Individual Review Long-Term Test: 2016 Blizzard Cochise

Drahtguy Kevin

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The 2016 Blizzard Cochise delivers in the deep and steep. After two days of skiing untracked, cut up pow, crud piles, bumps, trees, glades and a few groomers, I find the Cochise excels when the snow is soft and aggressive approach is taken. Add in some speed and the ski comes alive in all conditions above. The improved tips and tails help the ski slither through trees and bumps with little effort. I was surprised here because of the ski's 27-meter turn radius. Groomers are the Cochise's Achilles unless you're patient at the top of the turn and have lots and lots of area to let the ski work. It is a goer and wants to go fast. It does hold well on edge.

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I found the Cochise the most fun in the steeps at Snowmass (above) and the beautiful glades and soft bumps at Sunlight Mountain. The 108 mm waist provided more than enough float in the 12+ inch fresh and the ski powers through crud like few other skis I've been on. The Cochise demands attention but when driven this ski is fun at a higher level.
 

Josh Matta

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OMSM flat groomers on the old one were like the worse thing ever. ski was just so dead and life less.

really curious to try the carboned cochise some day.
 

Josh Matta

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I could make the old one work on blue pitch and above groomer with something resembling soft snow but part of the reason why I sold them was I felt the capo did everything the Cochise did but skied groomers and bumps better. I am still curious about this newer one though since they added camber that I felt like it lacked.

but yeah stand on the outside ski, get your hips to go against the outside ski. even the old one worked.

 

Drahtguy Kevin

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I got back on the 2016 Cochise the other day at Beaver Creek. It was a minor powder day and the ski performed admirably in the tight trees and filled in moguls. I really appreciate the crud performance of this ski.
 

Alexzn

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I got to use the PugSki long term test Cochise for a couple of weekends, the first was full-on spring skiing, the following one had some fresh snow (although not a full-on powder day by any means). Skier data: 6ft, 190b, I love to ski all conditions off-piste, now getting to terms with some newly-found love of groomers and carving after spending some time on race course.

Although throughly eclipsed now by its narrower Bonafide sibling, Cochise is actually the original ski that made Blizzard Flipcore skis famous and started the renaissance of the Blizzard brand in freeride skiing. The original Cochise was a flat camber ski, and many of us thought that the rocker-camber Bonafide was a more versatile design. I remember skiing a few similar skis back to back on the West Face on a spring day at Squaw a few years back. The original Cochise was still the best in the test, combining stability with quite loose, almost greasy feel on softer spring snow. In comparison, the Atomic (Vantage?) model was skiing like a truck, and the Volkl Gotama took the greasy feel to the max and was too squirrely. It's no surprise that Cochise became (and remains) so popular among Squaw coaches.

Somewhere along the way the Cochise gained camber underfoot, and now with the new carbon flipcore design it got a fairly radically changed shape. The ski now has some noticeable tip and tail taper, and there is good amount of camber underfoot. Overall the shape is basically a wider Bonafide, which is a good thing. The major consequence of the shape change is that all quirkiness has been ironed out, the greasy feel is gone, and now the ski feels quite conventional (in a good way). It is still stiff, so having almost 200lb goes a long way towards feeling good on it.

Skiing impression- its a wide Bonafide, so it combines very good edge hold on groomers for a 100+ waist ski with high degree of competence off-piste. The carving feel is surprisingly nice as long as you remember that you are on a 25m+ sidecut ski, so tighter turns naturally take more efforts. But the tip hooks up very well and pulls you into the turn, and the tail with more pronounced camber and shorter rocker section feels like a big improvement on the original design. Some of the marquee Squaw groomers were downright fun, especially when they were not too crowded.

In bumps, the 108mm girth and stiffness make themselves apparent, but its never punishing. One of those days I was skiing with someone who was on a Kastle FX84, and the difference in quickness was pretty clear.

Of course the Cochise is mostly at home off-piste in softer snow. If the snow is at least half-good, I try to take a test ski to Surly Shirley, which is a short ca. 45 deg chute line that packs in a lot of the typical features of Tahoe skiing- it starts with an entrance where you need to hold an edge on an often bare ice patch, then you have to make a couple quick turns to pick your way between the boulders in the chute choke to get to the one or two wide high speed turns that dump you to the Shirley bowl. It's a fairly easy line by Squaw standards, and people with big balls straightline it most of the time; I like to make turns (it is also more points that way). DPS Wailer 96 felt wick in the choke, but very nervous on the faster section and in the runout. FX95 ate all sections for breakfast, solid on ice, quick through the choke and fairly confident in the runout. The Cochise was great in the runout and quite solid on ice, but felt big and not quick enough in the choke. So this current iteration Cochise not quite the original Ninja sticks that Arne Backstrom was referring to for the first generation ski. It feels most at home in wide-open terrain where you can put it on edge and let it run ( North Bowl windbuffed type of terrain). It is also clearly a ski that likes to charge, the faster you go, the happier it feels. I usually have a hard time beating my 10-year old in Chinese downhill, she just points it. When I was on the Cochise, she suddenly had no chance. If I had to do a freeride competition (and please pick me the one where they do not allow jumps higher than 3 feet;-) that’s the kind of ski I would want to be on, it slices through crud, has solid edge hold, and is still stiff enough not to fold at speeds.

Compared to the other 1-0-X skis! it’s definitely near the top of the list. I have not been on the Salomon Q-Lab, but based on the shape and what I heard it may give the Cochise the run for its money in the sub-$1,000 ski category. Stockli SR107 that I tested a few years back is a bit more refined ski, and has better torsional stiffness and edge hold and feels narrower (I have not skied them back to back, so maybe that’s a mistaken impression). It also quieter, quicker, and costs 30-40% more than the Cochise. I have not been on the Kastle BMX105HP, but I would also expect it to outshine Cochise ( and at the Kastle prices it better do!).

If you can only own one ski in Tahoe, prioritize soft snow and fast skiing off-piste, and don't want to pay for a $1,000 pair of wooden sticks, Cochise is an almost no-brainer. If you have a quiver the choice is harder, you may want split that ski domain into a powder-oriented fun shape and a narrower and quicker ski. The Bonafide is quicker, and still suits more skiers as a one-ski-quiver, but if you like to ski very fast or if you are 200lb+ person, I would give the Cochise serious thought.
 
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Philpug

Philpug

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Thanks @Alexzn, as usual a great review. I concur with everything you said about the new Cochise except will modify one thing, this is not the quintessential Tahoe ski, it is the ski the one for Squaw/Alpine/Kirkwood/Sugar Bowl and maybe even Rose. These areas offer the terrain, especially Squaw where the original was born and breed, and why I wanted Alex to test the ski there since I haven't been there that much this season. This ski needs gravity to get the most out of it and for it to perform to it's capacity. The Cochise is too much for Northstar/Heavenly/Diamond Peak and Homewood unless he is the biggest of skiers, like a @DoryBreaux, who will get these next.
 

dawgcatching

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Welcome to Cochise 2.0, the evolution. The 2016 version marks Blizzard's first significant change to the Cochise since it was introduced 4 years ago. The changes have less to do with what the Cochise is than with how it skis. Blizzard has altered both its construction and shape, making the performance of the Cochise more obtainable. First, the addition of carbon fiber at the tip and tail gives the Cochise more personality across the hill without diminishing its strength, the main characteristic expected from the reference ski in the One-Oh-Something Charger category.

View attachment 1412

The shape is the other significant change for 2016. Blizzard added a bit of camber but showed some smarts in its design process. “If a little is good, a lot must be better” is not the case with the Cochise: a little is enough. The original incarnation had zero camber, and the ski really needed to be bent to get a lot out of it or it could feel greasy or disconnected. This additional camber gives the Cochise a better connection to the snow, a bit more pop without losing what skiers liked about the first generation. An updated tip and tail shape also contribute to the versatility of the new Cochise. Blizzard designed some taper past the contact points, which allows the ski to enter and exit a turn without feeling so locked in, but again without losing the dynamics of what better skiers expect from a benchmark ski.

Make no mistake, this is still a charger and performs best when it has gravity to work with. The Cochise is most at home on wind buff and the steeps, when it is being pushed. I like to call such a ski "an 11/10th ski." I am an average-sized guy at 5’11” 190 lb, and my go-to ski is about 180cm and 98-100mm underfoot; someone who is 6’ plus and over two bills is going to get the most out of the 185 Cochise at 108mm. I did find the new Cochise in a 185 to be better than the original in the 20+ inches of powder we just received at Northstar, but I had more fun on them last spring at A-Basin on Pali and the East Wall, where I was able to open them up and work the 27m turn radius.

WHO IS IT FOR? Big boys, chargers, and those who prefer to let a ski run in wide open terrain.

WHO IS IT NOT FOR? Lighter finesse skiers -- but no worries, Blizzard hasn’t forgotten you; check out the Peacemaker and the Gunsmoke.

INSIDER TIP: This is a better Cochise in every aspect. If you liked your old Cochise and weren’t sure it was time to replace it, it is. Just get the new one, you won’t be disappointed.

I got on a "tuned" Cochise the other day, and although it was WAY too stiff for a guy my size, I could still ski it well. I just had to drive the tip like mad, and commit to the turn. It had a super high end speed limit, and tons of grip, too much for a wider ski actually. That was the 185cm though. It is really suitable only for a bigger skier than myself, with that said.
 

DoryBreaux

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View attachment 4693 I got to use the PugSki long term test Cochise for a couple of weekends, the first was full-on spring skiing, the following one had some fresh snow (although not a full-on powder day by any means). Skier data: 6ft, 190b, I love to ski all conditions off-piste, now getting to terms with some newly-found love of groomers and carving after spending some time on race course.

Although throughly eclipsed now by its narrower Bonafide sibling, Cochise is actually the original ski that made Blizzard Flipcore skis famous and started the renaissance of the Blizzard brand in freeride skiing. The original Cochise was a flat camber ski, and many of us thought that the rocker-camber Bonafide was a more versatile design. I remember skiing a few similar skis back to back on the West Face on a spring day at Squaw a few years back. The original Cochise was still the best in the test, combining stability with quite loose, almost greasy feel on softer spring snow. In comparison, the Atomic (Vantage?) model was skiing like a truck, and the Volkl Gotama took the greasy feel to the max and was too squirrely. It's no surprise that Cochise became (and remains) so popular among Squaw coaches.

Somewhere along the way the Cochise gained camber underfoot, and now with the new carbon flipcore design it got a fairly radically changed shape. The ski now has some noticeable tip and tail taper, and there is good amount of camber underfoot. Overall the shape is basically a wider Bonafide, which is a good thing. The major consequence of the shape change is that all quirkiness has been ironed out, the greasy feel is gone, and now the ski feels quite conventional (in a good way). It is still stiff, so having almost 200lb goes a long way towards feeling good on it.

Skiing impression- its a wide Bonafide, so it combines very good edge hold on groomers for a 100+ waist ski with high degree of competence off-piste. The carving feel is surprisingly nice as long as you remember that you are on a 25m+ sidecut ski, so tighter turns naturally take more efforts. But the tip hooks up very well and pulls you into the turn, and the tail with more pronounced camber and shorter rocker section feels like a big improvement on the original design. Some of the marquee Squaw groomers were downright fun, especially when they were not too crowded.

In bumps, the 108mm girth and stiffness make themselves apparent, but its never punishing. One of those days I was skiing with someone who was on a Kastle FX84, and the difference in quickness was pretty clear.

Of course the Cochise is mostly at home off-piste in softer snow. If the snow is at least half-good, I try to take a test ski to Surly Shirley, which is a short ca. 45 deg chute line that packs in a lot of the typical features of Tahoe skiing- it starts with an entrance where you need to hold an edge on an often bare ice patch, then you have to make a couple quick turns to pick your way between the boulders in the chute choke to get to the one or two wide high speed turns that dump you to the Shirley bowl. It's a fairly easy line by Squaw standards, and people with big balls straightline it most of the time; I like to make turns (it is also more points that way). DPS Wailer 96 felt wick in the choke, but very nervous on the faster section and in the runout. FX95 ate all sections for breakfast, solid on ice, quick through the choke and fairly confident in the runout. The Cochise was great in the runout and quite solid on ice, but felt big and not quick enough in the choke. So this current iteration Cochise not quite the original Ninja sticks that Arne Backstrom was referring to for the first generation ski. It feels most at home in wide-open terrain where you can put it on edge and let it run ( North Bowl windbuffed type of terrain). It is also clearly a ski that likes to charge, the faster you go, the happier it feels. I usually have a hard time beating my 10-year old in Chinese downhill, she just points it. When I was on the Cochise, she suddenly had no chance. If I had to do a freeride competition (and please pick me the one where they do not allow jumps higher than 3 feet;-) that’s the kind of ski I would want to be on, it slices through crud, has solid edge hold, and is still stiff enough not to fold at speeds.

Compared to the other 1-0-X skis! it’s definitely near the top of the list. I have not been on the Salomon Q-Lab, but based on the shape and what I heard it may give the Cochise the run for its money in the sub-$1,000 ski category. Stockli SR107 that I tested a few years back is a bit more refined ski, and has better torsional stiffness and edge hold and feels narrower (I have not skied them back to back, so maybe that’s a mistaken impression). It also quieter, quicker, and costs 30-40% more than the Cochise. I have not been on the Kastle BMX105HP, but I would also expect it to outshine Cochise ( and at the Kastle prices it better do!).

If you can only own one ski in Tahoe, prioritize soft snow and fast skiing off-piste, and don't want to pay for a $1,000 pair of wooden sticks, Cochise is an almost no-brainer. If you have a quiver the choice is harder, you may want split that ski domain into a powder-oriented fun shape and a narrower and quicker ski. The Bonafide is quicker, and still suits more skiers as a one-ski-quiver, but if you like to ski very fast or if you are 200lb+ person, I would give the Cochise serious thought.
great write up! The bnx105hp feels more alive yet even more stable. You should try it if you can.
 

DoryBreaux

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Thanks @Alexzn, as usual a great review. I concur with everything you said about the new Cochise except will modify one thing, this is not the quintessential Tahoe ski, it is the ski the one for Squaw/Alpine/Kirkwood/Sugar Bowl and maybe even Rose. These areas offer the terrain, especially Squaw where the original was born and breed, and why I wanted Alex to test the ski there since I haven't been there that much this season. This ski needs gravity to get the most out of it and for it to perform to it's capacity. The Cochise is too much for Northstar/Heavenly/Diamond Peak and Homewood unless he is the biggest of skiers, like a @DoryBreaux, who will get these next.
I'm going to destroy big easy on them.
 

fatbob

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As the most recent lucky user of the Cochise test pair I've clocked 8 straight days in Tahoe spring conditions across Kirkwood, Northstar and Heavenly.

Nutshell review - Versatile and dependable.


A bit more. 6 ft 3 heavy guy - like skiing anything soft. will keep trucking till close even in spring mank if I can. Skiing style , well Jim K described it as like a dancing bear - I prefer agricultural. Tend to like bigger skis.

What to say about the Cochise? Well I'd been on them before briefly at last year's SIA and I thought they were a strong contender in the class, falling only slightly behind the BMX 105HP. Having spent an extended period of time on them I really struggle to see why I'd spring the extra for the Kastles. I commented to Phil I felt I'd been on them all my life and didn't really need to think about them with anything I was tackling. Where did they work? Hard morning groomers were no problem- obviously they didn't have the rebound of an SL ski or the quickness edge to edge but the grip was fine (helped probably by Phil's excellent tune ? What angles do you keep them at). Getting into some coral reef and being rocked backseat - the tails stood up and helped me recover. Corn pistes and corn offpiste - well in the absence of powder they were in their element, tip profile and construction seemed to cut through chop without effort. Chalky, firm steeps - they were confidence inspiring at holding an edge and light enough to get round quickly where needed (even when I had a freak out moment due to a previous long slide). Trying to keep up with Phil on soft Nstar groomers - well a fail there but not down to the ski but the skill. Soft bumps down the Face at Heavenly - OK they aren't a bump ski but they were versatile enough to get down pretty clean. Hitting refreeze late in the day - surprisingly not the tip chatter you often get with rockered skis and particularly with carbon skis so it suggests to me they've got the tip profile and just the right amount of carbon in there.

So who's it for - big guys as a general soft conditions ski, smaller guys and strong girls as a powder ski.

What it is - the ski you'd like to have by your side when you're busting out of your hideout against a horde of Bolivian Federales

What it isn't - the giggle a minute fun shape. There are skis in this waist width that are crazy like a red headed stripper. The Cochise is more like the stoical bouncer.

Thoughts on length - I thought I'd probably be after a 192ish length iif I was buying this ski. That would probably still be a good call for flat out charging or if you're skiing predominantly alpine terrain. But the 185 worked so well I didn't even need to think about length which suggests to me that a couple of sizes will probably work for most people in this ski - depending on your home terrain.
 

Alexzn

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I have been skiing Pacific Northwest snow (Cascade cement) for the past two days (Crystal) and I wish I had something like a Cochise instead of the DPS I brought. It would have handled the heavy crusty chunky snow here much better. A lighter metal-less DPS with big rocker struggles and gets tossed around at speeds way too much. The Cochise would have been much more effective.
 

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