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Rossignol

For most of the 1970’s, 80’s and into the 90’s, Rossignol was king of the roost, the most recognized trademark in a market crammed with brands that did not survive this epoch. They built a race department that was the envy of all, with stars like Alberto Tomba and what seemed like every significant female racer in the world. Eventually, maintaining their race stable became too expensive, other companies innovated while they held eroding ground and Quicksilver’s brief flirtation with ownership did neither brand any favors. Now Rossignol’s star is ascending again. 

For brands that make technical gear like skis, a successful renaissance is always led by product.  A couple of years ago, Rossi shored up the core of their All-Mountain offering with the introduction of the Experience series, headlined by the terrific E98 and E88. Last season [2013] they re-staked their claim to Carving excellence with the HP Pursuit. This year they’ve knocked the cover off the ball with the new Super 7, Squad 7 and Soul 7.  It’s rare for skis this forgiving to also deliver OMG performance, but Rossi has found a fresh way to deliver the stability only length provides without making a Big Mountain ski feel big when flipping edge to edge.  With the Super 7, Rossignol has restored the word’ “playful” to the Powder ski lexicon, a nearly forgotten attribute among these tanker-sized skis.

During their brief tenure in the wilderness, Rossignol gave up ground to arch rivals (in the US) K2 and Völkl in the women’s market.  They stand to recover substantial territory if their new 7 series seduces as many women as we expect it to.  The names Sassy, Saffron, Savory and Star sound like second-generation Spice Girls, but that shouldn’t deter women for even a second. All these models need to succeed is snow.

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2016 Addendum

The resurgence led by the Soul 7 is still in full swing. Far from being a one-season wonder, the Soul 7, along with its siblings the Super 7 and Sin 7, has proven to radiate sustained star power. Like archrival K2, Rossi figured out long ago that the people who buy skis (as opposed to those who have them provided under contract) want skiing to be easier, not harder.

Several years ago Rossi made a floppy yet forgiving powder ski with the innocuous name of S7. Hard-charging experts weren’t all that impressed, but the S7 found a cult following among less skilled off-piste skiers who liked the way it responded at low speeds. Sales were strong enough to encourage Rossi to innovate, and did they ever.

The design they landed on preserved the easy attitude of the S7, but the central platform of the Soul 7 is a springy fiberglass arch that gives the ski an energetic nature absent in its ancestor. Most models in the Soul 7’s extended freeride family, for men and women, are all among our top Recommended skis for 2016.

At the other end of the conditions spectrum, our panelists also couldn’t compose enough compliments about the hard-snow Hero skis. Match the model to your preferred turn shape—small, medium or large—and get ready to grin so hard your cheeks will hurt.

Any brand with ambitions to serve the entire ski market needs a core collection that extends down to whatever price points the market requires. For Rossi, those series of skis are named Experience for men and Temptation for women. In this vertical hierarchy, the top model has the richest technology, the next model down trims some of the tech, and so on down the line.

Thus the flagship Experience 100 Ti is a beefy, experts-only warrior, the Experience 88 a mellow fellow and the Experience 84 geared down another notch for a less accomplished pilot. With realskiers’ emphasis on performance properties, the lesser EXP’s were perceived as below par, while the 100 Ti overshot the mark, so stout its Finesse scores went south. We dwell on this point to underscore that skis that don’t meet our Recommended standard aren’t flawed skis; their strengths simply don’t mesh with our evaluated criteria.  

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In-depth reviews of 19 models—with key performance ratings ( ? ) and genre model comparisons ( ? ) —are in our member section

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Hero Elite LT Ti

early rise

Power:  A

Finesse:  A-

Sidecut:  115/69/96
Radius:  19m @ 176cm
Lengths:  162,170,176,183
Weight:  2400g @ 176cm
MSRP:  $1000

This review is based on a combination of 2014 and 2015 test results; the ski is unchanged.

hero elite lt

Like the Völkl Racetiger GS, the Rossignol Hero Elite LT is a muscular ski that follows turning commands with the obedience and precision of a dressage horse.  If groomers are your territory and speed is your best friend, the Hero Elite LT Ti belongs in your ski locker.

There’s an ineffable ease to the Elite LT’s flow down the hill.  As Zac Larsen of The Lift House noted during our 2014 spring technical test fling: “Easy to ski great,” which is one way to describe what everyone is looking for in a new ski.  Larsen added, “Held at speed!” with the exclamation point evidence that a ski so simple to guide shouldn’t be so unbudgeable at ballistic speeds. 

The Elite LT Ti is so mellow it permits you to drift without protest, but it’s so exhilarating to give it the gas that you won’t want to scrub speed until the lift line.  If the mountain is a 3D theme park, then the Elite LT Ti is fun cubed. Enjoy the math.

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Hero Elite ST Ti

early rise

Power:  A

Finesse:  B

Sidecut:  122/68/104
Radius:  13m @ 167cm
Lengths:  157,162,167,172
Weight:  2000g @ 167cm
MSRP:  $1000

This review is based on a combination of 2014 and 2015 test results; the ski is unchanged.

hero elite st

“Super quick, almost too quick!” exclaimed Pat from Powder House, indicating that what the Hero Elite ST wants to do it does very, very well.  The question is, are you up to it?

For the wheelhouse of this slalom are turns that dive in and out of every arc with the staccato speed a ZZ Top guitar solo. “This ski lives up to its name: SHORT TURN,” opined Zac Larsen.  “Your legs run out of turns before you run out of mountain.”  Brother Luke Larsen was on the same page, advising prospective ST skiers to “buckle up – it’s got a lot of rebound.” 

Indeed, the ST’s only real demerits are that it sticks to what it’s best at.  It doesn’t care to smudge a turn, preferring to release the edge with sufficient enthusiasm to send the pilot whistling across the fall line.  It takes two active feet to keep up with this energetic tango with gravity, but if you have the dancing gene you’ll love having the Elite ST as your new partner.

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Hero Master

early rise

Power:  A

Finesse:  A-

Sidecut:  114/71/97
Radius:  18m @ 175cm
Lengths:  170,175,180,185
Weight:  2150g @ 175cm
MSRP:  $1000

hero mastert

The motto of today’s ski market is, “Lighter is better.”  The design philosophy behind Rossignol’s Hero Master is, “With great heft comes great security.”

The Hero Master isn’t a new model, but our appreciation for it is freshly minted. The Master was overshadowed last season by the debut of the Hero Elite LT Ti and ST Ti, but the Master shouldn’t take a back seat to any Technical ski.  The platform is so solid it imparts instant confidence.  If the Master seems it invite speed, it’s only for your own good: extra momentum means you can drop your hip right down to the snow and feel the giddy thrill as the ski rockets along its trajectory, safe in the knowledge the Master has you in its thrall.  

Like any of the skis in this category, the Master is best appreciated by someone who, if not yet quite a master himself, is a worthy contender for the title.  The Master is absurdly simple to turn, rolling up on edge the moment it’s tipped, a talent that makes its considerable charms accessible to the less-than-masterful.

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Unique 10

early rise

Power:  A+

Finesse:  A+

Sidecut:  120/72/101
Radius:  15m @ 163cm
Lengths:  156,163,170
Weight:  1600g @ 163cm
MSRP:  $900

unique 10

As we noted in our review of the Unique 10 last year, Rossignol has a long history of making skis perfectly tuned to the elite female skier.  The Unique 10 isn’t a frilly paint job on a man’s carving ski.  It was built from scratch to make cuts in the snow as sharp as a jeweler’s.

Its super-deep sidecut and traditional camber line conspire to keep the Unique 10 in contact with a continuous edge.  “Held really well on hard snow,” affirmed Shirley from Footloose. “Quick turning with a kick at the end of the turn.  Stable at speed. Excellent ski.”

To read Shirley’s comments you’d suspect the Unique 10 might be a bit burly, but you’d be wrong.  It drives like a sports car, not a sedan. The Unique 10’s Air Core removes a section of Paulownia to save 20% on weight and linen is used for damping instead of Rossi’s rubber-and-metal VAS.

Our testers were unanimous in describing the Unique 10 as a responsive, powerful carver with quick reflexes. As is de rigeur in the women’s Technical genre, the Unique 10 comes with its own Rossi bindings.

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Temptation 84

rocker

Power:  A

Finesse:  A

Sidecut:  133/84/120
Radius:  12m @ 162cm
Lengths:  146,154,162,170
Weight:  1700g @ 162cm
MSRP:  $650

This review is based on a combination of 2014 and 2015 test results; the ski is unchanged.

temptation 84

Like virtually every ski in this category, the Temptation 84 is made with the woman intent on improvement in mind.  Unlike the carving set whose feathers are ruffled by the thought of extended sojourns off-trail, the Temptation 84 works like a set of training wheels for taking your game off-road. 

Even though the Temptation 84 is noticeably rockered, because its sidecut extends in an unbroken arc past the forward contact point, the ski finds the edge the instant the forebody is tipped.  With its relatively wide waist, the Temptation 84 gives up some of the short-turn reflexes of Technical skis, but it compensates with greater aptitude in off-trail conditions like tree skiing and powder. The MSRP applies to the Temptation 84 if flat (without a system interface); it’s also available with an integrated Rossi Saphir 110 binding ($800).

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Temptation 88

rocker

Power:  A

Finesse:  B

Sidecut:  135/88/124
Radius:  13m @ 164cm
Lengths:  156,164,172
Weight:  2000g @ 164cm
MSRP:  $750

temptation 88

The tale of the Rossignol Temptation 88 is told by its sidecut dimensions and baseline, which work together with its flex to create a smooth ride with a carving fetish.  Its 13m radius (164cm) can’t wait to carve a controlled, short-radius turn and with Rossi’s Auto Turn camber line, it doesn’t have to.

The current trend among all-mountain skis is to relocate the widest part of the forebody several inches away from the tip, so it won’t over-react in broken, 3D snow.   The Temptation 88 turns its Air Tip nose up at this folly, running the arc of its sidecut all the way up to the shovel so that the instant the tip is tilted the full length of the ski begins to connect with the snow.  Hence the Auto Turn moniker.

The Temptation 88 keeps its carving composure on firm snow thanks to a laminate of basalt that calms potential jitters at speed, the same construction that has made Rossi’s E88 a sales sensation among men’s All-Mountain East models.  The basalt gives the Temptation 88 enough torsional rigidity to bite into eastern ice and ups the performance ante enough that the 88 is probably too much ski for a standard-issue intermediate.  “It has a lot of personality,” agreed Shirley from Footloose, “quick, lively, fun, wonderful at speed and held well on hard snow.”

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Sin 7

rocker

Power:  B

Finesse:  A

Sidecut:  128/98/118
Radius:  17m @ 180cm
Lengths:  164,172,180,188
Weight:  2100g @ 180cm
MSRP:  $700

This review is based on a combination of 2014 and 2015 test results; the ski is unchanged.

sin 7

The Rossi Sin 7 simplifies steering. Anyone, regardless of skill set, can step into a Sin 7 and make turns.  The skier with marginal abilities will only be able to push them around, but the Sin 7 won’t care as its tip and tail aren’t perturbed by swiveling and the cambered area underfoot is so soft it would bend if a bee landed on it.  

The more accomplished skier will love the manner in which the Sin 7 can either roll sinuously edge to edge, dissolving one turn into the next, or, if given a jolt of pressure, ping off the edge and scoot into the next arc with vigor.

The Sin 7’s translucent tip and tail sections suggest a ski that is both lightweight and responsive to a light touch, which describes this ski to a T. “It feels like you are always floating, like you’re never really in the snow,” avers Winks from California Ski Company. “Never hooky or catchy, yet the edge is always there when you need it.” 

Our testers found the Sin 7 both quick and well connected to the snow as long as speed stayed within the recreational range.  Its predominant attribute is forgiveness, particularly when the snow surface is softer, groomed or not.  While short turns are in its repertoire, its preferred beat is more relaxed. 

The Sin 7 is not too proud to smear a turn when requested, so it’s good at disguising errors rather than inflating them.  It’s a terrific tool for someone ready to discover what is truly meant by the term, “all-terrain.”

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Saffron 7

rocker

Power:  A+

Finesse:  A+

Sidecut:  128/98/118
Radius:  16m @ 170cm
Lengths:  162,170,178
Weight:  2000g @ 170cm
MSRP:  $700

saffron 7

If we had split the Recommended skis in this genre into Power and Finesse factions, as is our usual custom, Rossignol’s Saffron 7 would most likely have ended on the Finesse side of the ledger.  Instead of a Power ski that convinces you it’s also easy, the Saffron 7 is a subtle ski that doesn’t show off its strength until it’s summoned.

Modeled after the men’s Sin 7, the Saffron 7 shares its sibling’s predilection for softer snow, as its Powder Turn baseline and wafer-light Air Tip and tail design are made for the fluff.  With an effective sidecut considerably shorter than its length, the Saffron 7 skis like a slalom ski wearing a fat dress: she’s more agile than she looks.

We were fortunate this season to tap into an unexpected resource known as the Divas, dedicated skiers from western PA who channel their thoughts and feelings about equipment to Willi’s Ski and Board.  One of their number had this to say about the Saffron 7: “Super fun ski, amazingly quick edge to edge for how fat it is.  Great for soft snow conditions and can handle soft groomers.”

The Diva’s description is spot-on.  Skis as wide as the Saffron should have more appetite for what’s on the off-piste menu. While the Saffron is perfectly capable of carving a comfortable, medium-radius arc on firm snow, it’s bliss lies off-piste where its base profile and poppy rebound were formulated to shine.

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Soul 7

rocker

Power:  A+

Finesse:  A+

Sidecut:  136/106/126
Radius:  17m @ 180cm
Lengths:  164,172,180,188
Weight:  1900g @ 180cm
MSRP:  $850

soul 7

“Best in class!” proclaimed Bobo’s Pat Parraguirre.  “In wet, wind-drifted snow it felt light and responsive.  Lightweight and other Finesse skiers will love this ski. Nimble yet stable,” he aptly concluded.

The Soul 7 succeeds because it retains its poise in stressful conditions, like choppy snow in low light.  While you won’t actually be able to see any better, the Soul 7 has a knack for smoothing out rough terrain so at least you’ll feel more confident.

Lightweight and easy to flex, the Soul 7 is a natural fit for the so-so skier who wants to achieve overnight proficiency off-piste.  The only fly in this ointment is the typical recreational skier has difficulty finding a high edge angle on a relatively narrow ski; on a tool 106mm underfoot, John Q. Public may never roll the ski to a high enough edge angle to carve a continuous arc.

But if you already know how to carve a turn with a broad-beamed ski, the Soul 7 can match you step for step.  It substitutes pep for power, with an energetic ping off the edge to propel the pilot into the next arc. Neither a surfer nor a charger, it uses its quick reflexes and soft, rockered extremities to maneuver through moguls and tight trees.  More than a mere powder ski, the Soul 7 has an appetite for any condition on the menu, but if allowed to order for itself, of course it’s going to ask for two feet of fresh.

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Savory 7

rocker

Sidecut:  136/106/126
Radius:  17m @ 178cm
Lengths:  162,170,178
Weight:  1800g @ 178cm
MSRP:  $850

savory 7

When Rossi decided to overhaul their all-mountain, aka “freeride,” collection of skis 2 years ago, they created a basic construction that is so well adapted for the female skier there’s no need to further feminize it when it’s redecorated as a women’s model.  Thus the Savory 7 is, for all intents and purposes, a Soul 7 wearing a dress instead of pants. All the elements that made the Soul 7 the leader in the Big Mountain department since its debut again prevail in the returning Savory 7. 

Rossi reinforces the ridiculously light paulownia core with a matrix of even lighter carbon fibers that gives the Savory 7 the conviction to charge down a beat-up crud field despite its featherweight build. Whitney from Peter Glenn’s Atlanta store took the Savory 7 for several spins in wildly variable conditions in Aspen last April.  She was hooked.

“My absolute favorite!” she raved. “Skied through everything, on top of anything and were FAST!  Love them!!  Didn’t want to demo anything else.”

The honeycomb core at tip and tail help the Savory 7 to ski short so it’s easier to swivel in heavy chop, and its peppy personality puts some pop in short turns, a rarity in this category.  All attributes considered, nothing snakes through off-piste conditions easier than the Savory 7.

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Super 7

rocker

Power:  A+

Finesse:  A+

Sidecut:  140/116/130
Radius:  20.8m @ 180cm
Lengths:  164,172,180,188
Weight:  2100g @ 180cm
MSRP:  $850

This review is based on 2014 test results; the ski is unchanged.

super 7

Our Editor’s Pick as Powder ski of the year in 2014, Rossignol’s Super 7 earned our admiration for its resurrection of a lost attribute in this class of barge-wide boards: rebound!

The exclamation point is to underscore that rebound is meant to be exciting; riding the release of the pent-up energy coiled in the fiberglass laminates that were bowed underfoot an accelerated heartbeat ago.  When you get this load-and-explode reaction to repeat on a regular tempo, powder skiing becomes a transcendental experience.

The Super 7 makes it easier to ride this energy wave by giving the skier a long platform on which to balance but a significantly shorter section that controls turn shape.  The result: the Super 7 skis short and springy while still delivering all the flotation you’ll ever need. 

Carving capacity is an undervalued quality in Powder skis, not because you should take Powder boards for a spin on groomers, but because a ski still responds to edge angle and pressure when submerged.  Remember, super-sized skis ride high even in Champagne powder, so one skims along closer to the surface. If they’re built with the inherent responsiveness of the Super 7, they can still pounce down the hill as if pressing off a much less pillowy surface.

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Squad 7

rocker

Power:  A

Finesse:  A

Sidecut:  145/120/126
Radius:  30m @ 190cm
Lengths:  180,190
Weight:  2250g @ 190cm
MSRP:  $900

This review is based on 2014 test results; the ski is unchanged.

squad 7

While the Rossi Squad 7 had a couple of its teeth pulled during its makeover to an Air Tip (and tail) design two years ago, it’s still a burly ski.  While it’s ski test apostasy to disregard the scorecard stats, in the Powder genre they are unreliable guides to behavior. 

The scores for the Squad 7 are based on a small sample of runs taken mostly in the prevailing (i.e., hard) on-piste conditions; our realskiers’ recommendation is more a reflection of our experience of the ski in conditions it was meant for. Unquestionably enlightened by its adoption of the Soul 7 construction, the Squad 7 in its big-boy size of 190cm still requires the length of a football field to effect a succession of three turns unless you can crank it up to edge angles that most anyone is unlikely to achieve on hard snow, let alone the powder that is the Squad 7’s province.

Long way of saying, the Squad 7 likes its turns long.  You wouldn’t pick up on this behavior just by looking at the numbers, but one might say just because numbers are numbers doesn’t necessarily make them weightier than words.

Scored on 1.00 to 10.00 scale:

early to edge
continuous, accurate carve
rebound/turn finish
stable and accurate at speed
short-radius turns
low speed turns
drift and scrub
off-piste performance
forgiveness/ease
finesse vs. power balance
race
technical ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
frontside ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
all-mountain east ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
all-mountain west ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
big mountain ( ♂ ~ ♀ )
powder