Ski: 2013-2014 Blizzard Cochise, 185cm
Dimensions (mm): 135-108-123
Turn Radius: 28.5 meters
Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 184.2cm
Weight Per Ski: 2250 g / 4.9 lbs.
Boots / Bindings: Salomon Falcon Pro CS / Marker Jester / (DIN) 9
Mount Location: Factory Recommended
Test Location: Taos Ski Valley
Days Skied: 5
(Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 Cochise, which is unchanged for 12/13 and 13/14, except for the graphics.)
My goal the past few days: avoid the typical chairlift small-talk question, “So, how do you like those skis?”
Ask me this question about the Cochise, and you’ll be in for a five-minute lift speech.
The skis’ performance traits just can’t be summed up in one or two sentences. Believe me, I’ve been trying. My attempt to reply with, “They’re really interesting—they won’t do anything you don’t tell them to do,” has conjured a lot of blank stares. And simply saying that “The Cochise is one of the most interesting, versatile, and capable skis I’ve ever been on,” while true, doesn’t do it proper justice, either. So prepare to read on.
Taos is due for some snow (though not nearly as due as most places around the country), but I haven’t cared. I’ve never enjoyed skiing narrow hardpack steeps as much as I have on the Cochise. Reforma, Stauffenberg, Juarez, Al’s Run, Snakedance, Totally Wiard, Upper Patton, Tell Trees, Pipeline, Castor, Pollux—anything from smooth, scrubable hardpack to all but the most brutal deep-troughed Taos bumps is fair game to shred on the Cochise.
The short answer is that Blizzard seems to have produced a product with a near perfect balance among the most significant aspects of ski design. (We’ll hold off on the question of whether and how their “Flipcore Technology” really plays into this. That discussion is reserved for a dedicated Flipcore write-up, which we will post in the next couple of days.) For now, I’ll just say that the Cochise’s swing weight, flex, dampening qualities, camber profile, and sidecut seem to be positively dialed.
I’ll do my best to articulate some of those individual characteristics before communicating how they all seem to work together so well. There’s bound to be some overlap here, but it ought to give the clearest sense of what this ski can do.
The Cochise’s design incorporates a gradual reverse camber profile—flat underfoot with tip and tail rocker—similar to what Völkl employs on a number of skis (namely, the Katana). So far, I’ve found that all skis with this gradual reverse camber profile, including the Cochise, handle extremely well at high speeds through crud and over hardpack.
Charging down the firm but reasonably smooth lower half of the West Basin bowl and the runout of Reforma, the Cochise exhibited no crazy tip-deflection or chattering. The rocker’s splay is subtle enough that the tips stay quiet and stable with the skis running close to bases flat. The skis aren’t quite as freakishly stable as the 191 Katana doing 50+ mph, but for the vast majority of folks out there (including all but the gnarliest of “experts”), I’m sure they’ll satisfy in the charging department.
This ski’s flex profile continues both to amaze and interest me. At high speed, the Cochise feels conventionally stiff and damp from the boot forward. Like the Katana and MOMENT Belafonte, the skis’ shovels do not get unreasonably slapped and sprung about running over uneven terrain.
In the rear, the Cochise’s flat and slightly rockered tails are there to snap you out of the backseat after an off landing. Notice that I said “snap,” not bludgeon—that word is reserved for the 191cm Katana. The tails have a really strong and smooth rebound if compressed, though they don’t feel soft or unsubstantial. Paired with their gentle rocker, the Cochise’s flex, particularly in the tails, produces some very cool dynamics in moguls and helps their predictability in the steeps.
There’s no traditional camber built into this ski, but in bumps and through shorter scrubbed turns in softer snow, they have a very distinct feel and snap to them.
In bumps with particularly deep and narrow troughs, I’ve felt the tails of the Cochise hang up on the slope behind me as I pivot them across the fall line. On a similarly sized ski with a more rigid tail, this might be a problem. (I would immediately start looking for a more open line with room for the skis to come around.)
But on the Cochise, the tails will flex just enough, working with their slight rocker, to smoothly scrub out and allow the skis to come around. Every bump line or bit of terrain that demands short, explosive turns becomes an opportunity to flex and snap the ski around to make controlled and balanced moves. It reminds me of the way a biker slays a pump track on a dirt jumper—not just absorbing undulations in the intended line, but using them to whip the bike around in a smoother fashion. It’s a sensation that might not be all that strange in the world of super poppy park skis, but I’ve never, ever experienced it on a 108mm-underfoot pair of boards with zero traditional camber.