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  1. #1
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    Review: Volkl Blaze 106, 179cm

    179cm Blaze mounted with Aatack2 Demos.

    Me: 5’7”, ~175 pounds… haven’t lost the baby weight. Used to be in much better shape and there may have even been a time when I “charged”, but not now. People who I ski with now usually comment on how “smooth” I ski. I will open it up a bit when the combination of me and the conditions allow it.

    Current relevant quiver: Rocker 2 100 in a 178cm, Rocker 2 122 in a 180cm (actually 115mm under foot), Rocker 2 122 in a 184cm (actually 122mm under foot). I have other skis but they didn’t get any time this year. I really like this dated ski line and these 3 skis cover a lot of conditions well… intuitive, not too demanding. I tend to prefer damp over poppy, and used to think I liked stiffer and longer skis but realized about 5 or 6 years ago that I prefer something a little more forgiving.

    I haven’t bought brand new skis in a long time… I usually try before I buy. The long term goal for this ski for me is to become my touring ski. I have been intrigued by all the positive feedback on the M102 and the K108 but after hand flexing the M102 I knew that was too much ski for me. So I bought these hoping they would be a more approachable (and lighter) facsimile and mounted with demos to play with the mount point and see if I like them, and where I like them, before I drill for touring bindings.

    Location: Castle Mountain, Alberta

    Conditions: Closing day, but surprisingly winter-like up top with 30cm in the last 48 hours. Lower mountain felt more like coastal snowpack that was heavy powder that was packed into firm, chunky, choppy mess.

    I started with the bindings at +2cm and immediately noticed how loose the tails are just getting off the lift… which surprised the shit out of me for a ski with a long running length. Short choppy run to a cat track and I let them run a little and everything felt very, very intuitive right off the bat. Went to a low angle tracked powder field to feel them out. I haven’t skied anything with this long of an effective edge in a long time but I immediately felt super comfortable with them. The tip never grabbed me, and I never felt locked into the tail and could release them at will… so surprised at the looseness available to me. Let them run over some choppy stuff at the bottom of the runout and they tracked amazing and they felt quite damp… not just damp for the weight but damp… at least for how I ski. Lower down in quite heavy and sun affected tracked powder I was still able to release the tails any time I wanted, and I was very surprised by this as I was expecting to get locked in by the tail in these conditions… and still never felt any hookyness from the tips. I think being able to release the tails on this ski in these conditions was the biggest surprise for me, and I was loving them. When I got in the back seat I could tell but I could also recover from it without getting spanked. I think part of that is the flex and part of that is their weight… they felt easy to toss around when I was struggling a little with control. I should also clarify that these are not soft skis, but they are not planks… I would describe them as a round and supportive flex, with no weird hinge points.

    Moved the bindings to +1cm for the next run and on the cat tracks they never hooked on me but felt a little “nervous” in the tips. In tracked powder at this mount point they still never hooked up inappropriately and I could still release the tails any time I wanted, but a couple of times when I was in questionable control I felt like I was missing support from the tail. Moved them forward again after this experience but I will try moving them around again in the future.

    Tried +1.5cm for a few runs and they felt pretty balanced there. No twitchiness in the tips and could still release the tail… but I think I’m torn between +1.5 and +2 right now. Yes, I can actually feel the difference in each of these 0.5cm steps. At +2 there were just a little more loose but I didn’t notice a loss of stability from the front. It was hard to guage the float of these skis because the portions of fresh snow were sporadic… but my impression is that the floated well for 106mm under foot. My goal is to mount these as far back as I feel comfortable on them if they end up as a touring ski.

    The 3D radius sidecut is the real deal. I think this might be why they were so surprisingly predictable in marginal conditions. On groomers, just lay them over a little and the cruise on the long effective edge and long radius part of the triple sidecut… lean them over a little more and the shorter middle radius just hooks up predictably without any additional input. I didn’t have to drive the tip to do this at all. When I let the long effective edge do its thing I felt very secure… something I’m not used to on the 5-point sidecut/short effective edge skis I’ve been skiing on lately… and I liked it a lot. But still super easy to throw the tails out and scrub some speed, then continue carving.

    The only place I didn’t have fun was on the very chunky and firm packed lower mountain at speed when I wasn’t just pointing the skis and letting them run. But I don’t ski these conditions well on any skis I own and I’m pretty sure I’m not fit enough to ski something that would excel there, nor would I have the balls to let them run to do their thing. I don’t go mach chicken anymore due to lack of fitness and previous injury. So the ski might be a limiting factor there but I’m probably the bigger limiting factor.

    I think if you like skiing really fast all the time over all conditions, you might not love this ski and should look at the K108 or similar. But, if like me, you like everything you read in the K108 thread but you're not "RAD" anymore, I think you should try this ski. For me, this first half day has given me a ski that has a speed limit that is higher than the driver, has a long effective edge I can use if I want, a tip that never did anything I didn't ask it to, and a tail I can release at any time if I need to.

    I would say this ski is probably in the top 2 intuitive skis I’ve personally ever tried. I would also like to point out that this ski does not need to be “driven”, despite the very rearward mount. I skied them from the same relatively neutral position that I tend to ski my Rocker2s, which have a mount point of about -5cm to -6cm from center… the blaze @ +2cm from recommended is still -10.5cm from center.

    This might be new ski placebo effect but right now I’m pretty pleased. My intention is to add to this as I get more time on the ski, so we will see.
    Goal: ski in the 2018/19 season

  2. #2
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    interesting write up - thanks for sharing your toughts on a ski that doesn't get a lot of attention on TGR!

  3. #3
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    Guess I wasn't high when I told you they skied well from a neutral stance. If I was any good at reviewing skis I would've written what Shorty did about these so I'll just give him a high grade for his work.

    FWIW I mounted a Tecton at +1.5 on my 179's, similar size and mach chicken level as Shorty

  4. #4
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    Good write up. I picked up a pair of these today for a touring setup. Read Blister and am trying to figure out where to mount them. For a resort ski, I'd want to be able to scrub speed and mount them a little forward like you recommend. But what is the advantage for touring? More pivot-able and/or centered stance?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by slcdawg View Post
    Good write up. I picked up a pair of these today for a touring setup. Read Blister and am trying to figure out where to mount them. For a resort ski, I'd want to be able to scrub speed and mount them a little forward like you recommend. But what is the advantage for touring? More pivot-able and/or centered stance?
    Personally, if I mount mine for touring as planned, I would like to go as far back as I can get away with, without feeling like I'm losing some performance benefits.

    Farther back makes for easier kick turns and better float in powder. I'm going to continue to test but right now I like +2cm in the resort but would consider +1.5cm for touring... but I'm splitting hairs here.

    I currently tour on something far more center mounted so even if I mounted the blaze +2 for touring I'd have more tip and less tail than my current setup and would probably be happy there.

    Sent from my SM-A505W using Tapatalk
    Goal: ski in the 2018/19 season

  6. #6
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    Appropriate time for this review. Been eyeing this ski as it can be found for very cheap. Any chance you've had any time on the Ripstick 106, which also gets mentioned in the same breadth as this ski. I demoed it and liked it very much but is much more difficult to find, which is why the Blaze is intriguing.

    I tend to like Volkl skis -really liked the new mantra- and my favorite ski of all time was the gold budha Gotama's followed by the reverse camber ones of the not so distant past. Is this an evolution of those skis?
    The K-12 dude. You make a gnarly run like that and girls will get sterile just looking at you - Charles De Mar

  7. #7
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    I never skied the ripstick or the gotama... sorry. I gravitated to the blaze due to the low camber under foot, longer running length, and the 3D radius.

    In my head I was hoping that based on the low camber and mild rocker, that this ski would be a similar to my old sickles but a little more forgiving flex... but I don't think they are there. They are easy to release but not full-reverse loose.

    Sent from my SM-A505W using Tapatalk
    Goal: ski in the 2018/19 season

  8. #8
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    Good info, thanks. I hadn't considered kick turns. Right now I'm thinking +1 or +1.5. I'm mostly meadow skipping so not sure it'll make a huge difference, prob over thinking it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shorty_J View Post
    Personally, if I mount mine for touring as planned, I would like to go as far back as I can get away with, without feeling like I'm losing some performance benefits.

    Farther back makes for easier kick turns and better float in powder. I'm going to continue to test but right now I like +2cm in the resort but would consider +1.5cm for touring... but I'm splitting hairs here.

    I currently tour on something far more center mounted so even if I mounted the blaze +2 for touring I'd have more tip and less tail than my current setup and would probably be happy there.

    Sent from my SM-A505W using Tapatalk

  9. #9
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    Keep going back/forth on re-mounting my old Atomic Blogs w/ new Shifts or picking up the Blaze 106... this isn't helping, but is helpful info. So little info written up for this. Have OG Katanas for going fast.

  10. #10
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    Mid day update:

    In very firm chop they are not super damp and a little "active". I'm noticing that limit in the ski a little, but it's not enough to bother me.

    And I'm going to double back a little on saying they are not full-reverse loose... I think they are very close to that. They drift if you want them to and have been doing big controlled drifts at high speed today and they feel very composed. It feels very easy and intuitive to switch back and forth from drift to locked in carve at will.

    Another thing I'm noticing is that they feel surprisingly not twitchy running bases flat on firm snow. I haven't fealt that in a ski since straight skis. Not super relevant to a ski review, maybe, but it's interesting to me.

    I'm stoked on these!

    Sent from my SM-A505W using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Shorty_J; 04-14-2021 at 01:07 AM.
    Goal: ski in the 2018/19 season

  11. #11
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    Trigger = pulled on 179s. Will be lightest 50/50 (but really 80/20) setup I've ever had.

    Will be sending wifely complaints your way Shorty_J

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTskibum View Post
    Trigger = pulled on 179s. Will be lightest 50/50 (but really 80/20) setup I've ever had.

    Will be sending wifely complaints your way Shorty_J
    Haha... will welcome your comments and complaints but you owe me a beer if you like them.

    I totally don't need any more skis but I like these enough that I am pondering buying a pair of the 94s. Strangely, the radius in the tip and tail is even longer than in the 106s, with under foot being the same. Rocker profile looks very similar too.

    Sent from my SM-A505W using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Shorty_J; 04-16-2021 at 03:46 PM.
    Goal: ski in the 2018/19 season

  13. #13
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    Have and love Rustler 9s @180 for the 94 underfoot which is super playful for my daily driver. Won't be until Dec until I get the Blaze on snow, but will owe ya that beer if it comes out.

    I'm starting to enjoy more playful skis than solid metal chargers, though there are definitely times for that.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shorty_J View Post
    I totally do need any more skis but I like these enough that I am pondering buying a pair of the 94s.
    Had the same thought, then I demo'd a Ripstick 96 and can't see having both. That Ripstick is fun.

    +1 on playful skis that are more gentle on the old bones

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ticketchecker View Post
    Had the same thought, then I demo'd a Ripstick 96 and can't see having both. That Ripstick is fun.

    +1 on playful skis that are more gentle on the old bones
    Maybe you should write a review?

    Sent from my SM-A505W using Tapatalk
    Goal: ski in the 2018/19 season

  16. #16
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    Definitely get a review on the ripstick 96. The ripstick was the touring ski I thought I wanted (all my inbounds skis are 5-6cm from center) but Shorty's comments about the -10 ish mount not bothering have me very intrigued especially if they can be skied fromm a neutral stance

  17. #17
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    Can anyone compare the Blaze 106 to the 100eight? It seems like the Blaze line effectively replaces the XXeight line and maintains a lot of similarities

  18. #18
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    Bump back up, mine showed up today. Hand flex feels smooth and pretty even, love the greenish see-thru topsheet. Think these are gonna be a blast.

    Thx Shorty_J for helping me push me over the edge.

    Pretty sure the 100eight were fully reverse camber, these do have a little bit of camber underfoot, but may effectively be very little once weighted.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTskibum View Post
    Bump back up, mine showed up today. Hand flex feels smooth and pretty even, love the greenish see-thru topsheet. Think these are gonna be a blast.

    Thx Shorty_J for helping me push me over the edge.

    Pretty sure the 100eight were fully reverse camber, these do have a little bit of camber underfoot, but may effectively be very little once weighted.
    Did you get out on these at all? I'm not very stoked on the tracers (98) I bought last year, and looking for something a bit wider and a bit stiffer. It felt like I overpowered them a lot.

    Still seems to be some deals on the 2020 models, so considering buying them for both my wife and I. She was last on Auras, and myself on older Mantras, so hoping a bit similar to what were both used to as far as edge hold and ability to push.

  20. #20
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    Sitting unmounted in my home office, they are unlikely to see any duty until late Dec or early Jan.

  21. #21
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    Subscribed.

    Superb review Shorty. I was waiting to hear that the mount was -5 or so, but -10.5 is amazing. I'm in the hunt for a Volkl for EC soft snow & will be following this. Recently went with a Deacon 80 over an 84 due to the lack of metal in the construction. Interested in others thoughts.

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