Testing powder quality, and skis, in the Wasatch backcountry. PHOTO: Matt Hansen
Testing powder quality, and skis, in the Wasatch backcountry. PHOTO: Matt Hansen

Blizzard Zero G 108

A review of the Blizzard Zero G 108, a lightweight backcountry ski that rips

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Details Details

Price: $960

Sizes: 136-108-122mm; 171, 178, 185cm

Weight: 1750 grams

Materials: Lightweight paulownia core, three layers of fiberglass, 3D unidirectional carbon fiber.

Features: Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot; Flip Core; Carbon Drive; sidewall construction.

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In the last few years, there has been a strong effort among ski companies to lighten the load underfoot. Whereas lightweight skis used to be the domain of backcountry-specific brands such as Voile, Black Diamond, and Dynafit (remember Tua and the Yostmark Mountain Noodle?), today just about every ski manufacturer—from the small boutique brands to the world's top sellers—offer a lightweight ski in their quiver.

It's with a healthy dose of skepticism that I approach such trends. While it's easy to make a ski less heavy, it's much harder to do so and maintain performance. Recent winners include the Fischer Ranger 108 Ti, the Volkl BMT series, and the Salomon Quest BC LAB. Add the Blizzard Zero G to that list; I prefer the 108 to the 95 because I like to ski powder and the fatter board has better flotation.

This ski, released for this 2015-16 season (graphic pictured is for 2016-17), weighs just 1750 grams (in a 185cm length), thanks to a paulownia wood core, three layers of directional fiberglass, overlayed with a unidirectional carbon fiber frame. It's easy to get lost in marketing lingo on uni-this and uni-that, but this basically means that despite its low weight, the Zero G's longitudinal and torsional flex feel like a strong alpine board. Though it won't rip the hardpack like it's big brother the Cochise, which has metal, the Zero G more than holds its own while encountering crusty mank in the backcountry. (It must be said that this ski was developed in conjunction with Dave Rosenbarger, aka American Dave, a world-class powder skier who perished in an avalanche last winter on the Italian side of Mont Blanc.)

Like most Blizzard skis, the Zero G's hallmark is that it's built for driving. The subtle rocker is just enough to easily surf deep powder, and it wants to be skied aggressively. So while there are easier turning skis in tight trees, it doesn't automatically send you into the backseat (like a lot of lightweight, uber-rockered skis do) unless you put yourself there. On multiple tours on Teton Pass and during a recent trip in the Wasatch, the Zero G felt like a trustworthy companion, which is all you can ask for in any ski.