[Update 1.16.20: We’ve added additional information on the new 20/21 Cochise 106.]
Blizzard announced this week that they’re overhauling their men’s & women’s all-mountain freeride skis, which includes their women’s Black Pearl series and the unisex Brahma, Bonafide, and Cochise. For years, those skis have served as reference points in the all-mountain category, so this is an interesting and exciting move by Blizzard.
See Our Flash Reviews / On-Snow Impressions
Jonathan Ellsworth was in Jackson Hole a few weeks ago testing some of the new skis, and Blister Members can check out his Flash Review of the new Brahma 88, Flash Review of the new Bonafide 97, and Flash Review of the new Cochise 106 for his initial on-snow impressions.
But let’s dive into what Blizzard is saying about these new designs.
The main story here is what they’re calling “TrueBlend Flipcore.” Essentially, this refers to how they’re constructing the wood cores of the new Black Pearl 88, Black Pearl 97, Brahma 88, and Bonafide 97 (the new Cochise 106 does not feature the TrueBlend core). While many skis are made with longitudinal wood “stringers” consisting of multiple different types of woods, those stringers usually extend all the way from the tip to the tail. Blizzard is taking a more complex approach.
Their new All-Mountain Freeride skis (apart from the Cochise 106) use a grid-like structure of different types of woods (beech and poplar), which lets them more precisely fine-tune the flex patterns of the skis by using different types of woods in different areas — both lengthwise and widthwise — throughout the ski. E.g., they use a higher concentration of stiffer & heavier beech wood around the bindings, and then a higher concentration of lighter poplar near the ends of the skis.
Other companies have used a somewhat similar technique in that they’ve put a different type of wood only underfoot (e.g., Volkl’s BMT skis). But we haven’t seen a wood core pattern quite like this new one from Blizzard.
For a quick rundown on TrueBlend Flipcore, check out this video from Blizzard:
Blizzard says that the main goal of their TrueBlend cores is to create a more dialed flex pattern that’s stiffer where you need it to be, softer where you need it to be, etc.
In the new lineup, that’s supposed to translate to skis that have softer tips and tails for forgiveness and maneuverability, but a stiffer platform underfoot for power and stability. Again, this in itself isn’t a novel concept — just look at the flex pattern numbers of the vast majority of skis we’ve reviewed. But the way Blizzard is going about achieving this is very different than most, and based on how precise their core construction looks, it seems like the TrueBlend cores could give Blizzard ski designers more variables to work with to really fine-tune the flex patterns of the new skis.
Apart from the new wood cores, the rest of the core construction of the new skis hasn’t changed a whole lot. The Brahma 88, Bonafide 97, and Cochise all still have two layers of titanal, carbon fiber in the tips, and a fiberglass laminate. The women’s Black Pearl skis stick with the previous version’s “Carbon Flip Core WSD” construction, which ditches the metal layers in exchange for carbon fiber for a lighter overall construction.
New Shapes, Rocker Profiles, and Lengths
The shapes, rocker profiles, and lengths of the skis are also changing for 20/21. Blizzard says they slightly shortened the sidecut radii and “reduced the rocker profile.” Blizzard also says that the rocker profiles change slightly depending on the length, which is something we do not see very often (many skis just use the same mold and press — and therefore, the same rocker profile — for all lengths of a particular ski).
For reference, here are some of the stated specs for the new Bonafide 97. We’ll post more info on the other skis as soon as we have it.
2020-2020 Blizzard Bonafide 97
Available lengths: 165, 171, 177, 183, 189 cm
Stated Dimensions (177 cm): 136.5-97-118.5 mm
Stated Sidecut Radii (for respective lengths): 15, 16, 17, 18.5, 20 meters
The new Black Pearl 88 & Black Pearl 97 are seeing similar changes to their shapes, rocker profiles, and lengths. Here are some of the specs for those skis:
2020-2021 Blizzard Black Pearl 88
Available lengths: 147, 153, 159, 165, 171, 177 cm
Stated Dimensions (165 cm): 128-88-110 mm
Stated Sidecut Radii (for respective lengths): 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 meters
2020-2021 Blizzard Black Pearl 97
Available lengths: 153, 159, 165, 171, 177 cm
Stated Dimensions (165 cm): 136.5-97-118.5 mm
Stated Sidecut Radii (for respective lengths): 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 meters
New Cochise 106
While the new Black Pearl 88, Black Pearl 97, Brahma 88, and Bonafide 97 all feature Blizzard’s new TrueBlend Flipcore, the new Cochise 106 has a more traditional wood core construction made up of poplar, beech, and paulownia.
Blizzard says that they took what they learned from building their Rustler skis to update the core and flex pattern of the new Cochise 106 in an effort to make the new ski more similar to the original Cochise that was released around a decade ago. Blizzard stated that, over the years, updates to the Cochise (15/16–19/20 version) had made it a more demanding and less maneuverable ski, and one of their goals with the new Cochise 106 is to gain back some of the accessibility and maneuverability of the original, without compromising when it comes to the stability and damping that the ski is known for. In Blizzard’s words, “You can ski it hard, but it’s not hard to ski.”
In addition to the Cochise 106’s new poplar / beech / paulownia wood core, they also tweaked the sidecut and rocker profile of the Cochise, reportedly reducing the rocker profile and tightening the sidecut radius. If you look at the 185 cm version of the 19/20 Cochise and 20/21 Cochise 106, the stated sidecut radius shortened from 28 meters to 24 meters.
And while Blizzard is talking up the increased maneuverability of the new Cochise 106, it still features two sheets of metal.
Here are a few of the stated specs for the new Cochise 106:
2020-2021 Blizzard Cochise 106
Available Lengths: 177, 185, 192 cm
Stated Dimensions (specific length not provided): 137.5-106-124.5 mm
Stated Sidecut Radii (for respective lengths): 22.5, 24, 26 meters
Bottom Line For Now
This is all quite intriguing.
And if you’d like to get our initial on-snow impressions, become a Blister member to check out Jonathan Ellsworth’s (lengthy) Flash Review of the new Brahma 88, his Flash Review of the new Bonafide 97, and his Flash Review of the new Cochise 106.