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Rossignol Zenith Z9 Oversize Review

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
First time adding a review here.

Stats: 6 foot 180 pounds, level 5-6 skier. Anyone who saw me skiing at ESA Stowe know I was tentative(i.e. scared) in bumps and steeper terrain and more conservative. As Bob Barnes indicated I was capable of tackling the things I am anxious about but am lacking in confidence.

Current Skis: Head IM77 170 CM, Salomon Streetracer 8 170CM.

At a small hole in the wall resort called BMBW here in Ohio they had tents set up for Rossignol, Dynastar, and Salomon. Free demos on a small selection of skis.

I took the Z9 out for about an hour. Length 170. The conditions were tracked up fresh snow made the night before with patches of rock hard ice strewn about where the snow was scraped off. I will compare the ride to the Head IM77 which I had been skiing on all morning.

The first thing I noticed was how light they were. Then again I was just skiing on the Head which are fairly hefty. The Z9 was light but also felt solid. When I got off the lift on a modest blue trail the first thing I noticed was they were incredibly smooth and stable when moving through the chopped up crap. No noise, no vibrations, no buffeting. Smooth and quiet.

The Z9 is also incredibly forgiving(at least from my perspective of tending to lean back a lot). They didnt get squirely when I got in the backseat as I often do on the IM77. I intentionally went back on my heels to see how they would react. In situations that would have me on my butt with the Head they did not seem to care. They were more soft and pliable than the head - especially in the tail section. I started to work up some speed and noticed the faster I went the more responsive the ski was to the slightest edging.

My biggest problem is confidence with speed. I couldn't believe the confidence these skis gave me after only 2 runs. I was flying. I was patiently letting my skis do ther work instead of forcing my tails into a skidded turn to control speed. I dont think I have really done that before at higher speeds(higher for me that is).

I think this had to do with a number of factors: First the turn was immediate the moment I tipped my skis. I felt a grip right away and flowed into the turn rather than using my skis to slam on the brakes when things got too fast and I am waiting for the turn to commense through the fall line. For the first time on the steep runs at speed I let the skis do all the work and it was extremely simple and efficient.

Also due to the quiet stability and buttery smoothness I really didnt have a perception of speed as I did on the head 77 or other skis I have been on so I didnt need to listen to that voice in the back of my head saying "Slow down!".

With the head and MY Salomon SR the turn took some time and I think that added to my anxiety of speed as the longer I spent in the fall line without feeling the grip the more I was prone to jamming my tails to force the turn to control speed. With the Z9 the turns seemed to flow naturally with very little effort and just the slightest edging. I also noticed they felt zippy right when I was coming out of a turn like I had pressed down hard on a spring and then suddenly let go. I believe this is what is referred to as rebound. Again a new sensation but very pleasant.

From my perspective the Z9 has the exact combination of stability, forgiveness, and handling that I need. I am simply amazed. I have the K2 Apache crossfires coming from the ESA raffle but I am seriously tempted. Someone stop me !

Also I rode the Bandit B2 in 174. I didnt care much for this ski but then again its probably my technique. I was slipping whenever I hit the ice patches. It was very stable when not on the ice but I just didnt care for the feel. I coudlnt really get an edge dug in as with the Z9 and they didnt feel as responsive or quick to turn.

Also for anyone interested: I talked to the Rossignol tech for a while. I know some folks here are trying to catalog the base and edge evels of various ski models.

The base and Edge bevels on the Z9 and Z5 are 1,2.

The base and edge bevels on the Bandit line are 1 and 1.
post #2 of 20
great first review skierxman!
post #3 of 20
I demoed the B2s last year and was not overly impressed even though my previous skis had been 200 cm 15 year old straight skis. It may have been just my style of skiing.
post #4 of 20
Thanks for the review. I tried to demo the Z9 this weekend, but they were all out. I ended up on a SUV 12.1 which I really liked and was considering buying... but now I think I'll wait and try the Z9 first!

I also rode the B2 this season in 4 inches of fresh snow. Thougt it was great on the softer stuff, but a little difficult on wind buffed hardpack.
post #5 of 20
I bought a pair of Z9s a few weeks ago after demoing them along with several other skis. These and the Metron B5s were the most interesting for me. I found a previously demo'd pair of Z9s for half price, so I pulled the trigger.

I've had them out 3 times so far. Short turns on flat snow are crazy-fun. There was quite a bit of fresh snow 2 of the times I skied them and they do well in the powder and tracked powder, but they're not particularly special in those conditions.
post #6 of 20
Well anyways, Im glad I waited to demo the Z9s. I would have to agree with SkierX, these are great skis. They had me flying much faster, and looking for steeper runs than usual. They seemed very conducive to modern technique, but would skid If gave em a little extra push. (level 5/6 skier, 220 lbs)

My only gripe is there a little slugish at very low speed on mushy snow. I can live with that. So anyways, I pulled the trigger on em, and I am now done demoing skis for a couple years!
post #7 of 20
These have received great reviews from both men and women testers. I'm hoping to demo them soon. Thanks for the review.
post #8 of 20
Glad to hear your knee is no bothering you, I just saw this post.
post #9 of 20
I agree with SkierXMan. I was able to demo a pair of 170 Z9's on the weekend and I couldn't belive how stable these skis felt and speed.

The conditions were 5-10cm of new snow on top of an icy base, and these skiis just zipped down the hill. They handled the rough stuff with ease.

The challenge now is how to sneak them into the house before my March ski trip.
post #10 of 20
What's the bevel on the Z9?

The bevel on the Metrons (and all Atomics, apparently) is 3/1. The Metrons (B5 and M9) I demoed this weekend were very good on ice.
post #11 of 20
How do the Z9's do in small bumps and in the glades?
post #12 of 20
I demoed the Z9's this past weekend as well and I am currently on the Rossi RPM 90, so I thought this would be a simple progression as far as performance, obviously the Z9 has more sidecut. but I didn't think they held an edge as well as the RPM's, they were very stable at speed though.

the lack of edge hold may have been due to the "excellent" conditions of 7 springs in Pennsylvania, so I would like another chance to demo these on some nice groomers.
post #13 of 20
I skied the Z9 and my B3's back to back this last Sunday at SkiBowl...

The snow was wet/slushy but soft. Almost like perfect spring snow. It did snow a little at the mid to upper levels of the mountain, but nothing really to change the conditions.

I started out doing 4 runs on my B3's and they felt great pushing through anything I came into contact with at speed. I then switched over to the Z9's and had such a blast I never went back to my B3's.

They handled all the conditions just fine as long as I didn't try to muscle them (I can get away with this on the B3's) and they felt like they were on rails at speed...A total blast.

I've skied on them before this a couple of times but never back to back w/my B3's on the same runs/conditions. I do this all the time w/my Z5's, which have a similiar feel, but when hauling tail the Z9's just ruled.
post #14 of 20
I demoed them also, along with 7 other pairs of skis. If I HAD to replace my Volkl 6* and Karmas, this would be the ski (even more so than the Allstar : ...that's a bad thing for volklgirl!). I found them easy to ski, damp and solid but not "dead" like other Rossis. They were happy to go as fast or as slow as I wanted and they didn't care if turns were skidded or carved. They popped off short turns so fast I was breathless. The harder I pushed them, the quicker and more lively they were. The Z9 and the Nordica Olympia Speed were my surprise WOW skis of the day.
post #15 of 20
First review here (be kind):

I'm a 5-6 as well, 5'8" and about 200lbs. I skied quite a bit as a kid, quit when I was 13 to do other things, and then picked it up again when I was 29, skied a couple years a ton (40x a year one season) and then blew my knee out playing rugby and hadn't had the combination of health, money and time since then until this year. My previous skies were the Salomon XScream9, and they did pretty well for me in general although they were slow in the bumps when I would venture in there and they definitely didn't like floating much in the thick powder we get out here in the Northwest. I generally ski at Stevens or Snoqualmie Pass and will get to Whistler probably twice this year, and for the most part I'm happy ripping up the blue runs or taking my chances on the single diamonds. I'm probably on the blue runs about 60% of the time, steep and thick 30% and *other* 10%. Like SkierXMan, I am tentative in the bumps and conservative on the steeps, but the easier runs I like to turn like I'm doing my own little slalom race.

I spent two of the last four days skiing at Stevens Pass, doing a bunch of demos to see what ski I wanted going forward to replace the XScreams. Among the skis I tried out were: Atomic Metron B5, Atomic Metron 11:B5 (I think that's how you type it), K2 Apache Crossfire, Rossignol Bandit B2, Rossignol Bandit B3, and the Rossignol Zenith Z9 Ti.

Before I go into my impressions, I probably should say that I played 25 years of competitive ice hockey, so like any good hockey player I *LOVE* a good edge in a frozen surface. It will make sense shortly why I mention this--trust me ;-)

I have to say that the folks I've talked to all seemed to really, really love the Bandit B3. I didn't particularly like that ski--it seemed to want to ski me more than it wanted to allow me to control what was going on. I took five runs on these in about 10" of fresh powder, and they seemed all over the place--sometimes they would float on top, sometimes they would grip, somtimes they would push through a pile of soft stuff, sometimes they wouldn't. I just didn't have a feel for what they were trying to do, and thus really, really did not enjoy these skis. Same with B2, although not to the degree.

The two Atomics were easier to control, but not forgiving at all. I faceplanted twice (once embarrassingly under a chair called "Daisy," so you know it was feeding a really impossible double diamond run) simply because I leaned on my inside edge just a little too much on turns and had the ski just...stop. I probably could have made do with these, but I would have had to have really paid a lot of attention to my technique. In the end, I liked these somewhat, but I think I would have been happier on maybe the Metron 9 or 10. These skis were just a bit too much for me, I think. I demoed both Atomics on a different day from the Bandits--firmer pack, about 2" of powder on top and constant snow during the day to keep it soft.

The K2, you ask? I skied this twice, just to make sure--once on the It's a fairly easy ski to ski technique-wise, but it felt absolutely dead. My legs weren't burning all that much skiing the Bandits, but a run on these and I was dog tired. I'm sure there must be someone who gets some rebound out of these, but it wasn't me.

And then there was the Zenith Z9 Ti. I started off this morning with them for five runs, and at the end of the day (I skied the Atomics followed by the K2 in between) today with that firm pack and some soft powder on top, and they were practically miraculous. All the praise that everyone in this thread has given them I would echo--they were good to as fast as I wanted them to go, agile when I took them into bumps, really popped up nice in the deeper stuff off-piste, and they were forgiving enough for someone of my ability. They were phenomenal on the groomers, too--more so than any other ski I've ever been on. They felt almost like I was back on hockey skates--I always could find my edges, I could shift them in a split second, and the way I rebounded off them almost felt like I was carving c-cuts in hockey again, minus the body checking (reserved for snowboarders who don't look cutting across a run only...). Even in the deep stuff I felt like I was in control and really skiing the way I've always wanted to ski. And, as Volklgirl described, short turns on these skis was absolutely breath-taking, and they seemed to always wanted to be pushed more no matter how much I gave them.

The down side is, of course, that I couldn't think of skiing on my Salomons after that. I immediately went and bought myself a pair after the best 8 runs of the day, and I can't wait to go up again Thursday so I can spend the whole day on 'em.
post #16 of 20
Really good review! Your comments mirror my experience with demo-ing almost the same slate of skis (although I also tried the Metron 9 and 10). I had similar experiences and found that last year I progressed from loving to carve on the blues to wanting to attack steeper and more challenging terrain. I suspect that you will find that, by the end of the season, you may want to be going on a lot of runs that you would never even have considered before. Have fun - thanks for offering a great review!
post #17 of 20
Originally Posted by Alberto View Post
I had similar experiences and found that last year I progressed from loving to carve on the blues to wanting to attack steeper and more challenging terrain. I suspect that you will find that, by the end of the season, you may want to be going on a lot of runs that you would never even have considered before.
Thanks, Alberto! I sure hope I can follow your path on these.
post #18 of 20

update on z9's

Since this post has been bumped up a bit - I thought i'd give you my take on my second season of rosssi Z9's. To be honest I think I have outgrown this ski.

Since last year I have dropped 20 pounds in weight, and am doing weight lifting, including squats. The z9's that felt like magic last year, now feel a bit too short and squirly.

Keep in mind I am now 200 lbs and ride the 170s (would have opted for the 176 if the shop had any left). I wish they had the 176 in stock now. Oh well I got a smoking deal on demo skis that had been used 3 times.

Bottom line one this ski: a solid intermedaite ski, go long if you weigh on the heavier side
post #19 of 20

I agree that more length would be good - I'm 5'8" and 175-80 lbs and went short (as per the Metrons) - I'm on the 162 and would prefer 170+ now. I think that the ski is so forgiving that the additional length is not a problem for most people.

Mojomarc, if I can make the progression on this ski, then pretty much anyone can! However, just because I have progressed quite rapidly, it doesn't mean that my skiing is a beauty to behold! Nonetheless, I love what these skis have done for my confidence and for my overall development. Have fun!
post #20 of 20


Good review SkierX,
Likewise, having demoed them a couple weeks ago on one of the few...but well-blown trails at Sunday River...one could think that one was standing on some Volkls or Heads. Very powerful boards....but with the energy concentrated out towards the edges and Rossi calmness directly underneath the foot/ankle, offering a super smooth ride However this was one of my initial trails of the season....and SR was getting the water-mix just right...and the proof was in the feeling, close ones eyes and you could have sworn that you were on fresh, natural stuff....so maybe any ski would have felt pretty nice..;-)
I'd definitly be interested in trying them in powder....as a New England powder ski....a fast ski but willing to take orders immediately. Now if only some consistently cold temps!..eh'.
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