Ski: Rossignol Soul 7, 188cm
Dimensions (mm): 137-108-127
Sidecut Radius: 18 meters
Actual Tip to Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 186.7cm
Blister’s Measured Weight: 2012 & 2000 grams
Mount Location: Recommended Line (-6cm from true center)
Boots / Bindings: Rossignol Alltrack Pro 130 / Marker Jester (DIN 10)
Test Location: Alta Ski Area, Park City Mountain Resort
Days Skied: 15
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 13/14 Soul 7, which is unchanged for 14/15 and 15/16.]
As a not-so-huge fan of the old S7 & old Super 7, I was a bit skeptical of the Soul 7. After the S7, I was tempted to dismiss a ski belonging to the 7-Series as a tool for the easy-going or less-experienced skier. Such a ski wouldn’t be a bad thing, it just wouldn’t be a ski I personally would be too hot for.
However, when I first saw the new 7-series, I was reminded of playing in the deep snow and trees of Japan on the 12/13 Squad 7, which had a large influence on the redesigned shape of the series. I hoped that Rossi had made a ski that was not only easy to ski, but that could also throw down. After 15 days on the Soul 7, here is what I have come to find…
In The Air
Although our previous reviews haven’t discussed freestyle performance, Rossignol does say that the Soul 7 is “a revolutionary fusion of backcountry, freestyle, and freeride performance.” Also, given the dimensions and overall shape, the Soul 7 has a direct competitor in the freestyle, all-mountain category: the Salomon Rocker2 108.
I’d be willing to bet that a number of young adults and juniors ripping around on new Rocker2 108’s this season didn’t even consider the Soul 7 when making their purchase.
From my extensive experience on both skis, that’s too bad.
As both Jonathan and Dana have already said, the 188 Soul 7 is a pretty light ski, maybe not quite ‘190cm DPS Wailer 112RP Pure’-light (~1840 grams per ski), but it’s noticeably lighter than the 190 Salomon Rocker2 108, 190 Line Sir Francis Bacon, and smaller 186 Blizzard Peacemaker. And the Soul 7’s swing weight is also noticeably lighter than these skis.
Both of these attributes make the ski super easy to manipulate in the air, and it feels surprising balanced, even at the -6cm from center “recommended” line.
Carving Firm Groomers
As unfortunate as high-pressure may be for those who love to ski pow, a string of sunny days early in the season allowed me to get the Soul 7 on some pretty firm groomers. As both Jonathan and Dana have already pointed out, the Soul 7 does have a limit to which it remains stable. I didn’t find this boundary to be at particular edge angles as those guys said, but instead found it to be based on how aggressively I pressured the ski. Basically, if I remained smooth and not too heavy on my feet, I could use the skis sidecut to carve out short to medium radius, very fun, energetic turns.
But the moment I tried to really work the ski, pressing heavily into each carve to load up the ski and tighten up the radius, the ski would begin to chatter and loose edge hold. On one particular occasion, I even found myself pulling off a high speed, death chatter, surface 180, while really pushing the limits of the ski on a firm groomer.
Carving Soft Groomers
I emphasize the word firm for a reason. Because on the prevalent soft groomers at Alta, the Soul 7 provides a super fun groomer experience that, at least for someone of my size (I’m 20-25 lbs. lighter than Dana & Jonathan), doesn’t feel limited by any means.
Even though the ski does use a short effective edge (~132cm) with a moderate amount of tip and tail taper, the overall shape of the ski provides a balanced, predictable, and therefore comforting ride, even at moderate speeds. Similarly easy-to-ski options, such as the Rossi S7 / Super 7, Salomon Rocker2 108, and DPS Wailer 99, are all much more nerve wracking at speed, and are, for various reasons, a little wonky feeling in this on-piste setting.
Of course, this is not to say anyone would confuse the Soul 7 for a dedicated carver or metal-laminated, all-mountain ski, but based on my experience, groomer performance shouldn’t be considered a weakness of the ski. It is, after all, aimed at people skiing 80% of the time in powder and 20% of the time on groomed runs.
Off-Piste (Smooth vs. Rough)
Riding the Soul 7 over firm off-piste conditions, the ski at times feels in its element, and at times well out of its element—depending on how roughed up the snow happens to be.
On smooth firm snow, as long as all pent-up aggression was kept internalized and I remained cognizant of speed, the skis felts surprisingly smooth and comfortable. I found the Soul 7 absolutely preferred progressive loading, and smooth smeared / skidded turns, regardless of size, rather than high-speed carving or hard, attacking, short radius turns in these conditions.
As Dana mentioned in his review, the Soul 7 does provide a predictable and calm ride, as opposed to a rattle-your-eyes-out experience, so long as speeds are continually held in check, or excessive speed is bled off slowly. Stomp on the Soul 7s hard, and you’ll likely overpower them. As you will see, the key to riding this ski is finesse; it’s not that they can’t be skied very fast in smooth challenging terrain, but they most certainly do not appreciate being pushed on.
Skiing over rough firm conditions, the low weight and short effective edge of the Soul 7 elicited a much more demanding ride at medium to high speeds. Trying to stay on the sweet spot was a chore, and “damp” was one of the last words running through my mind. At slower speeds, the skis are easy to navigate, but they did little in the way of smoothing out rough snow conditions.
Although I haven’t yet had the Soul 7 in the super deep blower pow that Alta is famous for, I have been very impressed with how the ski has performed in up to 16” of either fluffy light snow (6-8%), higher density snow (12-14%), and even “upside-down” snow (rising snowfall density).
Regardless of snow density and with any bit of speed, the Soul 7 planes better than expected for a 108mm-underfoot ski. In this area, the Soul 7 felt much like the Sickle: turns are inherently medium radius, drifty, and loose while at speed, yet the ski is still very manageable and quick at slower speeds, popping in and out of fresh snow.
Beginner powder skiers will still be better off on the older S7 or Atomic Automatic, but I believe any skier who knows how to ski powder and is around my size (and maybe up to around 200 lbs.?) will thoroughly enjoy the powder skiing experience the Soul 7 provides, on all but perhaps the deepest days.
Soft Crud and Chop
Resort powder skiing typically involves more crud and chop skiing than true untracked powder skiing. For my 160lbs., the Soul 7 does an outstanding job of providing a stable platform to smoothly graze over tracked up goodness.
I say “over” because the Soul doesn’t excel at carving through chop, blowing up any piles of snow in the way, Blizzard Cochise style). But instead, with a fairly compact and centered stance, and running a fairly flat base, the Soul 7 seemingly floats across the surface.
Because of the very progressive flex pattern, the skis give the feeling of flexing to a certain point and then holding that position regardless of the snow that lies ahead. Much to my surprise, this progressive firming of the flex demonstrates how the skis do have a bit of power, and allowed me to ski very fast through variable soft snow.
While the Soul 7 doesn’t quite have the same ability to carve down crud as the 11/12 Sickle, taking the bases-flat-and-smearing approach does feel very similar: they are super easy to pivot and smear around, and provide an easy-to-find sweet spot that you never seem to get dislodged from.
NEXT: Mount Location, Durability, Etc.