2024 Rossignol Essential

SkiTalk Test Team

Testing skis so you don't have to.
SkiTalk Tester
Mar 5, 2017
Where Tested: Loveland, CO
Conditions tested in: Chalky groomers
Size: 167cm

Do not let the wood topskin and the whole sustainability story fool you or lull you into a state of kumbaya. The Essential is a test bed of modern ski building with a huge emphasis on sustainability, using 77% recyclable materials. At the end of the ski's life, the owner can return the skis to Rossignol to be recycled. I do question why Rossignol chose to do this in a narrow carving ski, while, IMHO, the person who tends to be more of a bark eating tree hugger is more likely to be on a Sender or even RallyBird. I was told that Europe is the initial the focus here, and with the other side of the pond being more carve-centric, it did make sense.

The Essential is one serious bad-assed ripper. At 69 mm underfoot and a 13M radius in the reference 167 cm length, the Essential will carve trenches that mortal skiers following could fall into. When you flex the Essential, you will immediately know that this was not just a quick foray into different designs, but instead it was a very serious endeavor.

On the snow is where this wooden-bodied ski really shined. Well duh. Click in, push off, and hold on.
  • Insider tip: While I might not put an R22 plate on it, the Rockerace 15 would be my binding of choice here.
  • Insider tip II: Read the whole story here: Rossignol Essential
Andy Mink
Where Tested: Brighton, UT
Conditions tested in: Frigid firm chalk groomers
Size: 167cm

I had an opportunity to see the Essential at the Reno Industry show. I'd heard about the ski, and it looked "nice" on the floor. Then I picked it up and flexed it. I was fooled by the "enviro" aspect and expected a softer, friendly ski. Boy, was I wrong! This ski is BURLY.

On the snow at Brighton, the Essential and other early morning test skis were handicapped by the 0°F temps. Even the blue waxes were struggling a bit. But, once the ski got up to speed, I could feel the power coming through the Hero-inspired chassis. The Essential was very smooth and composed, allowing for quick back and forth turns with little edging all the way through lay-it-over trench work. The tail can be worked for a powerful push into the next turn, or allowed to follow through the turn until it's time to start the next turn. Choose this ski, like other high performance skis, by the radius you like, not necessarily the length of the ski. Starting at 155cm and 11m up to 172cm and 14m, there is an Essential turn shape for all corduroy aficionados. The Essential may not be all the way up to the Hero Master or FIS level carving skis, but it certainly is a purpose-built tool. Rossignol has done a really good job combining eco responsibility and high performance into one package. You can have it all!
  • Insider tip: A ecologically sound ski that doesn't ski well isn't worth having. This one is eco friendly AND skis well.
  • One thing I would change: I'm not over the moon about the name. It sounds soft, like essential oils. It is NOT soft! I wouldn't let that be a deal killer though.
Rudi Riet
Where Tested: Waterville Valley, NH
Conditions tested in: Dust-on-crust, groomed machine made, boilerplate
Size: 167cm

Talk about a wolf in sheep's clothing! This ski's geometry is based on the Hero ST but its flex pattern is decidedly more aggressive: stiff and unyielding, ready to pounce. Sure, the appearance is one of "happy little trees," but the reality is something closer to the whomping willow.

These skis love to rip powerful slalom turns over and over and over. They grip like mad on "racing surface" (i.e. true boilerplate ice) and have excellent pop from turn to turn. They demand a modern technique, with active ankle flexion and hips over the balls of the feet to initiate the turn, and when skied this way they will do anything you ask of them. They are very tough to overpower (and I was skiing these using a 150 flex plug race boot that can - and will - overpower a meager ski) and love to accelerate.

The Essential will do medium and longer radius turns, but those aren't its bread and butter. Nor is any 3-D surface as there isn't a lot of waist width or cord length to keep you afloat - you'll find the hard base, like it or not. In moguls they're a handful unless you are paying close attention. But if you want a frontside ripper of a ski that can slice and dice on ice, this is a winner. The eco-friendly aspect is simply icing on the cake.
  • Insider tip: If you really want to unleash the full power of this ski, get the R22 plate and race binding setup.
  • Insider tip II: Be sure to eat your breakfast and don't skip leg and core workout days if you plan on making this ski a daily driver.
  • One thing I would change: Nothing - great ski!
Who is it for?
A skilled skier with an eco-heart looking for a groomer shredder. Skilled advanced and expert skiers who want a ski that excels in short turns on groomed surfaces - a great ski for ex-racers or race coaches, or for a sneaky masters SL league racer.
Who is it not for?
If you haven't earned your carving wings, this is not the one to try and find them on. Anybody who can't drive a modern slalom ski with modern technique - the meek need not apply.
Skier ability
  1. Expert
Ski category
  1. Race
  2. Frontside
Ski attributes
  1. Groomers
  1. Men
  2. Women


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Available sizes
155, 160, 167
Rocker profile
  1. Full camber
Size Scaling
  1. None
Construction design
  1. Carryover
Binding options
  1. Flat
  2. System
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