Back in February I was lucky enough to get to demo the entire 2010 Black Diamond Power Series Ski line. Now that we have all of these skis in the shop for a side by side comparison I thought it would be a good time to update my reveiws a bit and answer a few common questions about how the skis compare. I’m going to focus on the three newest (and biggest) models in the line the Megawatt, Justice, and Zealot. I have skied the Verdict and Kilowatt as well so if you have any questions about how they compare feel free to ask. Overall the entire Power Series lineup is awesome, and compares well to the offerings from any major ski manufacturer. If you haven’t tried BD skis or still see them as only suitable for tele skiing or superlight long distance touring; do yourself a favor and demo a pair, they will change your mind in a hurry.
The Megawatt was new for the 08/09 season and aside from spiffy new blue graphics, is largely unchanged for the 09/10 season. BD says that the tip is stiffer and that they have optimized the fiberglass layup but I don’t think either of these changes will significantly effect the way they ski. There is no reason to change what was already one of the most versatile powder skis on the market. Although its waist dimensions (125mm@188 and 120mm@178) are squarely in the ultra-fat ski range and the huge rockered tip provides as much float as anyone would need, these are surprisingly usable all over the mountain. They may not be the most fun ski on hardpack, but they won’t have you heading to the car to switch skis when your local resort is tracked out by lunch. They have minimal camber underfoot and a large 42m turning radius which makes them very comfortable making big turns through variable snow and the big rockered tip makes them easy to maneuver in tight spaces in deep snow. That big rockered tip gives it the surfy/smeary feel in powder that makes people fall in love with powder specific designs. These are also great for touring in soft snow, the tip makes it easy to break trail in deep snow and the regular camber underfoot provides good grip when skinning. Also the 188 weighs only 10lb 4oz per pair, surprisingly light for such a big ski. I reccomend the new BD Ascension split skins for these because regular skins get very heavy when they have this much surface to cover.
The Justice is an all new ski for 2010 and has been getting quite a bit of attention from the ski community. It is a hybrid of the powder specific geometry and shape of the Megawatt in a lighter and more all mountian package. At 115mm under foot it fits nicely in the line in between the 120-125mm Megawatt and the 110mm Zealot. It has more camber, a little more sidecut and much more subtle rocker than the Megawatt. They kept most of the characteristics that make the Megawatt a great ski and put them a package that is more usable for people that want something they can ski everyday. It will be great for people that want a ski that is great in powder and usable all over the mountain, but don’t need an ultra-fat like the Megawatt. Like the Megawatt, the shorter length is perfect for most ladies and smaller guys. Don’t be afraid if 175 is longer than you are used to skiing, the tip rocker makes them feel short and they are very light and easy to ski. The Justice also will be the ski of choice for backcountry skiers that love the shape of the Megawatt but want a lighter ski to take on longer tours. The 185 Justice weighs only 9lbs 7oz per pair and has only a slight kick tail not a full twin tip, making it ideal for touring.
The Zealot has been in the BD line for a while, but the 2010 version gets a significant makeover. Still available in 182cm or 192cm and 110mm at the waist, for 2010 they softened the ski up a bit and added some subtle rocker to the tip. The result is probably the most versatile ski I’ve ever ridden. It will rule the resort in all conditions and be light enough to take anywhere. It’s got a much more traditional camber profile than either the Megawatt or Justice through the body of the ski which makes it feel very lively. You can definitely feel the camber in the tail compared to the other two skis, these want to snap from turn to turn and carve on hard snow compared to the Megawatt and Justice which are content to slide and smear around. I didn’t notice the tip rocker at all on hardpack but it was very noticeable in soft and variable snow. They just charged through crud and didn’t feel hooky at all in variable snow. They don’t quite have that powder specific floaty/smeary feeling that the Megawatt and Justice do in pow, but this is a different type of ski. It’s much more of an all around big mountain ski versus the other two which are more on the powder specific end of the spectrum. Incidentally the 182cm Zealot weighs 10lb 4oz per pair, exactly the same as the 188cm Megawatt. Light enough to tour on but by no means an ultralight ski, these feel solid and powerful in any snow conditions.