I’ve been a big fan of rockered skis for several years now and honestly can’t see myself wanting to ride anything else. The benefits are simple: you get the benefit of a shorter ski at slower speeds and in the trees, but can float in the powder and take advantage of the full running-length during high-speed pursuits.
Rockered skis really took off initially in powder skis. The extra float and snowboard-like feel makes it easy to stay on top of powder and bust through variable crud. Those characteristics are very apparent in my Surface Live Life skis that I still ride almost exclusively in the backcountry and even at the resorts. While they are awesome off piste and capable inbounds, there are now better options for that one-ski-quiver and Rossignol thinks they have found just the right combination of rocker and camber with their new AutoTurn Rocker for all-mountain skis.
The benefits of rockered skis are very well explained in Rossignol’s diagram below:
Rossignol AutoTurn Rocker for All-mountain Skis
Rossignol offers three types of rocker in their ski lineup: AutoTurn (for all-mountain), PowderTurn (for well, uhh, powder) and SpinTurn (for those backcountry spinny-flippy guys you see on ski movies). Lets focus on the AutoTurn skis since that’s an emerging market for rockered technology.
AutoTurn is available on Rossignol’s full lineup of Experience and Temptation all-mountain skis for men and women. With a variety of ski widths from 74mm to 98mm underfoot, the Experience and Temptation lineup should have a proper ski shape for just about any location in North America.
What you’ll find in a rockered all-mountain ski is the easy ability to skid around with the kids on the groomers without that “hooky” feeling you can sometimes get with traditional camber skis. I love the easy turn initiation and the effortless turning in a variety of conditions. Then, when you open things up, you get a wide ski with a ton of running length that carves with the best skis on the market and busts through variable conditions without flinching.
Here in Utah and throughout most of the West, the 88 and 98mm widths are going to hit the sweet spot for that one-ski-quiver. My bet is on the Experience 98 Open as a great option for the wide-open terrain found in Western North America.
My Pick: Rossignol Experience 98 Open
Built as a do-it-all ski to tackle all the terrain you’ll find at Snowbird: wide-open bowls, untracked powder, tight trees, cut-up crud and fast-rolling groomers. 98mm underfoot is the new normal and I wouldn’t personally want a ski much narrower than 95mm for any terrain. Rossignol recommends these for 40% groomed and 60% ungroomed terrain.
- Lengths: 172, 180, 188 cm
- Dimensions: 139/98/128
- Construction: MiniCap Sandwich, Fibro/Metal Wood Core, Titanal Layer
- Features: AutoTurn Rocker, CascadeTip and ExtendedSidecut
- Camber: 70% low camber with 30% rocker
- MSRP: $800
This sounds just like Volkl’s early-rise tips on the Mantras and other similar forms of “rocker”. Even though they say 30% rocker, it looks closer to 10% to me – most of the ski appears to be traditional camber. I haven’t tried their s7 yet, but the power turn rocker looks a lot more interesting to me.
I should clarify – I think Volkl’s version of Auto Turn is actually called tip and tail rocker, although the Mantra just has tip rocker.
Most manufacturers have their versions of rocker, but it seems that most have been relegated to powder ski duty only. Salomon does have all-mountain rocker on a few of their narrower skis. What intrigued me is that Rossi’s AutoTurn encompasses quite a spectrum of skis. No, it’s not like the rocker you’d find on fatty fat skis, but the rocker provided with AutoTurn will make skiing better in all conditions, not just powder.
Since I ski in Tahoe I sometimes forget that companies still sell non-fatty skis!
How do they compare to surface doubletime?
Hard to say. The Surface DT is a more traditional twin-tip ski and not an unweighted rockered design. The DT is a great all-around ski. I haven’t skied the Rossi AutoTurn skis, so I can’t compare apples-to-apples. Sorry.