Featured Image: Blake Jorgenson
When Rossignol decided to replace the ever-popular 7 Series, its designers knew it would be a long process experimenting with different shapes, compositions and materials. Driven primarily by athletes asking for a powerful, wide and Freeride World Tour-style ski, the brand plowed through prototypes, refining a formula that would work for its top skiers around the globe. Rossignol’s BlackOps Sender Squad is the biggest, baddest result of that process.
Rossignol built three unique features into the construction of this ski. The first is DoubleLine Control Technology, a pair of two vertical stringers of ABS material that run through the entire ski, essentially creating three separate wood cores, controlling the energy and the direction of the skis. The second is Damp Tech, a large visco pad at the tip of the ski that stops chattery, “nervous” energy from moving through the skis. The last is an extended wood core, a design decision that expands the body of the core further into the tail and tip, which creates balanced, clean movement.
Rossignol typically tests all its skis in Europe (like many brands), but the Sender Squad was a little different. Prototypes came in early, so it was able to work with athletes in New Zealand, Whistler and Snowbird to refine the shape and build. Most of its testing is on-snow, comparing it to other skis in the BlackOps line or leading competitors, like a standard A/B style test.
Despite being tested by top-level athletes, the Sender Squad is a big and powerful ski designed for the “everyman.” When asked what makes it unique, Jake Stevens, Rossi’s alpine category manager, said, “We added a bit of rocker in the tail that allows it to slide around and focused on not overpowering the tip or mid-body so you can control the tip engagement and acceleration. We wanted to build something that could make a GS turn easily, but also charge through crud and bumps and whatever you throw at it. If you enjoy skiing on greater than 188 cm length skis and want to push your own speed limit, this ski does it.”
But don’t be scared of that description. The secret sauce of the Sender Squad is balance. It’s something Rossignol focuses on heavily during development, building a big, beefy ski that doesn’t lose its mobility. “Anyone that says they want to ski the strongest and most aggressive ski on the market is just trying to sound cool,” said Stevens. “You still have to be able to make turns. We wanted the ski to intuitively bend around you, not put you in compromising positions, especially at 65 miles per hour. I think what makes this skis different is that, at 194 cm, it handles like a 188 cm, and has the ability to go where a 188 can, even at speed.”