2016 Rossignol Slat Skis: Make the Whole Mountain Your Park! // Ski Reviews
I had the opportunity recently to do more of a long term review on a pair of 2016 Rossignol Slat skis at our home mountain, Stowe, here in Vermont. I’ve been interested in this ski ever since it hit the market a few years ago, but never had a chance to ski one until this season. As someone who comes from a freestyle background and enjoys skiing a little bit of everything, typically including runs through the terrain park, naturally I was pretty excited about the Rossignol Slat. If you’re unfamiliar with the Slat, I’m not entirely surprised. The ski has flown under the radar over the past few seasons, but I always thought, and now that I’ve skied it I know, this ski deserves more attention than it’s received.
We’re going to get down to the nitty gritty details on this one, so let’s start with me. I’m 29 years old (for another few weeks…), 5’10” and somewhere between 150 and 160 lbs. Like I said, I come from a freestyle background and spend a lot of time in the terrain park, but love skiing the entire mountain. My typical ski day involves some tree skiing, some high speed super-G style groomer skiing, and of course, as many runs through the park as I can manage. The Slat is a ski that’s definitely designed with someone like me in mind. It skis well across the entire mountain, but retains strong ability when you take it into the park. I have been skiing a 181cm Slat, which I mounted at the “center” line, which is the further forward of two recommended mount points. I’ve been able to get out on the Slat on a few different days with varying conditions and am excited to share my experiences thus far.
The first time I skied the Rossignol Slat was 4-5 early morning runs before heading in to the office. We had received about 4-6 inches of snow the night before and it was quite windy, resulting in some deeper pockets of snow, alongside some wind buffed terrain where things were more exposed. The trails that were groomed later in the night, however, were pretty smooth. The first thing I noticed about the Slat was its stability. There are a lot of skis in this category that are very light weight and easily maneuverable but ultimately sacrifice some stability. The Slat is certainly not one of those skis. It feels solid. They might feel heavy to some, but when compared to a ski with metal in its construction, it doesn’t feel heavy at all. In fact, I was impressed by how solid and stable Rossignol has made the Slat considering it’s just a traditional wood/fiberglass sandwich construction. In fact, it many ways it acts like it does have metal in its construction. The skis feel quite damp, absorbing small bumps and impacts extremely well. They’re not overly stiff by any means, rather they have a nice even flex with overall damp, quiet characteristics.
Much of the stability of the Slat comes from its design. With a 97mm waist width, the Slat is obviously designed with soft snow skiing in mind. The Slat features Rossignol’s “Auto Turn” rocker both on the tips and the tails of the ski as well as full, non-early-tapered tips and tails. The turn radius on the Slat, at 23m, is relatively big for a ski in this category. The trend in the “mid-fat” freeride category seems to be smaller turn radii and often early tapered tips and tails. The Slat is the opposite. By using full width tips and tails and a pretty big turn radius Rossignol has set the Slat apart from many of its competitors and it has resulted in a pretty unique ski in today’s market. For a ski with a 97mm waist it floats exceptionally well. Granted, I haven’t skied them in really deep conditions, but I was pretty impressed with how well the skis stayed floating through 6 inches of snow.
Because of the damp stable nature of the ski and the relatively big turn radius I found myself taking really direct lines through choppy snow with no problems at all. The Slat loves to be pointed down the fall line and gives you the confidence to take speed into tricky terrain or conditions. I had a blast skiing fast for my first few runs, but figured I should test the short turn ability of the Slat as well. I switched up my run and headed for some steeper terrain. This is where I was really quite surprised by the Slat. Often a ski that handles well at high speeds and likes to take direct lines kind of fights you when you want to slow it down and make smaller turns, but the Rossignol Slat adjusts extremely quickly to different turn shapes. I attribute it to the amount of tail rocker on the ski. It’s subtle enough to give you plenty of rearward stability, but when you want to make quick turns the edges release really easily and wash around behind you with minimal effort. Needless to say, I ended the morning with a big smile on my face.
After my first day on the Slat I was impressed by its ability in soft, fresh snow and variable conditions. The next time I skied them I purposefully went out on a day without fresh snow to test their ability both on groomers and in the park. The Slat handles groomers much in the same way it handles softer conditions. The first thing I noticed is how well the Slat performs at high speeds. Going back to my tendencies to make high speed, Super G style turns, this is usually the first thing I do on a new ski: point it down the fall line until I’m moving fast enough to really test the skis ability to hold an edge, and the Slat certainly does. For a twin tip “freeride” ski with pretty significant tip and tail rocker I was pleasantly surprised with how responsive and powerful the Slat is on-piste. It held an edge through high speed, powerful turns effortlessly and even has a fair amount of energy when you unweight, resulting in a much more responsive groomer ski than one might expect.
After a couple runs of just mobbing down groomers with a goofy grin on my face, I thought to myself, “wait, I’m testing this ski, I should do other stuff…” Much like the way it seemingly transforms to a different ski when making different turn shapes in soft snow, I was amazed at how easily the Slat makes short quick turns on groomers. After making aggressive high speed turns for half an hour it started to feel like a ski that was so at home it wasn’t going to want to make short quick turns. Much on the contrary, the tail edges release on command and the Slat will quickly change from big sweeping carving turns to short, quick, pivoting turns. After I realized this phenomenon I figured I should test their ability in moguls, so I took a quick turn onto a short mogul run at Stowe. I again was pleasantly surprised. The damp feel, without being overly stiff, and the skis ability to release its tail edges all combine resulting in a ski that’s extremely fun in moguls, as long as they’re somewhat soft. Because of the width (especially the tip) firm moguls might be a bit of a challenge, but as long as they’re relatively soft the Slat absolutely shines.
Now, it’s a twin tip after all, and it was designed for use in the park. The Slat is part of Rossignol’s “S” collection and the company even says in their description that you could compete on the Slat. What’s my take of the Slat as a park ski? You need to be a pretty darn good park skier to really utilize them to their fullest potential, or at least size down from the length you’d normally ski. Skiing park was the only time I felt held back by the weight of the Slat. Spins on and off of rails and switch ups all took a bit more effort than on most “park” skis. I felt the same way when spinning on the few small jumps Stowe has set up. I could feel the weight of the skis affecting my spins, but the jumps were 15-20 feet max. I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to test the skis out on bigger jumps where I think they would be absolutely amazing. However, because of the weight, I wouldn’t recommend them to skiers who are looking to do technical tricks on both jumps and rails. Unless you’re incredibly strong, extremely talented or hitting massive jumps all the time, it would be a bit of a challenge to whip around tricks like double corks, etc.
What’s my overall impression of the Rossigonol Slat? It’s a fantastic ski for those who enjoy skiing the entire mountain, but still spend a fair amount of time in the park. I wouldn’t recommend this as a competitive park ski as I think the weight would hold back most skiers, but if you’re not competing chances are you’ll have an absolute blast on the Slat. I also would strongly recommend non-park skiers try to get on a pair. Very often twin tip skis get stuck with an image that you have to be a freestyle or park skier to enjoy them. I think the Slat is the perfect example of why this is not necessarily true. In my opinion, the skis performance on the rest of the mountain outshined its performance in the park. That being said, I had a lot of fun skiing park on the Slat. I wasn’t doing the craziest tricks, but it’s such a smooth, fun ski that I found myself really enjoying skiing it in the park. As long as you’re not looking to break any spinning records, it’s a fantastic ski.