Ski: 2016-2017 Blizzard Samba, 173cm
Available Lengths: 152, 159, 166, 173 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 170.8cm
Stated Dimensions: 131-98-116mm
Stated Weight per Ski: 1742 g
Sidecut Radius: 19 meters
Core Construction: Poplar/Beech + Fiberglass & Carbon Fiber Laminate
Boots: Dalbello Krypton KR 2 Kryzma I.D Women’s Boot
Binding: Marker Griffon
Mount Location: Factory Line
Test Locations: Alta Ski Area, Snowbird, Deer Valley
Days Skied: 21
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 13/14 Samba, which was not changed for 14/15, 15/16, or 16/17, except for the graphics.]
Blizzard’s feminine answer to the men’s Bonafide is the Samba, sans metal. With rockered tips, traditional camber underfoot, and a slightly rockered tail, Blizzard claims this ski is a true all-mountain ski for ‘strong females.’
The Samba’s tails are significantly stiffer than the shovels. I’d call the tails “stiff”, where the shovels have more of a “medium-stiff” flex. The Samba was also noticeably stiffer than either the Armada VJJ and the Moment Bella, especially in the tips and tails.
I love skis with a softer, floppier flex so I was initially a bit intimidated by the stiffness of the Sambas. I didn’t get along that well with the stiffer tails of the Armada TSTw, so I was concerned that the Sambas, like the TSTw, would throw me around a bit, bronco style. However, these concerns would prove to be unfounded, as I found the Samba to be a predictable, dependable tool over more than 20 days of testing in a range of conditions.
The Samba’s narrower waist (98mm) and traditional camber underfoot produced a lively rebound when skiing groomers. The ski actually felt more stable and predictable at speed, so ladies with racing backgrounds will likely appreciate the Samba’s ability to hold an edge and rail.
The Samba was quick and snappy once the apex of the turn was reached, and I found the ski enjoyable in both short and wide radius turns. Edge to edge initiation was quick and effortless when making short, snappy turns, and I never felt the tails washing out or experienced any sort of chattering from the shovels.
I recall one moment coming down Main Street at Alta on a particularly icy day. A friend was trying out her new Salomon Stellas and I was skiing opposite her at the same speed. I noticed the tips of her skis flapping around and happened to look down to see what was going on with my Sambas – nothing. The Sambas were rock solid with no tip chatter at the same speed where the Salomon Stella began to quake.
On the whole, on groomers, I found the Samba leagues ahead of the other skis I’ve been on lately—the Moment Bella, the VJJ, the TSTw and Atomic Millennium (all of which are fatter underfoot).
Soft, Windblown Chalk
In mid-January, I honestly think I had some of my very best runs ever on High Boy at Alta on the Sambas, despite the fact that we hadn’t seen new snow since the beginning of the month.
The never-ending pitch of High Boy had been wind buffered to a creamy, “velveteen rabbit’ smoothness, with the deepest chalk I’ve ever skied, from 6-12 inches deep along the bottom half as the apron collected the sluff of previous skiers. The snow was fairly dense and thick up top, moving into the softer unconsolidated snow at the bottom of the run. Despite the variation in textures, the Samba could both float atop the softer deposits at the bottom of High Boy, and cut into the smooth, firmer snow up top, allowing me to push them as fast as I dared down the slope. The edges held comfortably, biting into the thicker, firmer snow.
In his review of the Blizzard Bonafide, Jonathan noted that he found the tails of the Bonafide washing out on firm, steep icy slopes. Though the texture of the snow I was skiing on High Boy was a bit softer than what Jonathan was describing (and the pitch isn’t as steep as the top of Taos’ West Basin), I can say that I never experienced any slipping or washing out with the Sambas, at fast or slow speeds. The same held true for the skis performance on groomers and in icy conditions; I never felt the tails of the Samba slip out. With only a slight bit of tail rocker, the Samba didn’t offer as playful of a feel as the VJJ, but felt more solid on steep slopes at high speed with its more conservative rocker profile.