-mountain-oriented ski could make the short-vertical and often-icy snow of the Midwest hills more fun than many other all-mountain skis.
Unfortunately, I think the Blade’s ability to carve super firm, smooth, icy snow is not amazing. Again, it’s happy to slide and scrub turns on ice, but I had a hard time really laying it over on icy conditions. I think some of this comes down to the Blade’s softer flex pattern, and some of it probably comes down to its wide shovel / narrow tail, which is conversely a big help in off-piste terrain & conditions (more on that later). If I really tried to lay over the Blade on ice, I found that its tail was more prone to releasing and sliding out the end of each turn, more so than on any snow that was remotely edgeable.
But my point is basically that, as much as I’d like it to be true, the Blade does not match much narrower carving skis in terms of its ability to carve extremely firm, smooth snow. The good news, however, is that the Blade is really predictable and pretty comfortable off-piste, whereas a dedicated slalom ski can be a lot to handle when you aren’t on groomers and committed to driving it all the time.
Moguls, Trees, & Tight Terrain
When I first looked at the shape of the Blade, and specifically its giant shovels, I thought I was going to hate it in bumps. But in all off-piste terrain & conditions, I’ve been surprisingly content on it.
There’s no getting past the fact that the Blade’s swing weight is pretty heavy, and its big shovels feel cumbersome in super tight bumps with deep troughs. But its tail is also pretty easy to release from a turn, so as long as you stay somewhat forward, this ski is pretty manageable in tight spots.
I’m someone who typically prefers to slarve and slither my way through bumps and trees, but the Blade had me wanting to stay on edge and carving through the (more widely spaced) bumps and trees more than I would on most other skis. Pivoting and sliding the ski is totally doable, by the way, it just feels best when it’s on edge.
While it took me a few runs to adjust to this technique, the round, not-super-stiff flex pattern of the Blade made this process pretty easy. It does not feel like a punishing ski.
There are loads of skis out there that are looser and easier to pivot, there are many with lower swing weights, and there are just generally other skis that I’d opt for if most of my day was going to be spent in bumps and trees. But my main point is that, unlike most narrower skis that are as fun on groomers, the Blade does not feel totally out of place once you take it off groomed snow.
Steep, Off-Piste Terrain
As long as you’re ok with making smaller, quicker turns in steep terrain, the Blade is a totally adequate ski.
As in moguls and trees, the Blade has a preference for being on edge rather than sliding sideways down the fall line, but its tail is still easy to release and as long as I kept my turns short and quick, I didn’t experience any drama in steep zones like Crested Butte’s Headwall & Big Chute. If I tried to straight-line through variable snow, the Blade encouraged me to get it back on edge and into a tighter turn. This is something I’ve noticed on any ski with a similarly tight radius, but it’s worth reiterating. But for slicing and dicing your way down steep terrain, the Blade is actually pretty good.
Again, this would not be my top pick if I was looking for a ski to primarily use off piste, but for people who spend a lot of time on groomers and a few runs per day in steep, ungroomed terrain, the Blade can handle that. It won’t be as versatile as most ~95mm-wide all-mountain skis in the off-piste stuff, but if you like shorter turns, it’s way more fun on groomers than those skis. And for some people, I think the Blade’s excellent groomer performance will outweigh more particular off-piste capabilities and in turn make it a viable all-mountain ski — especially if you tend to make short turns in this sort of terrain regardless of what ski you’re on.
I only got the Blade in about 6” of fresh snow, but for a 95mm-wide ski, it was pretty fun. The deeper / softer the snow, the looser and less carving-inclined the Blade feels. I wouldn’t expect much tip dive in 6” of snow regardless of what ski I was on, but I can say the Blade’s giant shovels never had an issue staying over that amount of pow, despite the ski’s minimal tip rocker.
I don’t expect the Blade to be amazing in really deep conditions, but I do think it’ll float better than most skis of similar widths, and it felt far less hooky than I expected.
Given its very not-symmetrical shape, the Blade doesn’t feel playful in the ways that most forward-mounted, symmetrical, twin-tipped skis do. But it’s also far from a super one-dimensional, directional ski.
With its slightly turned-up tail, the Blade actually skis switch pretty well in shallow conditions. I definitely wouldn’t want to take off, ski, or land switch on it in deep pow or slush, but on groomers or in the park, the Blade is fine for when you want to go backward.
And as mentioned above, the Blade is super poppy coming out of a turn. You can also get some pop out of it before airs, though it feels pretty unwieldy in the air due to its huge shovels and -7 cm mount point.
One random thing that I loved doing on the Blade was the “transition carve.” It was super fun to find a lip (whether natural or man-made), load up the Blade, get in the air, and do my best to land with the ski on edge and rocketing into the next turn. Sure, you could theoretically do that on any ski, but it’s extra fun on the Blade.
Oh, and carving a full circle. That’s really fun, too.
This is certainly not a freestyle ski, but it is a very playful, directional ski. In other words, if you’re a skier with a park background who’s looking for a carving ski, the Blade is for you. It is a “fun carver.”
Who’s It For?
I think everyone from beginners to experts could appreciate the Blade. It’s pretty versatile for how strange its design looks, though I think it’d make the most sense for most people as an addition to a quiver of other skis, rather than as a one-ski quiver.
The scenario where it could work well as a one-ski quiver is if you are someone who (1) spends a lot of time on groomers, (2) favors short turns over longer turns, and (3) who doesn’t typically get out on days where it snows more than a foot or is extremely icy.
But for everyone else, the Blade would be a really fun addition to a lot of people’s quivers. Don’t get it if you never like to make short turns, or if you like really stiff skis, or if you only like super loose skis, or if you’re looking for the most versatile ~95mm-wide ski out there. But if you’re looking to add something unique to your quiver and want to feel like a World Cup slalom racer on mellow groomers, the Blade is worth checking out. Even if you don’t think it makes sense in your quiver, I’d highly encourage demoing a pair since it doesn’t feel like many other skis out there.
It’s exciting to try something different, and the Line Blade is definitely different. And fun. It offers amazing turn initiation and can carve tighter turns than just about any other ~95mm-wide ski on the market, yet it doesn’t feel completely limited to groomed snow. It’s not the most versatile ski out there, but that’s what other all-mountain skis are for. Instead, the Blade is great for when you want to get away from traditional skis, drag your hip, and see just how tight you can actually turn a ski. This is the carving ski for people who typically think that traditional carving skis are boring.
Deep Dive Comparisons
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the Blade to see how it compares to the Line Sakana, Fischer Ranger 94 FR, Blizzard Rustler 9, Nordica Enforcer 94, J Skis Masterblaster, Moment Commander 98, Fischer Ranger 99 Ti, Salomon QST 99, K2 Mindbender 99Ti, 4FRNT MSP 99, Volkl Mantra M5, Blizzard Bonafide, Liberty Origin 96, & ON3P Wrenegade 96.