2018 Rossignol Soul 7 HD Ski Review: Now With Air Tip 2.0! // Ski Reviews
Last week we released a preview of the entire 2018 Rossignol collection right here on Chairlift Chat. As you may have noticed in that article the most significant change to the Rossignol lineup for 2018 is their completely redesigned 7 Series. These freeride skis have been exceptionally popular over the past few seasons for their ease-of-use, excellent performance in soft snow, and tremendous maneuverability. Although there are a range of skis in the 7 Series collection, most people can agree that the flagship model is the Soul 7 HD. Rossignol was one of the early innovators of rockered and early tapered (5 point sidecut) skis back when they introduced the S7. That ski has evolved over the years into the Soul 7, then into the Soul 7 HD for 2017 when Rossignol added their Carbon Tank Mesh. Now, for 2018, the ski is totally redesigned with a brand new mold, new tip construction, and a new vibe.
The Honey-Comb tip of the Soul 7 HD (and most all of Rossignol skis) has become one of its most defining characteristics. It’s easy to spot them when you’re out on the slopes with their yellow tips and tails contrasting with black top sheets. Rossignol has essentially retained the overall theme of the Soul 7 HD, but it’s blacker and burlier now. How? Rossignol has developed a 2.0 version of their Air Tip to go along with a slightly tweaked ski shape. The ski still uses Carbon Alloy Matrix and their Powder Turn Rocker profile, but this new tip construction is more integrated into the core of the ski and uses visible internal reinforcements to strengthen the ski.
Rossignol refers to this Air Tip 2.0 as using “3D construction.” It’s both lighter and stronger, comes further down the ski where it integrates into the skis chassis, and essentially eliminates tip deflection, instability, and drastically reduces chatter. The idea is to make the ski more balanced and powerful, give it a more even flex throughout and a quieter, calmer feel; all while reducing swing weight even more than the original Air Tip. Sometimes when a company tries to beef up a ski they ruin what made it great in the first place, but Rossignol most certainly does not fall into this category. We touched on it last season when they added Carbon Alloy Matrix to the ski. Does it make sense to make a lightweight, maneuverable ski “burlier”? As long as it’s not sacrificing the positive attributes of the ski, yes, yes it does. We saw it going into 2017 and we’re seeing it again for 2018.
We’ve always loved the playful, light, maneuverable feel of the Soul 7 HD. It’s what has made the ski so popular, after all. It’s an incredible accessible ski even for less aggressive intermediates. It gives skiers the right tool for skiing soft snow, tight terrain, and does it all with a light, fun, playful feel. If we go back a few seasons the downside of the Soul 7 was instability, tip chatter, and a lack of torsional stiffness for carving back to the lift on the groomers or cat tracks (after all it’s pretty impossible to always be skiing powder). Rossignol did a great job improving upon these weaknesses by adding Carbon Alloy Matrix and this new shape and tip construction takes it a step further.
The new Soul 7 HD has a slightly longer turn radius than the previous version, but we really mean slightly. The 180 cm ski now uses an 18 m turn radius where in seasons past it has been 17 m. This doesn’t sound like much of a difference, but it does help play into the fact that the new Soul 7 HD does feel smoother and gives it a little bit better performance when skiing at high speeds. The integration of the reinforced 3D structure of the Air Tip 2.0 into the chassis of the ski helps give it a more balanced, even flex from tip to tail. The tips and tails of the previous Soul 7 HD felt so different than the rest of the ski it gave it a bit of a mixed personality. While Carbon Alloy Matrix gave it much increased torsional stiffness and stability under foot, it still lacked it in the tips and tails. Now, however, the ski feels like a single entity from tip to tail and thusly loves to be skied in a very neutral, balanced position. It’s not the type of ski where you want to be driving the tip at all times, rather rewards a slightly more relaxed skier position.
The Soul 7 HD still definitely prefers to be skied in soft snow and that’s where I really thought it shined. It’s still unbelievably quick and easy to pivot and still has excellent float with its 106 mm waist width (Rossi didn’t change the width of the ski, they felt they had it perfect to begin with). The 5 point sidecut allows you to slash and smear turns effortlessly even in deep snow. It does make the Soul 7 HD ski a little bit short, so don’t hesitate to size up if you think you’re between sizes. Myself, for example, at 5’10” 150 lbs on paper should really ski either the 172 or 180 cm ski, but depending on the terrain I actually prefer 180 or 188 cm. If skiing in open terrain I would go 188 cm all day, but here on the east I do like the quickness and ability to work the ski through tight spots when on the 180 cm. It really does feel more balanced than the previous version and more powerful, although it’s not a drastically different ski. The swing weight is even lighter than before, it’s still incredibly maneuverable, but now it’s just a little bit stronger.
The Soul 7 HD will continue to be a favorite among intermediate to advanced skiers who want an approachable powder ski that performs very, very well in soft snow. It’s a great choice for less aggressive skiers who aren’t charging, although the new version does stay quieter at speed over chopped up terrain. We think those aggressive skiers who shied away from the previous version may like the new Soul 7 HD a lot more. It would be a great addition to an expert’s quiver that contains a whole bunch of skis with metal. It’s refreshing to have something lighter and more playful. You can expect to continue to see a whole bunch of black and yellow Rossignols on your local hill, they’re just… blacker now.