Ski: 2014-2015 Black Diamond Zealot, 182cm
Dimensions (mm): 135-110-123
Turn Radius: 27 meters
Weight Per Ski: 2,300 grams / 5.10 lbs.
Mount Location: +1
Boots / Bindings: 2012 Dalbello Il Moro T Comp (28) / Marker Jester (DIN 10)
Test Location: Alta, Snowbird, Wasatch backcountry
Days Skied: 6[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 Zealot, which is unchanged for 12/13, 13/14, and 14/15. You can also read my review of the 192 Zealot here.]
When I first looked at the new Black Diamond offerings for 2012, my attention was first drawn to the new Amperage, not the redesigned Zealot. Honestly, skis with very little side-cut and more metal than most modern day cars such as Dynastar’s XXL’s, Salomon’s El Dictator, or Rossi’s RC112 just don’t appeal to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to take a few laps every day and mach, but I feel like skis designed solely for this purpose (of going wicked fast and straight) are too one-dimensional for my taste. I like to play with a mountain, not feel like I’m trying to beat it up.
With that being said, you can understand when a company comes out talking up a ski’s “charging” abilities, my blood doesn’t exactly start racing. Well, like Jonathan said in his review of the Black Diamond Zealot, this ski is far from one-dimensional.
First things first, I have only been able to ride the 182 version up to this point, and I haven’t really had them in optimal conditions for ski testing. I first rode the Zealot on Alta’s closing weekend, then again on Snowbird’s closing day, and finally on a couple backcountry forays in mid July (um, those skis might need a stone grind). Conditions I ran into were obviously very spring-like: heavy and deep mashed potatoes, early morning chicken-heads, delicious 2” deep corn, and various sized sun cups.
In all of these conditions, I was nothing but impressed with the new Zealot.
I remember the first run I took on the skis. We traversed out the High T at Alta and dropped into Stone Crusher. I stayed skier’s left and made a combination of sweeping GS turns in and out of the huge snow rollovers, then transitioned to quick slalom turns through the small trees all the way to the bottom.
I had been skiing on a more “fun” shaped, softer ski earlier in the day, and skiing felt more like work than play in the heavy snow conditions. But now on the Zealot, I had a huge smile on my face. This ski was fun, lively, stable…and quick! I would even call it playful.
From that first run forward, my opinion of the ski never really changed. The Zealots shredded zipper line moguls, felt stable opening up and laying trenches on open faces filled with heavy crud, and were just an all around good time to ride. So instead of being redundant and repeating most of what Jonathan wrote in his review of the Zealot, I’ll just try to add to it.
I’m sure there are some people reading these reviews whose hearts are sinking a bit, because they want that super burly “just point it” ski. To them I say, don’t lose hope yet. Remember, both Jonathan and I have only ridden the 182 version of the ski. At 160 lbs., I am quite a bit lighter than Jonathan, and this ski was plenty stable for me at any speed in the conditions I was able to ski them in. I’m sure that if it was mid-season and I was skiing in 3+ feet of cut-up pow, I’d be asking for the 192s. But for the conditions I had them in, I was never asking for more.
If you want to “charge,” these will take you there. If you are a big dude, get the 192 Zealots—it’s what you should be on anyway for big-mountain lines at high speed.