An in-depth look at Line's revamped Blend for 2021, with ski specs and a full review (and some awful photos, sorry).
Ski: Line Blend 2021
Length skied: 178
Actual length (Tip-tail w/ straight tape): 177.9cm
Shape: 133 / 100 / 122 mm
Measured weight (each ski): 1833/1806g
Binding: Tyrolia Attack2 16
Reviewer height/weight: 5'9, 135lbs
Review location(s): Saas-Fee
Conditions skied: Freshly groomed, pow, steeps (for some reason), park.
There’s a new shape to the Line Blend. A ski that has remained unchanged since 2013 and has had the same footprint since 2009. It’s also one of Line’s biggest sellers, with a devoted following that won’t ski anything else. The Line team has been rebuffing any proposed changes to the ski for years too. So changes of any kind, are kind of a big deal. The main change comes to the sidecut and contact points, both of which are pushed forward. The old Blend was originally designed around a pretty traditional mounting point, and although most people center-mounted, that put them way off sidecut center. The new Blend moves the sidecut center forward, although not all the way to center, with the aim of having the skis perform better at those forward mounting points. The wider contact points are aimed at providing a better platform for buttering.
As already mentioned, the new Blend has been tweaked slightly from previous versions but much remains the same too. The core construction and edges remain identical to the previous model and the flex is pretty indistinguishable to me. They still have a medium flex section under the binding but the tips/tails are as soft as they come.
The ski’s profile has changed though and the Blend now has lower profile tips/tails. The rocker is noticeably longer although still minimal in terms of splay. My skis have rockered a little more as I’ve broken them in, adding some extra splay but even with that, the rocker height is still fairly mellow.
One thing that always surprised me about the old Blend was how well they skied given how soft they were. That’s something Line had a real knack for. My lasting memory of the EP Pro, probably the softest ski of all time, was how well they skied for essentially being a floppy boat. The new Blend continues the trend. In fact, the extended sidecut skis better on hard snow than the old model and felt very consistent through the turn, providing you keep your weight centered of course. The nose and tail are so soft that you really can’t be throwing your weight too far forward because you will fold the skis in the turn. They also do get flappy at high speeds, although they still feel pretty skiable thanks to the more stable mid-section.
The new sidecut feels significantly better to me when skiing switch and center mount does feel a bit more ‘normal’ on these, so that part of Line’s changes has worked well in my opinion. I really enjoyed these for cruising around, especially switch. The short story though, is that they do ok on groomed, they aren’t a ski you’d pick for railing around if it was a high priority, though that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
I don't know why I skied this on these, I wouldn't recommend it.
However, the changes to the ski have hurt the pow performance somewhat. The older Blend had a more streamlined tip/tail shape. The angles formed by the shorter tip/tail and extended sidecut make the new Blend more hooky in soft snow and the lower profile tip also causes some problems. I found myself leaning back more to keep the tips up and generally not having a great time in soft snow. The width and rocker make them ‘ok’ as a soft snow ski, as long as the snow is light but no better than that. In heavy snow they are just too soft, they lack the power to push through and in variable snow, they were flat out scary. I made the mistake of skiing a pretty steep couloir on my first run on these (above) because they were the skis I had in my bag and safe to say it wasn’t a fun experience on the chunky snow runout. That totally isn’t what these skis are designed for, but almost any other ski would be better in those conditions if you ever encounter them.
While the Blend was initially designed to be a park/powder crossover ski back in the 2000s, the new model is more unashamedly a pure park/jib tool. Yes, it’s still 100 underfoot, but that is fairly normal for a park ski now. And yes it does still ski groomers quite well but Line is well aware that most Blend buyers are using these skis as a soft, playful park ski. And so the changes to the new model are unsurprisingly moving it in that direction. A more central mount. Stubbier tips that feel better on noseblocks and an even more surfy feel thanks to a touch more rocker.
So how do they perform in the park? Well, they are still soft as fuck. It’s almost harder not to butter than it is to do so. The smallest amount of lean flexes the ski, the challenge is balancing things out to not over flex them when buttering. When you get that balance point right, nothing feels better to play around on. That’s why the pros loved the flex of the old ski, and it’s near-identical here. But when you lean too hard, you’re over flexing the ski and you’re going down. It’s a tradeoff that works great for some, but I still struggle with it. I like to throw my (admittedly minimal) weight hard and have a difficult time figuring the Blend out. I did feel like the new Blend had a touch more ‘snap’ or pop out of butters, and maybe it does give you a touch more stability. But, for me, it feels like it’s a great buttering ski for beginners and for top-level skiers who land perfectly, but those in the middle might have some issues. Much the same as the old Blend in fact.
Swingweight is still super low, despite the wider tips/tails, and the ski feels even lighter than the older model. There’s not much material up there in the extremes of the ski, so there isn’t much to stop you spinning like a top. I actually like the feel of the Blend on jumps, as long as I’m landing pretty bolts. The flex is smooth on takeoffs and the sidecut feels super nice when carving off the lip. Land off-center and you run into issues with the flex. You have more on snow contact than a ski like the Vishnu Wet, but the stability is pretty equivalent. The Blend belongs in a small list of skis that are so playful, yet so unstable when landing wrong: Armada BDog Edgeless, Vishnu Wet, JSkis Vacation… and that’s about it. I quite like all of them in their own ways but they aren’t the best for learning new tricks as a result.
On rails, the low swingweight is super nice for spins on and off. Despite being fairly long and fairly wide compared to most of my recent park options, these felt a breeze for quick-feet style tricks. The 100mm platform gives you a nice, stable platform without being too wide. Surface swaps and presses are a breeze thanks to the profile and flex. In fact, rails are where the Blends truly excel.
I didn’t have any issues to write home about with the durability of the new Blend. I skied them for a while, mostly in the park and the edges held up great (I did detune heavily). I have no signs of delam or edges cracks. The topsheet held up well too (Line’s new textured topsheet is really good).
When drilling the ski felt good and the screws bit and held nicely (I’m realizing as I do more and more reviews that some skis just don’t feel good when you drill them and those are always the ones that have pullout issues). The only change to the skis from new is some superficial scratches and perhaps some additional rockering/reduction in camber. Given that the Blends don’t seem to rely on the camber/rocker profile too much for there turning performance, I didn’t notice too much difference as a result of this.
So, where to start with this one? Well, the Blend remains a unique ski, but it hasn’t changed much. There are small tweaks that orient the ski more to park performance and less to being a ‘blend’ of park and pow, but for most people who ride this ski, you are still buying more or less the same product, the differences are that small.
Correspondingly, I do still find the Blend too soft. But I did have more fun on these than the previous model. Maybe I was skiing better but I didn't find myself washing out quite as much and the improved groomer performance/switch skiing performance was fun. I just prefer a more solid ski. Even in the days when I loved soft skis (Elizabeth, Shreditor 102, EP Pro, etc), I found the Blend too soft.
Yet despite not working for me personally, I do think these are an amazing ski for the right skier. If you are looking for the softest ski to try new weird butter combos then #bendyourblends are still the one. Even skis like the Vishnu Wet/Wide and Armada BDogs, which target a similar consumer base, make their tradeoff differently. With far more rocker and corresponding short running lengths, they have more of that ‘snowblade’ feel (i.e they feel short). They provide their butteriness in the form of lots of rocker and they are typically significantly stiffer skis. So the different compromises on stability vs butteriness work well for different people. If you want to go in that playful buttery direction more than all other aspects of skiing, then you should try a heavily rockered ski like a Vishnu, an ON3P Magnus, or a BDog... but you should also try a Blend. Because depending on your style, the Blend may well work better. It feels like a normal park ski that’s slightly on the wide side, just a really, really soft one. If you loved the Blend before, you’ll love the new one too. I don’t expect it to convert those who don’t really like it, but I do think it’s an improved ski overall.
Next up on The Roofbox - 2021 Faction Prodigy 3.0