2023 Blizzard Thunderbird R15 WB
Radius 15m @ 174cm
Weight 3277g @ 174cm
Power Score: 9.09
Finese Score: 8.62
In the fat ski genres where Americans buy the vast majority of their skis, Blizzard is riding a decade-long hot streak. If you only look at skis over 85mm at the waist, it seems like Blizzard hasn’t missed a beat since the launch of its Flipcore baseline. But if you take a step back and look at the world market, there’s a category or two of carvers, skis meant to execute perfect, technical turns on hard snow, where Blizzard is all but invisible, at least in the U.S. For whatever reasons, its Quattro series never captured the imagination of the American carving public. The only way Blizzard was able to penetrate the Frontside segment stateside was with a tiny-waisted, off-trail model (Brahma 82), which is sort of like entering the category via the service entrance. Consider the problem solved. The Thunderbird R15 WB, introduced just last year, doesn’t try to mask its racing pedigree with a carbon overdose; the communication with the angled edge is crisp and clear. The Thunderbird’s snow feel is like HDTV compared to the Quattro’s low-def reception. One reason the T-bird R15 WB feels so sublimely connected is its TrueBlend core has been modified to fit the hard-snow environment. By re-positioning tendrils of high-density beech within strata of lighter poplar, TrueBlend creates a perfectly balanced flex for each size. This may sound like esoterica only an expert can feel, but it’s palpable, and it’s wonderful. Complementing TrueBlend is a carbon platform underfoot to help muffle shocks without losing the precision of the ski/snow connection. Called Active Carbon Armor, it’s essentially the carbon inlay under the topskin of the Blizzard Firebird race skis brought to the surface, where it can free up the core to bend more freely. With this combination of wood and carbon, Blizzard has finally found a way to make a carver that is both quiet on the edge and explosive off it. And boy, is it fun to drive.