Expert Review: 2023 Rossignol Blackops 98 Skis [with Video]

Ski Experts Daryl Morrison and Theo G. tested the 2023 Rossignol Blackops 98 skis on carving, freestyle, and freeride at Powder Mountain in Utah.

A skier turning on the 2023 Rossignol Blackops 98 Skis.

Curated Ski Experts Daryl Morrison and Theo G. got their hands on the 2023 Rossignol Blackops 98 this spring and put them to the test at Powder Mountain in Utah. Check out how they performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories, but consider the fact that each and every skier is different. If you have any questions about the Blackops 98 or need recommendations on which skis would be best for you, reach out to a Ski Expert here on Curated.

Before we get started, it's worth noting that Curated Experts are not sponsored by any brands. All of these reviews are completely unbiased.

Brand Claims

What does Rossignol claim about these skis?

[Daryl] The brand claims that these are going to be a great, more directional, sort of freeride-oriented ski for people who are looking for something that's really fun off-mountain. This is not a park ski. It is not specifically a freeride ski, but it is more freeride-oriented.

Overall Impressions

What is your overall impression of these skis?

[Daryl] I did actually have a lot of fun on these skis today. And that's because I was skiing in more spring-like conditions. They are snappy edge to edge.

[Theo] I had a fairly nice time skiing the Blackops 98. I would say it's a good option if you like a stable all-mountain ski and want a twin tip, which is exactly what Rossignol said. Maybe they were careful not to expand the definition into freestyle. It has a loose tip, but the flex in terms of being soft and poppy ends after that. Through that zone, it's really a stable charger of a ski. It's sort of neither here nor there in terms of its flex profile.

Carving

How did they turn?

[Daryl] When you lay into the turn, the energy from the ski is going to rocket you into that next turn, and they really are responsive. So when you're ready to turn, they will turn right with you regardless of when that is. They're great at dumping speed. They're happy to actually go straight and fast for the most part. There's a direct contradiction.

[Theo] It’s really a high-radius turn machine. I didn't feel like it swung and sprung into a tight radius. It makes short turns very easily. I think at lower speeds, you'd be totally able to perform those maneuvers. But at high speeds, you're locked into pretty wide, loose carves.

How about edge hold?

[Theo] It holds far better on ice. The radius and precision of the turns that you can change, the radius in terms of the turns that you're carving — it's more precise. I would recommend that if you're really looking for a twin-tip carver.

Were they stable?

[Daryl] This is going to be a good ski once the powder is tracked out. It is stable underfoot. It's a bit of a charger. It's got that weight that's going to get you through rudded soft bumps and moguls in the spring. It's going to be a good option. I had a ton of fun in the latter half of the day on this, taking it through the roller park and the flow park once the snow had gotten soft. On ice, it's not super fun. I'd hesitate to endorse this completely for East Coast skiers who spend a lot of time on ice.

What about dampness? Any chatter in the skis?

[Daryl] These skis are fairly stiff and damp underfoot compared to the tips and tails, which are quite soft. Whereas other skis have a progressive flex to them, I felt that these skis had more of a stopping point for the stiffness and a starting point for the softness. So it was less of a transition from soft tip to stiff underfoot.

If you are on ice and hardpack, these skis are likely going to give you a fair amount of chatter and feel unstable to you. When you are in softer conditions, slush, end of season when it's warm out, or even soft snow, these are going to be totally fine.

[Theo] Its tip and tail will rattle around because they are a bit softer, but underfoot, you're not going to experience any chatter.

How did they perform at speed?

[Daryl] These functioned quite well at speed for me as long as the snow was soft. Once I got into more off-trail, longer radius turns, or ice and hardpack, they struggled a little bit more at speed. They were definitely a little bit more unstable.

[Theo] This would be a good ski for high speeds.

Freestyle

How are these skis for freestyle?

[Daryl] I would not call these freestyle skis. They're not marketed as park skis. I personally would probably not ski them in the park. I didn't get to do any freestyle terrain or park skiing with them, so I can't speak to that any more than saying I probably wouldn't.

Could you speak about playfulness and pop?

[Theo] The tip, as you can see, bends easily. But that energy and rebound end once you hit the middle of the ski, and the sidewall gets really thick. It has an exceptionally thick sidewall. It's pretty heavy, and I did find that was useful when popping off rollers; you can really ollie off that stiff portion of the middle of the ski and get a ton of pop.

How maneuverable are the skis?

[Daryl] These are very maneuverable skis. You can swing them around pretty easily. They're not super heavy, but they're also not super light.

How are they for buttering?

[Theo] When applying a butter maneuver or something like that when applying force, you're only really going to flex the tip of the tail, unless you put a heck of a lot into it.

How are they on jumps?

[Theo] It’s not designed, as Rossignol themselves said to me, for jumps and rails. You could hit jumps on it and be totally fine doing so with its stable wider platform at 98 underfoot.

How would these be in the park?

[Theo] If a brand doesn't say this is a ski for hitting rails with, don't hit rails. They're not going to back up their warranty claims if it's not a real freestyle ski designed by a park company, and I think Rossignol is steering away from advertising this as such.

Freeride

How would they be in powder?

[Daryl] As far as powder is concerned, at 98 underfoot and with a fairly straight sidecut, these are not going to be awesome powder skis. They will do well and probably in up to six to eight inches of powder they'll be fine. But they're not going to be anything great or special and certainly aren’t going to excel in those conditions. I would avoid deep powder days with these skis.

What kind of terrain would they perform well on?

[Daryl] This ski carves well, as long as you are not on ice and not on really hard snow. It does just fine in softer conditions. Definitely can lay them over fairly easily. However, I would not recommend them on ice or hardpack. I also would avoid big, sketchy, tight lines. But I would take these in the trees, I would take these on groomers, and I would take these on spring days.

[Theo] Make sure that you're going to be getting into crud and bumps too, so you can really let it show its potential. Make it worth a ski. And don’t rely on it as an option for where you're skiing park.

Is there any location you'd pack these skis for?

[Daryl] These are going to be a great ski for someone who's looking for an all-around ski for the East Coast, the Midwest, or a low snowfall ski for out West.

Recommendations

Who would you recommend these skis to?

[Theo] This is a good ski for someone who is skiing a ton of variable snow. It is heavy. It holds up in chop. If you're skiing a lot of tracked-out, post-storm runs, then I would totally consider the Blackops 98.

Who should avoid these skis? Are there better options for them out there?

[Daryl] Someone might ask “Wouldn’t it be great for an East Coast skier who's spending time in the park and also wants something that can perform around the mountain?” But it doesn't have the performance necessary for the park.

[Theo] Over this ski test, there have been a couple of options. Notably, this Blackops 98 and the Line Blade Optic 96, which is a new ski from a line that advertises all-mountain twin-tip skis — that do not necessarily have a freestyle inclination, which I think is a strange entry into the winter sports market. I'm not sure why brands have decided to go in this direction. Perhaps the original freestyle skiers from the early 2000s who might have spent time in the park are aging. And they're so used to a twin tip that they need something that has a twin tip that'll perform across the mountain but isn't designed for the park. If that sounds like you, this is a good ski. The Blade Optic 96 is also an excellent ski.

I would say that it's not up to snuff in terms of a modern, and by that, I mean the last two or three years of freestyle all-mountain skis: something like the K2 Reckoner 102, the ON3P Magnus 90 Skis, or even any of the Armada ARV skis. I'm saying that because the flex pattern is pretty strange.

Any advice on sizing?

[Daryl] I definitely would not size down on this ski at all — not going to be good. Skis work differently for different types of skiers. If you have any questions about the Rossignol Blackops 98 or want help finding the right skis for you, reach out to Daryl, Theo, or any other Ski Expert here on Curated.

Selling Rossignol on Curated.com
Rossignol Black Ops 98 Skis · 2023
$749.95
Ski Expert Theo G
5.0
Theo G
Ski Expert
Theo here! How can I help?
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Written By
Daryl Morrison
Daryl Morrison
Ski Expert
I’m a former alpine racer of 12 years. Once I was finished competing and had started college, I tried out for and joined the Middlebury Snow Bowl ski patrol where I worked and volunteered for the entirety of my college career. When I finished college, I stayed on with the patrol for a season to work...
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I'm a pro ski instructor and lifelong fan of winter. I'll ski whenever/however possible, and that obsession has given me experience with big mountain, backcountry, racing, and park disciplines. I've been on skis over 20 years, and I grew up in the Adirondacks skiing at Gore and Whiteface mountains....

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