[Jim wrote his original review on December 21, 2003 - Mike Muha]
Now that this is the end of a 45+ outings season with my 2004 Rossignol F2's and my 2002 Atomic RS10's, I'm ready to more fully evaluate them in combination with my switch to NNN and Rossi boots. My opinion of the Xium skate boots and bindings hasn't changed, which is to say the boots still fit really well, and show no signs of packing out after nearly 50 outings. If this is any indication, I switched my entire fleet over to NNN after only a few skis, and the Pilot boots & bindings have been gathering dust.
The NNN bindings continue to do their job, and it seems that as long as you are pushing in the right direction, I don't notice the lack of a scissors mechanism like the Pilot. It still seems that the Pilot will do a slightly better job of keeping the ski tip in line if you get lazy with the push, though.
The Rossi F2's continues to impress me as a great ski, but once my initial euphoria wore off, I've decided that if anything they make me like the Atomics more. Fortunately, this happened before I went down and got "XIUM Rules!" tattooed anywhere. This is not in any way a knock on the F2's; rather their stability and wonderful shovel feedback has raised my confidence so that I ski them AND the Atomics better.
The F2's and their "you can do no wrong" personality have allowed me to take the next step in skiing with more confidence and (relative) abandon. For me, the Atomic RS10's get better as the trail gets softer, and the F2's positive feel sustains your confidence as it firms up and/or gets icy, or on any day where you are having balance checks.
In between, well, how do you feel today… a shot of JD, or a glass of Merlot? The F2's seem to give up some glide when it gets really soft and the higher shovel pressure digs the tip in, but given the wax wear patterns, I suspect they are flexed slightly on the stiff side for my weight and skiing ability. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Rossi guys chose to shade them a tad stiff on purpose given my stated desire for a hard track ski to complement my Atomics.
This has been a really powerful lesson in ski flex for me. I had always repeated the "flex is important" mantra, but being able to actually experience the contrast with these two approaches has really helped me to better understand WHY. I'm sure that with all my previous fittings, the shop guys took into account my fairly light weight/leg strength, intermediate (charitably) skills, and previous mid-pack race results, and then flexed the skis softer for my inevitable slog through the middle wave powder. While this was perfect for my race outings and softer days, training was a whole different story, as the tracks often tended to be much firmer or even icy, and I didn't/don't always have the skill set or balance to compensate. As a result, prior to the F2's, my training outings on firmer days were usually challenging.
I can't overstate how great it was to have a ski that allowed me to work through some of those issues with the F2's. Now that I've skied both in varied conditions, I probably could use the F2's just about everywhere, but having a softer ski is really nice for soft conditions while racing or training. Having a combination of both in one ski would be even better, though, and to that end I picked up a set of F3's right at the end of the season. Not enough ski time on them yet to really judge, but so far they seem to be in right in between the RS10's and F2's. More Rossi "snap" than the Atomics, but the shovel is softer and feels as though it floats nicer than the F2's.