Right now there are several pair of Blizzard Firebird Race Ti skis at Avie’s Ski / Sports. A lot of folks, myself included, don’t really think about getting race skis. If you don’t race, why bother thinking about getting a pair of race skis? I sure wouldn’t. But I did.
Here’s my race ski story
I have a pair of great carving skis—Volkl RTM 84—that are my “go to” sticks. They are great all over the mountain. But at 84 mm in the waist, I admit they are a bit tiring on busy days when lots and lots of sharp, tight turns are being made. In other words, they are a bit of pain on those slope-side days when it’s more like people dodging than skiing. Namely, weekends.
I have a pair of lighter, wood core skis—Nordica NRGy 90—that are pretty good on a powder day and great on the slopes when the corduroy is soft. But they aren’t so good on hard pack and because they are wider still, even more tiring on a busy day of people dodging.
So last year I was thinking about a new pair of skis. I wanted something a bit shorter in length and definitely narrower at the waist. I wanted something that would be good on the hard pack. They had to be able to make lots of sharp, fast turns. They had to be good at people dodging.
From Carver to Racer
I knew that meant carving skis. Shorter and narrower however than the Volkl RTM skis. I had skied a pair of Blizzard Quattro 8.4 Ti skis a couple of times, and was quite impressed and liked them a lot. So I was prepared to pick up a pair. Maybe 174 cm or so in length, and maybe 76 mm or 78 mm at the waist.
So I dropped into Avie’s Ski / Sports and told Ted about the new skis I was interested in getting. His response was, “Get a pair of race skis.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Full camber for more fun,” was the reply. “And they’re race skis.”
I just wanted something fun and easy to ski on busy days. I thought that race skis would be total overkill for what I wanted. I really had no intention of racing. I was skeptical.
But Ted has never really given me bad advice. At least so far as ski gear is concerned. So I considered what he suggested. But I still thought it was overkill to be on a pair of race skis simply for dodging people.
After some further thinking, I decided, what the heck. If I really didn’t like the race skis, I could sell them and go with my original idea for the Blizzard Quattro short and narrow option. So a pair of Blizzard Quattro RS skis were ordered—174 mm in length, 69 mm in the waist.
Smile A Mile
The skis arrived. I waxed them up nice and slick and headed to Okemo to give them a try. When I saw Ted the next day, he asked “How were they?” “Okay,” was my response.
Yeah, my first time out on the race skis was not the best. I had picked up some kind of bug and probably shouldn’t have gone skiing. But I did. Needless to say I got the kind of day on the slopes I deserved for being so stupid.
So I took the skinny little Quattro RS skis back to Okemo the following week when I was healed and hale. At the end of the day my face hurt. From smiling such a big smile. A smile as wide as a mile. For so many hours on end.
Skis On Steroids
The thing about skis designed to race, is that they’re designed to race. That means they perform in ways unbeknownst to normal mortal skis. They truly are skis on steroids.
For starters, the bindings are designed differently. They are beefier and shock absorbing. Yeah, spring-loaded to completely dampen out vibrations. That means little to no chatter. That means superb grip all the way through the turns. No matter how tight or how fast.
The ski itself has carbon fiber layers from tip-to-tail. Laid down bi-directionally so that the ski has lots of liveliness. And the skis handle the transmission of power from boot-to-ski instantaneously. What all that means is they are fast into and out of the turns. They bite deep and hold fast.
In true race ski styling, the Quattro RS is a full camber ski. No rocker in this pair of sticks.
It took one run to figure them out. And only one run. My short description is—Light and lively. Powerful and performing. Graceful and gratifying.
What it’s like to own race skis
It had a been a while since I had been on a pair of full camber skis. Rocker has been all the craze and I had forgotten how responsive full camber skis are in the turns. And with such a narrow ski, I honestly could not believe how fast they went into and out of turns. With the race-designed bindings, coupled with the carbon fiber inlays, there was no hint of chatter at the tips, and no slipping in the turns. None.
But a word of warning. They really don’t like to go slow. They turn at slow speeds, obviously. But they feel sluggish and weird. Not very responsive is an adequate descriptor. Dormant also does it. Once you get a bit of speed under them though, their mood changes completely. You need to be ready to let them run, and you need to have the ability as a skier to put them on edge.
With the Quattro RS skis connected to my ski boots, it didn’t matter where I went on the mountain. I do admit however, that they were most fun on the steeper slopes. At Okemo, Chief offered a really fun run. So I skied it run after run after run. On another day I skied every black diamond at Okemo—except mogul runs. The Quattro RS skis were pure joy on every single run.
The biggest difference I can state about skiing on race skis is this—Confidence. I love my Volkl RTMs. They are great skis. But there are times when I need to put on the brakes because I know they will slip in a turn. With the Quattro RS skis, once I had used them a couple times and knew how they responded underfoot, I never even considered that they would slip in a turn. And they didn’t.
I can honestly say that 2017 was the most fun I have had skiing in a while. The Blizzard Quattro RS skis made that happen. The feeling of standing at the top of a steep slope looking down over the ski tips, knowing that I could—and would—go down with grace and ease at high speed, was exhilarating.
Because the skis were fast and nimble, and because I didn’t have to fight them through turns, I didn’t get nearly as tired. So I could ski harder for longer periods of time. Which is a pretty good trade-off in my ledger book.
A Whole New View On People Dodging
I never did take out the Quattro RS skis on a weekend. Which is funny because that’s why I was in the market for a new pair of skis. I wanted something “turny” for those crowded weekend-day trips to the slopes. And I found that in the Blizzard Quattro RS skis. But I found myself driving up weekdays—skiing the day then driving home—so I could point them down slope and carve my way to the bottom. Unimpeded.
So I don’t really know how they are at people dodging. My guess though, is they will be pretty awesome. I am however, already thinking about mid-week trips where they get a chance at unbridled freedom on the slopes. They honestly are that much fun.
If you are in the market for a new pair of skis, and you love carving up the slopes, give race skis a bit of thought. Several pair of Blizzard Firebird Race Ti skis are hanging around Avie’s Ski / Sports waiting to introduce someone to a whole lot of fun.
Try Before You Buy
If you’re not sure about having a pair of super skinny sticks underfoot, you can grab a pair of Firebird “demo skis” at Avie’s and try them out. If, after a trial run with them, you love ’em—and you likely will—you can deduct the rental fee from the cost of the ski. That’s a pretty sweet deal.
I admit I never really gave race skis much thought. It was a mistake on my part, and I’m glad Ted pointed me in a good direction. So I am passing that tip along in hopes you might take heed and give race skis some thought. Better yet, just take them out on the slopes and let them help you decide.
There are lots of great skis at Avie’s Ski / Sports right now. Blizzard Firebird Race Ti is just one of many. If you are thinking about new skis or ski boots this season, check out the new “Skier Need To Know—Skis” and “Skier Need To Know—Boots” pages. These new Avie’s resources will help you think about what might be the BEST ski or ski boot for you.