Rossignol Experience 88 ReviewDecember 18, 2017
- Everything about this ski feels spot on
- Very responsive, to a hard or light touch
- Great turn variation
- Also handles well off-piste
- Great edge hold
- A couple of testers would have liked a stiffer ski
- And also felt medium radius turns were its strong
- More damp, less pop
- Needs to be on edge
With yet another improvement of one the Frontside category’s already highest ranking skis, Rossignol has hit a homerun with the all new Experience 88 HD. The Carbon Alloy Matrix technology delivers more grip at a lower weight, the Air and Auto Turn Rocker result in a ski that is super easy to initiate with a great swingweight, while the Extended Sidecut offers improved handling whether you want to go slow or fast. As we mention in “The Verdict,” (see above) his ski soars with its ability to handle all Frontside terrain, all speeds, and a variety of abilities with a clean, exciting sense of response. Unlike most of the other skis in the Frontside Category, it also doesn’t just reward a hard or lighter touch. In this case, the ski does both, giving standup style foot turners quick edge-to-edge capabilities, and deep angulating carvers the kind of race style arc they love the most.
The secret sauce is in how the mix of the paulownia wood core (“Light Wood,” as Rossi terms it) sets the foundation for this ski’s smooth, energetic feel by combining with the upgraded Matrix tech – which is really a carbon/basalt weave – for “high-definition” (HD) stability and grip. Bottomline: the 88 HD makes you feel like a more accurate, in control, sweet arcing skier, all while doing significantly less work. Wherever you like to get your lift-served turns, and whether you expect to rip groomers, bash bumps, or dance through some light wind-whipped pow, this ski does it all with wonderfully easy-to-access hold and grip.
In a category where Float was hard to find, Rossignol’s Experience 88 HD more than stood out. The Air Tip and Auto Turn Rocker technology makes it incredibly fun and easy to initiate a turn on-piste or off. The ski had the best all-terrain handling of all the skis in the Frontside Category, only slightly nudging out the Salomon XDR, Salomon Vantage, and Fischer Pro Mtn 86Ti for being able to excel on the groomers, bumps, steeps, and whatever else your local hill can dish out. In terms of overall scores, the Experience 88 did garner a couple of 6s and 7s for Float (out of a possible 10) as well as a few 8s, with testers remarking that in the Frontside Category, there’s only so much a ski can do off-piste. But it also scored two 10s and a 9, leading one tester to declare, “It’s a one ski quiver for the East or West Coast.”
This ski was a top scorer in last season’s test, but the new Carbon Alloy Matrix technology (see Full Review) is what ramped up its Stability rating to place it right alongside other Frontside boards like the Blizzard Brahma, Kastle MX89 and Head Monster 88. It offers the same level of smooth, constant snow contact, without having to go Mach 10 to access it, which means the ski will appeal to a wider level of Frontside skiers on big or small hills, whether they’re hitting buttered groom or re-mixed leftover ice. The ski did get two 6s here, with one tester saying the skis wasn’t as bomber at higher speeds. But it also earned five perfect 10s, along with remaining scores of 9s and 8s. As one tester remarked, “Its power is only matched by its playfulness.”
The Air Tip, Auto Turn Rocker and Carbon Alloy Matrix make it easy to grab hold of an edge and keep holding it. Of course there are plenty of skis in the Frontside Catgegory with awesome Edge Hold. The fact that the Rossi 88 matches up with all of them, and offers Float and Turn Shape Variability, is another reason it’s earning the Best in Class.
Add in the Extended Sidecut and progressive flex of the lightweight Paulownia core, and you’ve got a ski with the kind of Carving Pleasure that you can enjoy by some standup up style foot steering, or by loading the heck out of your shovels and seeing how deep you can drop a hip. The ski is so responsive, you can do all this in the same series of turns if you want. The ski earned 10 10s in this classification, the most of any ski we’ve ever tested in this category, with one 6 from a tester who felt it didn’t carve as well in long turns, and our other testers giving it 9s and 8s.
Turn Shape Variability
The Dynastar Legend is quicker edge-to-edge than the Rossignol Experience 88, and the Head Monster 88 offers more pure power, especially for skiers who want to flat out rip. But nothing else in the Frontside Category offers more performance in every classification, with a fun factor that allows you to be as serious, and/or have as much fun on the mountain as you want. Gear Institute’s Ski Test Team highly recommends this ski for its all around Frontside performance.Continue Reading
Peter Kray- Publisher
Peter Kray is a co-founder of the Gear Institute, and a longtime specialist in the testing of skis, snowboards and outdoor equipment.