Line's Blade Optic 114 is a deep-snow charger with a freestyle twist. | Line Skis photo.
The term “freeride” ski gets thrown around a lot these days, but what does it really mean? In its truest essence, freeride skiing is skiing outside the boundaries of any predefined rules and expressing yourself on snow. That means varying up turn shapes, maybe not turning at all, leaving the ground often, and mixing speed, freestyle, and creativity in whatever way you please. Therefore, a freeride ski really should encompass design elements from just about every corner of ski tech, right? Well that’s what Line’s Blade Optic 114 aims to do. It’s a metal-laminate, twin-rocker powder ski with a penchant for high speeds - much like the big skis that opened our eyes to the possibilities of freeride skiing 10 years ago. But does the ski that TGR athlete Jake Hopfinger swears by have a one-track mind? We put it to the test to find out.
Pick up Line’s Blade Optic 114, and you’ll immediately notice its intentions. In one word, it’s heavy. Of course, with Line Skis every design element has a pretty funny name: Gas Pedal Metal, Overdrive Tech, Fatty Bases and Fatty Edges. What do those all mean? Well, that means it’s got a very sturdy construction that translates to an incredibly powerful ski for riding fast and not turning a whole lot. It’s a Line though, so it still has a playful side to it.
The metal backbone of the ski - Gas Pedal Metal Overdrive - is a single sheet of shaped Titanal that originally appeared in Line’s Blade carving ski. Contrary to popular belief, adding metal doesn’t necessarily just make a ski stiff - it really allows designers to fine-tune the flex pattern and dampness of the ski. That’s exactly what’s going on here. The chevron-shaped metal layer adds some stiffness to the ski, but it really translates to very powerful edge grip and a super-damp and stable ride feel.
Boiling it down, it’s a medium-stiff ski with a ton of tip and tail rocker to float and slash through the untracked stuff, a directional mount point, and enough mass to punch through all kinds of unpredictable snow.
Unlike the majority of the skis I test here at TGR, I mostly tested the Blade Optic outside of the Tetons, taking it on a roadtrip to Utah and up to Alaska for some touring missions and resort riding at Alta and Alyeska. It’s an incredibly powerful ski that encourages you to take some risks, point it through those moguls and stomp the bigger side of the air you are eyeing up. In steep terrain, the edge hold is there when you want it and the stiff tails add stability through chunky snow. However, the healthy amount of tail rocker and the soft tips give the ski a playful character - you just need a bit more muscle to really get it to respond, especially in anything less than perfect pow.
Unsurprisingly, the Blade Optic 114 prefers to go fast. It’s one of those skis that’s actually easier to maneuver and control when gravity is helping out - be that in a steep chute, a wide open bowl, or mobbing groomers back to the chairlift. It’s certainly capable of being a touring ski (I actually mounted it with the CAST system) but with the weight, I’d suggest saving it for mechanized days or shorter tours to rowdy terrain.
The Bottom Line:
Line’s Blade Optic 114 is exactly what Line bills it as: “For the deepest days, experience freeride through a different lens.” It’s a phenomenal ski for those of us excited by high speeds, a few reckless decisions, and a mix of traditional turn shapes and jibby skiing. If you're looking for a new resort powder ski to add into the mix, give the Blade Optic 114 a try.