On groomers, the Rossignol S3s are very good, and the 188cm Rossignol Experience 98 is phenomenal—still the most capable, locked down, all-mountain 98mm ski I have ever skied on groomers. The Scimitars fall between these two other skis on the spectrum. Having said that, I feel like they are substantially better than the S3s on groomers, and I can’t recall whether the Experience 98 is as easy to get up on edge as the Scimitar. So if carving is truly your thing, the Experience 98 is the most comfortable at speed, but the Scimitar is incredibly easy (and fun) to get up high on edge. The S3s are fine and really fun, it’s just that these other two skis really are that good.
In 12-16″ of fresh, the Scimitar did fine, but its subtle rocker profile provided a less surfy feel than the S3. Of the S3, Experience 98, and Scimitar, the S3 will probably be the most fun on pow days—it has the most tip and tail rocker of the bunch, and its softer flex than the Experience 98 and Scimitar promotes good floatation in all but very wet, heavy snow. Finally, the Experience 98 has the most conventional / traditional feel in pow. It is a stiff ski with minimal tip rocker; it’s not going for that overly surfy, playful feel in soft snow.
The Scimitar has a longer running length and isn’t quite as quick as the S3s, but they are more substantial, and the shovels won’t fold up like the S3’s will when things start getting steep and firm. The Scimitars are also less work than the Experience 98s, and pivot more easily. But the S3 is the ski I would recommend if you’re into skiing really tight trees. It has the shortest running length of the three skis, and is very quick and very easy to pivot. However, the steeper and more bumped those tree lines become (as on Taos’ North Face), the more quickly I would reach for the Scimitars.
This one is a tough call as to which is the best ski for bumps, and it’s pretty much a coin flip between the S3 and the Scimitar. I found the S3s to be a bit quicker and slightly easier than the Scimitars to get the shovels moving fast. Furthermore, as I’ve mentioned, with their subtle, full reverse camber profile, the Scimitars ski longer than the S3, and longer is rarely better in bumps. But the Scimitars feel more solid, which is good if you’re flying, and if you are flying, you might appreciate that the Scimitar has a firmer tail than the S3. If you’re skiing bumps more slowly, you will likely prefer the softer tail of the S3s.
While the Scimitar pivots well, I found myself carving more than pivoting in bumps; alternatively, the S3s are a pivot machine, and its rocker profile and flex pattern allow it to negotiate easily big, tight bumps or tight trees. (Again, my biggest caveat here is that, in steep bump lines, I’ll take the more substantial shovels of the Scimitar.)
Skiing some end-of-the-day bump laps on Taos’ Al’s Run, I found myself wishing that the Scimitars were slightly quicker, but still appreciated their ease and relative stability. They felt good here.
I didn’t have the opportunity to mess with mount position too much, but I did move the Scimitars forward one centimeter of recommended and didn’t notice much of a difference, positively or negatively. So if you’re inclined to get a bit forward of recommended, neither Will nor I found that to be a problem.
CUT UP / CHOP / ICE:
If you are primarily looking for a ski to bust through crud, ski ice, perform well in resorts on a 1″-6″ storm day, and perform really well days after the storm, then the Rossignol Experience 98 might be the ticket. Again, the feel of the Experience 98 is like that of a very good traditional ski: It isn’t designed to pivot, it’s designed to carve and fly. It will certainly perform the best of the three skis on very hard snow, and it will smooth out the ride the most. But the Scimitar is impressive on firm and is more fun than the Experience 98 in fresh and in bumps. In short, the Scimitar provides an attractive compromise between the soft snow-oriented S3 and the hard snow-oriented Experience 98, so it really does depend on where you’re looking for a ski to excel.
I can see a lot of people at a lot of different mountains being quite happy with the Scimitar. There is a lot of overlap with the S3, but there are some distinguishing features that hopefully make it clear which will be the better choice for you.
If you are looking for a ski that is incredibly easy and quick at slow speeds, or if this ski is going to be what you break out in deeper pow, the S3 is probably the better call.
The Scimitar is more stable at speed than the S3 and is more capable in variable conditions and bumped up terrain. In short, it can be pushed harder. And while it isn’t as good on bulletproof ice—and it might not be as ridiculously stable and fast—as the 188cm Experience 98, it is less demanding than the Experience 98 in bumps and tight trees.
So if, like Neil, you’re looking for a capable off-piste ski that can handle icy faces and still be fun in a foot of pow, the Scimitar seems like a very good choice, and definitely represents one of the best values in the ski industry.