Update: 2012-2013 Down Skis Countdown 3

Down Skis Coundown 3 Topsheets, Blister Gear ReviewSki: 2012-2013 Down Skis Countdown 3, 190cm

Dimensions (mm): 133-115-122

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 187.66cm

Sidecut Radius: Progressive (41m)

BLISTER’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 2,296 grams & 2,317 grams

Boots / Bindings: Salomon Falcon Pro CS / Marker Jester Demo (DIN at 10)

Mount Location: Factory recommended line

Test Locations: Las Leñas Ski Resort, Alta Ski Area, Snowbird

Days skied: 6

I logged some time on the Countdown 3 in Las Leñas this past August, and was able to get the ski in a wide range of conditions over a four day period. My First Look of the Down Skis Countdown 3 covers those findings.

I had the chance to make some wide-open, very fast turns on the Countdown 3 in 3-4” of light chalk in Las Leñas. I knew it provided some great stability and a nice, directional, tracking feel at speed (like a big-mountain ski would), but I also noticed a willingness to pivot, surf, and smear that seemed consistent with Down’s design of a “fun charging ski.”

But given the shallow, denser fresh snow we skied in Las Leñas, I didn’t have a great chance to assess the playful side of the CD3. To do this, I needed to get the ski in some deeper fresh powder in both wide-open bowls and trees. Once back in the States, a 18-20” powday in Little Cottonwood Canyon finally let me do that.

Pow Performance

The first three runs of the day were fast, untracked laps off Snowbird’s Cirque. I started by cutting big, fast turns straight down the fall-line. The snow was super light, so the skis’ remained submerged the whole way down, but I could tell the Countdown’s tip rocker and slightly tapered tail were helping the skis track and float smoothly under the snow.

There was zero tip dive to speak of, and I was able to take a normal, aggressive forward stance with speed. Just like in the shallower powder in Las Leñas, the shovels of the skis felt like they were happy to run straight down the fall line, never wanting to hook or bite in the fresh snow. In heavier, deep snow, I don’t think the sensation would change much. Charging big turns in deep, untracked pow is something the Countdown 3 definitely does well.

Now for its playful side.

Will Brown, Down Skis Countdown 3, Blister Gear Review
Will Brown, Westward Ho, Alta Ski Area.

Moving to more sheltered terrain, still in lots of fresh snow, I started to smear the skis into shorter-radius pow turns. Compared to how easily this ski will arc big turns, feathering the tail out does take a little input—by no means does the Countdown have a super surfy, pivot-y feel right away. Initially it feels rather directional (which, again, is nice to have when you’re ripping big turns), but when I deliberately threw the ski fully sideways in patches of fresh snow, the tails would smear out and I could ride out a long, stable slash. It never felt like the tail was fighting back at me, trying to break out of that shorter radius and point the tips back down the fall line.

As you can read a little about in the First Look to the Countdown 3, the ski has a very straight shape to it. This means it doesn’t feel like it’s going to hook or grab from the tip or tail through a turn, while the short effective edge means you can still pivot the ski on demand when things are just a little soft—it’s just not going to do this without you telling it to.

 

13 comments on “Update: 2012-2013 Down Skis Countdown 3”

    • Hey Simen,

      That’s an interesting comparison that I hadn’t thought of in my time on the CD3. The Billy Goat I know is the 191cm 11/12 model. This years is a little different, and the 13/14 version will have a tweaked tail shape and a lighter swingweight (all very good things in my opinion). To me the older BG feels more like a pin-tail design than the CD3, with a bigger difference in the tip and tail dimensions and more sidecut. The ski is a little more active on groomers, but feels heavier and more directional in general. The CD3 does feel rather straight initially, but I found it easier to throw out the tail when I wanted to. On the 11/12 BG, even despite its taper, the ski felt sluggish and hard to shut down. The 13/14 model will incorporate this year’s lighter BG “Tour” core layup and, as I’ve said, a tweaked shape, so maybe it will be a bit more manageable at slow speeds despite it’s willingness to charge (more like the CD3).

      Cheers,

      WB

  1. Hey Will,

    Thanks for a very interesting review. I am very interested in the comparison between these, and the Salomon 115s. How would you compare their soft snow versatility (i.e. fresh powder, trees, chop etc.)? From what you have said I get the impression that maybe the 115s are a bit more versatile overall, but the CD3s have a more versatile approach in soft snow, is that a fair reflection of your feelings?

    Thanks a lot.
    Sandy

    • Hi Sandy,

      Yea, I think you’ve put it well. It’s a bit of a difficult comparison, but a relevant one so I’ll try and flesh out the differences here.

      To me, the CD3 is a well honed “playful-charger” powder ski. Of course, you could say similar things about the 115. I’d characterize the 115 as a powder ski that has a slightly surfy, more smeary feel in powder than something like the Moment Jag Shark or Volkl Katana, but is quite directional and big-mountain oriented in its own right (Salomon makes the Rocker2 122 for the full-on surfy feel).

      Both can carry some real speed in soft conditions, but if anything the CD3 feels like it is ready to smear out little more quickly (probably due to its more tapered tail and such a shortened effective edge). The CD3’s also has a straighter sidecut, so in soft snow it felt largely up to me to move the ski sideways in whatever turnshape I wanted (playful and short or long and stable) – it is more versatile in terms of soft snow turnshapes. The 115 seems to get its playfulness in powder less from a shortened effective edge (like the CD3) and more from a tighter turn radius. Of course that also means that for a what is predominantly a powder ski, the 115 is more fun elsewhere….

      I wouldn’t want to have to ski either ski in bumps, but if I was making fast groomer laps or to ski some chopped up crud/variable a few days after the storm, I would consider taking the 115 out before the CD3. The 115 has more effective edge, a tighter turn radius, and lower rocker splay so it feels a little more solid, responsive, and natural on groomed snow. The CD3 isn’t too difficult to swing around on hardpack, but the ski is so straight that it doesn’t provide much of an initial response on edge.

      I hope this helps!

      Will

  2. I’m curious how these stacked up against the likes of the super 7 188, helldorado 193, and the Cochise 193, and/or the Bibby pro. I’d prefer to stay in the 108-115 under foot range.

    I’m 6’3” 185, an aggressive advanced skier. Spend most of my time at snowbird off the cirque, baldy, gad 2 trees, backside of hilary’s steps, and outside the ropes when needed. My current, and only ski sadly, is the salomon 2012, which is really for playing around. I’m looking for more of a beef eater this year that wants to charge some steeps and then go play in the trees. I’m not really into groomers or care much for the carving aspect (its an after thought on my way back to the lift). I prefer vertical, powder, and the variable snow mix in between storms. I’d like a ski stiff enough to charge and not chatter at speed (which my 2012 does for obvious reasons), and bust crud but doesn’t have to blow it to pieces (as the cochise apparently does). Yet then play in the trees in the afternoon for some hidden stashes. That would be the perfect ski for me.

    I was in NYC last winter so didn’t get much days in but now I’m looking at putting 60+ days in this year.

    Sounds like the Helldorado isn’t as stiff as I thought. And chatters at speed? The super7 sounds like a middle ground between the helldorado and the cochise? A great piece of ski. And the cochise is one big ski at 193.

    And then I happened upon the review of the CD3 and thought this could be the one. It’s a charger, its sort of pintail and rocker keeps the ski searching for air under snow, never diving. Not as nimble or quick in the trees but not poor if decisive about your turns.

    Knowing this ski is probably impossible to demo in the states (is there a shop in utah that demos?) I’m looking for Blisters wisdom, to guide me.

    Paul

  3. Hi Paul,

    The most significant thing you’ve mentioned, I think, is that you really want a ski that will let you have fun in the variable/mixed conditions in between storms (as well as on the storm days). And as I mention in the “Comparisons?” section, there are a number of skis that are better than the CD3 when it comes to skiing firmer variable crud. This could be a great powday ski for you, given the kind of terrain you like to ski, but I think you’d want something a bit less powder-oriented for the days in between storms, when things firm up. The CD3’s very short effective edge – which lets you smear things out in trees – means the ski doesn’t have much edge to bite on in firm conditions. This isn’t much of a problem on smooth groomers (you can get used to the edge you DO have to work with), but it starts to feel a little lacking when you’re getting bounced around on hard, uneven snow in steep terrain.

    So – have you considered the 190 Moment Deathwish? It’s certainly more playful than the Cochise (and is good in trees), but can hold it’s own in chop and crud. Maybe give that review a read and see what you think. Unfortunately I haven’t skied the Helldorado, nor the new Super7, so i can’t make any comparisons there. Really, the CD3 is a pretty unusual powder ski in what it offers in soft snow, losing versatility as a potential one ski quiver.

    Hope this helps.

    WB

  4. Thanks for the reco Will. I’m doing my homework on the DW and it seems like a very good ski for what I am looking for.

    Do you think they’re newer CD3 carbon version would be a solid backcountry ski or powder ski (skinning up and tracking down)? Or would the carbon and loss of weight be too much for it to be a good player.

    • Hi Paul,

      I would imagine a lighter CD3 would only make it more fun in fresh conditions. It’s so well behaved in fresh snow as is (not hooking or biting thanks to such a straight shape), it seems like less swing weight would mean you have even more control to make the exact turn shape you wanted.

      I’m sure the CD3 would skin up well and would be great on the way down IF you were out on days when conditions were still relatively soft. In that sense, if i was making day tours for fresh snow and fun lines, it would be a good option, for sure. But if I was looking for something for a multi-day your, more likely to encounter weird, hard, weathered snow, I’d want something with more effective edge and width through the tail, I think. Lighter doesn’t exactly mean better across the board, especially when it comes to skiing tricky sun baked or wind effected, variable snow – and those sort of conditions do exist in the backcountry too. It again would depend on the sort of touring you happened to be doing.

      WB

      • Will it has been a pleasure. Thanks for the knowledge. I’m curious to know if Blister has any intentions in doing Alpine Boot reviews. Like a 3 piece boot comparison btwn Dalbello and Fulltilt.

        Also I hope you guys have a chance to demo the on3p Pillowfights this year. I’ve heard they may have some convex bases aka spoon to them this year. Would be cool to see what you guys think.

        • Hey Paul,

          Glad we could help out!

          And we have done a number of alpine boot reviews, including the Dalbello Kr Two Pro in a review with comparisons to FullTilt models. Click reviews from the nav-bar, hover over “Skis”, and click “Ski Boots” and you’ll see everything we’ve stuck our feet into so far.

          Thanks again for reading. Spread the word!

          WB

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