Ski: 2015-2016 Rossignol Squad 7, 190cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 145-120-126
Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 145-118.5-127
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 186.2cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2286 & 2326 grams
Stated Sidecut Radius: 30 meters
Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley
Days Skied: 4
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 Squad 7, which was not changed for 15/16, except for the graphics.]
Jason Hutchins and I don’t ski the same, don’t weigh the same, and don’t have the same personal preferences when it comes to our favorite skis. So it was a bit surprising when he and I didn’t merely size up the original Rossignol Squad 7 the same way, but both of us actually really liked that ski. And so far, he and I are in large agreement on the new Squad 7, too. Jason’s review of the new Squad 7 is excellent, and you should start there before reading this.
I actually skied the Squad 7 before Jason got on it, and found the ski to be quite frustrating. The shovels of the new Squad 7 are simply too soft, something that wasn’t an issue on the original Squad 7. Jason agrees. I don’t know what led Rossignol to make this change, assuming that change was intentional.
The stiffness of the Squad 7 underfoot is substantial, and while the skis soften up a bit as you move toward the tail, it is a smooth, unabrupt transition that makes sense, and that I have found to work really well on snow. The tails don’t feel overly stiff and punishing, nor do they feel too soft. Plus the camber and rocker profile of the Squad 7 is also really nice.
So while Rossignol does characterize the new Squad 7 as a “100% powder ski,” tweak those shovels and the Squad 7 might go back to being a really good pow ski that works well in variable conditions, too.
Now here’s the big caveat: Jason found that by moving the mount point back behind the recommended line, he was able to counteract some of that ‘walling up’ / folding effect of the shovels in variable snow. So I’ll be getting back on the Squad and seeing how much backing up on the ski fixes the issues I was having. Jason tells me it’s a pretty night and day difference, so we’ll see.
Having said that, I’d like to set down my experience of the Squad 7 when skied on the recommended mount point, because I did find the Squad 7 to ski well on groomers, in deep pow, and in steep trees. When I do get on the ski again and move the mount position back, if the Squad 7 maintains its performance in those three areas but becomes better in variable conditions, then that’s good news. But still, Rossi, please tweak those shovels.
Ok, these are my notes from my time on the Squad 7 at Taos, and you can now read my Update at the end of the review.
Pow / Cut-Up Pow
In soft snow in Taos’ K1 and K3 chutes off of Kachina Peak, the Squad 7 felt light, with quick shovels and a fairly stiff tail. I found the Squad to provide a very smooth ride in untracked pow. And this proved to be true all over the mountain. In deep, untracked snow, the Squad 7 was at its best, and the deeper the snow gets, the more I’d prefer to be on the Squad 7 than the 14/15 Moment Governor (the Governor has less tip splay), or the tail-rockerless 13/14 Praxis GPO and 14/15 Dynastar Cham 117.
But in cut-up, tracked snow, the tips of the Squad 7 begin to feel twitchy. If I wasn’t pointing the skis straight down the fall line, those tapered tips would tend to get knocked around—more so than the Moment Governor, and somewhat similar to the Praxis GPO.
Variable Conditions, Bumped-Up Terrain
Moving from deep untracked to cut up pow, and then to variable snow in bumped up terrain, these difficulties were compounded. As Jason notes in his review, the Squad is still pretty substantial underfoot and through the tail and it has a big sidecut radius (30 meters), so it’s not all that tolerant of slowing things down and making short, quick turns. Yet the shovels aren’t substantial enough to lean on them and drive through variable conditions and bumped-up terrain.
If you’re going to make a fat ski with a big sidecut radius, it’s probably going to require the pilot to get the ski up to speed and be able to drive the shovels. The original Squad 7 allowed you to do this, and it was great. On the new Squad, when you look at the heavily-tapered, lightweight tips and soft shovels you think, “This ski wants me to bang out a ton of short, quick turns.” Then you look at that 30-meter sidecut radius and stiffness underfoot and through the tail, and you think, “This ski wants me to just go real fast.” Unfortunately, the new Squad doesn’t really make it particularly easy to do either.
But again, if you’re going to stick to 100% powder conditions, then to be fair, all of this is a moot point. In good powder, the shortcomings of the new Squad 7 are hidden pretty well. And I’ve still got to move back the mount position to see how much this improves performance in variable…
Steep, Bumped-Up Trees
This might sound like a bit of a contradiction given what I’ve just said above, but I found the Squad 7s to work quite well in steep terrain with trees (e.g., some of the sections around Taos’ Werner’s, Pierre’s, and Pollux). With a steep enough pitch, where big, fast turns aren’t an option, I could depend less on the soft shovels of the Squad and rely more on the stiffness and straightness of the ski underfoot to provide a very stable platform to make smaller airplane turns down the (steep) fall line. When it comes to the back half of this ski, I don’t have a single issue with the new Squad 7.
On softer, smooth groomers, the Squad 7s felt powerful and precise, and they carve well for being nearly 120mm underfoot. By comparison, the tails of the Moment Governor felt even more powerful. And while I would rather ski the Governor as conditions get icier or more and more bumped up (where the Governor has better edge hold than the Squad 7 ), the Squad 7 felt very smooth, and some will find it easier to bend and a cleaner carver than the Governor.
So if on your pow days you tend to ski good pow stashes that dump you out onto good groomers, the Squad 7 is likely to be a really fun ski.
Bottom Line—For Now
If the Squad 7 is going to be your dedicated, deep-day pow ski, then you are probably going to enjoy it quite a lot. And if you are lucky enough to regularly ski in an area where you regularly go from getting deep, off-piste face shots to carving up smooth groomers, then you’ll like this ski even more.
But the current iteration of this ski (when mounted on Rossi’s recommended line) struggles in variable, bumped-up conditions. As soon as possible, I’ll get back on the ski, move the bindings back, and see how far that goes to improving things.
I got a few end-of-the-season storm days at Alta on the Squad 7, and skied the Squad both on the recommended line and also 1.5 centimeters behind the line. And the skis definitely performed better at -1.5cm. The walling up effect of the shovels was reduced, definitely. The ski’s felt a bit less quick, but the Squad’s shovels aren’t heavy / cumbersome to begin with, so a loss in quickness is a price worth paying for the reduced folding-up action of the shovels. Pow performance was still good, groomer performance seemed largely unaffected, and variable performance was much improved.
Note: Jason Hutchins recommended going back 2 centimeters behind the line. I was only able to get back 1.5cms on our bindings. Still, we can say that our clear recommendation is to mount this ski 1.5 to 2 centimeters behind the recommended line.
And for what it’s worth, if I were drilling a binding into a new pair of Squad 7, though I only skied these at -1.5cm, I would follow Jason’s lead, back up an extra 5 millimeters, and mount at -2cm.
Still, we’d love to see Rossignol adjust the flex pattern of the shovels. Moving the recommended line back feels like a good way to mitigate the issues of the flex pattern, but I think the Squad 7 would feel most balanced mounted on the recommended line if the shovels were stiffened up a bit.
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