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2013-2014 Rossignol Experience 98, 188cm

Ski: 2013-2014 Rossignol Experience 98, 188cm

Dimensions (mm): 139-98-128

Turn Radius: 22 meters

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 186cm

Boots / Bindings: Lange RX 130 / Look demo bindings (DIN at 10)

Mount Location: 2cm back from manufacturer’s mark

Test Location: Taos Ski Valley

Days Skied: 4

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 Experience 98, which is unchanged for 12/13 & 13/14, except for the graphics.]

I first got on this ski at the SIA on snow demo at Taos Ski Valley, and it was one of the more impressive skis I tried during those three days. The Rossignol Experience 98 comes from a racing pedigree with an all mountain target audience. It has a wood core, metal sandwich construction, a side cut that extends all the way through the tip, and what Rossi is calling their “all mountain rocker.” Rossignol describes the Experience 98 this way:

“With the heart of a high-performance carving machine and a freeride touch and feel, it is one of the strongest do-it-all skis on the market. Traditional camber underfoot delivers power, energy and edge grip with rockered tip and tail that dramatically improves the turn initiation and flotation in any condition.”

Nice description, except for the fact that the Experience 98 has ZERO tail rocker, which is something that potential buyers ought to know before pulling the trigger. (See the photograph below.) However, while “rocker” is all the rage – so much so that many manufacturers are slapping some form of reverse camber on just about everything they make – the absence of tail rocker on this ski is a good thing, given that it is intended to be an exceptional carver.

My first impressions of the Experience 98 were good. The ski turned easily on groomers – quick edge-to-edge and silky smooth. That impression soon disappeared, however, when I took it into more difficult terrain. The ski became hooky and unpredictable, and was unstable at speed. I took the skis back to the Rossignol rep, Tyler, and told him what I thought. Tyler said, “come back and try it again tomorrow and I’ll set the binding back a little bit.” I did just that, and sure enough the ski performed much better: everything became smooth and stable, and speed and bumps were no longer an issue.

Tail rocker? Nope.

It’s Thursday, February 24th and with three hours to play, I took the Rossi Experience 98 out for some real testing. I set the demo binding for my boot sole length, which puts the boot sole center mark on the mid cord of the ski based on effective running length. The effective running length of the ski is 149.5cm unweighted, 146cm weighted. (To determine the effective running length I put the skis together base to base and marked the points where the tip and tails diverged. I then compressed the skis to flatten the camber and again marked the points of divergence. When compressed the tip rocker became more pronounced by about 3cm.)

With these measurements in mind, I took the Experience 98 out again. Skiing from chair 1 to chair 2, I was pleasantly reminded of how easy this ski rolls from edge to edge – smooth turn initiation and stable, quiet ride. At the top of 2, I went straight for the ridge and was expecting great things. I decided Juarez would be a good place to start – an open bowl with variable snow and a decent pitch. Half way down I was a bit disappointed by how difficult it was to manage my line. The skis wanted to jump down the hill in the deepest part of the turn. Then I remembered Tyler’s advice of moving the binding back. I got to the bottom, took the skis off, set the binding back a centimeter, and tried again. I went to Reforma, a steep ⧫⧫ bump run with a double fall line. Immediately the skis performed as they had the week or so before: smooth carving through the bumps and serious stability at speed. Back to the ridge!

At the top of the Kitchen Wall, I drop off into some boot deep pow that was left over from the previous day. The skis plow through three big turns, and I’m grinning ear to ear as I ski up the natural ¼ pipe on the opposite side and launch over the ridge into Two Bucks. I ski down through the trees with confidence.

Back at the top of Highline Ridge, I set the binding back one more centimeter (now -2cm of factory recommended) and hike out to Eagle’s Nest.

Charlie Bradley, Eagle’s Nest, Taos Ski Valley. (photo by Ryan Heffernan)

It is late in the morning now and Eagle’s Nest has been baking in the sun. The snow is soft and heavy: spring conditions, not quite mashed potatoes. The entrance is a sketch traverse that requires a bit of billy goating over some rocks and tiny junipers. At the entrance, I look across. No one has been to the far chute since our BLISTER photo shoot the other day, so I drop in and traverse over the first hump, then the second. At the top of the third chute I look down to see untracked snow, so I drop. This is where the tip rocker is really useful. I make three quick turns through the narrow entrance. The skis have no problem floating above the sun-baked snow. Turning effortlessly into the wide open field of snow almost laughing as the skis pop from turn to turn. What a blast. This is what I love about camber: it gives the ski the ability to go almost airborne between turns, making direction change a simple matter of rolling the skis over.

Tip Rocker Profile

Two more chair rides to the top and it’s time to get back to work. Bambi > Zagava > Rhoda’s > Edelweiss Gully. All the way down these front side groomers, glades, and bumps, the skis perform flawlessly.

After 4 days on the Rossignol Experience 98, I would say that I could happily make it my go-to ski for next season. Any skier who likes a beefy, damp ski, and prefers carving turns over skidding them (whether it be in bumps or on hard pack groomers) will enjoy this ski. In my opinion, this is a real ski. It likes tip pressure for turn initiation and loves finishing. It releases easily and can slip across the fall line when needed.

The tip rocker and 98mm width make it an excellent soft snow ski as well – a true cross-terrain machine. It is not, however, for the timid. The Rossignol Experience 98 requires commitment to the fall line in steeps and good speed on groomers to get everything from this ski that it has to offer.

27 Comments

  1. Baerbel March 10, 2011 Reply

    Came to your website through AOL. You know I am subscribing to your rss feed.

  2. Jose Manuel Carvalho October 8, 2011 Reply

    Hello, i’m very interested in buying The E98 with some Look Pivot 14xxl bindings.
    After reading your review i understand that the bindings should be fixed
    at -2cm for optimal performance in powder. Is this correct?
    For hard pack snow do you also suggest that position?

    Thanks

    • Author
      charlie bradley October 9, 2011 Reply

      I liked the binding position 2cm back for all conditions. It really depends on your ability and history. I would suggest that before you buy the ski you demo the length you are going to buy for a day and have the binding tech set the binding at factory recommendation then minus 1 and 2 cm and judge for yourself.

  3. Roger March 30, 2013 Reply

    When I demo’ed the 180 I thought they were so fantastic I bought a pair and had them mounted. But when I tried them yesterday i was so far forward on the skis I felt like I was hangin ten. I’m upset that I now have to have them remounted. Why does Rossi do this? I am about a inch ahead of the mounting on my same length coombas. It is so wrong. I have to sit back to find the center. You’d think a brand like rossignol could do better. I have a park mount on a uni directional ski.

  4. Roger October 31, 2013 Reply

    Got them remounted, and I’m happy. But this is the same thing that happened a decade ago with some Rossi vipers. It seems the recommendation is for people who like to carve on their heels. But in powder you have to work even harder, and in bumps it’s a disaster. I’m mid sixties now, with over fifty years out there, and I like to stand in the center of my boots, using the cuffs for micro adjustments. These are the best all mountain skis I tried at an on mountain demo, and they were mounted at manufacturers recommendation, but I have a feeling my new ones could use a little tail detuning, because as you said, not much rocker in the tail, so they don’t release easily. I agree with your Taos reviewer and if I’d seen it sooner I would have mounted them back two cents. But like I said, I’m happy now. I would certainly recommend renting some demos with moveable toe and try them out. What a powerful ski!

  5. Harker November 1, 2013 Reply

    Do you think these would be too much for 130lb 6′ teenager to handle? Medium aggressive but good all mountain skier/explorer. Thanks

  6. Cam December 22, 2013 Reply

    Now that the mantra has been reviewed how do you think these two skis compare?

  7. Bret January 17, 2014 Reply

    Charlie, your review is spot on with this ski. I bought a pair of Experience 98 in a 188cm a month ago and have about 8 -10 days on them now. I thought I would chime in with my two cents worth about these skis. I work on Main Street in Park City and walk over to the resort to ski a few hours before work about 3 days a week, (what a life!).
    Over the past month I have skied a variety of conditions, from powder, soft groomers, ice packed, soft and hard bumps. These skis have been the best I have ever skied. They are a fast powerful ski that are not for a beginner or intermediate skier. They work best when they are skied fast and hard.
    I am 6’1″ 185lb, athletic, expert skier, that loves to ski as hard and fast in super g style. I have found the 188cm a good fit for me. I also love steep bumps, and powder too. The technology of this ski is very cool, it has a ton of camber, early rise tip, a fairly short radius, and good float in the powder. On the hard pack it is damp, stable and at the speed of sound I have confidence and control. It is fairly quick edge to edge and a beautiful carving machine.
    I have only skied in 8″ of fresh powder with it, and perhaps on those 24″ day I would want a wider under foot ski, but in 8″ it was pure heaven with good floatation. Like many, I have been searching for that 1 ski quiver, and for those advanced, aggressive skiers, this may be it.
    In the bumps they are great, not the best I have skied, but very good. I have the bindings mounted 1 cm back, and I still can get way out in front of this ski in the steep bumps (they way steep bumps should be skied). In the bumps I can let the tips work and the tips are stiff enough to maintain control.
    All and all they are very good in the powder and bumps. Good for faster slalom skiing, and excellent in the giant, super g, and downhill. One day I skied with some girls from a visiting University ski team, and they were practicing for a giant and super g event. Those chicks had a hard time keeping up with these skis. As we rode rode the lift together, it was shocking the differences between our ski widths, but down a step groomer these skis were fast, stable and could hold their own, with their race skis.
    For a aggressive, hard charging skier, these skis are something to behold! I high recommend them.

  8. Blister Member
    Steve February 24, 2014 Reply

    I recently picked up a 180cm E98 but don’t have bindings mounted yet.
    I’m 5″11, ~195 lb, consider myself an aggressive expert skier. I ski a pretty even mix of East coast groomers, glades and bumps.
    I’m just wondering if you’d still recommend the -2cm position for me, or if you think I’d be better off closer to the factory recommended line? I definitely don’t want the skis to be hooky, as you described, off the groomers.
    I’m aware that the 188 is perhaps the more appropriate length for me, but over the years I’ve found a 20m radius ski just feels right to me on the groomers.

    FWIW I’m currently skiing 2011-12 season Mantras in 177. I very much agree with your comments about the Mantra excelling in less than perfect surfaces; it’s a very rewarding ski to plow through choppy mixed up crud. I only wish the ski had a shorter natural turn radius on the groomers, which I’m hoping the E98 will satisfy.

    Great site and reviews; thanks!

  9. Blister Member
    Steve February 24, 2014 Reply

    Forgot to mention (in case it’s relevant), I ski with Lange RX 130’s as well.

  10. Bret February 24, 2014 Reply

    Steve,

    If you can, I would pick up a set of demo bindings and play with the adjustment. I would advise you to get the 188cm for your size and ability. I feel like I could ski this ski even longer than 188cm, but don’t really need too, since this ski is very damp at high speeds. I have a pair of Watea 84 in a 176cm and now I will never ski them again, because these skis are the best out there, and 176 is way to short for my style of skiing. With the 188cm and the technology of this ski, you can feel a sweet spot that extends almost the length of the ski (longer sweet spot of any ski I have skied). In the bumps they are really good too, and I have never felt like I would want a shorter ski in the bumps, and at 70mph I am glad I have the length too. Regarding your radius concern, at medium to high speed, they are pretty quick edge to edge.

    My binding setting is at 1 or maybe 1.2cm back and I love them there, but I have nothing to compare. It would be nice to have demo bindings to try different settings but I have never felt anything but control at my current settings. I have 20+ days on these skis, in all sorts of conditions and love them on everything.

  11. Mike February 27, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for the review. I am also interested in an opinion on the E98 vs. the Mantra. Based on my skiing style, all my “googling” keeps leading me back to either of those skis. I’ll end up demoing both, but your thoughts on the two would also be helpful.

  12. CW March 18, 2014 Reply

    I bought a pair of the Rossi E-98s, 188cm, bindings were mounted in the standard position. I agree with the review about the ski becoming “hooky and unpredictable, and was unstable at speed.” The high speed thing is still worrisome, I have found you really have to be on them when carrying all out speed on groomers and I’m still a little leery with them. The big thing is I have had more over the handle bar ejections then I have ever had in one season. My shoulders are killing me and its amazing i haven’t damaged them more severely. I’m thinking that tip dive has something to do with this? It has happened in a variety of conditions; powder, crud, chunder. Anybody got ideas or suggestions? I’m wondering about having the bindings remounted but further back as suggested in the review? I’m wondering if setting them back +- 2cm can alleviate or help with this?

    Thanks…

    • Author
      charlie March 19, 2014 Reply

      All I can say is they ski better with the binding mounted back. As far as the “over the handle bar” ejections are concerned I can’t really comment on that.

      • cw March 20, 2014 Reply

        Thanks. Had them set back today 1cm to start with and made some adjustments to my boots. Off to try the new setup tomorrow!

  13. roger evans March 18, 2014 Reply

    Moving the bindings back made huge a difference for me. Before that I had to turn on my heels to find the center of the carving edge. Then the skis would try to get away without me. Yes, I find the tip and tail “hooky” too unless I detune them after a shop tune. They are the best edges I have ever had. But once I got used to them, and learned to put the edges down gently and smoothly, they are heavenly in pretty much all conditions, even the steep chutes at Jackson were no problem.

    • cw March 20, 2014 Reply

      Thanks for the response. IHad them set back today 1cm to start with and made some adjustments to my boots. Off to try the new setup tomorrow!

  14. Uli April 20, 2014 Reply

    The picture at the beginning shows the Rossi Experience 98 2012/2013 and not the current
    model 2013/2014. Which one did you really test?

  15. CW April 21, 2014 Reply

    I was skiing the 2012-2013 E98. By the way they ski much better with the binding set back. Made a tremendous difference in how I’m skiing them. Thanks!

  16. David November 23, 2014 Reply

    I ski the E98 in 172 with a pair of voile switchback X2 tele bindings… Mostly on piste cause they’re simply to heavy to tour with. I also use the same setup to ski patrol with on a small mountain in the Northeast… It’s a bomber ski, in any condition that crappy northeast weather can throw at you…. As far as skiing it in a tele setup; many tele purists have told me the ski is too stiff, too heavy, and too wide for our snow and terrain…. Then I adjust the binding and send them out for a run in them….. The skis are fast, responsive, exceptionally damp, zero tip chatter, and a blast to ski. Additionally for patrol use, they have great edge hold for side hilling and sled work, they will function well at slow speeds, and the minimal tail rocker makes them easy to plant in the snow to mark a crash site…. I also have mine mounted with the 3pin line at cord center, which puts the boot center about 2 cm back from the suggested mounting location

  17. roger evans November 24, 2014 Reply

    still loving the E98’s with the 1.5cm setback. went to another on mountain demo 2014 and the only skis i liked better were the same ski in the newer model with the lighter tip. might also be because they had 100 less days on them by then.

    i will say that in deep powder you have to really turn smoothly, they want to carve out from under you if you aren’t on top of it. the old coombas are a little gentler there. but for all mountain, chopped googaw, hard or soft groomers, E98’s are the best i’ve tried so far…ever!

  18. cw January 20, 2015 Reply

    I agree! Please someone define “chopped googaw” Is there such a thing as ski urban dictionary?

    • DM January 26, 2015 Reply

      “Googaw” or “Gewgaw”. Sounds like just another term used to sound hip. powpow, gar, avie, chowder, death cookies, disco sticks, zorbit…

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