2017-2018 J Skis Masterblaster

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the J Skis Masterblaster for Blister Gear Review

J Skis Masterblaster

Ski: 2017-2018 J Skis Masterblaster, 187 cm

Available Lengths (cm): 175, 181, 187 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 184.6 cm

Stated Weight per Ski (181 cm): 2100 g

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski (187 cm): 2344 & 2367 grams

Stated Dimensions (mm): 125-96-114

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 129-95.5-114

Stated Sidecut Radius: 17 meters (average radius, 181 cm)

Core: Maple + Titanal Laminate

Base: Sintered

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 65 mm / 33 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm

Recommended Mount Mark:

  • 84.45 cm from tail / – 7.85 cm from center
  • – 6 cm from the center of the ski’s effective edge

Test Location: Mt Bachelor, OR; Ski Santa Fe, NM

Days Skied (Updated): 6

Boots / Bindings: Fischer RC4 130 & Hawx Ultra 130 / Marker Jester

 

Ski: 2017-2018 J Skis Masterblaster, 181 cm

Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 178.8 cm

Stated Weight per Ski (181 cm): 2100 g

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski (181 cm): 2115 & 2149 grams

Stated Dimensions (mm): 125-96-114

Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 129-95-114.5

Stated Sidecut Radius: 17 meters (avg., 181 cm)

Core: Maple + Titanal Laminate

Base: Sintered

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 65 mm / 36 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm

Recommended Mount Point:

  • 81.5 cm from tail / -7.85 cm from center
  • – 6 cm from the center of the ski’s effective edge
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 16/17 Masterblaster, which was not changed 17/18, except for the graphics.] [Update: 1.06.17 — We’ve now got time on both the 187 cm and 181 cm Masterblaster]

Intro

The Masterblaster is positioned as an all-mountain, directional ski that is supposed to hold up well in firm conditions. J Lev says this about the Masterblaster: “Unlike my other skis, it has a directional shape with a lower tail so there’s more edge length in contact with the snow for the most grip possible on groomers. All of this is backed by my unique metal laminate construction for extra power and responsiveness when charging hard.” But Levinthal says that the Masterblaster is supposed to feel at home in pow, too: “I engineered it with ultra quick race-like handling and precision yet a unique split personality that’s also incredibly fun and playful when you get it in the powder.”

Ok, that all sounds fairly straightforward — lots of all-mountain skis claim to perform well in both firm and fresh.

But I have to say, I have found four pretty big surprises about the Masterblaster, which I’ll outline below.

Surprise #1: Flex Pattern

I don’t notice any significant difference between the flex patterns of the 187 cm and 181 cm Masterblaster, and I’d categorize the Masterblaster’s flex pattern like this:

Tips: 6/7
Shovels: 8
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel piece: 8
Tails: 8/7

The skis have a really nice flex pattern — solid, but not super stiff. And I will be very surprised if the result isn’t a strong ski that is still relatively forgiving. (We’ll find out soon if I’m right, and exactly how forgiving it actually is.)

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the J Skis Masterblaster for Blister Gear Review

Jonathan Ellsworth on the J Skis Masterblaster, Mt Bachelor.

The Masterblaster’s flex pattern most closely resembles the Nordica Enforcer 93, and I’ll say a bit more about the Enforcer 93 below, and a lot more about the Enforcer 93 in my Deep Dive article. Compared to its inspiration / bigger brother, the J Skis The Metal, the tails of the Masterblaster are slightly stiffer, while the tips of the two skis are quite similar — though the Masterblaster ramps up in stiffness more quickly than The Metal does. (This makes sense; The Metal is a wider ski that is supposed to perform well in deeper snow).

The stiffness of the Masterblaster surprised me a bit. As a fairly gross generalization, J Lev isn’t into stiff skis; instead, he likes “fun” skis. (Go read everything I wrote about The Metal if my claims sound confusing.) So to be honest, one of the primary reasons I wasn’t initially all that excited about the Masterblaster is because I was assuming that, like The Metal, it would be a fun, softer ski that was still pretty playful for a directional ski, but not the sort of ski you’d want to break out when conditions got very firm and fast.

There are certainly burlier ~96mm-wide skis out there, but based off a hand flex, J did not under-gun the Masterblaster. So to any of you living in areas that see more firm conditions than soft or deep conditions, you shouldn’t necessarily assume that this is another one of those fun-sounding skis that probably doesn’t make much sense for where you ski. More on that next…

Surprise #2: Rocker Profile

While the Masterblaster has a decent amount of tip splay (cf. the rocker pics on the next page), this ski has a more subtle rocker line than I was anticipating. I don’t expect the Masterblaster to be best-in-class when it comes to performance on ice (in the 95-100mm-wide all-mountain ski category, the Head Monster 98 is still probably the king of the hill), but I do expect the Masterblaster to offer a nice combination of firm-snow and soft-snow performance.

Surprise #3: Weight

At ~2350 g per ski, the 187 cm Masterblaster is significantly heavier than many of its direct competitors. You can see my Deep Dive article that lays out these comparisons directly, but personally, I am pretty psyched about the weight of this ski. While so much of the industry clamors on about how light they are making their skis and boots and bindings, it is refreshing to see an all-mountain ski come out that is effectively throwing its middle finger at this trend.

And here’s the other thing, which I talked about in my review of The Metal — just because you make a heavier ski doesn’t mean that you also have to make it super stiff. And the combination of heavy + medium stiffness can result in a relatively forgiving ski that has excellent suspension and produces a great ride. I can’t say yet whether that is true of the Masterblaster, but we certainly found it to be true of The Metal. So to all you companies who are coming out with lighter and lighter skis that are supposed to hold up well in crappy, everyday, resort conditions, you might want to take note. And to all of you skiers who are still drinking the ‘lighter-is-better’ kool-aid when it comes to inbounds gear … you might also want to keep an eye on what we find here.

Surprise #4: Mount Position

The Masterblaster is said to have a recommended mount point of – 6 cm “from the center of the ski’s effective edge.” – 6 cm is technically the same as the mount point of The Metal, but there is a qualification here.

I discussed this with Levinthal, and long and short, if measured from the tail of the ski (with a straight tape pull, along the top sheet), the Masterblaster’s recommended line is actually -7.85 cm behind “true center.”

Point is, when the Masterblaster’s mount point is measured in the same way that we measure all of the skis we test, it actually has a more traditional, more set-back mount point than The Metal, and it moves the Masterblaster closer into the realm of other directional skis like the Blizzard Bonafide, Nordica Enforcer 93, Nordica Enforcer 100, Line Supernatural 100, etc.

(BTW, the Masterblaster has stickers on the topsheet indicating where the recommended mount point is. But note that there is, actually, a fairly subtle raised bump that’s pressed into the topsheet itself. Best thing to do is trust that mark — unless it is widely off from our mark-to-tail measurement of 84.45 cm.)

Bottom Line regarding mount points: if you want to be on J’s recommended mark, go off of the raised bump that’s pressed into the top of the ski (unless for some reason you find that it’s way off from ~84.5 cm from the tail).

Some Comparisons:

We’ll include a number of further comparisons in our Deep Dive article on the Masterblaster, but for now, here are a few of the most interesting comparisons:

J Skis The Metal

Given that the Masterblaster was inspired by The Metal, we’re very curious to see how much performance overlap there is between the two skis.

Nordica Enforcer 93 & Enforcer 100

The Masterblaster has a very similar flex pattern to the Enforcer 93, and it isn’t at all far off from the Enforcer 100. It’s going to be interesting to see if the Masterblaster feels closer to the 93 or the 100, or maybe splits the difference? Stay tuned…

Blizzard Bonafide

We are huge fans of the 180 cm Bonafide, and we have yet to ski the 187 cm Bonafide. My hunch — though it is admittedly not very well founded — is that the 187 cm Bonafide will feel like more ski than the 187 Masterblaster. (I say this mostly because I still can’t imagine that J built that big of a gun here. So maybe my imagination may simply be lacking.)

Weight-wise, the 187 Masterblaster and 187 Bonafide are probably going to be pretty similar.

NEXT: The Review

33 Comments

  1. Ky Chapple November 24, 2016 Reply

    Hi, sorry for a question not related to this ski, but I had posted one on your Dynastar Powertrack 89 review and did not see a reply, so thought I’d try again; hope you don’t mind.

    I have the Dynastar Outland 2013 and it’s been a fabulous all mountain ski and looking to pick up a pair of the PowerTrack 89’s. I currently have a 172 cm in the Outland and thinking I might stay with this length as it has been an adequate length in that ski, but wondering if I should up to a 179? I’m 5’9″ and around 160-165 and although not an overly fast rider per se, ski technically for all mountain use from teaching and PSIA related clinics to general riding primarily in the Pacific NW, Whistler and Midwest ski areas. Appreciate your recommendation.

  2. Blister Member
    wilk800jkw November 24, 2016 Reply

    Most Excellent! I have been waiting for this review for a while! Sorry Jonathan to bug you so much about it. I have the Metal and a Prototype Masterblaster, so I am anxious to see how the final product turned out. As always, keep up the good work.

  3. George Peabody November 25, 2016 Reply

    Will be very interested in the Deep Dive comparisons of the Master Blaster. Can you indicate where it sits on the Blister Spectrums for All Mountain skis published in the 16/17 Buyers Guide?

  4. Blister Member
    John November 26, 2016 Reply

    The Deep Dive comparison I’d like to hear about most is the Liberty Origin 96. In particular, the edge hold and even more particular the edge hold on ice. The Blister reviews give some mixed information about the Origin 96. Outside the Gear Guide, your reviews are very positive about its edge hold but in this year’s Gear Guide it’s dead last in edge hold (page 17). Yet, it’s also selected as a one ski quiver winner and part of a two ski quiver (page 109). Wondering if that was an oversight or there’s an explanation for that. Out east, and in particular Mad River Glen, you can’t have a quiver winning ski that isn’t at least mediocre on ice. Would love to see if you can address this in the Deep Dive against the Masterblaster to see what’s better on steep, hard, uneven, tight and often bumped up conditions that we have at Mad River. Thanks.

    • Author

      Hi, John – I actually don’t think that there is any “mixed information” on the Origin 96. It is a heavily tip and tail rockered ski, with a relatively short running length. That is not the profile that is going to excel on ice, but on anything relatively soft, the edge hold is excellent on the Origin 96. All One-Ski-Quivers – by definition – have their relative strengths and weaknesses. “One-Ski Quiver” does not mean “excels everywhere” – because that is a fantasy. So I think it sort of goes without saying that if you are most concerned about performance on EC ice … then the Origin 96 is not the ski for you, and the Spectrum in the Guide ought to prove quite useful for helping you get a handle on the skis that may be right for you.

  5. Blister Member
    John November 28, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Jonathan. I’ll cross the Origin 96 off my list. What I like most about Blister is the in depth AB comparisons. They’re really helpful in establishing reference points for performance attributes and what separates Blister from the other reviews. Keep up the good work in this regard. Regarding edge hold, I know the whole industry is currently using the “running length” argument as a basis for edge hold but that doesn’t make complete sense to me. I’ve skied super short slalom skis with short effective edges that held like ice skates (ice skates themselves have very short running length) and super soft stainless caped skis that also had bombproof edge hold (Volant 15 years ago – don’t know about them today) I suspect the key is torsional rigidity and wonder if manufacturers are relaxing torsional rigidity to improve looser, more playful, more forgiving characteristics. So, when the review referred to the Origin as being comparable to the Enforcer 93 in edge hold, which is rated fairly highly in this area (e.g., also your experience with it on Stauffenberg), and with J Skis – like so many other manufacturers these days – stating the Masterblaster has race ski carving performance, it lead me to think the stiffness underfoot of the Origin 96 may indicate acceptable hard snow edge hold. I believe the Enforcer 93 could be sufficient for my needs and look forward to the Deep Dive AB with the Masterblaster.

  6. Robert J Pickell November 29, 2016 Reply

    I purchased the 181 Master Blaster going completely off of Jason’s description of his goals with the ski and target performance. I had a hard decision between the 181s and next size up, but went for the shorter skis given that I expect to use them in some tighter spaces versus full speed top to bottom runs. I just got them mounted in time for a quick trip over the Thanksgiving weekend. The first day was old, hard snow and blown snow with the occasional rock thrown in to keep things interesting. The skis performed exactly as advertised. Great carving performance on the hard stuff, including holding their own on ice. The turn radius was on the short side (which matches the ski spec) which I was looking for. We had an unexpectedly large amount of snow overnight and completely different conditions the next day. I spent most my time on my Moment Blister Pros given the deep snow, but I did take a spin on the Masters. Again, they performed as advertised and were capable in the conditions. While I don’t have a lot of time on them in a lot of conditions, my first impressions are that the ski does what is was built for. I’m very happy to own a pair and look forward to more time on them. For what it’s worth, they are beautifully built and a pleasure to look at. I love J-Skis focus on design and keeping things interesting.

    • RDawg December 6, 2017 Reply

      Hey Robert – how tall are you if you mind me asking? I am 5’9 about 190lbs, and thinking about the 181’s, but not sure if i should drop down one below. Thanks!

  7. Blister Member
    John December 3, 2016 Reply

    Hi Robert, Can you fill us in where you skied the Masterblaster and if you A/B them against any other skis (e.g, Enforcer, Brahma, Origin, etc)? I am also considering a two ski quiver with the Moment Bibby as the wider ski and the Masterblaster or competitor as the narrower ski.

    • Robert J Pickell December 3, 2016 Reply

      As background, I’ve been trying to replace a two ski quiver of 2010-era 184 Volkl Mantras and 190 Gotamas. This has proven difficult to do since I really love both skis and they’ve been perfect for me. Last winter I bought a pair of 187 Liberty Variant 97s. These are awesome skis for bombing top to bottom; they really love long radius turns and have no top end that I could find. Kind of scary fast, actually! I really like the Variants, but my sense is that they aren’t the best option for steep, variable, and tight conditions. Could be the length or combination of length and stiffness. This is the reason I pulled the trigger on the MB’s — basically still looking for something to replace my Mantras. To you questions, John, my time of the MB’s were at Mammoth, and I didn’t have a lot of time on the ski. As I previously noted, though, the first impressions of the ski were very positive — I think the J-Skis description is very accurate. While it wasn’t my goal, I’m kind of stoked to end up with a three ski quiver since there are times when top to bottom speed runs are the norm, and I’ll break our the Variants. I hope to get some more time on all the skis in the next few weeks and will provide an update if anything new emerges.

  8. Blister Member
    John December 7, 2016 Reply

    Robert, I’m also coming off the Mantras – 2007 version. They were paired with Fischer World Cup Slalom skis. I ended up ditching the Fischers and going with the Mantras as a one ski, all mountain quiver for east and west. Now I’m looking at the Moment Bibby paired with something like the Masterblaster, Bonafide, Enforcer, Origin 96. Let me know if you ski any of these or if you have anything new to post about the Masterblaster.

  9. Olivier Raynam December 8, 2016 Reply

    Hello Jonathon,

    I’m late to the party. Have you actually skied the MB’s yet?
    I purchased them purely on Jason’s description having frequently been frustrated with skis either being too stiff or too soft.
    Could you tell me a little more about the -6cm vs your recommended -7.8cm? Seems like a pretty substantial difference
    Cheers from France

  10. Blister Member
    Gregory December 30, 2016 Reply

    Throwing in my 2 cents – I bought the MB’s in 181 cm. I live in Minneapolis and have about 5 hours on a local hill (300′). 2 hrs in 6″ on a firm base which took a while to be skied out and 2.5 hrs on hard pack. I was skiing K2 Apache Outlaws, a heavy damp ski until I bought the MB’s. While they are not much lighter than the K2’s they behave like a much lighter ski essentially because of the swing weight, and also because the have more pop. After my first couple of runs in 6″ I was wondering if I should have gone for the 187, but as I got used to the ride I became more comfortable with the length. Pressuring the tips is different and after I stopped trying to do that, I realized the were very controllable from a neutral stance. Getting them up on edge seemed normal to me and I would describe them as medium to quick edge to edge. They definitely hold an edge in hard pack. Had no problem switching from long to short turns and they are easy to smear. No bumps yet, but so far pretty happy with my blind purchase. Looking forward to getting them out West.

    • Author

      Hey, Gregory – I’m just now seeing your comments on the 181 after I’ve just written about the 181s here and in our Deep Dive update. Totally agree with your comments — especially how much pop the 181s have. Thanks for the excellent feedback.

  11. Don January 6, 2017 Reply

    I absolutely love these skis. Last year I demoed the Enforcer 93’s and was set on buying them until J released this ski. I made my decision here based on I really like the LIne Prophet and these were billed as an improved version, which I feel they are. I think Jonathan’s review is pretty spot on. The one exception being that I can pretty easily make shorter turns but I’m also around 220 Lbs. so I tend to flex skis pretty easily. I’d give the Enforcers a slight edge on carving but find the Master Blaster to be a bit more playful and in the 6″ I’ve had them in they float well enough for a guy of my weight. I have other skis for deep days so not really worried about that. I was looking for a ski for maching groomers and busting through crud and that’s exactly what I got! I’m on the 186’s and I’ve yet to find a speed limit on these skis. I have about 10 days on these and they’ve been so much fun! It’s real nice to be back on a directional ski with a nice flat stiff tail when I’m on the hardpack. I’d also point out the J’s graphics are sick and the build quality is as nice as I’ve seen. These are a high quality ski and worth every penny. I think I’m going to try and get on a pair of Metals next!

    • Author

      Thanks, Don – great feedback. And I agree with you re: the Enforcer 93 — in terms of carving and in terms of which ski I’d rather be on in ~6″ of new snow.

      • Blister Member
        Garrett January 31, 2017 Reply

        Jonathan, just curious about your height and weight? Debating about going with the 175 or 181 in the Masterblaster.

      • Blister Member
        Garrett March 7, 2017 Reply

        Jon, the mount position thing def. threw me off a little. I have mine mounted on the bump which measures back from the center of my boot 7.85 cm. If I’m reading your article correctly then that should be right as opposed to the -6cm that is on the sticker?

  12. Blister Member
    Garrett February 2, 2017 Reply

    Thanks Jon. In your opinion how do these ski compared to something like a Volkl Kendo?

  13. Brian March 28, 2017 Reply

    Hi gents I have recently invested in 187cm masterblaster based on this review and in particular the rocker pic profiles. I currently use 186cm atomic theory skis which I love a lot as I like to ski everywhere Inc park and pow. Being an ex racer I like to charge the piste as well long fast turns being the order of most days. I’m looking forward to getting these skis this week and seeing how the live up to expectations. I’m only relaxing the atomically because I pulled the binding toe piece out when I took a fall off a 360 in the park. I had a great time with atomic as my one ski setup and hope the MB does the same.

  14. Brian March 28, 2017 Reply

    Sorry for the typo my autocorrect is poor. That was meant to read “I’m replacing my atomics”…..

    Also when you say a straight tape pull to measure the mount point do mean straight not following the curve of the ski at the tail? But rather direct hypotenuse from mountain poitou to the tail tip elevation? Just looking to ensure I get them set up correctly.

    Thanks again for a great review. It would be of benefit for manufacturers to add photos similar to yours to show rockers lines. I am not a fan of large rocker skis and simply won’t consider buying any ski unless I can verify the profile in this regard and I found your photos and reviews to be invaluable in that regard to stop me ending up with something I don’t want.

    • Don March 28, 2017 Reply

      Brian…I mounted mine right on the little bump on the ski, disregarding the sticker they put on there that was slightly off. When I measured from tail I got right about what Blister got which was 81.5 from tail. I didn’t do the curvature of the ski, just put your measuring tape on the tail and pull it straight towards the center of the ski. Hope that helps.

  15. Blister Member
    Garrett Cooney March 28, 2017 Reply

    I mounted mine on the bump also, which is about 7.85 cm behind the “boot” center if you match it up with the stickers. Trying to do the measurements tip to tail etc was a little confusing. I bought mine in a 175 so the mount for the binding is about 79.65 cm from the tail laying it flat. Not sure why J has the stickers this way, I think the instructions could be a little more straight forward.

  16. Brian March 29, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for the comments chaps I believe my mb’s will be arriving today so I’ll be getting them on snow Friday once the saddles are applied to the bump. And so I know for complete clarity it is mid-sole on the ski boot for the bump as would be typical of mount points?

  17. Brian April 3, 2017 Reply

    OK 187cm skis mounted and waxed yesterday and tested today in Val Thorens, France. A blue sky day with about 15cm fresh pow around. A few laps of that and it is clear they are going to be very effective in deeper powder as well owing to the softer tip and gentle rocker. I didn’t go too far with this as there’s less snow around this season in Europe generally so off piste is dodgy with lots of rocks around.

    On piste they are a great ski as well. I was impressed how well they went in a straight line down steep bumpy piste at speed. Good stuff for getting the last run of the day out of the way when the snow has got slushy. They carve nicely as you would expect and this can be varied reasonably well, but I would, if I could, ask Jason to do one thing and have a longer radius turn on this ski in my view it would be very popular with more like 22m radius on it. There is only a minimal tip flutter at speed on perfect flat groomer because of the rocker this is not even noticeable when the snow is chopped up a bit.

    In the park!! I like skiing park, the big kickers are my interest and I stay away from rails, as in the words of Danny Glover I’m too old for that sh1t at 43yrs. I was impressed again, the directional stability of the ski is great for the 18 to 20m kicker lines. I was also playing around skiing switch to check them for this as well. I would say they’re good in this department too although I probably need to blunt off the tip and tails just a little too make them more friendly in that dept as I hadn’t done that prior to going up today.

    All in all a great all rounder in all areas and i think I’m going to enjoy my mb’s a lot. Thanks to blister for a great review that helped me choose these boards.

    For those who are interested I’m 6ft 1in and around 80kg or 175 pounds. I’m an ex racer and ex freestyler and despite my age am hanging on to it as long as possible :-)

  18. Blister Member
    Zach July 11, 2017 Reply

    Any thoughts on how the 175cm would fit me? I’m 169cm 145 lbs advanced skier. I’m a bit concerned it may be too long for a guy my size.

    • Author

      Hi, Zach – It really all depends on how strong of a skier you are (physically strong and / or have good technique). An intermediate or advanced skier of your size who is comfortable with speed – and likes to ski with some speed – shouldn’t have any problem with the 175, especially since there is a significant amount of tip & tail rocker on these. (I’m 178 cm tall, and happily ski the 181 cm and 187 cm Masterblaster.) So I wouldn’t worry about the “guy my size part,” It’s more of an issue of strength, ability level, and whether you prefer making short turns at slower speeds (where shorter skis can make more sense) or bigger, faster turns (where longer skis provide more stability).

  19. Manny October 29, 2017 Reply

    Hey Blister, love the reviews! I’m trying to decide on a one-ski quiver for the east, and am considering the masterblaster, but I’m curious on it’s performance in icier conditions. Were you guys able to get it in less than ideal conditions after this initial review, and does it give up enough edge hold where I should opt for the blizzard bonafide or enforcer 93 instead?

    Thanks for your time,

    Manny

  20. Blister Member
    Big K October 31, 2017 Reply

    HI Jonathan,

    Any chance for some input on how the Masterblaster feels compared to the Fischer TI Motive 182? Would it fall into the burlier, stiffer side or more playful? Having tore an edge loose on the Motive last week I wonder if master b. might be a good replacement.

  21. Whit November 30, 2017 Reply

    Of the the 187 Bonafide, 187 MB and the 193 Enforcer… which would be the quickest?

  22. Blister Member
    Big K January 10, 2018 Reply

    Looking to replace a pair of worn out 187 Viciks and a damaged pair of 182 Motive 86’s leave it to Blister to me decide.
    Ikonics are on order and earlier I ordered a pair of MasterBlasters in 181cm. Being of medium size I figured the 181 would likely be a good fit. I like skis built with the stability of a full sidewall and these are beautifully constructed. No extra polish where it doesn’t matter, just solid, journeyman work. Hats off J-skis. $#&@ are these fun skis! At -6cm mount they are the most forward of any ski I own. For me, I put them in the “Partner in crime” category as they tend to coax me into lines I otherwise may not have considered. Love the energy out of deeply a loaded turn. Awesome.

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