When winter hit, I began skiing the slick new version of the Zero G 105, intending a quick review. But I could not get what I wanted out of these planks. After a few struggles in backcountry soft-snow conditions — trouble initiating turns — I realized it wasn’t the ski. It was me. Then I procrastinated, reaching for an authentic review of a ski that’s a fine ride for most of you, but is probably too much for yours truly.
This is where I depart from my old style of WildSnow.com blogging. Now with Manasseh and our incredible cadre of guest bloggers carrying the torch, I’ll be speaking more personally about the physical limitations — and triumphs — of skiers pushing past middle-age.
Let’s put it this way: A lot of guys and gals in their sixth decade or beyond enjoy ski touring. Especially in Europe. At the same time, most blogging, gear reviewing and the like, not to mention advertising, is geared to skiing the steeps, dealing with radical avalanche terrain — youth-oriented stuff. I was there once, and still am at heart. But you’ll see a shift in my content. Where it’s appropriate and makes sense (e.g., skis, boots), I’ll now review gear from the view of a guy in his sixties, who’s a little beat up but still going uphill, and skiing down.
With that out of the way: my “mature” take on the Blizzard Zero G 105, in 180 centimeters.
You know the answer. At 1,500 grams plus skins and bindings, hauling these guys uphill used too much energy — for the simple reason I did not wring out their full potential on the down. Read on.
Midwinter laps at the resort are my hard snow laboratory. I can’t lay a ski over like I used to, but I can still carve if I’ve got a somewhat tight sidecut radius to work with. The Zero G 23-meter radius was somewhat relaxed for that. A bigger, taller guy would have an easier time, with their weight and leverage bending more arc out of the ski. Me, at around 66 kilos, 178 centimeters, did not have the mass nor the torque. Would moving down a step in length have helped? Probably a little, but that would compromise the fun part of the Zero G on hardpack: its speed and stability. Would more speed have helped? A hundred percent yes on that as well — but I’d have had to exceed my comfort zone. So my hardpack conclusion: Fun, excellent for nearly everyone, but hold some speed and don’t expect a ride on the couch.
When I rode the Zero G in mid-winter Colorado powder, I could grok the potential. The width is there. The energy storage is there. I got a hint of the Zero’s joy factor when I caught a few pitches of hippy pow, and bounced my smiling way down the slope like I was auditioning for a 1984 Miller flick. If time travel existed, they’d have probably contracted me for a segment. Perhaps something in the Monashees, you know, one of these iconic scenes with six skiers at once wriggling their merry way down a thirty-two-degree slope, red helicopter hovering above for effect.
But I had trouble on steeper, less perfect snow. I’m now the proud owner of a fully fused left ankle. Thus, my right turn initiation requires a perfect melding of boot cuff angle, ramp angle, side-cut and flex. To that end, I’ve set up several pairs of heavily customized boots, but they need a certain ski. They need a lot of rocker, a tight radius, no camber and a soft flex. This is a ski the Zero G most certainly is not. And that’s good, as many if not most WildSnow readers would not want my “relaxed” version of a ski, and prefer the Zero G.
(All this begs the question: what is actually working for me? My top two: a 100mm waist-width heavily rockered, soft flexing plank in 170cm, 16.5 meter radius, and my skimo inspired 164cm x 79mm, 17 meter radius wings. Even if I’d gone to the 172 cm Zero G, it still has a 20 meter radius.)
My pair of testers, 105 width 180 cm, tickled the scale at 1,500 grams (single ski). I’ve heard blather about these being “one of the lightest in its class.” Ignore that. The Zero G 105 is average in mass per our weight/width spreadsheet (at a score of 74). But, if you can wring above average performance out of an average weight ski, what’s not to love? That’s indeed the case here.
Blizzard touts their “flipcore” construction, an arcane technology that’s been around for at least eight years — and confused shoppers for eight years. Here is my take: The normal ski core is somewhat flat before molding, and receives its shaping as it’s bent in the mold, the flipcore core is pre-shaped as to rocker and camber. That’s it. Whether this is marketing spreech or truly adds performance is impossible to verify.
Let’s just say Blizzard flipcore skis well. Thus no need to quibble. Besides, every company should be forgiven their own claim to cool, self referential tech. If nothing else, such is high-power ammo for chats at the Simony Hutte, which is where I might have been at this very moment but for the pesky particles of RNA drifting around.
Zero G 105 2019-2020 numbers
Sizes available: 164, 172, 180, 188
Weight: 1,500gm (180cm)
Rocker profile: Tip/Tail Rocker
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WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.