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2016-2017 Blizzard Samba

Lexi Dowdall reviews the Blizzard Samba for Blister Gear Review

Blizzard Samba

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.’

Flex Pattern

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.

Lexi reviews the Blizzard Samba from Alta for Blister Gear Review

Lexi Dowdall on the Blizzard Samba, Alta Ski Area.

Groomers

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.

21 Comments

  1. TM February 24, 2014 Reply

    Nice review, pretty much how I feel about my Kabookie versus my JJ. if I had to pick between the two for a one ski quiver no matter what I honestly would still pick my JJ believe it or not. My wife demoed a Samba a couple weeks ago against her Elysian and she loved it. But not enough to consider giving up her Elysian or going through the hassle of another ski. She loves her VJJ too! Thanks for the good reviews and hopefully other women will start jumping in too.
    Skifreak

    • Author
      Lexi Dowdall February 25, 2014 Reply

      Thanks for reading Skifreak!

      If pressed, I would definitely go Samba over Elysian, I found it much more enjoyable and responsive than the Elysian, but to each her own : )

      VJJ is great as well, happy to hear she’s stoked!

  2. AmyJ March 4, 2014 Reply

    What a great review! I am one of those “intermediate” skiers who can (mostly) handle the Samba! I love how smooth it is and yet it will really snap the turns. It just begs me to go faster, because it is SO stable and strong. And yet I had no trouble slowing down and putzing around on it, either. This is going to be a great ski for me to grow into.

    • Author
      Lexi Dowdall March 4, 2014 Reply

      Thanks for weighing in Amy!
      Happy to hear that you too found joy on the Samba! It really is a solid choice!
      Would you mind my asking where or what types of conditions you find the Samba gives you trouble? That may help other readers better evaluate if the Samba will be a good choice for them : )

      Thanks for reading!

  3. AmyJ March 4, 2014 Reply

    Lexi, thanks for the response! I assure you it’s operator error as I just don’t to ski enough days to keep my skills sharp! I’m also moving up from the Black Pearls in a 159–a shorter, softer, narrower ski–which means I still have to adjust my technique to the stronger Sambas (which I have in the 166.) I still like to ski with a narrower stance, too, so if I had to answer your question, I’d blame it on that more than anything. I have yet to pinpoint anything I DON’T like about the Sambas–I’ll be skiing them at Powder Mountain and Snowbasin in a couple weeks so can report back after that :D

  4. Blister Member
    Metres March 12, 2014 Reply

    A friend is considering this ski. What size would you recommend for a woman 5’5″ and appx 150 lbs? She mostly skis groomers (I’d call it intermediate), but will likely be skiing more in the coming years and beginning to venture off-piste (moving towards advanced). Skiing in Tahoe. Thanks!!

    • Author
      Lexi Dowdall March 12, 2014 Reply

      Hello Meters,

      Thanks for reading!
      This ski does feel like a slightly shorter ski because the rocker in the tip decreases the effective edge, so it would feel a bit shorter than a non-rockered ski of the same length.
      It’s also fairly lightweight, so swing weight shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve sized up since I’m a fairly aggressive skier, but someone of that size and ability level would most likely be comfortable on the 166cm Samba. Do you have any idea what model ski and length this skier is currently using?

      • Blister Member
        Metres March 18, 2014 Reply

        Perfect – the 166 was what I was thinking would work too. (I don’t know what she’s on now…but I do know she needs a new set-up!) Thanks!

  5. AmyJ March 19, 2014 Reply

    I want to update my thoughts on this ski for an aspiring intermediate skier after skiing them several days in Utah, including about 8″ of fresh. They are AMAZING! I do not find them too demanding at all, in fact, they are game to go as slow as I want and when I DO want to hit the gas, they are very reliable and will turn very quickly for me! I even hit a wind-sheered (read: rather icy hardpack) black diamond run and they held an edge for me beautifully. These are fantastic, confidence-inspiring skis! I won’t be an upper-level intermediate much longer with the Sambas under foot!

    • Author
      Lexi Dowdall March 20, 2014 Reply

      Nice Amy!

      Glad to hear you are stoked! (And got some fresh snow!!)
      Thanks so much for weighing in! We absolutely LOVE to hear what other ladies are thinking!
      : ) Shred on…

  6. Amy G July 22, 2014 Reply

    Hi Lexi,
    I loved your review. I am seriously considering the Samba (taking advantage of the off-season deals). Though I’ve skied out West and New England for 45 years, I only ski 10-15 days/year, split between East and West, and much of it chasing my kids (12 and 15). Otherwise I’m trying to keep up with my aggressive husband on his Line Prophets. So this will be my only pair of skis after I retire my old K-2 Luv’s.
    I am a petite (5’0″, 125 lbs) 52-year-old expert skier. What length would you recommend I try in the Samba?

    thanks,
    Amy G

  7. Leah August 20, 2014 Reply

    I recently purchased these Samba’s, but now I need bindings! Any recommendations?
    I’m an advanced skier…I like, and am trying to get better on, the bumps and see a lot of ice since I ski in the Northeast (mainly VT).
    Looking forward to getting out on these babies :)
    Thanks in advance!
    Leah

    • Author
      Lexi Dowdall August 28, 2014 Reply

      Hey Leah!

      Thanks so much for reading. I highly recommend bindings with a turntable heelpeice.

      Good examples would be the LOOK Pivot 12 binding or the Rossignol FKS 120.
      These styles of bindings help prevent pre-release and knee injury, especially in falls with twisting motion. I’ve been skiing these for years, making the switch because I tore my meniscus in a pre-release situation in a REALLY dumb crash. These bindings help me rest a little easier.

      Just match up the binding width to the 98mm waist (a 100mm brake would be perfect) -and you’ll be set!

  8. Amy G September 16, 2014 Reply

    Hi Lexi,
    I loved your review. I am seriously considering the Samba (taking advantage of the off-season deals). Though I’ve skied out West and New England for 45 years, I only ski 10-15 days/year, split between East and West, and much of it chasing my kids (12 and 15). Otherwise I’m trying to keep up with my aggressive husband on his Line Prophets. So this will be my only pair of skis after I retire my old K-2 Luv’s.
    I am a petite (5’0″, 125 lbs) 52-year-old expert skier. What length would you recommend I try in the Samba?

    thanks,
    Amy G

    • Author
      Lexi Dowdall September 16, 2014 Reply

      Hey Amy!

      Thanks so much for reading, I’m glad you liked it!
      You are going to love the Samba, it’s such a versatile ski!
      I am a little bit taller at 5’3″. I would say my legs are pretty strong, stronger than average for someone of my size so I had no problem on the 173cm length. But the average person of my size would probably be most comfortable on the 166cm.

      Depending how in shape your legs are I would probably recommend the 159cm length for your shorter height to ensure you can drive the skis with power and confidence.

      Also how long are your current K-2 LUVs?

      The 166cm could work if your legs are in great shape and you run or cycle a bunch. It all comes down to how comfortable you feel on your current length. That will help you determine if sizing up (or down) makes sense on the Samba which has slight rocker in the tips and tails. This rocker shape gives a shorter effective edge so the ski will feel like a slightly shorter ski when you are initiating turns.

  9. Ellie October 6, 2014 Reply

    Great review! Thinking of pulling the trigger on these skis, as a do-it-all east coast ski (that will likely travel out west occasionally). Love the trees, off-piste stuff but often end up on groomers due to conditions here. I have a pair of Hart “the one” skis that I LOVE, with a tele setup, and want a similar alpine setup. My Harts are 166, and that is perfect for me for those skis. They are not a rockered ski though. I’m about 5’8” and 160lbs, and am thinking the 166 in the Samba… but from reading other reviews, I’m thinking that may be too short? I’m very athletic (biker/runner) so pretty strong… but worry about a longer ski in the trees. I’m thinking of putting the Marker Griffon on these. Thoughts?

  10. kelsey November 19, 2014 Reply

    Great review!

    How would you compare these to the Volkl Kiku’s? I’m wavering between the two.

    Thanks!

  11. Jackie November 24, 2014 Reply

    Hi!!

    Wicked review and very helpful!! I am an advanced skier and love skiing in the trees and in all sorts of snow conditions. I also love flying at top speed but I also love bumps and trees. I am considering the Sambas but I have 2 questions and could really use some help:

    1) I have no clue what size to get. I am 5’5 but only 100 pounds. I am an aggressive skier (with a racing background) but am not sure what to base the choice of ski length on (height, weight, aggression…all of the above?). I have been on fairly short skis for a while now (154) and I know I have to get longer skis but I do not want to get something difficult to maneuver. Should I get 159 or 166?? Any guidance in this regard would be awesome.

    2) I have been looking at the Black Pearls too and they have great reviews and seem quite versatile but a number of people keep referring to them as intermediate skis. If you have tried these skis and can offer any points of comparison, that would be excellent. I am also considering them because they are significantly more narrow underfoot, which is what I am used to….

    Any thoughts on the above would be so greatly appreciated!!!

  12. c.brown November 29, 2014 Reply

    Jackie

    The Black Pearls aren’t intermediate skis necessarily. They have a very similar construction to the Samba. All the Blizzard women’s skis share that construction which makes them light and soft but still with a lot of torsional stiffness. This makes them easy to ski for a lot of different ability levels. A intermediate skier can enjoy the same ski as an advance skier. If you’re used to something closer to the Black Pearl then the Black Pearl is what I would recommend. They do have some tip and tail rocker so you can ski longer. If you want to ski on a little longer ski I would say you would have no problem with the 166 Black pearl.

  13. R Fox June 4, 2015 Reply

    Great review, love that you respond to questions and input.
    Considering upgrade to the Blizzard Samba for my wife that is sking at an intermediate – advanced level, east coast most of the time, with west coast skiing once a year. She is 5’9″ and weighs approximately 200 lbs. She currently is sking Dynastar agyl 7 RL. Do you think the 166 in the Samba would possibly be the correct choice for her?
    Thanks RDF

  14. Steph February 3, 2017 Reply

    Hi, I am looking to replace my one quiver skis from years ago. I live on the east coast now but make several trips to Europe (for work) and CO each year, and also aspire to move to CO in a year or two (likely). Having done ski team growing up on the east coast, I’m a very solid piste skier, and love venturing out any chance I can to experience and improve in powder. I’m thinking to buy the Volkl Kenja (90 mm waist) now as my one quiver ski for East Coast skiing and CO/Euro trips, and then add in a wider ski later if/when I move to Co (I would even love to get into touring) and then have the two types of skis in CO. Would the Samba be a better option? I’m sure but he Kenja would be perfect now but hate for it to sit unused if I move to CO. Would the Samba be a reasonable ski on the east coast as a one quiver ski and be a better choice over the Kenja as the narrower of two types of ski once in CO? Appreciate any thoughts!

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