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2012-2013 Blizzard GunSmoke

Ski: 2012-2013 Blizzard GunSmoke, 186cm Blizzard GunSmoke, Blister Gear Review

Dimensions (mm): 140-114-130

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 183.5cm

Turn Radius: 23 meters

Weight Per Ski: 4.6 lbs.

Boots / Bindings: Nordica Supercharger Ignition /  Marker Jester (DIN) 11

Mount Location: -5 cm from true center

Test Location: Niseko, Japan

Days Skied: 5

New for the 2012-2013 season, the 114mm-waisted GunSmoke fits between the Cochise (108mm) and the Bodacious (118mm) in Blizzard’s “Free Mountain” lineup. But Blizzard isn’t simply looking to bridge the gap between the Cohise and the Bodacious with the GunSmoke; the GunSmoke is an altogether different ski.

The GunSmoke is Blizzard’s first freestyle-oriented ski to incorporate their flipcore technology. Since we’ve already said a lot about flipcore already (check out our “What is Flipcore?” article, that we will be updating soon), I’m not going to go into much detail about that here.

In our reviews of the flipcored Cochise, Will Brown and Jonathan Ellsworth agreed that the ski was surprisingly forgiving, yet able to hold up to a high level of riding. After spending a full day on the Bodacious and five days on the GunSmoke, I can add that I’ve also found these other two skis to provide a unique combination of forgiveness and stability.

Blizzard GunSmoke, Blister Gear Review
Andrew Gregovich, Super area, Niseko Grand Hirafu.

It is still unclear how significant of a role flipcore plays in giving these skis this feel. What is certain, however, is that Blizzard is making some killer skis right now, and the GunSmoke is the most recent example.

While I have been skiing a lot of deep powder here in Niseko, I’ve also had the chance to ski the GunSmoke in a wide range of conditions over the past week. I’ve experienced everything from icy, windswept groomers to thick, creamy snow and sun-baked chop. The GunSmoke has been very good in all these conditions, providing one of the most versatile rides I have ever experienced.

But since powder is the most fun to talk about, let’s start there.

The GunSmoke is not a pure powder ski, and this was evident when I had it in the deep stuff. In waist-deep blower and knee-deep wind-compacted snow, I was experiencing some tip dive at slower speeds; not flip-head-over-heels tip dive, just some downward force on the shovels.

But when I could get the GunSmoke up to speed, this sensation went away. With a little speed and a centered, balanced stance, I was able to flex the tips and get them floating in bottomless snow.

Blizzard GunSmoke, Blister Gear Review

Andrew Gregovich, Super area, Niseko Grand Hirafu.

The relatively soft tips give the GunSmoke a playful feel in pow. They allow you to flex into turns of a variety of shapes and are springy enough to pull you out of tighter-radius turns when you take pressure off the shovels.

The GunSmoke also has a solid flex underfoot that prevents the ski from folding and slowing you down.

The GunSmoke couldn’t quite pull off super quick slashes in deep pow, however. It lacked the surface area to catch me at the end of the slash and carry me through the turn. I would end up losing a lot of speed, almost stopping at times. In the GunSmoke’s defense, the only skis I’ve found that can really pull off moves like that have massive splay, like the ON3P Caylor or reverse sidecut skis like the DPS Lotus 138 or the Armada ARG.

But versatility is the characteristic that makes the GunSmoke a great ski, and a sunny day of lapping the Mizuno no Sawa area best demonstrated the ski’s range of capabilities.

The first runs consisted of untracked, creamy snow from top to bottom. In these conditions, the ski provided a nice combination of floatation and agility. The GunSmoke glided through the thicker snow, easily making turns of varying sizes. I could confidently make short, smear turns, or quick turns through tight trees; but I also felt equally comfortable holding long, Super G turns down open faces.

Even in wind scoured snow and foot-deep heavy chop, I was still able to fly down Mizuno no Sawa as if I were still skiing the fresh surface of creamy snow from an hour earlier. The GunSmoke’s moderately soft tip and tail didn’t get bounced around much. That stiff flex underfoot and carbon fiber stringers in the core helped to provide a solid and dynamic ride.

While I was able to drive through bumpy sections, I was also able to pop out of and reenter the chop comfortably. Relatively narrow dimensions and gradual rocker allowed me to slice back into crud, rather than bounce around on top. The GunSmoke cut through crud while still riding high enough to prevent me from getting bogged down.

When I encountered two-foot-deep troughs, I had to reel back my speed a little. I couldn’t fly down this snow as if it were untouched. But when I dialed back my speed, the GunSmoke felt almost as stable as it did in mellower chop.

On smoother firm snow and groomers, the GunSmoke carved well. As in other snow conditions, I found it easy to mix up turn lengths. Cruising down Misoshiru in Niseko Village, I liked linking snappy GS turns together, but I also felt equally comfortable making just a handful of turns down the whole run, or throwing in a slash here or there. The short running length created by the tip and tail rocker made it easy to disengage the edges and slash, even at high speeds.

So far I have only talked about the GunSmoke’s all-mountain performance. But this ski is also an excellent jibbing tool. While all of the characteristics I have discussed help to make the whole mountain your terrain park, let’s talk a little about freestyle performance, specifically.

16 Comments

  1. Brian February 20, 2012 Reply

    What is the flex like compared to a S7 or JJ? I am curious why you wouldn’t want a wider ski as a “powder” ski in CO.

    • Andrew Gregovich Author
      Andrew Gregovich February 21, 2012 Reply

      The Gunsmoke is stiffer than both the S7 and the JJ. The Gunsmoke has still relatively soft tips and tails, but is pretty solid underfoot.

      On a typical pow day in Colorado I might get a few untracked runs if I’m lucky, but snow quickly gets tracked up. I generally prefer smaller, more versitile skis that are better able to handle chopped up conditions for this reason.

  2. Brian February 23, 2012 Reply

    How would this ski compare to the Rossignol Sickle? It seems to be quite similar?

    • Andrew Gregovich Author
      Andrew Gregovich February 23, 2012 Reply

      I haven’t been able to ski the sickle. Jason Hutchins has and he will be doing a second look of the GunSmoke soon. I’m sure he will make comparisons made between the GunSmoke and Sickle since they are similar in many ways. In Japan Jason said that he still liked the Sickle better after he had few days on the GunSmoke, but I’ll have to let him to you exactly why.

  3. Cam Smith March 6, 2012 Reply

    You should try to get your hands on a pair of nordica helldorados to test. I think they share some attributes with these skis but have a stiffer overall flex. Or even the patrons which are the same but have a more playful flex.

    • Andrew Gregovich Author
      Andrew Gregovich March 8, 2012 Reply

      Yes they do seem to be very similar skis, at least dimension wise. I’m excited to see how all these skis stack up against each other.

  4. Andrew January 4, 2013 Reply

    I Just Picked up a set of gunsmokes and guardian bindings. Have you been able to ski them at -3.5 from true center yet? because from what you describe that sounds ideal for me. Thanks for the review, Really helped me with choice!

    • Andrew Gregovich Author
      Andrew Gregovich January 4, 2013 Reply

      Hi Andrew,

      I’m glad to hear that you liked the review!

      I have not had a chance to ski them at -3.5 cm from center yet, and I probably won’t get a chance anytime soon. -3.5 cm could be a good mount position if you plan on spending a lot of time in the air. However if you prefer to keep your skis on the snow, you may want to consider mounting them further back. You will have an easier time touring with the bindings further back. Also, Jason Hutchins actually preferred having the GunSmoke mounted -.5 cm from the recommended line.

      So unfortunately I don’t have a definitive answer for you. The recommended line would be a safe bet, but if you are looking to trick these skis it might be smart to mount them forward.

      Hope that helps,
      AG

  5. Andrew January 5, 2013 Reply

    Well i went for -3.5 . I skied them today for the first time and gotta say they destroy crud compared to the opus i had last season. Even at -3,5 they look back from center, but i like the way they ski, Im happy i went with a more forward mounting position on this ski, Thank you.
    And the guardians got some nice weight to them hahah

    • SteveP September 14, 2015 Reply

      Hey Andrew, I just picked up the same setup and was looking for ideas for how to mount them. I will be inserting these for the guardians and a set of pivots so I can use them for any situation. Thanks to this I will likely mount at -3.5 for the sollys and -.5 for the looks as long as there are no conflicts with the holes. Thanks for the beta!

  6. ANDY February 21, 2013 Reply

    ANDREW, I HAVE BEEN TORN BETWEEN THE NORTICA PATRON AND THE GUNSMOKES. I AM LOOKING FOR A SKI THAT CAN SKI BACKWARDS WELL AND HANDLE AIR TIME WITH TRICKS. WHAT SKI WOULD YOU RECOMMEND BETWEEN THE TWO?

    • Andrew Gregovich Author
      Andrew Gregovich March 5, 2013 Reply

      Andy,

      Sorry for the late reply. I have been in the field for most of last month and I am still playing catch up.

      Unfortunately I have not skied the Patron. Jason Hutchins has skied both and he might be able to tell you specifically how the skis compare.

      This is what I can tell you – Jason and my opinions on the GunSmoke differed quite a bit. I liked the ski quite a bit, while he didn’t like it nearly as much. I know that overall the patron and its siblings (the stiffer Helldorado and the woman’s La Nina) have been received very favorably by our reviewers.

      Hope that helps,
      AG

  7. antonio June 27, 2013 Reply

    Hello Andrew,
    First of all, thank you for a great review, It has helped me decide on the gunsmokes,only doubt I still have is size, I’m 5’8″ and 165lbs, I would consider myself an experimented skier, would the 179 be too short.
    Thanks for your help

    • Andrew Gregovich Author
      Andrew Gregovich June 30, 2013 Reply

      Hey Antonio,

      I’m glad to hear that you liked the review. I don’t think that the 179 would be too short for you. It seems like a pretty ideal length to me.

      AG

      • antonio July 1, 2013 Reply

        Thank you for your advice Andrew, Since it’s going to be the only ski I will have alongside volkl racetiger SL, a smaller ski will help manage more situations. Thanks again for all your nice reviews

  8. Will May 10, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for the review. How do these compare to the norwalks as far as float and stiffness are concerned? I’m looking for a one ski quiver that’s a joy in powder but can deal with bumps and trees. I’ve skied the Cochise in pretty much every condition and I found them to be to stiff and sluggish in tight trees and their float was good but not great.

    Thank you

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