Ski: 2020-2021 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender, 178 cm
Days Skied: 6
Available Lengths: 164, 172, 178, 186 cm
Blister’s Measured Tip-to-Tail Length: 178.2 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 1900 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1883 & 1898 grams
Stated Dimensions: 138-104-128 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 137.3-103.2-127.4 mm
Stated Sidecut Radius (178 cm): 18 meters
Measured Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 56 mm / 19 mm
Measured Traditional Camber Underfoot: 5 mm
Core: poplar + fiberglass laminate
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -7.0 cm from center; 82.1 cm from tail
Reviewer: 5’8”, 155 lbs / 173 cm, 70 kg
In January of 2020, Rossignol announced that they’re discontinuing their popular “7” series of skis, and replacing them with the all-new BLACKOPS line. For more on Rossignol’s entire new 20/21 freeride lineup, check out our Full Review of the BLACKOPS Sender Ti.
Here, we’re covering the non-Ti version, the BLACKOPS Sender. Since the two versions of the BLACKOPS Sender share a lot in common, we’ll keep this First Look pretty brief. Check our video First Look for the quick rundown, and then we’ve now added our full review below.
Shape / Rocker Profile
In terms of shape and rocker profile, the BLACKOPS Sender is basically identical to the BLACKOPS Sender Ti. The BLACKOPS Sender has very little tip and tail taper and fairly shallow rocker lines. Its tip rocker line is notably deeper than its tail rocker line, and its tail is pretty flat. The two BLACKOPS Sender skis are pretty traditional in terms of both shape and rocker profile — basically no differences here.
Here’s how we’d characterize the flex pattern of the 178 cm BLACKOPS Sender:
In Front of Toe Piece: 7.5-9
Behind the Heel Piece: 9.5-9
Interestingly, the 178 cm BLACKOPS Sender hand-flexes a bit stiffer through the tail than both the 180 cm and 187 cm BLACKOPS Sender Ti. Apart from that subtle difference at the tail, the Sender and Sender Ti have very similar flex patterns. Their tips and shovels are fairly strong with a smooth ramp-up in stiffness in the middle, and they finish with tails that are much stiffer than the tips. While Rossignol is positioning the BLACKOPS Sender as a more forgiving alternative to the BLACKOPS Sender Ti, the Sender’s flex pattern is not notably softer and it’s a pretty strong ski overall, compared to the rest of the market.
Like the BLACKOPS Sender Ti, the BLACKOPS Sender has a mount point of -7 cm from true center. Again, this is more forward than most directional skis, but not as far forward as freestyle-oriented skis.
The 178 cm BLACKOPS Sender is coming in about 100 grams lighter per ski vs. the 180 cm BLACKOPS Sender Ti. Compared to the whole market, the BLACKOPS Sender leans a bit toward the lighter end of the spectrum, and it actually is pretty similar to the Soul 7 HD in terms of weight (that’s about the only thing the two share in common). That said, the BLACKOPS Sender isn’t quite as light as some “50/50” skis like the Line Sick Day 104, Elan Ripstick 106, and Armada Tracer 108.
For reference, here are a number of our measured weights (per ski in grams) for some notable skis. Keep in mind the length differences to try to keep things apples-to-apples.
1787 & 1793 Fauna Pioneer, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
1800 & 1824 Luke Koppa’s ROMP 100, 183 cm
1806 & 1862 Armada Tracer 108, 180 cm (19/20–20/21)
1807 & 1840 Atomic Bent Chetler 100, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
1814 & 1845 Elan Ripstick 106, 181 cm (17/18–19/20)
1848 & 1903 Line Sick Day 104, 186 cm (17/18–20/21)
1883 & 1898 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender, 178 cm (20/21)
1921 & 1968 Head Kore 99, 188 cm (18/19–20/21)
1925 & 1937 Liberty Helix 98, 186 cm (18/19–20/21)
1928 & 1933 Moment Commander 98, 178 cm (19/20)
1976 & 2028 Parlor Cardinal Pro, 182 cm (19/20–20/21)
1985 & 2006 Parlor Cardinal 100, 185 cm (16/17–20/21)
1994 & 2011 Fischer Ranger 99 Ti, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
1966 & 1973 Liberty Origin 96, 187 cm (18/19–20/21)
1998 & 2044 4FRNT MSP 99, 181 cm (17/18–19/20)
1999 & 2020 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender Ti, 180 cm (20/21)
2005 & 2035 Liberty Origin 106, 187 cm (19/20–20/21)
2006 & 2065 Head Kore 105, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2011 & 2028 Moment Wildcat 108, 184 cm (19/20)
2030 & 2039 Rossignol Soul 7 HD, 188 cm (17/18–19/20)
2042 & 2062 Dynastar M-Pro 99, 186 cm (20/21)
2079 & 2105 Kastle FX106 HP, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2085 & 2096 Dynastar Menace 98, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
2096 & 2100 Salomon QST 106, 181 cm (19/20–20/21)
2097 & 2113 DPS Alchemist Wailer 106 C2, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2101 & 2104 Fischer Ranger 102 FR, 184 cm (18/19–20/21)
2110 & 2119 Moment Wildcat 108, 190 cm (19/20)
2112 & 2125 4FRNT MSP 107, 187 cm (18/19–20/21)
2120 & 2134 Blizzard Rustler 10, 188 cm (19/20–20/21)
2131 & 2189 Nordica Enforcer 100, 185 cm (15/16–19/20)
2143 & 2194 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 184 cm (18/19–19/20)
2153 & 2184 Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender Ti, 187 cm (20/21)
2165 & 2211 K2 Mindbender 108Ti, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2165 & 2219 Icelantic Nomad 105, 191 cm (19/20–20/21)
2170 & 2180 Dynastar M-Free 108, 182 cm (20/21)
2177 & 2180 Moment Commander 108, 188 cm (19/20)
2190 & 2268 Armada ARV 106Ti LTD, 188 cm (18/19–19/20)
2202 & 2209 Shaggy’s Ahmeek 105, 186 cm (19/20)
2218 & 2244 Volkl Mantra 102, 184 cm (19/20–20/21)
2232 & 2242 Blizzard Cochise 106, 185 cm (20/21)
2232 & 2244 ON3P Woodsman 108, 187 cm (19/20)
2233 & 2255 Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, 186 cm (19/20–20/21)
2250 & 2307 Argent Badger, 184 cm (19/20)
2283 & 2290 ON3P Wrenegade 108, 189 cm (18/19–19/20)
2312 & 2386 Prior Husume, 188 cm (17/18–20/21)
2318 & 2341 J Skis The Metal, 186 cm (16/17–19/20)
2321 & 2335 Fischer Ranger 107 Ti, 189 cm (19/20–20/21)
2325 & 2352 Folsom Blister Pro 104, 186 cm (19/20)
2326 & 2336 Nordica Enforcer 100, 186 cm (20/21)
2353 & 2360 Volkl Katana 108, 184 cm (20/21)
2603 & 2604 Dynastar M-Pro 105, 192 cm (16/17; 20/21)
Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About
(1) The BLACKOPS Sender & BLACKOPS Sender Ti share a lot in common, so just how similar will they feel on snow?
(2) Given its strong tail and low weight, how demanding will the BLACKOPS Sender feel, especially in steeper and tighter terrain?
(3) At ~104 mm underfoot, will the BLACKOPS Sender feel biased toward soft or firm conditions, or handle both equally well?
(4) How stable will the BLACKOPS Sender feel compared to the lighter and heavier options in this class?
Bottom Line (For Now)
Like the Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender Ti, the BLACKOPS Sender is a very different ski compared to the “7” series skis it replaces. The Sender looks very similar to the Sender Ti, and Blister Members can read about how the two compare in our Flash Review linked below, then stay tuned for the full review.
Blister Members can now check out our Flash Review of the BLACKOPS Sender for our initial impressions. Become a Blister member now to check out this and all of our Flash Reviews, plus get exclusive deals and discounts on skis, and personalized gear recommendations from us.
Rossignol made one of the most surprising moves for the 20/21 seasons, ditching their popular “7” series of freeride skis in exchange for the totally new, and quite different-looking BLACKOPS collection.
On the wider end of this new line sit the BLACKOPS Sender Ti and the “regular” BLACKOPS Sender. While the Sender Ti is billed as the brand’s hard-charging big-mountain ski, the Sender is supposed to essentially serve as the replacement for the Rossignol Soul 7 that was (and still is) a very common sight at resorts around the world thanks to its intuitive, easy ride.
I spent time on BLACKOPS Sender this past year at Crested Butte, and while it is very different than the Soul 7, I do think it could become a popular ski. So let’s get to it.
One of the questions we raised in our First Look for the BLACKOPS Sender was whether it’d feel more at home in soft or firm conditions, and I’d say it does a pretty good job of balancing both ends of the spectrum.
In soft, choppy conditions it offers very good stability for its fairly low weight — notably better than the old Soul 7 in this regard. The Sender still doesn’t have the mass to let you just relax and let the ski do the work for you, but when pushed hard, the Sender’s minimally tapered shape and fairly strong flex pattern offer a fun platform that lets you blast through soft patches of snow while still being easy to get airborne (particularly compared to much heavier skis that will effortlessly blast through snow).
I didn’t get to ski it in very much deep snow, but based on our time on the Sender Ti (which we did ski in deep snow), I suspect that the regular Sender will offer plenty of flotation for most pow days (<12” / 30 cm). It’s definitely not a very loose, surfy ski that begs to be thrown sideways, but skiers who can keep most of their weight over the Sender’s shovels will find it pretty easy to release its tails and maneuver through most conditions and terrain. As I’ll get into more below, this is one of the big differences between the Sender and Sender Ti.
One fun aspect of the Sender Ti that carries over to the Sender is energy / rebound — both skis return a notable amount of “pop” when pushed hard. I had a ton of fun bashing the Sender into soft patches of chop, and having the ski launch me out of a slash or hard carve made that even more enjoyable. This is also one of the few things that the Sender shares in common with the Soul 7 — neither are “dead” skis.
Firm Chop / Crud
A ski as light as the Sender would never be my top pick for skiing fast in really rough, firm conditions, but again, I do think it performs quite well for its weight. To me personally, I think the Sender might even offer a better damping-to-weight ratio than the Sender Ti, though whether you prefer one over the other will likely come down to your personal skiing style.
The BLACKOPS Sender doesn’t come close to the super-damp, steamroller feel of far heavier skis (e.g., Volkl Mantra 102). But it never felt particularly harsh to me, and the main upside here is that it doesn’t immediately punish poor technique by becoming impossible to turn.
Now, to be clear, the Sender is nowhere near as dead-easy as the Soul 7. The Soul 7 allowed you to ski centered or forward, and was super easy to pivot from either of those stances. This made it easier to ski at slower speeds (which is how many people, including me, often ski in rough, nasty conditions). But that’s also what hampered the Soul 7’s high-speed stability. The Sender has a notably stronger preference for a forward stance, and does feel like it wants you to get out of the backseat more quickly than the Soul 7. But compared to the Sender Ti, the Sender is not quite as quick to punish mistakes, and it feels easier to slarve around.
In challenging conditions like crud, this made me feel more confident and comfortable on the non-Ti Sender when I wasn’t looking to push the limits of myself and the ski. When I was trying to ski quite hard in rough snow, the Sender Ti definitely got knocked around less. But for most intermediate and even a lot of advanced skiers, I think the slightly more forgiving nature of the Sender will outweigh the Sender Ti’s slightly higher top-end stability.
While the Soul 7 could be fun to carve (especially for such a tapered, rockered ski), those coming from less tapered skis or those (like me) who simply appreciate a ski that pulls you into turns on groomers often found it a bit lacking on piste.
On groomed snow, I’ve preferred all of the BLACKOPS skis I’ve been on to the 7 series skis. The BLACKOPS skis, with their minimally tapered tips and tails, do a great job of easily pulling you across the fall line without feeling too aggressive in terms of turn initiation compared to far narrower, dedicated piste skis.
The Sender requires minimal skier input to get it up on edge, its edge hold is very good for a ski of this width, and it finishes turns with a nice amount of precision and pop from its tail.
That said, while I personally found the Sender Ti to be fairly difficult to feather turns while in the middle of a carve to shed speed, the Sender’s tail puts up less of a fight when you want to break free from a carved turn. As long as I maintained a fairly forward stance, the Sender was equally capable of laying over high-edge-angle carves as it was casually slarving turns.
Skiers with good technique will be able to bend the Sender into very tight turns on piste, but the ski also doesn’t feel hooky when making quite long turns. I have no complaints about how well this ~104mm-wide ski carves, and I’d go as far as to say that it was one of the most enjoyable skis of this width on groomers that I skied last season.
Moguls, Trees, & Tight Terrain
This is probably where the differences between the Sender and Soul 7 are most exaggerated.
As I already touched on, the Soul 7 was super easy in tight spots due because of how easy it was to throw sideways and because of its big sweet spot. The Sender is not nearly as loose, and while many skiers will still find it pretty easy in tight spots, just how easy they’ll find it is much more dependent on technique than it was with the Soul 7.
The Sender’s more easily releasable tail vs. the Sender Ti was very noticeable to me in tight terrain. I could get away with sloppier technique, pay less attention to line choice, and overall not need to be quite as on my A-game as I needed to be on the Sender TI.
With that said, there are loads of skis (like the Soul 7) that are better choices for mogul- and tree-skiing fans who just want a really easy ski that they can ski from a pretty neutral stance and still easily slarve their way through tight terrain. The Sender does still require pressure on its shovels to get its tails to give up their edge hold, so I would recommend skis with softer, more tapered, and more rockered tails (e.g., Line Sick Day 104) if you’re prone to ending up in the backseat when the terrain gets tight and / or steep.
But as long as I wasn’t getting too far backseat, I loved quickly hacking my way through bumps, trees, and steeps on the Sender. It offers a level of precision that’s absent from more tapered skis, and that was a plus when the snow was firm. Similar to what I’ve said about skis like the Fischer Ranger 102 FR, I felt like I was skiing the Sender to its fullest potential when I was skiing with what I’d call an “aggressive yet dynamic style.” It feels pretty precise and strong but it’s also pretty light and poppy, which meant I could push it hard into a trough, trust it to grip, and then let it snap back and launch me into the next trough. That’s certainly not the only way you can ski the Sender (it’s totally content to casually work its way through tight spots), but I think it’s the most-funnest way to ski it.
With the Soul 7, I preferred the 188 cm length, and don’t think I would’ve wanted to go shorter in any scenario. For reference, I’m 5’8”, 155 lbs / 173 cm, 70 kg and tend to prefer skis around this width (~100–108 mm) in the length range of 183–187 cm.
With the BLACKOPS Sender, I’ve been skiing the 178 cm length (which has the same dimensions as the “180 cm” BLACKOPS Sender Ti) and I actually don’t think I’d want to size up in most cases.
If you just look at the two skis, this makes sense. The less tapered and less rockered Sender offers much more effective edge and a longer running length than the Soul 7 in an equivalent size. The Sender’s tail also feels much stiffer than the Soul 7’s on snow, and all of these factors are generally things that make a ski feel longer (for more on this concept, see our “How to Think about Ski Length” GEAR 101 article).
Particularly for a mountain like Crested Butte, where I’m often skiing a lot of tight, steep, and techy terrain, the 178 cm Sender has felt pretty ideal for me. Supportive enough for pretty fast skiing in soft snow and our more open terrain, but plenty maneuverable in tight spots. I think I may want to go up to the 186 cm length if I skied at a wide-open mountain like Arapahoe Basin, but I think I’d be pretty content with the 178 cm for the majority of my skiing.
The Sender is still a pretty lightweight ski and it’s not very challenging to ski if you have good technique, so I wouldn’t say everyone should size down on it. But particularly if you’re coming from a very tapered, rockered, and lightweight ski like the Soul 7, I think you have good reason to at least try a shorter size of the BLACKOPS Sender.
Who’s It For?
Intermediate to expert skiers with pretty good technique who are looking for a fairly lightweight, quick all-mountain ski that won’t hold them back in the vast majority of conditions.
The BLACKOPS Sender is obviously pretty wide if most of your ski days consist of really firm / icy conditions. And it wouldn’t be my top pick if you’re looking for something to primarily use on deep days. But for just about everything in between, the Sender rarely feels out of place or not up to the job.
The Sender, with its fairly low weight, feels pretty quick and nimble — provided that you’re not always trying to ski it from the backseat. So for those looking for a replacement for their Soul 7, that stance is going to be a big factor to consider.
But for those who found the Soul 7 (or the many similarly tapered and rockered skis like it) too loose or vague in terms of turn initiation, the Sender warrants consideration. It maintains most of the Soul 7’s versatility and some of its quickness, but offers a much more precise feel on firm snow and can be pushed harder under the feet of a skier who skis with a proper, forward stance.
The Sender is still a pretty lightweight ski so it’s not for those hard chargers who prioritize damping / suspension. If you want a ski that’s going to make the conditions under your skis “disappear,” you should check out much heavier skis. And if you want more precision, edge hold, and stability at speed than the Sender — without going with something super heavy — the Sender Ti makes a lot of sense.
But for skiers who like to carve more than they like to slarve, who don’t want a super heavy, sluggish ski, and who want a truly “all-mountain” ski that can handle everything from firm groomers to fairly deep snow, the BLACKOPS Sender should be on your list.
As we suspected when we first saw it, the Rossignol BLACKOPS Sender is a very different ski than what we’ve seen from Rossi’s freeride collection of the past decade. And so while fans of the Soul 7 will not love the Sender for the exact same reasons that they loved the Soul 7, we think the BLACKOPS Sender still offers a lot to like. Furthermore, those who disliked the Soul 7 have new reasons to consider its replacement.
The BLACKOPS Sender is still a fairly lightweight ski that’s quick but stable for its weight, carves really well on piste, but under the feet of skiers with pretty good technique, it can be skied hard or pretty casually all over the mountain.
Deep Dive Comparisons
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber to check out our Deep Dive comparisons of the BLACKOPS Sender to see how it compares to the BLACKOPS Sender Ti, Rossignol Soul 7, Line Sick Day 104, Liberty Origin 106, Head Kore 105, Salomon QST 106, Fischer Ranger 102 FR, Nordica Enforcer 104 Free, Nordica Enforcer 100, Fischer Ranger 99 Ti, Blizzard Rustler 10, Volkl Mantra 102, 4FRNT MSP 99, Kastle FX106 HP, & Icelantic Nomad 105.