The ‘Most Secretive’ award in skiing certainly goes to the Rossignol Blackops, and there really isn’t a close second. But we got our hands on a pair, so it is time now to pull back the curtain a bit on this ski that — to quote Rossignol — “doesn’t exist.”
For well over a year, there has been talk about — and edits of Rossi athletes on — some nameless Rossi twin tip pow ski.
Was Rossignol bringing back the Sickle?!?! Was this a Sickle replacement? Nobody knew, everybody was wondering, and Rossi wasn’t talking.
But meanwhile, Rossignol athletes Parker White and Chris Logan (two of the best backcountry jib skiers around) were pumping out edit after edit of big backcountry lines, booters, and pillows on this thing:
So all anybody really knew was that Parker White was doing first hit backcountry doubles on some unknown Rossignol ski that wasn’t available for purchase.
Then early last fall, the internet rumor mill started to pick up. Someone had seen the new ski at a shop. Someone else heard that the ski was going by the name, “Blackops.” Rumors flew and speculation ran rampant, until Rossignol finally posted the official page for the ski:
The jibby pow ski nerds of the internet all checked the site, then collectively cursed Rossignol — Rossi doesn’t provide much actual info about the ski on that page. What Rossi does reveal is that the ski only comes in a 186 cm length, but all the specs and details of the ski are blacked out:
Ski: 2016-2017 Rossignol Blackops, 186 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 184.3 cm
Stated Weight per Ski:
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2421 & 2422 grams
Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 145-117-140.5
Stated Sidecut Radius: Core:
Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 67 mm / 58 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: 4-5 mm
Recommended Mount Point: -2.75 cm from center; 89.4 cm from tail
Available Lengths (cm): 186 cm
The Blackops has a nice, strong flex pattern. We’d break it down like this:
In Front of Toe Piece: 9-9.5
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-8
In other words, this is a pretty stiff, progressive flex pattern with no hinge points. At its extremities, the ski is fairly soft (“5.5” at the tip and tail), which is nice when you’re trying to bend a ski into a nose butter or tail press, etc. But that “5.5” pretty quickly starts ramping up, and this ski is no buttery noodle by any means.
Shape (or, “Screw You, Tip & Tail Taper”)
I’ve said it plenty of times on Blister, but I’ll say it again: tip and tail taper can be highly overrated, and a little of either goes a long way, while too much of either can cause a ski to give up way too much on-snow stability.
But check out the tips and tails of the Blackops — the tip and tail taper is extremely subtle, and it makes us kind of giddy. Wanna know what else makes us kind of giddy?
Did you see that? 2421 grams! By today’s standards, that is pretty “heavy” for a ~186 cm jib ski. But go back and watch those videos of Parker White and Chris Logan killing it on the Blackops — does it look like they are struggling bringing the skis around, given the lack of tip and tail taper? Does it look like they can’t get themselves in the air despite the fact that these skis don’t weigh 1600 grams?
-2.75 cm. That’s interesting. The weight and flex pattern of the Blackops says, “Directional Charger.” But the mount position (and every edit we’ve seen of skiers on the Blackops) says, “Trick Sticks.”
It’s pretty hard to find skis that are this stiff and weigh this much that have full-on progressive mount points. And it certainly raises the questions, (1) Will directional skiers be into the Blackops? And (2) How well would this ski work if you pushed the mount point back to -4 cm or – 6 cm? Would the result be a playful charger that’s well suited for those who aren’t spinning?
Traditional Camber Underfoot
This ski has quite a bit — a surprising amount, really, for a “backcountry jib” ski. Which makes us wonder how well this ski will work in variable conditions, and even when carving up groomers. “Backcountry jib ski” might be far too limiting a designation…
Question: Is it a new Sickle?
No. The Sickle was 110 mm-wide, and was a full reverse-camber design. There’s no reason to talk about the Sickle at all, really.
To help locate the Blackops, here are some of what we regard as the most relevant comparisons:
The Blackops’ shovels are just a touch stiffer than the 190 Blister Pro’s. The tails of the Blister Pro are just a touch stiffer. But all in all, the Blackops has a pretty similar flex pattern. It’s also interesting to note that the Blister Pro actually has more tip and tail taper, and it (a 190 Blister Pro) looks pretty skinny next to the Blackops:
And finally, the Bibby has a -6 cm mount point, compared to the -2.75 cm of the Blackops.
Same as the Bibby, the 185 Bentchetler is closer in terms of lengths, but the 192 Bentchetler is closer in terms of weight. So which is the Blackops more similar too? Don’t know yet.
Liberty Schuster Pro 192 cm & 184 cm
While the Schuster Pro is wider (123 mm), its stated purpose is the same as the Blackops. But interestingly, the Schuster Pro has a recommended mount point of -7.6 cm, which is pushing into fully directional territory. Still, I’d bet my house that Joe Schuster himself is skiing his pro model at a mount point that is much closer to the Blackops’.
The 192 cm QST 118 is much lighter (2133 g) and longer than the Blackops, but it has a pretty progressive mount point (-4.65 cm) and is ready to spin. It could maybe be viewed as a more touring-friendly version of the Blackops, especially for those who want more length.
Faction Candide 4.0, 188 cm
The 188 cm 4.0 has stated specs of 140-118-134, and a 25 meter sidecut radius. It’s also got a pretty solid flex pattern, but is much lighter than the Blackops. So no idea how similar these two skis will feel, but their stated purpose is quite similar.
ON3P Kartel 116
We haven’t skied the Kartel 116 yet, but the Jeffrey 114 (which the Kartel 116 replaces) looks like a very intriguing comparison to the Blackops. No idea when it will happen, but it will be very fun and very interesting to A/B these two skis….
The Blackops certainly is intriguing, and it certainly looks fun. What remains to be seen is whether it works best for expert backcountry jib skiers, or is actually versatile enough to handle resort duties and deal with inbounds conditions. We’re also curious if (like the Moment Bibby and the 192 Bentchetler) it’s a ski that more directional skiers will prize for its balance of playfulness and stability…
The Blackops is now available to purchase at select retailers and online.
NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics