The Experience W 86 Basalt is the widest ski in the new women’s Experience line of all-mountain skis. These new Experience skis feature new shapes and new construction and consistently performed well throughout our testing. The Experience W 86 Basalt uses a paulownia wood core that’s supported with basalt. We’ve seen basalt used in ski construction more and more over recent years as it provides torsional stiffness and some vibration damping, but is much lighter than metal laminates, which makes it more forgiving and more approachable for a wider range of skiers. The new shape of the Experience skis features more extended sidecut than we saw in the previous generation, but we still get some nice progressive tip rocker. That allows for a longer effective edge in a carving turn and thus better edge grip, while still retaining good versatility and a smooth feel when initiating turns.
Rocker / Camber
Basalt, Drive Tip
All Mountain, Groomers, Powder
Kristi Brown skied the longest available length for the women’s Experience 86 Basalt, 175 cm. Kristi actually grabbed the men’s graphic for her testing, but that doesn’t matter as the performance is identical across the two. Rossignol makes a lot of their skis exactly the same for both men and women, including their Experience line. Some of her feedback was in response to the red men’s graphic, which could cause some confusion, so we thought we’d mention it. Before we get to that, let’s take a look at her scores for this new ski. 5 out of 5 marks for quickness/maneuverability, torsional stiffness/edge grip, and overall impression. Stability, playfulness, forgiveness, and versatility were right behind at 4 out of 5 scores. “LOVE THE RED & Graphite GRAPHICS! Sexy Stealth!!! Front side small/med radius gem for the girl who knows a small diamond is much better then a big CZ. This is a multi-faceted pleaser as it skis as strong and beautiful as it looks, however can be overpowered. It almost buckles at higher speeds and larger radius turns.” Important to remember in this scenario that Kristi is a strong, powerful skier. Not everyone would find the same limitation. In fact, we’d venture a guess that most skiers won’t. If you do feel like you need a stiffer ski in the same shape, don’t forget there’s nothing wrong with opting for the “men’s” Experience 86 Ti.
Alix Klein skied the 157 cm length and found the Experience W 88 Basalt very easy to ski, although did find similar high speed limitations as Kristi. Both of these ladies are very strong skiers who spend a lot of time on skis with metal, so we’re not tremendously surprised by their feedback. Alix also admitted that length was too short for her, although she did a good job assessing the ski despite not having her ideal length. “This is a great intermediate ski. It gets on edge and holds an edge easily, although the tip chattered slightly. It does hold an edge nicely at different radius turns. It was not great at high speeds for me, but that’s probably because it was too short.” We know Alix would’ve found a little more stability in a longer length, although we also think this feedback is relatively accurate for this ski. The basalt construction isn’t designed for maximum stability at speed. It’s certainly not a drastically unstable ski by any means, but Rossignol designs it to be approachable too, which typically takes away some high speed performance. Lauren Lepage skied the 166 cm length, which she thought was perfect for her size. We got a 5 out of 5 score from Lauren for quickness/maneuverability, plus 4 out of 5 scores for flotation, playfulness, forgiveness, and versatility. Lauren’s feedback was quick and to the point, “a playful and lively ski with easy maneuverability in a range of ski conditions.”
The Experience W 86 Basalt is the type of ski that’s going to satisfy a wide range of skiers. A casual intermediate can ski it without any issue and will find it to be a fun, versatile all-mountain ski. For skiers like that, it will also help you progress your carving turns thanks to a tip shape that promotes good technique and falls into a turn as soon as you tip the ski on edge. On the other hand, an advanced/expert skiers who values energy and responsiveness more than raw power would also thoroughly enjoy them. As our testers found, they have somewhat of a speed limit, but not too many skiers will find that limit, at least not in our opinion.