The Rossignol Soul 7 HD is the ultimate example of why we shouldn't judge a book by its cover (or a ski by its shape). We almost didn't even include this ski in our "all-mountain" ski review, because our lead reviewer is a snob about only declaring something "all-mountain" if it performs well on groomers as well as off-piste. We made assumptions about how it would perform based on its form, and they were promptly shattered! This ski deserves its place not only within the "all-mountain" category but at the very top of the pile and the winner of the Editors' Choice. Does it shine in powder and soft snow? Yes, absolutely. But does it also crush it in all other types of snow and terrain? 100%. If you're a competent upper intermediate skier, this ski will gently guide you into the exciting world of off-piste landscapes. If you are a hard-charging lady who wants something which will act as a powder ski but still be a riot in crud as well as on the groomers, you've found your birthday present to yourself!
Rossignol Soul 7 HD W Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Great float in powder, playful, decent stability
Cons: More expensive, slightly lumbering in bumps
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Our favorite skis to take out on a deep powder day, the Soul 7s are also incredibly competent in all other snow conditions. Their tapered tip and tail shape make these fat planks easy to bring around in most environments and are surprisingly quick for their girth.
Stability at Speed
This was one of the arenas in which Rossignol really upped their game and caused us to choose this ski as the Editors Choice.
Rossi's use of their Air Tip technology, matched with a new Carbon Alloy Matrix, creates a ski that is as dependable as your favorite coffee mug. Despite the enormous rockered tips, which look like they would want to flap like a swallow's wings, there is amazing steadiness along the entire length of the ski. Not only do they love high-speed groomers, but we found they were confidence-building when gaining momentum in the steeps and off-piste conditions.
Their dampness absorbs rippling terrain and allows you the freedom to go mach-nuts. All our testers loved going their top speed on these babies! The Soul 7s still don't have quite the freight-train mentality of the Volkl Auras, on which we found ourselves going even faster than our maximums, and sometimes without noticing. Relative to the Elan Ripstick 94, they have just a tad less tip-wobble and compared to the Blizzard Black Pearl 98, they have just slightly more secure edge hold.
One of the most impressive aspects of this ski is how easily you can engage the edge and carve a beautifully clean arc — despite their slightly obese waist of 106mm.
We couldn't believe how much fun we could have on such a fat ski on groomed runs! We found that when we made an effort to flip them over quickly, they responded well and rewarded us handsomely for getting a higher edge angle earlier in the turn. When you push them to engage earlier, they can feel like they have a tighter turn radius than 18m. We were thrilled with the rebound they provided when you pressure and then release them at just the right moment; they feel like they springboard you into the next turn. While they love to carve when demanded, they are also happy to skid and butter their way through tight trees, and this versatility mesmerized us. We felt like they were slightly easier to effectively arc than the Elans, due to the RipSticks' rockered outside edge. Regarding edge hold in steep and firm terrain, they compared well with the Blizzards, and outperformed the Icelantic Oracle 88s and the Atomic Vantage WMN 95 C by a landslide.
As the winner of the "Best in Powder" category in last season's review, we expected this ski to charge in the deep.
It did not disappoint. Given its enormously rockered and spatula'd tips, it's no surprise that this beauty glides above any texture of fresh snow.
The chubby midsection of the Soul 7's allows the skier to maintain lift in deeper snow and butter the skis into the direction of her choosing. They are burly enough to plow through cruddy snow, but also pliable enough to bend in light powder. The Soul 7s solidly beat out all the competition in this particular category. However, the Elans, the Heads and the Auras all come relatively close to jostling them out of position.
Something magical happened when Rossignol incorporated their Air Tip Technology and weaved the Carbon Alloy Matrix through these boards — the deflection we previously felt from the tips in the crud virtually disappeared. Instead, we found ourselves bombing fearlessly through whatever the mountain tossed at us — churned up powder, avalanche debris, breakable crust down into elephant snot below, chundery death cookies, and even wind-scoured sastrugi.
The Volkl Auras still have the competition beat when it comes to blasting through funky snow conditions, but the Soul 7s have certainly improved vastly. There were many strong competitors in this category this season, with many skis reaching for the top slot. Unfortunately, this is one area in which the Atomic Vantage sits well behind the pack; they will do alright in softer crud, but if you want to charge it's worth trying something a tad stiffer like the Black Pearls.
We had a blast popping off of moguls, small jumps, and little rock drops on the Soul 7s. They are light enough that they get airborne with ease, and they create a solid platform for landing.
We found that we could get them to bend easily and that they had a fun rebound when we released the pressure. It's surprising that a ski with such bulk could be so giddy, but it won us over in this metric as well.
For an even sparkier experience, try the Elans, which take you on a truly wild ride — in a good way! The skis which performed well in crud, due in part to their stiffness, also seem to have a bit of a stiff upper lip. Both Volkls we tested, the Auras and the 90Eights, looked down their noses at those having "too much fun".
Bumps Skiing Performance
With the Soul 7s zippy and quick-to-turn nature, they are no slouch in the moguls. However, they are still always going to act a bit like a bull in a china shop in delicate and precise terrain like the bumps.
Most women will want to select a larger size in this ski than they are accustomed to skiing, due to the extreme rocker at the fronts, which brings the skiable edge back quite far. Thus, when you take these massive planks into the moguls, they are going to feel slightly more cumbersome than a more traditional ski, like the Icelantics or the Black Pearls, which are easier to maneuver in tight spaces. The ski that danced through the zipper-lines was the Elan, which combined rebound with a tighter turn radius to make a banging bump ski.
The Soul 7s, despite all their attributes elsewhere, is most at home in deeper snow and off-piste. This ski could certainly become an excellent one-ski quiver for a woman who is also most comfortable in variable terrain, but who wants something which offers a kick on-piste as well. A similar comparison in this regard is the Elan Ripstick, which float well in powder but also do well on groomers. The Rossis are easy enough to ski that even higher-level intermediate skiers shouldn't be intimidated by the shape; they could offer a smooth transition into powder and ungroomed terrain. For something which offers an even mellower introduction to the new environment of variable snow, you should look into the Icelantics or the Atomics. Since this ski does sport some voluminous tip rocker, most women will want to opt for a size up from their normal length. Our tallest tester, at 5'10", wished we had tested the 180 length. That being said, our shortest tester, at 5'4" also wanted the same — but she packs a ton of energy into her tiny form!
At a retail cost of $750, the Soul 7's aren't shy about their worth. Because they pack so much versatility into a potential one-ski quiver, we think they're worth every penny. We would think of it as buying a powder ski with benefits. The Elan Ripsticks also really pack a punch in many different arenas, and for less of a hit to your wallet, at $600. For a ski which does well in many different types of terrain, but isn't quite so snappy and jumpy, find reliability at an affordable price with the Blizzards at $600.
So much sprightlier than you would envision given their weight and width, the Soul 7s surprised us at every turn, literally. They sailed smoothly on top of powder and wind-buff, cruised through chop, and laid down beautiful tracks when we got back to the groomer at the bottom. They popped around like (predictable) jack-in-the-boxes and were so fun to get airborne. Despite their bulkiness in the bumps, they are still nimble enough to compete in the moguls. If you are a ripping chick who wants a new all-terrain vehicle or are hoping to become one, the Soul 7s might be your new Soul Mates.
— Renee McCormack