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Niseko, Japan Ski Review Trip: Our Selections

On February 1, we’re taking a team of five to Hokkaido, Japan, (Blister Heads East) and setting up camp for two and a half weeks at Black Diamond Lodge in Niseko. The snow gets deep in Niseko—very deep—and our selections reflect that.

Here’s the lineup we’re taking with us. As you’ll see, there is a common, recurring theme running through our selections: family resemblance.

 

2012-2013 Rossignol Squad 7, 190cm

We’ve been waiting for this one for a while. Rossignol’s S7 has been one of the best selling skis on the planet, and many people swear by it. At BLISTER, we’ve been more divided about the S7. Then came the Super 7, and we still thought there was room for improvement (see our review of the Rossignol Super 7).

We’ve already put in a bit of time on the Squad 7 at Taos (sorry, we just didn’t have the will power to wait till Japan) and we can tell you this: we are already impressed. This is the ski we’ve been hoping for from Rossi, and we can’t wait to put a lot more time on the Squad 7 in Niseko.

 

2012-2013 Blizzard Gun Smoke, 186cm

We first saw the Bizzard Bodacious at last year’s SIA, and we knew we needed to ski it. Then, we got to put a lot of time in on the Bodacious’ litter brother, the Cochise, and we were pretty blown away (see our reviews of the Blizzard Cochise).

Now, Blizzard has come out with the Gun Smoke, a more playful addition to their big mountain lineup. Unlike the Cochise and Bodacious, the Gun Smoke has a twinned up tail and no metal. At 114mm under foot, this is a ski to play on. We’re a little giddy.

 

2012-2013 LINE Mr. Pollard’s Opus, 185cm

The giddiness continues. We have been inundated with emails from readers asking us when in the world we were going to review the Opus. And I was beginning to fear that our reviewer Jason Hutchins was going to kill me if we didn’t get to this ski soon. You’ve read about this ski. You know that Eric Pollard does, in fact, consider this his Opus. It’s taken us a while to get to it, but now we are about to break it out in its element: the pillows and trees of Hokkaido, Japan.

 

2012-2013 Black Diamond Gigawatt, 185cm

This past August in Las Leñas, Argentina, we fell in love with the redesigned Black Diamond Megawatt. Now, we’re going to venture into the deep with its even bigger brother, which is 135mm underfoot. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine improving upon the powder performance and stability of the 125mm Megawatt. But we’re about to see what this Gig can do.

 

2011-2012 Praxis Protest, 187cm

For those in the know, Praxis Skis is one of the first companies you think of when you think of DEEP snow. This year’s Protest represents a slightly modified design to a full reverse side cut ski. The story of this newly retooled Protest is that it isn’t merely a powder pig; even with dimensions of 139-128-132, the Protest still aims to bring versatility to the table.

 

2011-2012 Line Pandora, 172cm

The Pandora has a passionate following, and we know lots of girls who swear by it. That might be why Line decided not to change anything other than the topsheet from the 11/12 to the 12/13 model; nobody wants to have angry hords of chicks who rip after them….

But since we’re not really about taking people’s word for it, we decided to investigate. Our reviewer Julia Van Raalte will be weighing in, comparing and contrasting the Pandora to the other skis she’s bringing—which we’ll name soon.

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