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2nd Look: Blizzard Cochise, 185cm

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Blizzard Cochise, Blister Gear Review

13/14 Blizzard Cochise

Ski: 2013-2014 Blizzard Cochise, 185cm

Dimensions (mm): 135-108-123

Turn Radius: 28.5 meters

Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 184.2cm

Weight Per Ski: 2250 g / 4.9 lbs.

Boots / Bindings: Salomon Falcon Pro CS / Marker Jester / (DIN) 9

Mount Location: Factory Recommended

Test Location: Taos Ski Valley

Days Skied: 5

(Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 Cochise, which is unchanged for 12/13 and 13/14, except for the graphics.)

My goal the past few days: avoid the typical chairlift small-talk question, “So, how do you like those skis?”

Ask me this question about the Cochise, and you’ll be in for a five-minute lift speech.

The skis’ performance traits just can’t be summed up in one or two sentences. Believe me, I’ve been trying. My attempt to reply with, “They’re really interesting—they won’t do anything you don’t tell them to do,” has conjured a lot of blank stares. And simply saying that “The Cochise is one of the most interesting, versatile, and capable skis I’ve ever been on,” while true, doesn’t do it proper justice, either. So prepare to read on.

Taos is due for some snow (though not nearly as due as most places around the country), but I haven’t cared. I’ve never enjoyed skiing narrow hardpack steeps as much as I have on the Cochise. Reforma, Stauffenberg, Juarez, Al’s Run, Snakedance, Totally Wiard, Upper Patton, Tell Trees, Pipeline, Castor, Pollux—anything from smooth, scrubable hardpack to all but the most brutal deep-troughed Taos bumps is fair game to shred on the Cochise.

How?

The short answer is that Blizzard seems to have produced a product with a near perfect balance among the most significant aspects of ski design. (We’ll hold off on the question of whether and how their “Flipcore Technology” really plays into this. That discussion is reserved for a dedicated Flipcore write-up, which we will post in the next couple of days.) For now, I’ll just say that the Cochise’s swing weight, flex, dampening qualities, camber profile, and sidecut seem to be positively dialed.

I’ll do my best to articulate some of those individual characteristics before communicating how they all seem to work together so well. There’s bound to be some overlap here, but it ought to give the clearest sense of what this ski can do.

The Cochise’s design incorporates a gradual reverse camber profile—flat underfoot with tip and tail rocker—similar to what Völkl employs on a number of skis (namely, the Katana). So far, I’ve found that all skis with this gradual reverse camber profile, including the Cochise, handle extremely well at high speeds through crud and over hardpack.

Will Brown, carving on the Blizzard Cochise, Taos Ski Valley.

Will Brown, Shalako, Taos Ski Valley.

Charging down the firm but reasonably smooth lower half of the West Basin bowl and the runout of Reforma, the Cochise exhibited no crazy tip-deflection or chattering. The rocker’s splay is subtle enough that the tips stay quiet and stable with the skis running close to bases flat. The skis aren’t quite as freakishly stable as the 191 Katana doing 50+ mph, but for the vast majority of folks out there (including all but the gnarliest of “experts”), I’m sure they’ll satisfy in the charging department.

This ski’s flex profile continues both to amaze and interest me. At high speed, the Cochise feels conventionally stiff and damp from the boot forward. Like the Katana and MOMENT Belafonte, the skis’ shovels do not get unreasonably slapped and sprung about running over uneven terrain.

In the rear, the Cochise’s flat and slightly rockered tails are there to snap you out of the backseat after an off landing. Notice that I said “snap,” not bludgeon—that word is reserved for the 191cm Katana. The tails have a really strong and smooth rebound if compressed, though they don’t feel soft or unsubstantial. Paired with their gentle rocker, the Cochise’s flex, particularly in the tails, produces some very cool dynamics in moguls and helps their predictability in the steeps.

There’s no traditional camber built into this ski, but in bumps and through shorter scrubbed turns in softer snow, they have a very distinct feel and snap to them.

In bumps with particularly deep and narrow troughs, I’ve felt the tails of the Cochise hang up on the slope behind me as I pivot them across the fall line. On a similarly sized ski with a more rigid tail, this might be a problem. (I would immediately start looking for a more open line with room for the skis to come around.)

But on the Cochise, the tails will flex just enough, working with their slight rocker, to smoothly scrub out and allow the skis to come around. Every bump line or bit of terrain that demands short, explosive turns becomes an opportunity to flex and snap the ski around to make controlled and balanced moves. It reminds me of the way a biker slays a pump track on a dirt jumper—not just absorbing undulations in the intended line, but using them to whip the bike around in a smoother fashion. It’s a sensation that might not be all that strange in the world of super poppy park skis, but I’ve never, ever experienced it on a 108mm-underfoot pair of boards with zero traditional camber.

43 Comments

  1. Bob September 27, 2012 Reply

    Has any one skied these in a 193. Ive skied the 186’s and found them a little short. Like to ski high speed in crud. Weigh 185 60 day a year skier,

    • Will Brown September 27, 2012 Reply

      Hey Bob,

      I haven’t skied the 193, but would like to. For me, the 185 is able to hold up to enough speed in crud, and for a place like Taos, I still want to be able to work the ski through bumps and trees much of the time. If Taos was a little more open, I might jump for the 193. How tall are you, and where are you skiing primarily?

      Best,

      WB

  2. Bob September 28, 2012 Reply

    I”m 6 foot. Ski primary Schweitzer, Revelstolke, Red Moutain, White Water and Snowbird/Alta once a year.

    I have a pair of 195 Super 7’s That I’ve been very disappointed with at speed. They are very grabby in crud and pow doing GS turns. SnowBird dropped the ropes in Mineral Basin after a big dump last year and the S7’s at speed sucked.

    The Cochise seem like and every condition soft snow ski.

    My hard snow skis are Nordica fire arrows in 180cm I enjoy alot.

    • Will Brown October 19, 2012 Reply

      Hey Bob,

      In any length, the Cochise is going to be more stable in chopped/variable conditions than the S7 due to a straighter shape and much more subtle rocker profile. It sounds like you’re used to skiing more open terrain more often than I am, and knowing how forgiving the 185cm was for its size, I feel comfortable saying you’re probably ok to go with the 193cm. Having said that, you’ll still be able to do some aggressive skiing on the 185. Hope this helps. Let us know what you decide and how it works out!

      Will

      • Bob October 19, 2012 Reply

        Thanks, I’ll let you know

  3. Michael October 14, 2012 Reply

    Thanks for the reviews of the Cochise. I am looking at getting back into skiing after a 10 year gap. The last skis I had were from before sidecut! I am 6’3″ and weigh about 250. Probably starting back at intermediate for this season anyway. Mostly I ski groomed, but would like to get comfortable in powder. Most of my skiing was back east, but I am now outside Denver. Bumps are no fun with my size (to date anyway).

    I am thinking I should demo the longer Cochise, Atomic Automatic, and possibly the Bonafide. As someone getting going again, would you have advise on this, things to avoid or try? Coming from straight sided skis, things that might be helpful in the demos?

    • Will Brown October 21, 2012 Reply

      Hey Michael,

      I’d definitely agree that you ought to give the Cochise a try along with the Bonafide. The Automatic is rather easy to ski, but it is still a 117 underfoot powder ski. Feel free to try it out, you may really like it, but for someone just getting back into the game, something in the 105mm area will be fat enough to provide some real float, but will still be very well suited for skiing harder conditions (like the Cochise). If you can, also take a look at the Rossignol Scimitar, Volkl Bridge, and maybe the Rossignol S3. Hope this helps, and please let us know what you find!

      Will

      • Michael October 21, 2012 Reply

        Would you recommend the 185cm or 193cm Cochise?

        • Will Brown October 21, 2012 Reply

          Hi Michael,

          As I explained to Bob above, at 6’2″ I’ve found that the 185cm is sufficiently stable at speed in crud, yet it’s surprisingly maneuverable. For a place like Taos, I still want to be able to work the ski through bumps and trees much of the time, so I don’t feel inclined to jump for the 193. I ski in Summit Country quite a lot too, and maybe with the exception of maching down Imperial at Breck, I’m not sure of many instances where the I would definitely want a lot more ski out of the 185. That being said, I have not skied the 193, and you’re a little taller and heavier than I am. You might not find the added length of the 193 to be very problematic, especially if you’re not going to be skiing bumps much, but I can only guess. Go ahead and try out both lengths if you can, but I still think the 185 would suit you well – I’d be surprised if it felt much too short.

          WB

          • Michael October 21, 2012 Reply

            Thanks. I will do my best to demo both and let you know what it feels like. Given I am not used to any sidecut or rocker there will definitely be some learning curve in either case.

  4. michael February 19, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for review on cochise. I ski now mt hood in Oregon, currently on Solomon’s x wing.,170cm. Fun ski, but only good on groomers. Tore my ACL a few years ago in deep pow, the ski sinks. I am planning on demo the cochise 185 this weekend. The pow pow is in the forecast. Not sure about the length. I am 5’9″, 200 lbs. I ski aggressive, but afraid ro push too hard after the ACL tear. I need a ski that gonna get me through variable conditions which is commonplace in the cascades. Advice on the size would be great.

    • Will Brown February 20, 2013 Reply

      Hey Michael,

      I’m 6’2″ (188cm), and I definitely prefer the 185 over the 193. So if you’re 5’9″ (175cm), then especially given that you’re knee is recovering I think the 177cm Cochise would be worth trying first, and then move to the 185 if you feel you can handle a little more ski. You might feel you like the added stability of the 185 more, but that’s how I would go about it on demo day if I could.

      let us know what you find!

      WB

      • michael February 20, 2013 Reply

        thanks for the reply and advice. the only Cochise demo size at this particular shop was the 185. I’m heading up to Mt Hood tomorrow. And there is gonna be some fresh powder. I’ll let you know my experience.

      • michael February 22, 2013 Reply

        Wow! What a ski! Thanks for your advice. It was a wintery day on Mt Hood. I felt really good on the 185cm, powder, chopped, wind-blown hard pack. My knee felt a little strain though. I went in for a break and spoke to the performance demo shop pros and they told me to test ride the 177cm, no charge. Big difference. No straining on my bad knee. Was still floating in the few inches of powder, no chatter while going fast on the hard pack. I even skied the run in which I tore my ACL. I haven’t had this much fun on skis in several years. Too summarize, the Cochise allows me to ski more varied terrain with confidence. Thanks again. Oh, and after 45 minutes of riding on the 177cm I returned to the demo shop and bought a pair. Can’t wait to go skiing this weekend, a huge storm is forecasted.

        • Will Brown March 1, 2013 Reply

          Hey Michael,

          Thanks for letting us know, and great to hear you’re stoked on the Cochise!

          Happy shredding!

          WB

  5. Xerxes March 20, 2013 Reply

    Went to JH and Bridger Bowl and demo-ed about 6 different skis. Went with the Cochise and a set of Jester Pro’s. Skied them for a week at Big Sky in all sorts of conditions and they are excellent, even on Marx and Lenin super hardpack.

    I based my original decision to demo on the reviews here, so thanks.

    • Will Brown July 21, 2013 Reply

      Hey Xerxes,

      That’s great to hear – thanks for reporting back. Here’s to next season!

      EB

  6. Kevin May 30, 2013 Reply

    Hello. Insightful review. I am considering these skis and wondering what length. I am 175 height and 78 kilos weight. Aggressive and athletic skier, on the lower end of advanced but progressing steadily, and ski mainly in Austria. Would the 185 be too long? I am curious about the 177’s stability. Thanks for any input.

    • Will Brown June 14, 2013 Reply

      Hey Kevin,

      I’m 6’2″ (about 188cm), and I like the 185cm length better than the 193. Considering that, I’d be more comfortable suggesting you go with the 177. Hope this helps!

      Will

  7. Kevin June 14, 2013 Reply

    Hi Will,

    Thanks for the input. To follow, I already own the Bonafides in 180, which is perfect size. I give the Cochise a lot of thought as a larger compliment. Would it make sense to ski it 3cm shorter? What about it’s stability at speed? Thanks again Will.

    • Will Brown July 21, 2013 Reply

      Hey Kevin,

      I wasn’t aware you also owned the Bonafide. Knowing that, and that you feel they are the ideal size at 180cm, then no, the 185 Cochise wouldn’t be too big. It’s going to feel like more ski, which it is, but I think you’ll appreciate a touch of extra length and stability when you want to really open things up on the Cochise.

      Best,

      WB

  8. Matt August 9, 2013 Reply

    Will,
    I apologize for another what size question….but, being August there are good deals to be had and no way to demo a ski. I’m 5’8″, 168lbs, skiing A-basin, Loveland, and Mary Jane mainly.

    My current crud busting, day old powder, variable ski is a 179 influence 115 (2011/2012). I have come to realize recently that I enjoy the tail rocker on my 186 rocker2 122 and my 180 atomic alibi very much. Based upon your review, I feel the cochise can take their place and give me the more sliding turn I have come to love.

    I demo’d a pair of 186 influence 105 last year and just felt like there was too much ski to turn in the tight steep bumped up terrain I always end up on. It was a blast on groomers and open terrain, but i don’t ski that stuff very often. The tail of the ski kicked my butt a few times going off a bump and was too much work to turn quickly….I ended up plowing over everything and hanging on.

    I want to pick up a 185 cochise, but my experience with the 186 influence 105 has me concerned about the sizing. Will the slight rocker of the tail shorten the feel more like my 179, or do you think the minimal amount of rocker will make it behave more like the 186 I-105? I like the idea of the shorter 177 in the bumps and trees, but since this is a variable condition tool I don’t want to diminish that purpose by going too short.

    Thank you,

    Matt

  9. Matt August 9, 2013 Reply

    Typo above…. I mean to say I want the cochise to take the place of the influence 115, not the other two skis…

    • Will Brown August 20, 2013 Reply

      Hi Matt,

      I haven’t skied the Influence 105, but I do know the 115 fairly well. I would imagine that in general the Cochise will give you a bit of a looser, better smear and scrub through the tail than the 186cm 105 – mainly due to it’s subtle fully rockered profile, and the slight amount of tail rocker that it entails. It’s a great ski for you to be looking at. The 105 has traditional camber underfoot and a traditional tail, so that certainly had something to do with it hooking up and running when you demoed it.

      Yes, the Cochise should feel like a “shorter” 185 than the Influence does in a 186, BUT I don’t think it’s going to feel near as short as your 179cm Influence 115. So given that, and what you said about how the 186 felt in the Influence, I feel better recommending the 177 Cochise. I think you’ll still be able to get some great stability from the ski, and will enjoy being able to work it around in tight spots more readily.

      Hope this helps!

      Will

  10. Matt August 21, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for the reply, Will.

    It does appear I am between sizes….I sure wish they made a 180ish like the Boni. My brain says the 177 is the wiser choice especially since I am usually always on bumps or trees at some point every run, but since I haven’t owned a ski that short since I was a kid I can’t quite accept it easily. Being short and stout always makes this process complicated.

    Matt

  11. Jason October 28, 2013 Reply

    I am 6’4″ and 240. I ski bumps and tight trees at Vail and Keystone, and also spend time at A basin.
    Would you go Cochise 185 or 193, or MOMENT Belafonte 187cm or the new Sir Francis Bacon in 190. I am an expert skier and love to ski Pallavicini at A Basin but at 43 I now ski it with less reckless abandonment that I did in years past.
    Look forward to your thoughts and suggestion.

    • Will Brown October 28, 2013 Reply

      Hey Jason,

      I’d definitely recommend either the 192cm Belafonte or 193cm Cochise. I haven’t skied it yet, but I know the 190cm Bacon could be an option but its a very different sort of ski from either of the other two – significantly more playful, softer, and more tuned for jibbing and playing around the mountain (vs cutting big, fast turns). As for deciding between the Belafonte and the Cochise, read my 3rd Look on the Belafonte (http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/3rd-look-moment-belafonte-182cm) – I compare the two pretty thoroughly there.

      Hope this helps!

      Will B

  12. Matt November 25, 2013 Reply

    Just to update my comments above… The 177’s were sold and I went with the 185. After a few days on them, I can say they are a great fit. Where the Inf 105 in the longer length felt to long in the tips and to stuff in the tails, the Cochise feels just right. They have bombed groomers, flowed well through tight spots and blown away chop. I was afraid they would be too long in moguls but they do great. I can slide into a bump or go over it…doesn’t matter. I love how easy they release and hook back up when and how you want them to.

    Thanks for pointing me to the right ski again guys. All the bloody hype on the mags made me avoid these skis for a while, but you set me straight.

    • Will Brown December 5, 2013 Reply

      Hey Matt,

      Thanks so much for coming back to fill us in. I try to be as well reasoned and thorough as possible with recommending sizes/lengths, but there’s always some guesswork involved given all the variables (skier height, weight, style, terrain vs my own stats). In any case, great to hear you’re stoked about the 185 Cochise – it was one of our ‘Best Of’ picks, and will continue to be a kind of benchmark ski as long as Blizzard keeps making it.

      Have a great season!

      Will

  13. Richard January 8, 2014 Reply

    Could you comment on a comparison between the Cochise and the Nordica Hell & Back? The mission would be travel to Europe and SA with only a single pair of skis. I live and ski in the Jackson area, and have a full quiver of specialty skis. I’m 230# –. ski fast but no cliffs or air. Ski on 28 meter race room Head 188cm GS whenever on groomers, Lahasa Pows in powder, and AT skis on the pass, but have never been on an all mountain ski that I wouldn’t leave on the shelf in preference for the right ski at the right time.
    I had a pair of Rossi Experience 98s that didn’t quite hit the spot. Quite nice carvers, low on the energy side especially in comparison to the fantastic energy + stability of Head race skis, nothing to write home about in chop and mank. The Lahasas are a semi-pintail that demand continual forward pressure whenever you are on groomers. Great for their purpose, but not the ski I want for a single quiver.

    • Will Brown February 2, 2014 Reply

      Hey Richard,

      Really sorry about the delayed reply – SIA teds to consume the latter half of January for us.
      The Hell & Back is going to feel lighter and more energetic than your E98, though certainly quite powerful. I haven’t put too much time on in it myself, but you can read Jonathan Ellsworth’s review and ask him for a direct comparison with the E98. Compared to the Cochise, the Hell & Back will again feel quicker edge to edge and more snappy through a carve – where the Cochise is going to feel heavier, and more “lumbering” with a longer turn shape. That being said the Cochise will also feel more stable in chop and cruddy snow – where the Hell & Back can do reasonably well, but won’t be nearly as damp. In short, the Hell & Back is more of a carving/harder snow focused all-mountain ski, where the Cochise is a versatile big-mountain ski that does very well in firm, variable conditions.

      Hope this helps!

      Will B

  14. Brian January 19, 2014 Reply

    Hi there,
    First, great job from all you guys at Blister! Seriously informative, objective reviews. Especially with all the cut and paste drivel ski consumers are stuck with…

    I’ve just demoed the 185 Cochise (i’m 6″2, ~190 lbs), and was amazed. Mostly medium- hard groomers, and chopped-up crud just either side of the last couple days freeze-thaw line. In all but frozen death-crud, the skis were solid and brilliantly predictable. On hardpack they were such a surprise. 108 underfoot, but SO comfy carving at 90 kmh! For the rest, i blame my legs. I only get about 10-15 days a year now, and biking to work just isn’t training enough.
    So, i am very close to buying the Cochise. I ski in the Alps, and for the standard snow conditions (moderately to untracked medium weight snow on 25-50 deg open faces to tight chokes) it is a great choice.
    My question though is what else would you suggest I look at that might be just a bit more on the playful, shorter radius side, while not losing too much of the comfort and predictability of the Cochise. My vibe is to make more turns than less, i generally look for steep techy lines, and ski open faces at ~40 kmh, rather than 80 kmh.

    Ah, and shops here (france) generally don’t have Moment, Line and some others that Blister raves (justifiably, i’m sure) about.

    Any suggestions appreciated!

  15. Brian January 19, 2014 Reply

    Ps, do feel free to mention any and all options. I’m in the states from time to time, and can seek out other options.

    • Will Brown January 19, 2014 Reply

      Hey Ben,

      What’s a ski that’s “just a bit more on the playful, shorter radius side, while not losing too much of the comfort and predictability of the Cochise?” My confident answer is the new (for next season) 186cm Line Supernatural 108. We’ve posted a little initial impression of it, and will be posting a more thorough review tomorrow or the next day. I’d strongly encourage you to check out that ski. It’s exactly what you’ve described relative to the Cochise.

      Best,

      Will

      • Brian February 1, 2014 Reply

        Cheers for the feedback! And reading the review that does sound just like what I’m looking for. If you ever find those demos cluttering up your store room… I’ll send along my address and pay shipping ;-). Until then, well, I found a great deal on some 2012/2013 Cochises, and I think I’ll be more than happy until the end of next year when I can get the Supernaturals at a cut rate. Thanks for all the info, and keep up the stellar work!

        • Will Brown February 2, 2014 Reply

          No problem, Ben! Thanks for reading.

          WB

  16. Richard February 1, 2014 Reply

    Has anybody responded to my request for a comparison to the Nordica H & B from Jan 8?

  17. Chris February 20, 2014 Reply

    Hi.
    I demoed the 185 Cochise today.
    Revelstoke was pretty soft and deep today, probably not the kind of day for this ski, but its the day I got to ride it.
    I really liked this ski everywhere. Except in fast, wide open, chopped up soft pow.(I usually ski those conditions on my 194 XXL’s, a ski I truly love.)
    The ski seemed to throw me around a bit today, and didnt feel that stable to me.( I played with the mounting a bit, and that helped a little. I only adjusted once as it was darn good skiing….went a bit forward of centre)

    I am looking for a more “all around” ski, but will always have my XXL’S, My Automatics, and a pair of Big Dumps. I am looking for a bit more narrow of a ski. All my skis are 193-194 cm’s.
    My question…how much more stable would the 193 Cochise be for going fast and hard thru crud and chopped pow?
    These things did pretty much everything I wanted to today, except those fast open runs.
    I am hoping that the 193’s will provide that for me.
    Thank you!
    Chris P.

    • Will Brown February 22, 2014 Reply

      Hey Chris,

      What’s your height/weight?

      Will

  18. Chris February 22, 2014 Reply

    Should have mentioned this before, sorry.
    6’4″, 220 without gear.

  19. Chris February 22, 2014 Reply

    After skiing my xxl’s yesterday, I realized that the Cochise and xxl are very similar width underfoot. I am hoping the 193 Cochise will be much more versatile than the xxl…..

    • Will Brown February 23, 2014 Reply

      Hi Chris,

      To answer your question above, I think you would find the 193 Cochise significantly more stable in crud and chop than the 185. At only about 160 lbs, the 193 is more ski than I need, but our reviewer, Paul Forward, is just about your height and weight and owns the 193 as his everyday ski. And with respect to versatility, it depends in what you have in mind as more “versatile” compared to your XXLs. I think the Cochise will be a bit more versatile in the sense that (I would imagine), it would allow you to make a greater variety of turn shapes thanks to its rocker profile, including some at lower speeds where the XXL may feel slower and less responsive, making it more comfortable more of the time. Those are just some minor speculations though. They’re both in the same “genre” of skis, generally speaking. Hope this helps you!

      Cheers,

      Will

  20. Brian April 6, 2014 Reply

    Just thought I’d provide some feedback from my last season on the Cochise.

    When skiing, one is often placed in situations where the devil is whispering in one ear (“it’s not that steep, you can do it”), and an angel on the other (“for the love of god, think of your children!”).

    Riding the Cochise, there is no angel. And there doesn’t need to be.

    No question it absolutely wails in good (and not so good) conditions, burt after this season, I can also completely relate to this:

    http://youtu.be/m4u_z3T9U-8

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