Ski: 2015-2016 Rossignol Experience 100, 182cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 140-100-130
Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 138-98-128
Sidecut Radius: 18.0 meters
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 180.8cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2036 grams & 2063 grams
Core: Poplar / Titanal
Mount Location: recommended line
Test Location: Taos Ski Valley
Days Skied: 7[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 Experience 100, which was not changed for 15/16, except for the graphics.]
If you haven’t read our preview of the new Rossignol Experience 100, you might want to start there. I’ve now put seven days on the 182cm Experience 100, and another three full days on the 13/14 184cm Volkl Mantra, so it’s time to talk about the Experience 100’s on-snow performance and how it stacks up against the very good Volkl Mantra. There’s no question that the Experience 100 and the 13/14 Mantra occupy the same niche. And for good measure, I’ll be drawing some comparisons to the more-different-than-similar 180cm Blizzard Bonafide, too.
Stout. Especially the tail. The Experience 100 hand flexes similar to the 13/14 Mantra. The rather subtle differences are that the Experience 100 has a slightly stiffer tail than the Mantra; tips that are similarly stiff; and a forebody that is a bit softer than the Mantra’s. Again, all of these distinctions are subtle, but those slightly stiffer tails and slightly softer shovels actually feel a bit more pronounced on snow.
FYI, Some Stats: Blister’s Measured Weights of Some Relevant Skis
• 182cm Rossi Experience 100: 2036 & 2063 grams
• 184cm Volkl Mantra (13/14): 2058 & 2071 grams
• 180cm Rossi Experience 98: 2002 & 2109 grams
• 180cm Blizzard Bonafide: 2088 & 2085 grams
As you can see, we’re working in a close range here, with no outlier. So the distinguishing factor of these skis isn’t their overall weight.
The current Rossignol Experience 98 is our benchmark all-mountain, ~100mm-underfoot carver (see the Blister ‘Best Of’ Awards), and the new Experience 100 is the early front runner in this category for next year’s skis. Reviewer Charlie Bradley and I spent a day A/B-ing the 180cm Experience 98 and the new Experience 100, and both skis are extremely fun, powerful, and impressive carvers.
In my preview, I guessed that the hammerhead tip shape and extended sidecut of the E98 might make it the smoother, cleaner carver with quicker turn initiation. I guessed right. Charlie agreed, but we also both agreed that the performance difference is pretty subtle.
I have not yet skied anything in the ~100mm-underfoot range that would unseat either the 180cm Experience 98, the 188cm Experience 98, or the new 182cm E100 when it comes to making very high speed, high angulation turns. These skis have very powerful fat tails that finish turns with authority and do not wash.
Lighter skiers might find the Nordica Hell & Back easier to bend and generate (even) more rebound out of a turn, but the metal of the E98 and E100 keeps the ride very smooth.
With respect to edgehold, the Experience 100 is decidedly better than the 13/14 Mantra. But this isn’t too much of a surprise, given the Experience 100’s shorter sidecut radius and fatter tail that is a full centimeter wider than the Mantra’s. (And just in case you’re wondering, the gap in carving performance is even greater when it comes to the 180cm Blizzard Bonafide.)
So if what you’re really looking for is a powerful, ~100mm, all-mountain ski that carves well, is relatively easy to bring around, and has outstanding edgehold, I haven’t skied anything that I can recommend more highly.
Steep, Firm, Bumped-Up Off-Piste
This is the environment where I probably most love the 13/14 Mantra, and I have quickly come to really appreciate the Experience 100 here, too, for similar reasons: the stable platform and confidence-inspiring edgehold.
When dropping into steep, wind scoured entrances (e.g., West Basin’s Stauffenberg, Turbinator, Zdarsky), the E100’s fat tails allowed me to carve hard around steep bumps and make the next turn without washing out the tails.
When making airplane turns in steeps over big bumps, I am just as happily making such moves on the E100 as I am on the 13/14 Mantra. The Mantra’s shovels feel a little more damp, but I didn’t notice any performance gain over the Experience 100 in this situation.
And when things get steep and narrow (e.g., the exit of Turbinator), the E100 isn’t the easiest, quickest ski to bring around, and those fat tails don’t easily let you smear and pivot your way through tight chokes in the way that the Mantra will, and the Blizzard Bonafide will even more. All of this should be obvious, but in steep and very tight situations, the E100 will probably make you commit a bit more to the fall line than let you just smear-turn your way down.
Steep, Smooth, Wind scoured, Off-Piste
This point should already be clear from the Groomers section, but the Experience 100 excels here. I’ll say more about this below, but the smoother, icier, and steeper things get, the bigger the advantage gets for the E100 over the Mantra and Bonafide.