2017 Rossignol Soul 7 HD Ski Review: Improving Greatness with Stability // Ski Reviews
A few years ago Rossignol introduced the Soul 7. Since then it has become one of the most popular all mountain skis on the market. Chances are, no matter where you ski, you’ve seen tons of the black and yellow Rossis out on the hill. If you’re unfamiliar with the Soul 7 (let’s be honest, you probably know all about it), it is a 106mm waist all-mountain ski that has gained a strong following for it’s versatile, forgiving, easy-to-ski characteristics, light swing weight, and perhaps more than anything, it’s playfulness and maneuverability. For some skiers who live in areas of the country that don’t receive a ton of snowfall it can also act as a designated powder ski due to its abundant tip rocker and early tapered shape. It has consistently scored among the top skis over the past few years in essentially every ski test in the world and has influenced other companies to follow suit with similar shapes (without getting into an argument over who did 5-point sidecut first, who sued who, blah blah blah).
So you might be asking yourself, and you certainly wouldn’t be alone, why would they change a ski that received such rave reviews across the board? Well, among all the positive feedback the Soul 7 received there was a specific complaint from a specific type of skier. More aggressive and heavier skiers both felt the ski lacked torsional stiffness and stability for high speed skiing. Where it excelled in tight terrain at slower speeds, it lacked a little performance when you start charging down the fall line in open terrain, through variable conditions at high speeds, and even when trying to hold and edge through and aggressive turn on groomed terrain.
Rossignol set out on a mission to rectify this complaint among more aggressive skiers, but didn’t want to take away from what has made the Soul 7 so popular, it’s easy-to-ski nature, maneuverability, and playfulness. What they’ve given us is the new Soul 7 HD. Think of the HD as “High Definition”. No, you can’t see the graphics better on the new skis, it’s not that kind of HD. It is, rather, a nod to the skis increased torsional stiffness and increased stability. Where the previous Soul 7 felt a little too soft and unstable, the Soul 7 HD has a distinctly more precise feel and when you think about it, the metaphor of standard definition vs HD works really well when comparing the original Soul 7 to the HD version.
How did they do this? Rossignol retained the same exact shape of the Soul 7. After all, the shape of the ski is a huge reason why it has become so popular. The rocker/camber profile and associated early tapered tips and tails create the exceptionally maneuverable platform that so many have come to love. Here at SkiEssentials.com we were very happy to see Rossignol didn’t change the shape of the ski. The changes, on the other hand, are found in the skis construction. In past versions Rossignol has used a combination of a Paulownia wood core and their proprietary Diago Fiber laminate (very similar to traditional fiberglass laminates found in wood core skis). In the Soul 7 HD, however, Rossignol has gone to a Paulownia wood core with their brand new Carbon Alloy Matrix technology. The Carbon Alloy Matrix is essentially carbon fiber woven into the core of the ski. When you look at a Soul 7 HD close up you can actually see the crisscrossing lines of carbon through the ski.
The new Carbon Alloy Matrix is what gives the ski the new “HD” title. Rossignol has done an impressive job with the construction of the ski. Because the carbon is strategically woven into the ski, instead of just being an entire sheet, it keeps weight at a minimum while adding the extra torsional stiffness and stability some skiers thought it lacked. They are actually slightly lighter than the 2016 Soul 7, which noticeable when you pick them up and even more noticeable when they’re on your feet. Rossignol’s Air Tip keeps swing weight exceptionally low, which is very prevalent when you’re actually skiing. Rossignol definitely did a good job keeping the skis lightweight, which is a characteristic many skier really valued in their Soul 7.
We had five testers take out the new Soul 7 HD and every single one was impressed by what Rossignol has accomplished. They’ve done a great job retaining what has made the Soul 7 so popular. It’s still extremely maneuverable and does great in tight terrain, in variable conditions at slow speeds, and still boasts an overall easy-to-ski feel.
There is a noticeable improvement, however, in the skis torsional stiffness and stability. For me personally, and this was echoed through the rest of our tester’s feedback, I never felt comfortable on the original Soul 7 pointing it down the fall line through tricky terrain or really pushing the ski to its limits on firm snow. Within a couple runs on the Soul 7 HD, however, I was brushing my hip on the snow while making some pretty gosh darn aggressive turns. The ski held an edge admirably and gives a snappy, responsive, powerful feel on firm snow where it used to lack performance. For me, when skiing the previous Soul 7 on groomers, I always felt like I was just getting from point A to point B (essentially just going from one area of tight, off-piste terrain to another). I could always get the original Soul 7 to carve turns on groomers, but they were never very exciting turns, more just mellow cruising groomer turns. With the Soul 7 HD you still get the off-piste performance, but now when you’re on groomed terrain you can push the ski like you would on a designated frontside carving ski. It’s an awesome mix of off-piste playfulness and on-piste seriousness. We didn’t have much open, ungroomed terrain to test it on, but after a few runs pushing it as hard as I could, it feels like it could charge down western bowls at high speeds and remain quite stable compared to the previous version.
There are a lot of people out there concerned that Rossignol ruined a great ski by changing it. All we can tell those people is, “don’t worry, it’s better”. We think anyone who liked the previous Soul 7 construction will like the new Soul 7 HD just as much. It’s still extremely maneuverable and easy to ski. Although it can definitely handle it, you certainly don’t have to ski it hard, fast, and aggressively. Those who prefer skiing at slower speeds will still find great enjoyment skiing a Soul 7 HD. It hops and jumps around with ease and inspires confidence in tight terrain, just like the original Soul 7 did. For those who like to ski fast and hard, however, the Soul 7 HD provides the necessary stability and strength that it previously lacked. We highly recommend everyone tries to get on a pair at the end of this season or the beginning of next. We anticipate the Soul 7 HD to be quite a popular ski for 2017, so you may want to jump on a pair this season as Rossignol has done an early release of the Soul 7 HD and the new Experience 88 HD.