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  1. #1
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    Oct 2005
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    08-09 Black Diamond Zealot Ski Review

    Ski: 08-09 Black Diamond Zealot
    Length: 182 cm
    Dimensions: 136-110-126 mm – 30.0 m turn radius – mounted +1
    Dates skied: 12/7 & 12/8/08
    Location: Loveland ski resort
    Conditions: Chop, crude, crust, powder, & hardpack
    Skier: 5’11” 180 lbs
    Boots: Salomon Falcons
    Bindings: Medium Dukes

    So I have never posted a ski review, but when I was looking to buy these I did not see a dedicated thread, so I thought I would write a quick review. Plus, I think this is a ski that would definitely interest the maggots. Let’s get one thing out of the way, I know a lot of the maggots like longer skis…these are available in 192 also. A friend who is 6’3” and 205 has the 192 and he seemed to have the same feedback as me.

    On to the review:
    The snow conditions were definitely not my favorite and were mostly busted up crude, but we did find some light and fluffy untracked below the Rock House and in the Cat Walk Trees.

    Going in, you have to know that this ski is STIFF…it is Black Diamonds stiffest ski, and is by far the stiffest fat ski I have been on. The other thing to note is it likes to go straight and fast. The ski is also a lot of work in certain situations. I found the ski to be very easy to ski in the crude and wind blown. You could just point it and go as fast as your heart desired through some really shitty chop. The ski would bust through anything, but was also wide enough not to drop down through the crust. After a couple runs I was able to drive the ski more and more on top of the crust and through the crude without worrying about getting my tips caught under and going over the tips. Basically, I felt the ski was a lot less work in open variable conditions than a softer ski with more side cut such as my Mantras .

    However, the ski is a ton more work in trees, such as those on the North side. For those that have not skied Loveland, these trees have what I would consider medium spacing for Colorado. They are not real tight, but someone of my skill level at least, cannot mach through them unless there is some fresh snow. I felt myself picking straighter lines through the trees than I normally would on the Mantra’s. The Zealot’s don’t like to be steered and don’t rotate on their tips very well. I feel they would be cumbersome in really tight skied out trees. That being said, they were good in the fresh snow, even with their stiffness. They definitely like to smear and can easily be slowed down with a little tail press in soft conditions…if your legs are not burnt out and there was some fresh, I would say a decent skier could throw them around in some pretty tight situations…it just took quite a bit of energy for me to control my speed in the tracked out trees, especially towards the end of the second day in a row on them.

    The main reason for this seems to be due to the stiffness and sidecut of the skis. I noticed very early that they don’t like to turn if you are not going fast enough. This goes for in the trees, on the groomers, or in the crude. It seemed to me that if you were going medium speed, you had to authoritatively lift the uphill ski rather than just un-weight it…otherwise it wanted to run out from underneath me.

    I did get a chance to ski these in some smallish bumps and on groomers, and I was pretty impressed with them. Obviously, they are not great in the bumps, but for a ski this wide and stiff, they were very manageable…you could actually zipper line them on the snowboarder influenced bump lines (you know…wide troughs and not harshly defined bumps). On the groomed slopes, they were a blast. They hold an edge extremely well, and just bust through any inconsistencies in the snow. You can really tell how little sidecut they have on the groomed slope. They want to make LONG straightish turns….and they are super stable at high speeds.

    Overall, I REALLY REALLY love this ski. I tend to mosey down a lot of terrain in my Mantras because they are so much fun to make tight arching turns with and with proper body english you can hook the tips and whip the ski around so easily (DON’T TRY THIS ON THE ZEALOT….I did a couple of times and almost bit it hard…you definitely have to lead with the skis and let your body follow). The Zealot’s make me ski faster and straighter…which I need sometimes. The ski seems to push me and egg me on. It punishes you for going too slow…they just don’t turn and want to go off in different directions than you want them to. They require much more concentration on your technique, or they WILL buck you.

    The feedback is harsh when you do something wrong, especially if you are at medium speed, but if you point them, stay on top of them, and give them everything you got….there is nothing stopping them. They inspire a ton of confidence in the skier when it comes to going fast through variable snow, which I am willing to admit has always been a weakness of mine (maybe due to the skis I was on?). I was going fast through shit I never would on the Mantra.

    Hopefully, this was helpful…I certainly would not suggest this ski to someone that doesn’t ski a lot, doesn’t ski hard and fast, and wants a one ski quiver. The majority of the maggots rock WAY harder than I do (basically my skiing is ZZ Top and the maggots are Pantera )…so I would obviously suggest you all get the 192 and show the world how to ski!

    Thanks...and hopefully some of what I said makes sense...PSA...you can get factory blems on ebay dirt cheap...I can't even tell what the cosmetic blemish is!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Aspen
    Posts
    151
    Great review man. I picked up some Zealots last winter and I love them. Once you realize how to ski them they push through any snow condition without even thinking. Great for going fast in just about anything.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    332
    My friend also bought factory blems, and they look exactly like my non-blems. Get 'em!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    People's Republic of MN
    Posts
    5,222
    I'm finding BD skis much more interesting these days after getting my Havocs, which I have yet to ski. I did not expect to get what I got, considering they are a "tele skis", and if they suck for tele, I won't hesitate to throw alpine clamps on them. The higher end BD's seem to be, in a word, burly.

    The Zealot is an intriguing ski - I saw a set in the gear swap that I'd have loved to get on, but just don't have the money or opportunity to use them enough.
    Gravity. It's the law.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Basalt
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    This is the first pair of BD skis that I have ever owned (I have never teled), and I am thoroughly impressed. They are defenetly burly skis and seem to be really well made...I am starting to become more and more of a fan of cap contructed skis over sandwich...they just seem to hold up better for me.

    I will definetly be considering another pair of BD skis next year to replace my dieing Mantras...I agree that the Zealot is intriguing...from what I have heard, they don't sell well to the general public, and I think that is mostly due to all the magazines talking about how stiff they are...one review I read said "The Zealots are either the best ski you have ever skied, or the worse"

    I think they are the best charging ski I have ever been on and would say they are perfect for the maggots...it is almost like this ski was built based on some of the comments on this board about how whimpy the flex is on most skis...they are stable at any speed..except slow....give them everything you have and they just want more!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    northern BC
    Posts
    18,018
    some people like softer skis,a guy at the hill asked me how I liked the verdicts , told him they were great so he bought a pair on pro deal and finds them too stiff ... SO I offered to buy them CHEAP

    I think BD simply lacks cachet ,I got my 1st pair cuz they were cheap to begin with and I got another 25% off

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    O-Town
    Posts
    2,667
    Quote Originally Posted by gretch6364 View Post
    They require much more concentration on your technique, or they WILL buck you.
    One of the reasons I tore my ACL last season. Stay forward on these or they will destroy you, for real.

    That being said, the 192 is still my favorite ski.
    All I know is that I don't know nothin'... and that's fine.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Basalt
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    I just wanted to update the review after I was able to ski the 182 Zealots on a powder day. I skied them on 12/14/08 at Loveland after an 11 inch mini storm with 4 inches the day before. I changed my mind a little from my initial review above.

    In the first review, I was skiing them in powder in chutes and trees. I still would say they have plenty of float in the trees when there is a good amount of snow...in fact...I loved them in the trees with that 11 inches...they smeared really well...like I said before...I still found myself picking lines that were basically straight down the fall line between the trees...I would ski straight down the hill (when it was on the steeper side) and then pull up after 75 or 100 yards to slow down....kind of spastic rather than a smooth continual speed.

    Again, if you were going fast they were awesome...but I did discover that in deeper snow, if you are not going fast enough and you turn, the tips dive and you will go for a tumble. I did it a couple times. I think it is defenetly due to the stiffness in the tips rather than the width. A softer tip in this width, or if they gave this ski a little early rise (which I hear they did for 09-10) it would help. You need to either be going fast or going straight....otherwise the tips dive and you are SOL.

    This is nothing that wasn't expected. What was unexpected for me was how awesome they were in the trees when there was good powder. I have never skiied trees as fast....just don't let it get to out of hand or you will hit a tree.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    2
    @ gretch6364,
    what you mean by +1 , becouse my Zealot 182 have 2 ski center ? + 1 foward or back ? I have the same problem with the tip in wet or wind powder, there goes down.
    thank you,
    ion

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    not far from snowbird
    Posts
    2,245
    has anyone been on the newer zealot with the early rise tip? i'm using the old 182 as my rock skis and looking to replace them with some lhasas but if that isn't possible i need to look for another ski.

    after skiing a couple seasons on the brown zealots i can say that their two downfalls are the lack of tortional rigidity and lack of early rise in the tip. it sounds like they remedied the tip problem but i'm not sure about the flex. i've never thought of the zealot as a stiff ski. like stockli, the stiffness has been way overblown in the marketing. they are not soft but plenty forgiving compared to a an rc112, xxl, big dump or stiff bro's. those stiff skis will all hold an edge on steep hardpack and rail if the situation calls for it. the zealot will chatter and slarve in the same condition but will still get you down the slope.

    So, how are the new green zealots skiing?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Posts
    8,203
    I skied them (telemark) once at loveland demo day on hardpacked groomer. Only got two runs on them but liked them once I got them up to speed. Definitely takes work to ski them. The early rise definitely helps the manageability of the ski. Kinda lets you into the sidecut a little more gently. Never noticed much chatter at high speed on groomers

    Now I have my own pair getting mounted as we speak. I'll post a review once I get some more time on them.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Squaw valley
    Posts
    2,572
    I am considering the 2010 Zealots. How would they ski in tight steep terrain (45-50 degrees) in firm snow?
    I ski on Mantras now, love them, but I would like a ski that might sideslip easier. On steep narrow chute, I finish the turn with a sideslip, regain balance and repeat.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    not far from snowbird
    Posts
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredgnar View Post
    Never noticed much chatter at high speed on groomers

    Now I have my own pair getting mounted as we speak. I'll post a review once I get some more time on them.
    the chattering i got was always when on edge and trying to hold that edge on the firm snow.


    thanks, let us know how they perform for you.



    btw, does anyone happen to know the running length of the 182 brown zealot vs the 192 green?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    People's Republic of MN
    Posts
    5,222
    BD really stepped up their game this year. It'll be interesting to read the reviews on this year's skis. I was pretty close to buying a couple pair, but opted for the safe choice and went Volkl.
    Gravity. It's the law.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    364
    Also, if someone else is bidding on the 182s that end tonight on ebay, just let me know and I'll back off. Don't want to inflate the price because a mag wants em.

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