The Rossignol Soul 7 has been the go-to fat all-mountain ski since its debut in 2014, and it will return for the winter of 2017 with its first true redesign. Now called the Rossignol Soul 7 HD and featuring a carbon matrix to reinforce the ultra-light Paulownia wood core, this new version is smoother, burlier, and prettier.
In short: it’s pretty sweet.
If there was one complaint you’d hear about the original, universally-acclaimed Soul 7, it was that the tips could chatter a bit at speed on hardpack. If there was another complaint, it was that the ski looked like a yellow highlighter.
The new carbon weave solves the chatter issue with style, while the updated topsheet design dials down the highlighter aesthetic. Aside from that, the ski is unchanged. Rossignol wisely decided that its greatest ski just needed to be refreshed, not rebooted.
After testing it in a variety of conditions at Winter Park and Steamboat, the verdict is in: the new Soul 7 HD continues to be a phenomenal do-everything weapon.
My first day on these skis (mounted with Marker Kingpin 13s, ’cause I’m nasty) was at Winter Park. Surfaces were good, with 8 inches of fresh snow on top of a firm base. Subsequent powder days at Steamboat on a softer base offered a nice mix of conditions on which to judge this ski.
In deeper snow the new Soul 7 HD excelled, as expected–particularly in more wide open terrain. I managed to score a deep untracked powder line outside the resort boundary at Steamboat (location withheld to protect future powder days). While arcing big, surfy turns, these were confidence-inspiring and sure-footed. They held a line perfectly, and would plow though drifts and wind loaded snow when needed. This also made them dependable if throwing them in the air off some boulders, as one does.
Although I mostly enjoyed (very) favorable conditions on the Soul 7 HD, I did manage to hit some groomers with them. You’re welcome. On those surfaces, they were fun carvers and could definitely rip. I think I’d be completely happy spending a full day on groomers with these–though they won’t be confused for race skis on true hardpack. As with any hundred-something underfoot ski, they aren’t crazy fast from edge to edge. But, once you’re on that edge, they hold it very well and precisely arc through their turn.
Trees and Tight Turns
This is where I, with my 160 pound frame, found these skis good but not great. In tight turns on the Mary Jane side of Winter Park, I got tossed around a bit at times. It just didn’t feel like I could thread the needle through trees like I generally can with a more flexible plank. When it was soft snow on a soft base, then these were great. But, when it was variable soft snow above a harder, unpredictable layer, I found them a tad burly. The ski gave me that same feedback when in the bumps, as well. That’s almost inevitably the trade-off for increased stability, though: crank up the stiffness for groomers, and you lose some playfulness in the trees. However, very strong, very expert skiers with more power behind them will likely find the Soul 7 HD just right in tight spaces.
The New Soul 7 HD vs The Original Soul 7
I’m not someone who often complains about tip chatter, so I really didn’t have any gripes with the O.G. Soul 7. If you’re a strong skier who carves hard and well, then you’ll definitely appreciate the stability of the HD update. If not, then the 2017 Soul 7 will probably still strike you as an improvement over the original, but not massively so. I will say that, superficially, the new graphics are better. And that’s at least half of what skiing’s all about.
Other Skis In This Category To Consider
My favorite option for this width is the Head Collective 105. A touch softer than the Soul 7 HD, the Collective turns on a dime and is a pinball dropping through the trees. It’s an often-overlooked gem. The Volkl 100Eight is stiffer with less pop. I found the Kastle BMX 105 (not the 105 HP which has metal) a tiny bit more playful, but nearly as stable. The Nordica Enforcer is a little skinnier and, though reinforced with metal, almost feels softer than the Soul 7 HD in the trees and stiffer on firm surfaces. Weird.
In The End
The Soul 7 HD, like the original Soul 7, is a ski that’s easy to recommend. I’ve heard the older version described as “vanilla ice cream” because it’s a very good choice for almost everyone and a bad choice for almost nobody. That holds true for next year’s Soul 7, too.
If you’re having trouble deciding on a ski, it’s hard to go wrong with the Soul 7 HD. It’s smooth, floaty, precise, and serves very well as a one-ski-quiver for people who favor soft snow performance. I suspect you’ll find a ton of people riding the Soul 7 HD next winter as their everyday ski, through thick and thin, big dumps and icy hardpack. If you can put up with a bit of heft on the firm days in favor of surfy turns in the softer stuff, you’ll be one of those people, too. Better yet, have two pairs of skis, with this as your bigger plank to complement an 80mm to 90mm underfoot ski for firmer days and bumps.
Pro tip: own more skis.