Day 2, I was really able to put the Squad 7 to the test when we spent most of the day exploring the newly opened Mizuno No Sawa area of Niseko. Here we found endless knee to waist deep powder, continuous steeper terrain, a few drops, and pillows everywhere.
It was here that all of the work that Rossignol has put into the Squad 7 really came to show itself.
The Super 7 had made deep snow feel like a balancing act: If I got too far forward, the soft tips would fold with any change in snow density; if I got too far back, I’d be pulling wheelies or setting the E-brake as the pintail sank out of sight. The new Squad 7 has none of those qualities.
In no time, I became completely confident in the Squad 7′s powder performance. I could press gently into the front of my boots and let them fly. Whether going fast or slow, the skis floated as well as anything I’ve ever ridden, remained incredibly maneuverable, and any variability’s in the snow basically disappeared beneath my feet.
With a couple full days under my belt skiing mostly freshies on the Squad 7, I decided Day 3 was the day to seek out some places where I could drop the hammer in the worst chop and crud I could find.
It was also the day I wanted to play around with the boot center location to see if there was a sweet spot that I preferred.
On this day it was Niseko Village’s Misoshiru that would provide all the fast terrain and sloppy beat up seconds I needed to put the Squad 7 through the test.
After my first lap at mach 10, it was clear that, while the Squad 7 might not be the straight, metal laminated, crud leveler that fans of Rossignol’s discontinued RC112 might be hoping for, it does have enough backbone to rally through chop, and it is infinitely better than the Super 7 in these conditions.
What I enjoyed most about the Squad 7 is that its construction—and lack of metal—kept the ski light enough to be playful, even at 40 mph through knee-deep chop. I was able to pick off random piles of snow and just boost without any concern for what I may be launching into.
Before going further, I need to touch on mounting points. After messing around with the boot center for most of the day, I decided that I personally prefer about +1.5 centimeters from the recommended line. At 1.5 centimeters forward, the ski felt the most balanced and playful to me, yet still had enough length out front to keep from high-speed tomahawking through the pow or deep crud.
For those looking for a more traditional drive-into-the-front-of-your-boots stance, I’d recommend keeping the mount back at 0, or even 1 centimeter behind the line (which, weirdly, I preferred more than 0). Any farther back than this (-2cm), and I noticed less support from the tail if I was unexpectedly thrown into the back seat.
I did italicize the word straight in my earlier description of the RC112 for a reason, and that is to hit on the one characteristic of the Squad 7 that will not please everyone. What I will describe isn’t so much a criticism of this ski in particular, but more of an issue that I am repeatedly finding with skis designed with an oversized shovel, that have their widest point in the side-cut located 15-25 centimeters down the ski from the true tip.
With this design, I have found again and again that high-speed chop and crud performance suffers. There is a reason skiers looking to fly at the biggest and steepest resorts are riding skis like the Rossignol RC112, Blizzard Bodacious, or the ON3P Wrenagade. Those skis simply offer a level of stability at speed in played out and cut up resort conditions that these more shapely skis (like the Squad 7) just can’t seem to provide. If you are looking for something that performs exactly like those mentioned above, it’s not here.
For me personally, I am willing to sacrifice a bit of crud performance to get that playful, smeary feeling that skis like the Squad offer, and this combination of hard-charging ability yet playful performance is where I believe Rossignol has really stepped up their game with the Squad 7.
We will continue to put this ski to the test over the next couple weeks here in Japan, and Jonathan will be chiming in about his experience on the Squad 7 on the steeps and monster moguls of Taos. (You can now read Jonathan’s review of the Squad 7.)
As for me, I’m stoked about all of the moves that Rossignol made to their newest addition to the “7” line. The Squad 7 truly is a big mountain, freeride ski for people who push it every day.
NEXT PAGE: ROCKER PROFILE PHOTOS
Here's another look at the excellent Rossignol Squad 7 with comparisons to the Rossi S7, Super 7, Moment Bibby Pro, and the ON3P Billy Goat.
Julia Van Raalte gets four days on (and a First Look at) the Rossignol S3 W.
For anything from mellow pow skiing to zipperlines, tight trees, soft groomers, switch landings, spins, and straight airs, the Rossignol S3 is good times.