Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rossi Xium Skate Boot 2014-15: Less is More

Rossi Xium World Cup Skate Boot
Rossignol is updating the Xium Skate boot for the 2014-15 season.    This update is a case of "less is more".   Rossignol has simplified the boot, made it a little bit more user-friendly, enhanced a few items, and kept what was already good.

Functional Changes.    They've gotten rid of the wrap around velcro angle band, which was a bit of an annoyance, and didn't really offer better control or performance.   Kudos for that.     They've gotten rid of the "Sidi Buckle" around the cuff, replacing it with a straight-forward velcro power strap.   Great.      They've ditched the angled zipper, and gone with a 'straight up the middle' version.   This seems completely arbitrary to me, but doesn't seem to be a problem at all.  The carbon heel counter is much more extensive and wrap-around than the old boot, which feels to me much more rigid.    This seems very good, though it could result in some hard contact points for people with finicky, bony, feet.

In addition, the fit seems slightly more snug (comparing same size 2013 vs 2014/15 boots), notably in the forefoot and a little higher in the arch.    For many skiers this will be a benefit; for others not-so-much.   Fit is such a personal thing.     But to their credit, Rossignol has been making a thermo-formable boot for years, and it has always been a big help in getting a good fit.

Straight up the middle zipper,
velcro strap,
more carbon,
updated graphics.
The Xium boot continues to be a very high performance, stiff, controllable, skate boot.   Rossignol was an "early adopter" of the Xcelerator sole, and they continue with that sole in this updated version.

Graphics change a little bit.   They're still very stylish, but color choices have morphed a bit to match the "more red" colors of the new ski graphics.   There is some arguing here at Ultratune about what to call this new color of  red/orange.    I think the best description is Lipstick Red.   Definitely describes it just right.

In terms of price, it's not a cheap boot, and will be priced at $449 at Ultratune.  I think this is a better value than Rossignol's "Premium Skate" which they're targeting at over $650, but which I feel has no real noticeable performance features over the Xium Skate boot.

Features are almost identical
between the Madshus Nano
and Rossignol Xium.
If you're looking for the stiffest skate boot on the market, you still have to look at the Madshus RedLine skate boot at around $750.    However, this new Xium Skate is a bit stiffer than the similar priced Madshus Nano boot that I tested earlier this winter.   The features between the Nano and Xium are now almost identical, but fit is a little different, so if you don't have brand loyalty you can let the fit be the decider.

This new Rossignol Xium World Cup Skate boot, at $449, offers a lot of subtle enhancements over the previous version.    It's not a revolutionary change for the Xium boot, but it is an evolutionary change.   A few features are simplified and easier to use.  I think it's a better boot than Rossignol has offered in the past.


SPRING STONE GRINDING SEASON


In the Pacific Northwest it has been a particularly rough season on skis.    Very thin snow cover through December and January meant that a lot of skis were getting hammered by twigs and rocks and any of the perils that lurk beneath a meager snow pack.
Precision grinding with the
Mantec Skinumericontrol 140

Rolling into March we've got a ton of snow on the ground in the Methow Valley, but with Daylight Savings Time kicking in this weekend, it's pretty much a given that spring is coming.

So, before things get hot and sweaty and your skis start collecting dust in the corner, you might want to get those skis in for a grind.   Whether it's a good pair of racing boards that need to be brought back to their best form after a season of waxing hot with powders and cold waxes, or a pair of skis with some nasty scratches that need to be cleaned up, it's a perfect time to get them serviced.

Spring service on your skis has the advantage of not being quite so time sensitive for YOU.   While the turn-around in the shop is normal, there isn't the looming presence of a big race to make a nervous time crunch for you.

Nordic Ultratune uses a six step process to assure that you get skis that are well prepared and ready to race.

So check out the grind menu, download a work order form, ship your skis, and then you can relax through the summer knowing that you're a step ahead of the game on preparing for next season.