Stöckli's Laser AX has become the reference ski in the “Premium Just Under 80mm” category, and it is jockeying the recently introduced Laser AR to do the same in the next width higher ... but there is a contender from the hills of Italy that is trying to out-Stöckli Stöckli with a level of quality that is on par but at a price point that significantly undercuts the Swiss brand. That ski is the Blossom Cross Wind. Who is Blossom, you ask? Well, Blossom is a small boutique ski builder with history dating back into the 1970s when its factory produced some of the most respected skis of that era: skis that were labeled Spalding.
When Stöckli reintroduced the Laser AR two years ago, its acceptance started slowly but the appeal and popularity grew. I believe the slow start was because the initial review/test skis weren’t tuned well. As more people got on the 83mm wide-body AR, it started to find its following. At 83 mm underfoot, the AR skis just as you would expect it to: a wide AX versus a narrow Stormrider 88. The feeling is more frontside all-mountain than off-piste all-mountain, and it does reward the technical skier.
Blossom? Again, Blossom is far from an overnight marvel. It has been around for decades, producing some of the highest-quality skis at any price point. The narrower 77 offerings (yes, plural) have a following with many here on the site, but we are going to talk about the 85mm Cross Wind here. For full transparency, I haven’t personally skied the Cross Wind. For this Cage Match I don’t think I have to have skied it to know how it will perform and compare against the reference Stöckli because I have skied its sibling with the same construction and width but a shorter turn radius. Keeping the tip and tail within millimeters of the White Out but bringing the waist out to 85 mm allows the Cross Wind to extend the turn radius from 14 to 16.8 m in the reference 172cm length. These changes give the Cross Wind longer legs with a longer turn radius. The cost might be a bit of loss in edge-to-edge quickness, but the gain is that an exceptional build in a wider platform opens the ski to more adverse conditions.
- Why choose the Laser AR? You know what works and you are willing to pay for a well-earned reputation.
- Why choose the Cross Wind? You are open to the idea of trying a new brand; you don't mind saving a couple of hundred bucks by buying direct.
- Insider tip: Either of these is available flat or with a system binding.