Ski: 2016-2017 Blizzard Brahma, 187 cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 125-88-110
Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 124.5-87.5-109
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 185.4 cm
Tip / Tail Splay: ~48 mm / ~10 mm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2,053 & 2,053 grams
Stated Sidecut Radius: 20 meters
Factory Recommended Line: 81.5 cm from tail; -11.2 cm from center
Mount Location (updated): +1.5 cm of Recommended Line
Boots / Bindings: Salomon X Pro 120 & Atomic Hawx 2.0 120 / Marker Jester
Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley
Days Skied: 13[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 Brahma, which was not changed for 15/16 or 16/17, except for the graphics. We’ve also updated this review with comparisons to the 180 cm Brahma. See below.]
Having put time on the Blizzard Cochise, Bodacious, and Bonafide, I’ve been looking forward to skiing the Brahma, which Blizzard describes as “simply a narrower version of the award winning Bonafide, an unbeatable choice for someone looking for a ski with a hard snow bias while still maintaining great performance off the trail.”
I’ve also been interested to ski the Brahma since I’ve recently reviewed the 184 cm Salomon X-Drive 8.8 FS, another 88mm-underfoot, powerful ski whose all-mountain capabilities have really impressed me, as well as the 186cm Dynastar Powertrack 89, a still substantial yet quicker and easier-going option than the 184 cm X-Drive 8.8 FS.
Furthermore, I wanted to see exactly how similar or different this “narrower Bonafide” felt from the actual Bonafide.
Finally, this review is going to be a bit unusual in that I’m going to work in roughly the reverse order of my regular reviews, for reasons that I hope become clear.
Sizing Recommendations & Some Background
The biggest surprise to me has been that the 187 cm Brahma feels like a lot of ski — especially when mounted on the recommended line.
Back when we agreed to review the 180 cm Bonafide rather than the 187 cm Bonafide, I worried that the ski was going to feel too insubstantial in that length. But it didn’t. It felt like a very compliant all-mountain ski. At the 180 cm length, it isn’t a ski that I can just go rage around on without exceeding its top end, but it is a nice, well-rounded ski.
On the other hand, the 180 cm Kabookie (effectively a Bonafide without metal) did feel like too little ski, one that I could easily overwhelm.
So given all of that, when thinking about which size of the Brahma to review, I figured since the ski was even skinnier—dropping down from the 98 mm waist of the Bonafide & Kabookie to the 88 mm waist of the Brahma—well, I never even considered dropping down to the 180 cm Brahma because of the potential to overwhelm that ski, too.
But every day that I’ve been out on the 187 Brahma, I find myself doubting that there are a ton of people out there who need this much ski. And I say that as someone who loves skis like the 184 cm, 13/14 Volkl Mantra; the 184 cm Salomon X-Drive 8.8; the 187 cm, 13/14 Moment Belafonte, etc.
To try to give you a clearer sense of where I’m coming from and to try to help you figure out what length might work best for you, I felt like the 180 cm Blizzard Bonafide was a pretty easy ski (in that length) that could still be pushed pretty hard. I’ve also suggested that if you love the 13/14 Volkl Mantra in the 184 cm length, that the 177 cm, 14/15 Mantra actually feels like the more apples-to-apples comparison than the 184 cm, 14/15 version of the Mantra.
In short, while the 187 cm Brahma is an impressive ski in a lot of respects, I imagine that at least 8 out of 10 people (and it’s actually probably 9 out of 10) that are considering the Brahma would be better off going with the 180 cm Brahma rather than the 187 cm. And you definitely do not need to size up on this ski.
Who’s Going to be Happiest on the 187 cm Brahma?
(1) With the 187 Brahma mounted on its recommended line, then the lighter you are — let’s call 175 lbs. the over / under here — the more powerful skier you will need to be to make the 187 Brahma work for you all around the mountain, and especially in moguls.
While the 187 Brahma is really fun and substantial on groomers, it is definitely not a quick or easy ski. So if you find yourself in big, unevenly-spaced moguls, you will need to be on your game, and the 187s will punish mistakes or backseat skiing. (I’ll say more below on this point in the moguls section.)
But if you weigh, say, 150-160 lbs. or so and are just looking for a big, badass GS ski for ripping very fast turns, then you are right in the wheelhouse of the 187 Brahma. Its top end is very impressive, not far from the (current-best-in-class?) top end of the 184 cm Salomon X-Drive 8.8 FS.
(2) It’s probably pretty obvious, then, that I think heavier, powerful skiers will most enjoy the 187s. If you are an ex-racer, or if you are a strong skier that weighs more like 200, 215, or 230 lbs. and you like to go fast (very fast), then you will probably like this ski quite a bit.
(3) Update: To qualify these claims a bit, see the section below on the recommended mount point.
Flex Pattern & Shape
I really like the flex pattern of the 187 Brahma. Its tails are stiff / very stiff, and its shovels are stiff / medium stiff. There’s a nice consistency.
It is definitely a substantial flex pattern, but its tails do not hand flex as stiff as the 184 cm Salomon X-Drive 8.8, and the X-Drive 8.8’s shovels are actually a bit softer than the shovels of the Brahma. The 186 cm Dynastar Powertrack 89 has softer tails and shovels than the Brahma or the 8.8.
The Brahma, X-Drive 8.8, and the Powertrack 89 all have similar amounts of tail splay—no dramatic tail rocker on any of them.
But the Powertrack 89 has the most tip splay (~64 mm); the X-Drive 8.8 has about 57 mm of splay combined with the shortest / shallowest tip rocker line of the group; and the Brahma has the least amount of tip splay (~48 mm) but the deepest rocker line of the bunch. In this way, the X-Drive 8.8 is the most traditional shape of the three skis.
(A final more-or-less-useful comparison: the 187 Brahma has noticeably stiffer tails than the 185 cm, 14/15 Blizzard Cochise, and subtly stiffer tips than the Cochise. The 108mm-underfoot Cochise has deeper tip and tail rocker lines than the Brahma, but both skis have a pretty subtle amount of tip and tail splay.)
Given the shapes and flex patterns of the Powertrack 89, X-Drive 8.8, and Brahma, it’s not at all surprising that the Powertrack 89 is the easiest ski of the bunch. But there is another important factor, too…
Recommended Mount Points
• 187 cm Blizzard Brahma: 81.5 cm from tail; -11.2 cm from center
• 184 cm Salomon X-Drive 8.8: 81.3 cm from tail; -10.0 cm from center
• 186 cm Dynastar Powertrack 89: 86.5 cm from tail; -6.2 cm from center
Mounted on the line, there’s a reason why the 187 Brahma doesn’t feel quick, and feels more like a GS ski with a freeride topsheet. And it’s interesting to me that Blizzard does publish a “Suggested” 0 line, but also has marks on the ski up to +4 cm forward of that suggested line.
In a move on my part that can be classified as at least kind of stupid and arguably extremely stupid, I hadn’t yet pushed the bindings forward very far on the Brahma for this initial post (though the review has now been updated). Mounted on the line and even at +0.5 cm the Brahma’s tails felt very powerful and present, so while I wanted to get more forward on the Brahma to quicken the ski up, I didn’t feel like I wanted or needed more tail. So I actually spent most of the first 9 days skiing these at 0.5 centimeters in front of the “0” line, and then worked to acclimate to the ski around the mountain at that mount point.
But I will get back out on these in the next couple of days and report back on what the ski feels like with a more forward mount. (See next section.)
Having said all that, at a certain point the ski is what the ski is, and trying to turn a GS ski into something it isn’t seems about as silly as mounting a symmetrical park ski 9 cm behind center to try to make it feel more traditional.
Update on Mount Points
I’ve now spent three days skiing the Brahma at 1.5 cm in front of the “0” line. The skis definitely felt better to me at +1.5 —quicker on groomers, and it’s been even more fun to load up the tails at this mount point. I’ve felt little downside on groomers by moving ahead 1.5 cm in front of the line, giving up only a bit of stability when skiing at very, very fast speeds. Still, I haven’t had to slow down, I just haven’t felt quite as planted as I did with the bindings moved back closer to the recommended line.
More importantly, at +1.5 cm, the ski felt more balanced to me down big old bump lines on Taos’s Reforma and Juarez, and much more in line with the swing weight / feel of the 184 cm Salomon X-Drive 8.8 or the 184 cm, 13/14 Volkl Mantra.
Smooth, Softer Groomers
This is a powerful GS ski that prefers big, fast turns. Like the Salomon X-Drive 8.8, you can be lazy and just sort of shush around on groomers running bases flat, but then you really don’t need to be on this particular ski. If you like to get on your edges and go very fast, then this ski makes a lot of sense.
I will say that if you are really in it for powerful, cleanly-carved and cleanly-finished turns, I tend to like a fatter tail, like that of the X-Drive 8.8, or the Fischer Motiv 86 Ti, or the Rossignol Experience 100. Those skis dig in and rail even harder than the Brahma, though those tails can be a little bit trickier to deal with in deeper snow or tighter spaces.
But if you and I were going to go ski clean groomers all morning, I’d be quite happy doing so on either the Brahma or the X-Drive 8.8, or, if I wanted a ski that was easier to bend and work into smaller turns, the Powertrack 89.
Slightly Soft or Very Firm Roughed-Up Groomers
The 184 cm X-Drive 8.8 is the most stable and damp ski I have been on in these conditions, but the 187 Brahma is not far behind. The X-Drive 8.8 feels a little more powerful and precise, but both skis smooth out the ride quite nicely, and I was still quite willing to lay both of these skis over on end-of-the-day, less than pristine groomers, without bothering to check my speed much at all. (On the Powertrack 89, I would be resorting to shorter turns and slowing things down, or else skiing fast but with a more bases-flat approach, anticipating bumps rather than just bashing into them.)
Ice / Steep Ice
While the top ends of the 187 Brahma and the 184 X-Drive 8.8 are similar, I’d give the edge to the 8.8 on steep, icy slopes. Its fatter tail and shallower tip and tail rocker lines give the ski a bit more effective edge.
If you like stiffer skis in bumps (e.g., the 13/14 Volkl Mantra) and generally stick to bump runs with well-spaced out moguls (whether small moguls or big moguls), then you will be fine on these skis, and it’s been fun to ski these fast down the bump lines on Taos’ Whitefeather, the middle section of Al’s Run, etc.
But if you are trying to ski fast down irregular bump runs where you are basically searching for your line at each turn, then these things become real chores, and where I am confident that the 180cm Brahma would feel like a lot less work and a lot more fun—similar to how I felt that the 180cm Bonafides were fun and worked quite well in bumps.
So again, the more you’re looking at the 187 Brahma as a GS ski for groomers, the happier I think you will be, and the easier it is to recommend this ski.
The more you’re looking for a quick, easy bump ski that is still a lot of fun to carve and requires less input, the more the 186 cm Dynastar Powertrack 89 makes sense, or the 180 cm Brahma (probably) makes sense.
But if you’re still inclined to go with the 187 Brahma and want to enhance mogul performance, I can now vouch for mounting +1.5 cm of the line. To be clear, at +1.5 cm the 187s didn’t suddenly become a quick and easy bump ski, but it felt solid and not overly sluggish, as it did to me at “0” and +0.5.
The Reforma Test
The Brahma has provided excellent stability coming out hot from the bottom of Reforma at Taos, definitely in the same league, at least, with the X-Drive 8.8. Neither ski has been very fun to work through the big, weird bumps that currently reside at the top of Reforma, but for reasons that still aren’t entirely clear to me, I’ve managed that tricky top section more easily on the X-Drive 8.8s, and quite like the 8.8s on Reforma, while I can’t say that I enjoyed the 187 Brahma there mounted at +0.5, but the ski worked better for me at +1.5, and again, that’s where I personally would mount these skis.
Final Thoughts & Guesses: 187 cm Brahma vs. 180 cm Brahma
I feel quite confident that my experience on the Brahma is quite specific to the length I reviewed, which leaves me really wanting to get on the 180 cm Brahma. I think it would line up a lot closer to my findings on the 180 cm Bonafide, and I suspect that the groomer / carving performance of the 180s is still very impressive, while also being more manageable in moguls. So I’d love to hear from those of you who have time on either the 180 or 187 Brahmas, and if I do get on a pair of 180s, I will update this review.
But as for the 187…
Bottom Line – 187 cm Blizzard Brahma (Updated)
For strong skiers who weigh ~190 lbs. and up—and especially the more above 190 lbs. you weigh—the more confident I would be in recommending the 187 Brahma, especially if you aren’t looking for a ski to particularly shine in moguls, but rather, you’re looking for an all-mountain, stable GS ski.
For lighter skiers who do still think they want the 187 cm rather than the 180 cm Brahma, and who do spend a decent amount of time skiing bumps, then I would strongly suggest mounting forward at +1.5 cm.
Update: 10.12.15 — 187 cm Brahma vs. 180 cm Brahma
Many of these observations will come as no surprise, but I can now actually verify some of my speculation above about the 187 vs. the 180 Brahma.
Mounted on the recommended line, the 180 felt much quicker than the 187.
To me (i.e., given my weight, how I ski, where I ski, etc.), the 187 Brahma feels like a big GS ski, while the 180s felt far more eager to make short, quick turns, while still being quite good at making big GS turns.
The 180 Brahma is not a slalom ski, but it makes both short and big turns well, while the 187 offers a bump up in top-end-speed stability. So if I was primarily interested in maching down groomers and making big turns at very high speeds, I’d stick with the 187.
But the 180 felt like the more versatile ski.
On groomers, the 180 Brahma felt quicker and even more energetic than the 187. On the 180, when coming out of a hard, deep carve, I had to be prepared for the rebound the skis would generate as I was coming out of the turn (which is fun, so long as you aren’t dumb enough to let your thoughts wander and forget that this big kick is coming). The 187, by comparison, felt more planted and damp than energetic. It tracks extremely well and offer a lot of stability at speed.
On really nice, slightly soft groomers in the sunshine around 11 am, the edgehold and top ends of the 180 and the 187 felt very similar. On icier groomers when skiing flat out, the 187 was clearly the more stable ski with the higher top end.
But the less you care about (very) high-speed stability, the less I think the 187 Brahma is the ski for you.
Power vs. Finesse
What impressed me about the 187 was its power. Though, admittedly, if sheer power is the primary trait, then I personally would still give the nod to the 184 cm Salomon X-Drive 8.8, which has a higher top end at speed and on roughed-up groomers than the 187 Brahma, while feeling a bit more manageable in bumps than the 187 Brahma. (Though both skis insist that you be on your game in bumps. Neither is an ‘easy’ bump ski.)
What impressed me about the 180 Brahma was its quickness and versatility. Mounted on the recommended line, I personally did not feel any need to get forward on the ski—the ski felt quick and well-balanced.
The 180s felt much quicker (and therefore easier) than the 187 in moguls, even with the 187s mounted at +1.5cm.
But just because it’s a few inches shorter than the 187 Brahma, the 180 Brahma is not a laid back moguls ski. It is, however, a good moguls ski if you are a strong bumps skier and tend to stay off the tails of your skis in bumps.
If there is a spectrum of power & finesse, the 187 Brahma is pretty solidly on the power side of that spectrum, while the 180 Brahma is closer toward the middle of the spectrum. It is not all that tolerant of lazy skiing (and even less tolerant of backseat skiing), but the ski can be finessed more easily, and is much easier in bumps than the 187.
180 cm Bonafide vs. 180 cm Brahma
The groomer / carving performance of the 180 Bonafide did not blow me away; instead, I found that the 180 Bonafide just worked really well all over the mountain. Even in some techy terrain at Taos or in nasty moguls, the Bonafide never felt wildly out of place. It was a nice, smooth all-mountain tool.
The 180 Brahma, on the other hand feels stiffer through the tails, and its groomer / carving performance does blow me away. The price of that performance is that it is not as forgiving in moguls as the Bonafide (despite the Bonafide’s increased width). For that reason, I think the 180 Brahmas will be more appreciated by strong, advanced bump skiers than skiers who are looking for a softer, forgiving ski to help them out in mogul fields.
So if you want nice, all-around performance that isn’t too demanding, the Bonafide is easy to recommend. And if you want real excitement on groomers—both in terms of the versatility of turn shapes and in terms of a still-very-high top end—the 180 Brahma is very impressive.
(And I’ll say it again – I’m willing to assume that advanced, heavier skiers will feel somewhat similarly about the 187 Brahma as I do about the 180.)
New Bottom Line?
The Bottom Line of my 187 Brahma review holds true.
But what I can now comment on is just how good of a ski the 180 Brahma also is.
For those who weigh less than 190 lbs. and who are willing to give up a bit of the top-end stability that the 187 Brahma offers, you will get a powerful, quick ski that is versatile, with enough tip rocker to handle some deeper snow, too.
NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics