Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: Rossignol Xium WCS Skate Skis 2014-15

New 2014-15 Rossignol Xium WCS S2 skate ski.
I received a big team bag from Rossignol last week, packed with new skate and classic skis, and boots:  New product for the 2014-15 season.

I'll focus now on the Rossignol Xium WCS 1 and 2 skate ski models.

While world cup skiers have always had a wide range of specially made skis available to them, to handle different snow conditions, this really hasn't been the case for recreational racers (consumers).   Rossignol has answered this situation by offering three distinct camber styles.  

Who doesn't love skiing in
fresh falling snow? 
For the 14-15 model year, the cambers have been adjusted.    The S1 has a lower camber, with longer contact areas in the front and rear, and almost no tip splay (while still having a moderately flexible tip).    The S2, their most "universal" camber, is about the same as previous years, with a medium contact zone in the front and rear, relatively high and springy camber.   The 14-15 version seems to have a little bit more tip-splay than past years (at least that's what I'm seeing with the samples that I'm testing).  The S3, which wasn't part of this test (wrong conditions for this ski), is a high camber ski with smaller contact distribution, more tip splay and a white base, and it's intended for moist conditions

The long contact distribution on the S1 is works well on colder snow, from sugar and loose soft conditions up to medium/firm track.  The S1 might feel more sticky when the snow is moist.   The S2 is a very all-around ski, and will ski pretty well in a wide range of conditions, and has a very snappy feel that the Rossignol skate skis are known for. 

In the past, there has been a lot of overlap (in production skis) between the cambers of S2 and S1 skate skis.   Typically, if I tested a bunch of S2 skate skis, I could find some that were similar to the S1 skis.    Rossignol tells me that for the 14-15 season the distribution of cambers will be much more close to "guidelines" for that particular model version.    IE, the S1's will be like S1's, and S2's will be like S2's.  

S1 & S2 Skis
I took the S1 & S2 skate skis out to test over a couple of days in different conditions.   Both pairs were identically prepared and sized very appropriately for me (I'm on a 192cm ski, and weigh about 185 lbs).   Both pairs skied very well, and I think that either pair could make a good "all-around" skate ski for most people.    But they're not the same.   They perform differently, in subtle ways, in different conditions.

I took these skis out in 15F weather in falling new snow.   This was cold packed powder, with temps warming from a cold snap near zero F, and rising with the falling snow, but definitely in the cold powder range.     In these conditions, the three people who were testing the skis all agreed that the S1 felt super stable and relaxed and fast.   

In firmer groomed conditions the S2 is still my favorite of the Rossignol quiver.  When I took the S1 & S2 out in these conditions (22F, fresh grooming, firm track), both pairs ran well, but the S2 felt more free, with a quicker release on climbs.   It has a lot of pop, feels super stable on a straight line on one ski, and also really rewards an aggressive skier who attacks the turns on the downhill.   This is my "quiver of one" skate ski from Rossignol.

 OH Yeah, the new graphics.   I love the new look.   See the pics, that's all I need to say on that.   They look great.

Test info...  Skis were tested for feel.   I was skiing pairs, and also skiing an S1 on one foot and an S2 on the other.  Tested on flats, steep climbs, easy climbs, short downhills.  The two pairs were identically prepared; both had the Ultratune R214 grind (an "almost ready for the retail-menu" new grind) and were waxed with Toko LF Moly & Blue mix.   NIS Bindings were the "normal" (non SSR, no wedge) version, and were set at the middle setting (at the "0").  I was also using a new pair of the Rossignol Xium Premium Skate boots (2014/15 model, size 44).  

How to get these skis?   You can put your name on Ultratune's pick list for autumn of 2014, just email with your info (height/weight, preferences, contact info), and let me know what you want.  

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