‘Tis that much-anticipated time of year, when we produce our annual Blister Awards from SIA — the most prestigious, not-at-all subjective awards in the industry.
We’ve crunched the numbers and ran various data sets. There are no alternative facts here; we won’t call any of these new products the “Best New Gear” of the show or whatever, since that “Best New Gear” hasn’t been reviewed yet.
So rest assured, the Blister Awards are decided with the utmost competence. And just like all the best leaders, we “call our own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data.” No fake news here.
And so, without further ado…
BLISTER AWARDS, PART I
• The “Rest In Peace” Award •
Each year, we have to say goodbye to some of our favorites. We really need to do an Oscars-style “In Memoriam” montage that shows footage of all of the great skis that are leaving us. So cue the sad music, and let’s get to it:
One of our favorite playful chargers shall be no more.
Ouch, Line. In the “Best Of” selections of our Buyer’s Guide, we praised the Tourist 102 for being one of the most predictable, remarkably composed, lightweight touring skis available. May you tour in peace, 102.
Another “Best Of” selection, the X-Drive 8.8 hung on there for quite a while, and – by today’s standards – enjoyed a good run. But the search begins to find a new ski that will allow us to go terrifyingly, irresponsibly fast on groomers. So to those orange SLOW signs that get posted at ski areas I say, enjoy this news.
(And because we do not wish to denigrate the memory of the newly deceased, we do not want to say too much here about the new XDR line that replaces the X-Drive line, or that there is a decent chance that a greater number of skiers might prefer the new lineup to the old one. This is not the place.)
• The “Sayonara” (aka, the Good Riddance) Award •
– 14/15 & 1617 Blizzard Bodacious
Sorry, 14/15 – 16/17 Bodacious. You just weren’t what we wanted out of the Bodacious, which was a fat destroyer of crud & chop.
And More Good News!
For 17/18, the old Bodacious comes back, in all of its metal-having, non-tapered-tips glory:
According to Blizzard, this new Bodacious is the first iteration of the Bodacious “in its original and unaltered state,” just as Arne Backstrom had envisioned. And a percentage of sales will be donated to the Arne Backstrom Memorial Fund.
– Nordica Patron
To be sure, this is a controversial award. We personally know and ski with some Patron lovers. But that Patron tip needed to go — that Spear / Pancake tip was dangerous when nuking through firm, moguled-up terrain. So we say Good Riddance, and we welcome the brand new Enforcer 110 (which replaces the Patron) with open arms.
Note: Revisiting our “Good Riddance” Award from Last Year…
Last year, we gave the Good Riddance award to the entire category of Frame-Style AT bindings.
Well, turns out, frame-style bindings are a bit like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill 1 & 2 — they seemingly can’t be killed off, and our reports of their demise were grossly exaggerated.
People continue to buy and ski frame-style bindings, despite our objection to them. So screw it, we’ll stop ignoring them and acting like there aren’t legitimate reasons to use them, and instead, we’ll start putting real time on them and get up some in-depth comparison reviews.
• The “Thank you for Not Screwing Up a Good Thing’ Award •
– Nordica Soul Rider
While we mourn the passing of some of our favorite skis and applaud the discontinuation of some of our less-than-favorite skis, we like to give props, too, to those companies that leave “well enough” alone.
Seriously, Nordica, this is awesome. The Soul Rider hasn’t changed since like the Nixon administration. It’s like a vampire (or my friend Amaryllis) who simply doesn’t age. (New theory: my friend Amaryllis is a vampire.)
Anyway, this ski is still awesome, and it’s a solid reminder that new materials or reducing weight or doing god-knows-what-else does not always — or even often — make a product better.
We aren’t against change, but we’re against changes that make good products less good.
• The “Biggest Loser” Award •
We talked about it on our Blister SIA podcast, but the single most mind-blowing thing at SIA is how everybody seems to be making a sub-1500 gram 130-flex touring boot. This is crazy. And if all or even some of these new boots actually ski well, then yep, Physics, you’ve been defeated. Apparently Mass is no longer a big part of the equation, and you’ve been bested by boot designers around the world.
And ski designers — inbounds ski designers — are also picking a fight with physics, too. (More on that in Part 2)
Then again, physics might rightly remind us that it’s gone almost undefeated for millennia. I say “almost” because Michael Jordan, Candide Thovex, and Danny MacAskill.
NEXT: The Dying To Try It Award, Extreme Makeover Award, Etc.