2016-2017 Rossignol Blackops

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:

https://blackops.rossignol.com/#about

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:

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the rossignol Blackops for Blister Gear Review.
So without further ado, let us fill in some of the blanks for you:

Specs

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

Stated Dimensions:

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

Flex Pattern

The Blackops has a nice, strong flex pattern. I’d break it down like this:

Tips: 6
Shovels: 7
Underfoot: 10
Behind the Heel piece: 7
Tails: 6

And I’d break it down even further like this:

Tips – Underfoot – Tails

6-7-8-8-10-10-10-8-7-7-6

In other words, this is a pretty stiff, progressive flex pattern with no hinge points. At its extremities, the ski is fairly soft (“6” 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 “6” 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?

Weight

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?

Mount Point

-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.

Comparisons

To help locate the Blackops, here are some of what we regard as the most relevant comparisons:

Moment Bibby / Blister Pro, 184 cm & 190 cm

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:

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the rossignol Blackops for Blister Gear Review.
So in terms of length, the 184 Bibby is the better comparison, but the Blackops is similar in flex and heavier than the 190 Bibby.

And finally, the Bibby has a -6 cm mount point, compared to the -2.75 cm of the Blackops.

Atomic Bentchetler, 185 cm & 192 cm

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’.

Salomon QST 118, 192 cm

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….

Bottom Line

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

22 thoughts on “2016-2017 Rossignol Blackops

  1. Stumbled upon the website last week, and the first thing wanted to see was the sidecut, which is not stated. Lame. This is a cool marketing approach, but is quite frrustrating. With so little disclosed seems like that would give a good indication about the character of the ski. Any idea or estimate on the sidecut radius?

    • Yes, I have an idea, but there is an important caveat here – big enough that I obviously decided not to even put this in the writeup itself: Most stated sidecut radius numbers are bullshit. More or less made up. So it is often a bad idea to get too hung up on stated #s. This is a longer conversation, of course, but it’s still important to note this. Having said that … if you put a gun to my head and forced me to guess … I would put the radius of this ski in the 20 – 25 meter range, and if you were about to pull the trigger on that gun, I would say 21-22 meters. But given the weight and the fairly substantial flex pattern of this ski, I don’t think that it is going to feel overly ‘turny’ – in the way that pretty much nobody complains about the Bibby being overly turny. But all of this only amounts to a grain of salt, and we mostly just need to get the ski on snow.

    • Hmm, yes i concurr with the “Lame” comment above re. no information on the ski on the manufacturer’s website. Absolutely ridiculous really. There’s no way i would ever buy a ski without any info apart from the width under foot. And the website is still absent in terms of info in 2018. A totally retarded marketing gimmick, so one can only assume these skis are being targeted towards Bill and Ted for an Excellent or Bogus adventure…. of course you won’t know which one it is until you’ve shelled out for them….

  2. Super interesting ski. I’ve always had an affinity for Rossi since the bandit days but kind of lost the feeling of inspiration with the S / Soul lines. It’all be interesting to hear how these stack up. The weight, measurements, and camber have me really curious. From a specs comparison it sounds like the blister pro is close but from how you describe the black ops it sounds like something different. Maybe a horrible comparison but I wonder how thia compares with my current favorite all mountain ski, the Nordica Soul Rider. I enjoy the SR’s but have always wanted more pop and a little more stiffness. I prefer a slightly looser ski but the SR can be a bit of a noodle. I wonder if the black ops can compare in terms of versatility but maybe with a bit more stoutness, a little more float, and a touch more energy. If it can do all that AND carve relatively well on hard pack with that camber, it may be my new favorite.

  3. Last year I had the opportunity to pick up a pair of 4frnt YLEs in 187 and was very much surprised at how stable that ski could be at such a centered mount point ( -2.5cm from true center ). YLE performed admirably even on groomers. I think the flex pattern, weight and centered mount of the 187cm YLE would also make it an interesting comparison with these new sticks from Rossignol.

  4. Just playing with a pair of these right now and deciding when to mount them. So far, really impressed with the Black Ops in terms of how they feel when hand-flexed (which is pretty accurately described in the article), the camber underfoot and the shape. Worth a mention is the base, which on the skis I’ve got in front of me is a clear P-Tex with printed graphics. Less potential issues than with diecut bases and easier to fix. Given how this ski is likely to be used that’s a plus.

    Compared to a Rossi Super 7, there’s no doubt in my mind that for an aggressive skier who knows what they’re doing the Black Ops will be a better ski in most conditions. Despite how it’s being marketed it definitely feels like it’ll be a versatile, stable ski that can take a beating. The mounting point is definitely 3 cm or less back from dead center on the ski though, so that’ll be something I play with once I’ve got demo Griffons on my pair.

    It isn’t a ripped off version of the Gunsmoke, it’s definitely similar to a few other great skis out there right now, and no it is most definitely not a successor to the Sickle if that’s what you’re after. But the Black Ops might just be the spiritual successor to the original Scratch BC. I’ll be stoked when it’s available in lengths other than 186 cm.

  5. I think we put way too much stake into ‘recommended mount points’, especially on freestyle-oriented twins. A ski like this – and the others it’s compared to – will ski wonderfully, mounted anywhere between centre and -5cm. Where you mount them within that range is mostly a matter of personal preference and style. Also, spinning isn’t the only reason to ride closer to centre. It certainly makes skiing switch easier and more fun, but also some riders just prefer the feel of more tail behind them. While I’m on this rant, I’ll also submit that moving the mount forward won’t adversely affect a ski’s ability to float, provided the rider’s stance suits the mount point.

  6. Kevin, agreed, I’ve decided 2 back, after talking with some folks who ski it at -1. I think I was more asking folks opinion on how it might ski in a different mount point.

  7. so have spent 7-8 mornings on these ripping around Crystal Mtn WA.
    Mine are mounted on the line and happy as a clam.
    Lange RS 130 26.5 and Look Pivot 14 XXL’s
    Me almost 5’11” 165 +/-

    1st hardpack then pow:

    Although not a completely symmetrical side cut these 117/118mm waist skis will inspire confidence on lower angle hips dropped in gs/sg turns on hard surfaces completing the carve all the way through the finish of the turn just before throwing your knees and hips in the other direction…fun.
    On steep pitches that the cats have smoothed out you will find these quiet on edge at speed with no stability issues. You just don’t swing them across the fall line as much (on steep hardpan) and they bite like a tiger. It is a 118 waist ski that rails but anything this wide will let go or break out of a pure carve on super hard steep terrain. Think more directional in these situations (point em down). At Crystal think Ferk’s run formerly known as Iceberg Gulch.
    If you get out of position the width of the tail can hang up and be disconcerting.
    Can not emphasize that for what these big fat twins are they inspire confidence if you are technically sound. Ridiculous fun.

    Pow and Goo:

    Depending on the density of the snow because of their dimensions these will react differently but not in a bad way.
    With lighter wispier pow that has not been pounded and compressed by the wind they are dreamy and you can easily change turn dimension or radius. Obviously very fun no matter what the pitch.
    Your turns become more locked in and anticipatory looking ahead for your line in thicker gooier pow. Still very fun but the ski request’s you pay attention to its side cut. Be confident here because if you trust the ski and have the room to let it finish its arc you will motor right through confidently. Trust

    Would I buy another par?

    Emphatically Yes!
    I have owned 190 Bibby’s and Lib Tech NAS Pow Recurves and the Black Ops remind me of a blend of these two.
    Have owned a lot of different fats with the Squads that every old school hard core poo poo’d being one of my faves
    My other skis are a pair of the new RD Super 7 I have mounted but have not even used (shame) cuz the Black Op’s are just so much daw gone fun. It is just a different fun and a confidence inspiring dial a turn kind of fun.

  8. Thanks Mike. Good review. I decided to mount them as you did. Sitting on my wall right now because it’s still “rock ski” season in Maine. The ski looks and feels awesome, my son is eyeing my Bibby pros to go back to Colorado with so I will be on them soon.

  9. After reading this article, I picked up a pair of black ops just after Christmas, and skied a few days at snowbird UT; the heaviness of the ski is not noticeable, stability is amazing and what impressed me most is actually how fast they are at high speed; no chatter in the crud or groomers — in pow the flex lifts and allows even a guy who just turned 50 to spin it like your girlfriend

  10. So, I added these to the quiver to fill therole of a wide ski that handles chunder, chopped up snow and is stable at speed. They definitely fill that role well but the recommended mount felt too far forward. I normally mount a few cm forward of recommeded but def not on this ski. So after a week of skiing all types of snow the pastfew weeks in tahoe I decided to remount at -2 from recommended. Haven’t skied it at -2 yet.

  11. Just curious as to who the one length would suit. I’m 6′ 1″ 185 and think this could be a really dope ski, I’m just worried 186 might be too short for a heavily rockered backcountry job ski.

    • Jason – I’m ~6’2 200 lbs, skied the 186 all last season. If you look at the rocker profile, you’ll see that the ski is not really heavily rockered at all. I used to be all about the ‘longer is better’ train, but I have no problem stomping around some of the dumber lines at snowbird on these. Mounted on the recommended 2.5 back from center, thinking of getting another pair and going 1-2 cm back from there. On big days I’ve found myself going back to these after a few runs on the 192 bibbys that I’ve skied almost exclusively the past few years. Blackops offer nearly the same stability in the shorter length but are way more playful. Burly in the chop, but break away super easy when you want to slash around and are like springboards for the feets. Really just a very well thought-out, well-built ski that I’ve have nothing but fun on all year. Can be kind of sketch on hardpack until you get used to how quick they are edge to edge, curious to see how the rumored ~107 width will do.

  12. Thank you all for the great Black Op feedback. I bought my Black Ops last month with Look Pivot 14 binding set up. I’m a season behind you guys, but feedback from Mike Fleming, Greg Smith and most posted that these are my new go to skis for extreme terrain in the POW back country and steeps of the watsach. Got pissed last year when Soul 7 gave me no lift in 30″ of snow in Snowbird thunder bowl.

    Great previous experience on Atomic Bentchelers (185) in blizzard at Snowbasin. Black Ops should be a trusted ski to handle my extreme ski tendencies and behavior.

    Watching Corbet Coulier YouTube videos to get pumped up…

  13. Hey, did any one at Blister get to ski the Blackops? If so what are your general impressions? Any comparable skis? Where did you mount them? Thanks in advance.

  14. I skied them all last season. They are really amazing, but you have to like really damp skis with little bit of weight, which I do. My daily driver is usually the 190 Bibby, but found that ski to be a tad cumbersome in tighter steep tree lines. The Black Ops offers an easier platform to pivot on given the centered mount and shorter running length. Does not give up anything to the Bibby in terms of stability in my experience. Groomer performance is also on par with Bibby… can definitely hold an edge , though you need more neutral centered stance otherwise you’ll wash the tails out. I mounted mine on the factory line, which I believe is -2.5cm.

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