Hands-on Gear Review

Blizzard Samba Review

A stable ski for an advanced woman skier on a budget.
Blizzard Samba 2016/2017
By: Jessica Haist and Renee McCormack  ⋅  Feb 7, 2017
Price:  $650 List  |  $519.95 at Amazon - 20% Off
Pros:  Great off-piste and in soft snow, excellent in chop, stable
Cons:  Takes some getting used to
Manufacturer:   Blizzard
71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 7
  • Carving - 20% 7
  • Crud - 20% 7
  • Powder - 20% 8
  • Playfulness - 15% 6
  • Bumps - 5% 7
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Best Buy Award

Our Verdict

Blizzard has released a new version of the Samba for this winter season and it is just catching up with its men's counterpart, the Bonafide, that received a technology update last year. The new Samba is very similar to the previous version but has received some "Carbon Flipcore" technology that seems to make the ski slightly more stiff and responsive. Our testers tried it out this winter and are pleased with the changes. Coming in at a reasonable of $650 the Samba receives our Best Buy Award for a more advanced to expert ski.

Our testers who like big mountain off-piste terrain really liked the Samba, stating it performs well in the chop and responds well to an aggressive skier. We also discovered it carves relatively well and the carbon update creates better edge hold and injects some spring into its step.

Discontinued - 2017
Unfortunately, Blizzard has discontinued the Samba and it is no longer available on their website. If you're interested in scooping up these skis you'd better hurry - some websites still have them in stock at a deeply discounted price! Blizzard
informed us that the current freeride skis available for women include the Sheeva 11, Sheeva 10 and Black Pearl in a 98, 88, and 78. We have not yet tested any of these models, but testing on the Black Pearl 98 is underway!


Our Analysis and Test Results

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The updated Samba is here! The folks at Blizzard informed us that these sticks feature new "Women Specific Design" technology. This new design is a uni-directional frame of carbon fiber integrated with a wood core. The intention is to create lightweight women's specific ski with greater performance and stability. Besides the revamped frame and core, Blizzard has also given the updated Samba a face lift, changing the color and graphic design. The price, $650, hasn't changed, meaning it's fallen to a lower price than its competitors, which is good.

This competitor is made to plow through crud and float on powder. With its 98mm waist, it is in the middle of the pack of the models we tested; it likes large radius turns and can really hold an edge. It is relatively stable at speed, can rail big turns on the groomers, and is tons of fun in the bumps. Because of the larger turn radius of 19M, it takes a bit more effort to turn in tight spaces, but once you get it going, it knows what to do.

The Sambas are a great choice for someone who wants to ski the whole mountain in all conditions -- on a budget.
The Sambas are a great choice for someone who wants to ski the whole mountain in all conditions -- on a budget.

Performance Comparison



Stability at Speed


The Samba has had an upgrade in this department and all parties agree it seems to be much more stable at speed than its predecessors, and very stable amongst its competitors in our review, more so than the Atomic Vantage 95 C or the floppy Armada Victa. Its stability is due to its camber underfoot and full sidewall construction that dampens chatter.


With the addition of the carbon to its core, the Samba is even more damp with greater edge hold. It can be somewhat chattery on very firm snow and ice and we don't feel as confident in this terrain on this ski because of it. It has very little sidecut and prefers to make broad, sweeping turns, and may chatter in protest more when forced into a smaller turn than it is built for.

The Sambas did well in the steeps.
The Sambas did well in the steeps.

Carving Performance


This ski built for carving large radius sweeping turns. Women who prefer to make tight snappy turns should check out the Head Great Joy. When skiing the Samba, you have to be comfortable with a medium-large radius turn (taking up large swaths of the run) if you're hoping to set an edge and ride it.


This model skied true to length and has significant rocker in the tip — taller ladies may want to size up if you're undecided about a length. The Samba seems happy to hold an edge and let you ride it, but equally as content to release that edge and let you twist and slash them. They don't feel too slow edge-to-edge given their wide waist. If you're looking for a ski that is quicker edge-to-edge, check out the Armada Victa.

The Sambas have good edge hold and like to carve larger radius turns.
The Sambas have good edge hold and like to carve larger radius turns.

Powder Performance


The Blizzard Sambas mid-fat waist and rockered tips are a great choice for someone who wants to get out on a powder day.
The Blizzard Sambas mid-fat waist and rockered tips are a great choice for someone who wants to get out on a powder day.

These mid-fat planks like to go straight and stay on top in powder. Although they're not a powder ski they have the right components so that if you know what you're doing, you can still take them for a fun ride in at least a foot of powder. A great intro to powder ski for an intermediate who is looking to explore off-piste and fresh snow occasionally. The Samba has a decent amount of float with a 98mm waist, and we had fun skiing them on deep days, although we found the Editors' Choice Volkl Aura to have more float and the Rossignol Soul 7 HD W floated above them all to win our Top Pick Award for best soft snow performance.


Crud Performance


Our tester's opinions diverged in this category slightly. Several agreed that these skis take a bit of getting used to in variable conditions and are challenging in the chop at first. Once you get used to them they become more fun. One of our testers said, "These skis woman-handled me" off-piste until she got used to them. Once you figure them out they do really well in cruddy conditions; they're strong enough to handle variable terrain and not get tossed around. Like the Head Great Joy, they seem to play lightly on top when desired and drive through the mush when needed.


Once the powder has been skied out and pushed around, this ski hops though the chop effortlessly. The stiffness of the Samba lets them plow through crud and leaves the skier in control. We feel confident skiing this pair in terrible conditions, as they provide a smooth ride. In some firm and icy conditions they were less than ideal.

The stiff Sambas will plow through the crud.
The stiff Sambas will plow through the crud.

Playfulness


The carbon core makes this ski feel more playful and responsive than its predecessor.
The carbon core makes this ski feel more playful and responsive than its predecessor.

The Samba is not as playful as the name suggests, but with the addition of the carbon, they do feel more springy and responsive than their predecessor. It does not have great edge-to-edge quickness and so is less fun on-piste, but they sure make the chop and crud a whole lot more fun. We think they are more fun than the DPS Nina 99 Foundation, but not as playful as the Rossignol Soul 7 HD W.


Bumps Skiing Performance


The Blizzard Sambas will help you navigate your way through a sea of soft bumps  but if they get too tight and icy you may be in trouble.
The Blizzard Sambas will help you navigate your way through a sea of soft bumps, but if they get too tight and icy you may be in trouble.

Because the Sambas are very happy to pivot and smear, they are a fun ski in the bumps. They would be a good ski for someone just getting accustomed to mogul skiing who wants something forgiving that also functions well on-piste and in the powder. However, if it's icy, tight bumps you may just want to stay away, since those are never fun even on a mogul ski, and the Sambas don't particularly like being forced into tight turns.


Best Application


This contender is a good choice for someone who wants to ski all over the mountain predominantly on deep days at a busy resort. They are fantastic in the chop. This ski would be best for an advanced skier who spends 75 percent of her time off-piste. The Samba has less rocker than a ski like the K2 FulLUVit and therefore seems to ski truer to length. It also has a fair bit more camber than the K2 FulLUVit or the Armada Victa for greater edge hold.

The Samba's will keep you afloat in all but the deepest of powder.
The Samba's will keep you afloat in all but the deepest of powder.

Value


The Blizzard stands out as a great value for an advanced-to-expert level ski, retailing for $650. We gave it our Best Buy Award because we think it's the best bang for the buck for someone looking to get on a burlier ski. If you are looking for a great deal on a more intermediate ski that can still get you around the whole mountain on and off-piste, check out the Armada Victa that retails for only $500.

We like the addition of carbon technology to make the Samba a stiffer more enjoyable ski.
We like the addition of carbon technology to make the Samba a stiffer more enjoyable ski.

Conclusion


With its new technology, opinions are more aligned among our testers this year. We think the Blizzard Samba is a solid, stable ski for an advanced lady skier. It has good edge hold, carves nice medium radius turns and can plow through the chop. Some of our testers took a while to warm up to this ski and found it bounced them around for a while in the crud before they could get a handle on it, but once they did they had a fun and playful time on it. It can hold its own in the powder and we would take this ski out on all but the deepest days.

The Sambas take a little bit of time to get used to and may "woman handle" you a little at first.
The Sambas take a little bit of time to get used to and may "woman handle" you a little at first.

Other Versions


The Samba design is based on the Blizzard Bonafide, and seems like virtually the same ski, now that the "Flipcore" technology has been added to the Samba. The Bonafide comes in a longer length of 187.
  • The Samba is available in 152cm, 159cm, 166cm, 173cm

Sheeva
Blizzard Sheeva
  • Cost - $600
  • 104mm underfoot
  • Fatter version of this ski

Black Pearl
Blizzard Black Pearl
  • Cost - $600
  • 88mm underfoot
  • Skinnier version of this ski

Jessica Haist and Renee McCormack

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Most recent review: February 7, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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4 star: 100%  (1)
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