Featured Image Credit: Line Skis
Line skis have always made a habit of toeing the line (so to speak). Historically, their skis have pushed the boundaries of what freeriding ski should be. Yet despite all of the freeride accolades, Line has still managed to keep their skis approachable for the above-average resort skier who is just looking to have fun at a high level. It’s this combination of freeriding prowess and playful versatility that is at the forefront of Line’s new Blade Optic.
For all intents and purposes, the Blade Optic is a combination of Line’s highly unique Blade and their Vision line. There is just one major caveat. The Blade Optic, although it shares its name, looks nothing like the original Blade. Then again, what does? With a 154 mm tip, 94 mm waist and 124 mm tail, there is simply nothing like this ski on the market.
“The Blade was honestly such a trip to develop. We knew we wanted something that was new and “carvy” going into designing that ski… we even called it a “New Age Carver” as we set off on the project… but as we went through each round of development and made changes… the story of the ski kind of wrote itself,” says Line’s Brand Director, Steven Hartl.
The Story of the Line Blade
The story of the Line Blade is twofold: its distinctive design and the gas pedal metal. This lethal combination makes for a very fun all-mountain carver that can really power through most conditions. The massive shovel blows through crud, chop and even a little pow like a plow on an F-350. The Blade will also carve really well for you on groomers for a variety of reasons that include the design and Line’s signature Gas Pedal Metal.
The Gas Pedal Metal pushes the power to the ski’s edges giving the Blade the stability and grip you want in your turns. Roll the skis onto its edges and the feeling is like that of a slingshot sending you out of one turn and into the next. It’s this combination of remarkable design and the Gas Pedal Metal that enables the Blade to flat out rip in most conditions. Yet, despite the benefits that the Blade’s design has to offer, there is very little carry over to the new Blade Optic. Therefore, the name is a bit of an optical illusion, for only the Blade’s Gas Pedal Metal made the cut for the design of the Blade Optic.
“The metal shape and the way it distributes power without robbing the skier of feeling and emotion is the key characteristic that stuck with us as we were testing the Blade so naturally we wanted to take that feeling into other categories where we felt consumers would benefit from the tech and have an improved skiing experience,” explains Hartl.
Gas Pedal Metal in a True Freeride Ski
Having had the opportunity to demo the Blade Optic 104 for this story, I found that the Gas Pedal Metal is pretty crucial to how the Blade Optic performs. Line says that “The most versatile ski in the Blade Optic Collection, the Blade Optic 104 is right at home charging big mountain laps to cruising smooth turns on early morning corduroy and everything in between.” And, I’d tend to agree with them.
Like in the Blade, we see the Gas Pedal Metal in full effect in the Blade Optic. While the Optic is definitely not a true carver like the original Blade it is more than worthy when ripping laps on the groomers. This has all to do with the Gas Pedal Metal as Hartl explains.
“The “Gas Pedal Metal” we developed originally for the blade is applied under foot in the Optic to promote edge grip, and power on firm snow yet remain intuitive and playful in relation to the skier’s conversation with the ski. Additionally, we extended the titanal into the forebody and tail of the ski to improve high speed stability and create a bigger sweet spot.”
The short of it is that the Blade Optic has just enough metal in it to keep them stable but at the same time still remain poppy and fun. Like with the original Blade the metal is pushed out toward the edges of the skis and makes the Optics feel as if they are loading up as you turn them up on their edges. However, where the Blade Optic definitely feels different is in their playfulness and versatility.
Although Line did a nice job making the Blade into a carving ski that is still quite fun, it is definitely a break from Line’s norm. The Blade Optic is more true to what Line has always been known for, a fun freeride ski. However, thanks to the inclusion of the Gas Pedal Metal, the Blade Optic can really carve too. Because the metal is extended out toward the tips the Optic’s sweet spot is elongated, giving skiers a ride that is carvy without all the effort of getting aggressive in your ski boots. Combine that with the metal stopping short of the tips and the Blade Optic maintains the playful, freeride feel that Line skis are known for.
The Most Versatile Ski in the Blade Optic Collection
This all brings us back to Line’s original description of the Blade Optic 104 as the most versatile ski in the collection. I would definitely feel as comfortable recommending the Blade Optic 104 to an intermediate, all mountain skier as I would an advanced big mountain skier. Both skier types will surely reap the benefits. Intermediate skiers will appreciate that it does not take a ton of work to move the skis from edge to edge. At the same time, the Blade Optic’s progressive features will allow intermediate skiers to grow into the ski and they improve over time.
Meanwhile advanced skiers will enjoy the Optic’s freeride components which are great off-piste in powder conditions up to about a foot. If you find yourself in deeper snow, I’d recommend the Blade Optic 114. Also, the Gas Pedal Metal is great for the hard charging on-piste expert who will rolling these skis on edge.
Also by comparison, and something advanced skiers will appreciate, the Blade Optic performs better than the Blade in the bumps and the trees. I have found the Blade to be a bit tougher to control when making tighter turns, particularly when the moguls are hard. The Blade Optic, on the other hand, is a bit quicker edge to edge and therefore easier to control in more technical gladed terrain and moguls.
All this said, the Blade Optic 104 is as advertised. The unique combination of the Gas Pedal Metal from the Blade and the freeride design of the Line Vision series makes for one versatile ski. The Blade Optic 104 can both carve with the best of them while maintaining the fun, playful freeride characteristics that Line is known for. For this reason, I can easily see the Line Blade Optic 104 becoming a one ski quiver for many skiers from the intermediate level on up.
Rich Stoner is the founder of the après-ski lifestyle clothing and media brand, All About Après, and the co-host of the Beyond the Après podcast. No stranger to the ski and après-ski scene, Rich has been a long time contributor for many publications on topics like skiing, gear, beer and food. However, his passion is on the slopes and enjoying good times with good people. You can find him perfecting his craft carving turns and drinking beers in the Green Mountains of Vermont. @allaboutapres