Carving Skis, Powder Skis and Skis In Between

I often look at my ski rack and wonder what I could change to make skiing even more fun and a little easier. In other words, which ski do I really need? This basic question conjured up so many parameters that just one simple answer seemed totally impossible. But I was determined to find out and what follows is the story of my search for the perfect ski.


I began by visiting the Rossignol North American Headquarters, right here in Park City, Utah. I spent some time with Nick Castagnoli, communication and public relations officer for the brand. Deer Valley Resort works closely with Rossignol, one of the world’s leading equipment manufacturers, both at its Empire Test Center and also in all of its ski rental operations. Nick took me to the showroom where next winter’s collection was already on display. Needless to say that I was overwhelmed by the breadth of models available, but his expertise quickly brought some order to my confused mind.


He first introduced the carving skis, Rossignol’s new Pursuit line. “These are pure carving tools,” said Nick, “Their mid-sole dimensions only range from 71 to 73 mm. These are fast edge-to-edge. You barely roll your ankle and you’re gone.” He immediately saw that this wasn’t quite my type of ski and explained that the carving and powder ski categories were bridged by a wonderful family of All-Mountain skis, called the Experience Series for men and the Temptation Series for women. “From coast-to-coast these skis represent the majority of our sales. They stand as benchmark of versatility for consumers. Not everyone skis deep powder.” added Nick.

I asked what might be the best width for me in the Experience line and Nick suggested that I try a few different versions at the Rossignol High Performance Test Center at Deer Valley Resort. I also asked what seemed to be the practical range of acceptable ski width (this is measured in millimeters under the foot at the mid-section of the ski) for the kind of skiing I was doing. Nick just smiled and said: “We’ve seen all kinds of widths in recent years, but the pendulum always swings back. Today from 85 to 110 mm seems to be where it’s at!”


Nick skis on the Soul 7, a powder ski, the other flagship of the Rossignol line. “Skiers want a ski that’s versatile. Something that works for any occasion. The Soul 7 is an aspirational ski; Everyone wants to become a good powder skier.” He went on to explain the distinctive, longer lightweight (air) tip in that series of skis designed to minimize swing-weight and also match the rocker location. Nick explained, “weight is a big deal for us. Lightweight is the trend these days, so we are working hard at making both our skis and bindings significantly lighter, which in turn makes skiing much easier without compromising performance.”


My meeting with Nick Castagnoli brought me one step closer to understanding what would be the perfect ski for me. But since I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned, I returned to the Rossignol High Performance Test Center, located near the Empire Canyon Lodge at Deer Valley Resort. I had paid one visit in January and needed to refresh my memory.


I wanted to ski again on the Soul 7, Rossignol’s best-selling freeride ski (the Savory 7 is the women’s equivalent). If you’re not familiar with the term freeride, simply equate it to powder or deep snow skiing. This very distinctive yellow ski spans over backcountry, freestyle and powder skiing. Its particular “rocker” design is meant to prevent tip flapping and brings an effortless flotation. Because of this the ski literally plows its way through the most challenging snow conditions, from bottomless powder to forbidding crud and even spring snow. The ski also does a decent job on hard-pack but this is not where I would primarily use it. I particularly liked its tip that projects higher up, offering an added feature when going over unknown terrain in fresh snow or extremely deep moguls.


Since I don’t spend much time skiing hard-pack, I didn’t look at or test the carving skis that Rossignol offers in this product category. I was looking for the everyday Deer Valley ski, that I think I found in the Experience series. I just want my skis to initiate easily when I take them in tight forested spots and yet I need them to be stable when I happen to find myself on groomed runs, which is where I often end up during the early and late portions of the season. The rest of the time my favorite playground is natural terrain, trees, crud (mostly) and powder of variable depth each time mother nature programs a snowfall!

I remember trying both the Experience 84 and 88. The 88 was the one I liked the most. I found it to be very versatile for my type of skiing and solid enough in terms of quickness and stability. It can carve when it has to and is very responsive, perhaps because of its more subtle rocker design. I also found it quite stable and easy to control when it had to plow through changing snow conditions or transition from smooth to bumpy terrain.


That’s it; I have determined that the Experience 88 is the perfect ski for me. Doing a little homework was worth it and made me confident that I didn’t have to make much compromise as I have done so many times before. I’m satisfied that I have made the perfect choice, found the right equipment for me, and can already look forward to the next ski season! I hope this helps you choose your perfect ski too. 

Ski All Day with New Technology in Women’s Skis

I want to ski the entire day.  I’d love to be the girl who is racing to get on that last chair before the lift closes.  I haven’t been able to do it yet, though.  The excuse I give myself for coming in early is I live here now and have a season pass so I can always come back tomorrow.  I simply tell myself, “Oh it’s nice to just ski for a few hours and then relax in the lodge.”

But the cold hard truth of it is, I get tired. My legs start burning, and I can’t ignore them.  I get worried that they won’t respond when I need them to. I might take a break but I end up going in instead of staying out as long as I’d like.

My girlfriends who visit find themselves in the same boat.  They don’t have the luxury of skiing next weekend though because they have to fly back to California.  This is their vacation – they want more skiing and less sitting. There is plenty of time for relaxing after 4 o’clock when the lifts close.

I recently found out that it might not just be me.  I don’t have iron legs by any means but I am in pretty good shape. I should be able to ski longer (with breaks of course.)  The answer could lie in my equipment. New ski technology is helping skiers gain more control, reduce fatigue and frankly have more fun. In the past, I’ve been confused and overwhelmed by ski technology, but this year I am bound and determined to learn.  My plan is to “geek out” because I have a goal – ski longer and get better.  Last year was the quest to become an intermediate skier. I did it!  Blue runs for me, my friends.  This year, we are going for the double blues, baby!

My friends at Rossignol helped me out and gave me a primer on the latest ski technology for intermediate women skiers this year.

Here are some things I learned:

photo 2Rocker.   As a classic rock fan, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear “rocker” is AC/DC’s “Back in Black” but that’s not exactly what we are talking about here.  Rocker refers to the tips of the skis, like a rocking chair.  In powder, a rocker tip helps you to stay on top of the snow – floating on top of the powder like a water skier on water, not with skis planted in it.  On the back of the ski, the rocker helps you lean back to maintain control and slow your speed as you need to.  A tip and tail rocker helps you pivot without getting hung up.  Sounds good to me!

ROCKER EXPLAINED with titleCamber.  Not being a motor head, I had no idea what this term meant.  Camber refers to the spring on the ski – how it pops up or down. When you lay the ski on a flat surface, you’ll see it’s actually not flat. It has an arch in the middle.  As a result, only two points on the ski touch the flat surface and the middle of the ski has a spring to it. On a groomed run or hard packed snow, this helps with stability, turning, and gripping edges especially when it’s icy.

photo 1Combination.  Which is better for you?  Well, both actually! I found the combination of how the ski designer puts together the rocker and the camber is the key to control.  Rockers for powder skis means you don’t have to lean back to keep your tips up, reducing fatigue and that could mean one or two more runs at the end of the day. Camber on groomer skis means more stability, automatic turning, with edge grip and power which means more control, easier turns and more confidence.  This translates into less “having to pick yourself up” after a spill and possibly being able to tackle more challenging runs.

We’ll see if powder is in my future this year. If it is, I am going to try the Rossignal S7 with the Powder Turn Rocker.  Maybe an “all mountain” ski is better for me so I follow my girlfriends through a few trees and venture onto some intermediate mogul runs (no blacks for me yet, thank you!)  I’ll try the Women’s Rossignol Temptation 88 and the other in the Temptation Series.

We can all try them out at the Rossignol Test Center Yurt at Empire Lodge at no cost for two hours.  I haven’t taken advantage of this service yet but this year, I will.

Be sure to leave a comment for me about your experience with your demos.  Double blues girls, here we come!!

photo 5