An Expert Guide to Nordica Skis

Published on 05/05/2023 · 13 min readSkiing Expert Lauren Dobbins gives a full guide to Nordica brand skis. Read on to get an idea of the best Nordica skis for your skiing style!
By Ski Expert Lauren Dobbins

Nordica Unleashed 98 W. All Photos Courtesy of Lauren Dobbins

TL;DR: When buying Nordica skis, it’s important to do the following: consider your skiing ability, preferred terrain, and appropriate ski size; choose from all-mountain, freeride, racing, park and freestyle, or junior skis based on your needs; and evaluate ski profiles, waist width, sidecut, flex, and core materials. In this article, we will discuss each of those factors, and provide a discussion of Nordica-specific technologies, such as Energy 2 Ti, Carbon Chassis, Hex Bridge, and Terrain-Specific Metal, which enhance your skiing experience.

I am absolutely in love with Nordica skis. After demoing a ton of gear as a Ski Expert at Curated, I’ve found Nordica to consistently be the best match for me. My experience has made me a brand loyalist (I am currently on my third pair of the Santa Ana series). And new to my collection this season is the Unleashed 98 W. I even dream of adding more Nordica skis to my quiver someday!

I ski around 70 days each season here in Colorado, and Nordica helps me end each of those days with a smile—because I know I have the perfect skis for my needs. I’ve also helped many customers find the best skis for them (and, unsurprisingly, I often recommend Nordica). I have happy stories from many past Nordica purchasers, including those who purchased the Wild Belle as their first pair of skis, the Santa Ana 88 for a frontside ski, and the Enforcer 100 to replace a previous pair! At this point, you are probably asking yourself if Nordica is right for you. In this guide, we’ll help determine whether Nordica has the perfect skis for you as well.

Who Is Nordica?

Nordica Unleashed 98 W

Nordica, an Italian brand established in 1939, specializes in ski equipment and winter sports gear. Renowned for innovative designs and high-quality products, Nordica delivers exceptional performance, comfort, and durability. Skiers of all levels are familiar with Nordica for their cutting-edge boots, skis, and accessories that cater to specific needs and enhance the skiing experience.

What to Consider When Buying Nordica Skis

In order to better understand which pair of Nordica skis is best for you, ask yourself the following questions before starting your search.

1. What Is Your Skiing Ability and Style?

Understanding your skiing ability and style is crucial when choosing the right Nordica skis. Nordica offers products tailored for beginners, intermediate, and advanced skiers—each designed to suit specific skill levels and preferences. Selecting skis that match your abilities ensures a comfortable and enjoyable experience on the slopes.

2. What Type of Terrain Do You Prefer to Ski On?

Your preferred skiing terrain influences your ideal ski model. Nordica offers all-mountain, freeride, and racing skis—each optimized for case-specific conditions. Consider your favorite skiing environments to determine the most suitable option.

3. What Is Your Gender?

Nordica tailors their ski models specifically towards men and women, with their women’s models designed for the unique physiology of female skiers. While a taller woman may consider a men’s ski (which are frequently becoming referred to as unisex), a regular-height or shorter woman will want to opt for a pair of women’s-specific skis. And males of all sizes will find the men’s models very accessible.

4. What Is the Appropriate Ski Size for You?

Selecting the right ski size ensures optimal control and stability. Nordica ski sizing depends on factors such as height, weight, skill level, and skiing style. A general rule is to choose skis that reach between your chin and the top of your head, but consult a Nordica sizing chart or a Curated Ski Expert for a more accurate recommendation.

What Are the Different Types of Nordica Skis?

Nordica offers a diverse range of skis to accommodate various skiing styles, preferences, and skill levels. Each ski offers specific benefits and downsides depending on these factors.

Enforcer and Santa Ana

Nordica Enforcer 100

The men’s Enforcer and the women’s Santa Ana are Nordica’s flagship line of skis. These all-mountain skis have no shortage of admirers, with Nordica’s Enforcer 100 constantly being the top-selling ski on the market.

The Enforcer and Santa Ana have no speed limit, and can transition from flawless groomers to choppy trails with ease. Though these skis are not for the faint of heart; they are incredibly aggressive and designed for the most advanced skiers out there.

In terms of technology, Nordica’s terrain-specific metal changes up the ski’s metal placements based on each available waist width, providing the ski with the perfect amount of metal for its intended use.

Benefits:

  • Versatile performance on various terrain and snow conditions across the entire resort
  • Suitable for advanced to expert skiers who want exceptional power
  • Immensely stable and damp for a smooth ride, even in crud

Keep in Mind:

  • May not excel in specific conditions (like deep powder or racing) when compared to more specialized skis
  • Overpowering for someone who is learning
  • Can be heavy and tiring for a beginner skier

Available Waist Widths:

  • Enforcer: 88, 94, and 100mm
  • Santa Ana: 84, 88, 93, and 98mm

Enforcer Free and Santa Ana Free

Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free

As its name suggests, the Enforcer Free and Santa Ana Free are the freeride versions of Nordica’s flagship lines. The Free lineup takes the design of the Enforcer and Santa Ana and adds certain construction changes which help the ski adapt to freeride terrain (i.e. powder and open bowls).

These skis are wider, lighter, and have less metal than the standard lines, making them an excellent option for a skier who wants to spend more time in the fresh snow. Yet they’re also capable of handling all-mountain conditions if needed (especially in the narrowest 104mm option).

Benefits:

  • Excellent floatation in deep snow and powder
  • Enhanced maneuverability in diverse off-piste conditions
  • Suitable for adventurous skiers who seek to explore ungroomed terrain

Keep in Mind:

  • Potentially less responsive on groomed slopes or hardpack snow
  • Wider waist width will make carving turns more challenging
  • Overpowering for a learning skier

Available Waist Widths:

  • Enforcer Free: 104, 110, and 115mm
  • Santa Ana Free: 104 and 110mm

Enforcer Unlimited and Santa Ana Unlimited

This past season, Nordica took the success of the Enforcer and Santa Ana lines and created a touring-specific lineup they call the Unlimited series. These skis add the fun of downhill performance to a lightweight ski that is made to be just as fun for the uphill.

In place of metal, the Unlimited lineup includes a lightweight carbon design to provide support where needed. If you love the Enforcer or Santa Ana for inbound skiing, consider a pair of Unlimiteds for your out-of-bounds adventures!

Benefits:

  • Easy to ski and accessible for most ability levels
  • Capable for both resort and backcountry skiing
  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver

Keep in Mind:

  • Lacks the stability of a metal ski
  • Wider options are limited to high-snow areas

Available Waist Widths:

  • Enforcer Unlimited: 88, 94, and 104mm
  • Santa Ana Unlimited: 88, 93, and 104mm

Unleashed and Unleashed W

Nordica Unleashed 98 W

The Unleashed and Unleashed W are Nordica’s brand-new offerings for the 2022/2023 season. Introduced as a replacement to the now-retired Soul Rider line, these skis offer a freeride experience modeled after—you guessed it—the Enforcer and the Santa Ana. So, you can view them like the fun cousin to that more serious flagship series.

The Unleashed (W) are all-mountain capable, yet lightweight and poppy for a playful ride that truly shines in off-piste conditions. Intermediates will find them easy to learn on, while experts will feel confident landing cliff jumps. These skis are already finding success in the professional circuits, as the winner of the Freeride World Tour can be seen sporting a pair himself. If you want to be like Valle Rainer, you can get a pair of Unleashed just for you!

Benefits:

  • Exceptional versatility in off-piste conditions
  • Lightweight and maneuverable
  • Floats well, even at narrower waist widths

Keep in Mind:

  • Lacks stability at high speeds
  • Significantly reduced performance on groomers compared to the main line

Available Waist Widths:

  • Unleashed: 90, 98, and 108mm (114mm coming in 23/24)
  • Unleashed W: 90 and 98mm (108mm coming in 23/24)

Hey East Coast skiers, this one's for you! The men’s Navigator and women’s Wild Belle are Nordica’s narrow, all-mountain options. They are designed to carve up the groomers and ice, yet feature a profile that makes them all-mountain accessible on those fresh-snow days.

Notably, these skis are much more accessible than the notoriously difficult Enforcer and Santa Ana lines. Men will find the Navigator to continue providing performance as they advance in their skiing. For women, the Wild Belle is a more beginner-friendly option that will also progress with them into more advanced territory.

Design wise, the Navigator and Wild Belle feature an integrated binding system, which puts them at a lower price point for those just getting into the sport, or those on a budget. Benefits:

  • Quick and easy edge changes
  • Firm grip on groomers and ice
  • Accessible to a wide range of ability levels

Keep in Mind:

  • Limited off-piste performance in deep snow
  • Too soft for an expert skier

Available Waist Widths:

  • Navigator: 75, 80, and 85mm
  • Wild Belle: 74, 78, and 84mm

Dobermann

The unisex Dobermann collection is as close as you can get to a racing ski without actually buying a true version. These skis are modeled after Nordica’s FIS racing skis, but offer slightly easier control with just as crisp turns as their racing cousins. They are aggressive, fast, and made for those who strive to be the next Lindsey Vonn or Bode Miller.

The main Dobermann line comes in one waist width, with slalom- and giant-slalom focused options. The Dobermann Spitfire, a spinoff of the Dobermann, is a hybrid slalom and giant-slalom ski available in wider options to provide more variety in turn shapes and conditions. Benefits:

  • High-speed performance and stability on groomed slopes
  • Quick, precise turns due to an aggressive sidecut and narrow waist width
  • Stiff flex for optimal power transfer and edge hold

Keep in mind:

  • Less forgiving and harder to control for inexperienced skiers
  • Not ideal for off-piste skiing or varied snow conditions

Available Waist Widths:

  • Dobermann: 69mm
  • Dobermann Spitfire: 72, 76, and 80mm

Features to Look for in Nordica Skis

When choosing through Nordica’s selection, consider the following general features and technologies.

  1. Ski Profile: The specific combination of rocker and camber profiles affects a ski's performance. A rocker profile enhances flotation in powder and maneuverability, while a camber profile improves edge grip and stability on hardpack snow.
  2. Waist Width: A ski's waist width determines its performance in various snow conditions. Narrower skis excel on groomed slopes, while wider skis provide better flotation in powder.
  3. Sidecut: A ski's sidecut affects its turn radius and carving ability. A deeper sidecut results in quicker, tighter turns, while a shallow sidecut provides more stability at higher speeds.
  4. Flex: A ski's flexibility influences its responsiveness and ease of use. Stiffer skis provide better stability and power transfer for advanced skiers, while a softer flex is more forgiving and easier to control for beginners.
  5. Core Materials: A ski’s core materials affect its weight, durability, and performance characteristics. Common core materials include wood, foam, and carbon—each offering different benefits and trade-offs.

Specific Features and Technologies Unique to Nordica:

  1. Energy 2 Ti (Titanium) Construction: This technology uses a wood core combined with two layers of titanium, providing excellent power transmission, torsional stability, and edge grip. This feature is especially apparent in Nordica's racing and high-performance, all-mountain skis.
  2. Carbon Chassis: A lightweight carbon-reinforced construction reduces overall ski weight while maintaining torsional rigidity and power transmission. This technology is often found in Nordica's all-mountain and freeride skis.
  3. Hex Bridge: This unique construction combines a full wood core with a hexagonal-shaped grid made of lightweight and strong materials. A design that increases the ski's responsiveness, dampening, and stability without adding extra weight—commonly featured in Nordica's all-mountain skis.
  4. Terrain-Specific Metal: Nordica strategically places metal laminates throughout the ski to enhance its performance in specific conditions. For example, their all-mountain skis may have more metal underfoot for improved edge grip on hardpack snow, while their freeride skis may feature metal in the tip and tail for increased stability in variable terrain.

By understanding the general ski features and technologies, as well as those specific to Nordica, you can make a more informed decision when selecting the ideal pair of skis for your needs and preferences.

Scenario Examples

Selecting the ideal pair of Nordic skis can be challenging with so many options to choose from. To make things easier, below I’ve sketched three different types of skiers I’ve helped on Curated and the key factors I considered before suggesting the right pair for them.

Jenny: An Advanced Skier Looking For High Performance

Jenny has been skiing her whole life. She likes to go fast, and no terrain is off-limits for her. However, she has historically been disappointed by most women’s skis, as she finds them chattery and unable to support her speed. She is too short to use a men’s ski but wants to be able to fly past the boys when she hits the big bowls in her home state of Colorado. Features Jenny should look for:

  • Women’s-specific design
  • Stiff with metal reinforcement
  • Width in the upper 90s for all-mountain terrain

Jenny’s Best Option: Santa Ana 98. These skis won’t disappoint a hard-charging lady! At 98mm underfoot, she can hit the bowls with confidence and still be able to rip the groomers with ease.

Neil: The Freerider

Neil likes to use the entire mountain as his playground. He often skis the bumps in pursuit of fun, loves to pop off of side hits, and isn’t afraid to jump off a rock here and there. Plus, he might even step in the park from time to time. While he doesn’t live in a state with resorts, and so doesn’t ski as much as he would like to, he travels to resorts in California and Montana. Features Neil should look for:

  • Lightweight and poppy
  • Freeride design
  • Width in the upper 90s to low 100s

Neil’s Best Option: Unleashed 98. The Unleashed series is by far the most playful option created by Nordica. The 98mm option will be suitable for both high snow in the Rockies as well as the variable conditions found in California.

Chauncey: An East-to-West Coast Skier

Chauncey lives on the East Coast and takes weekend trips to his local resort in Vermont. Though he also travels to Utah once a year. Ideally, he wants to find one ski that will excel in both locations. An advanced skier, he usually sticks to the groomers but also loves moguls. And due to an old knee injury, he wants a ski that he can easily maneuver. Features Chauncey should look for:

  • Groomer-focused ski with the flexibility to go off-piste
  • Intermediate-friendly to accommodate his injury
  • Width in the low to mid-80s

Chauncey’s Best Option: Navigator 80 or 85. If he spends more time skiing in his home state of Vermont, the 80 will be a great fit, since it handles better on ice. If he values his time in Utah more, the 85 will provide more versatility in the soft snow he’s more likely to encounter there.

Connect With a Real Expert

Nordica Santa Ana 98

With an impressive collection of skis, we’ve seen how Nordic offers just about everything from the race-inspired Dobermann to the freeride competition-winning Unleashed. Though if you’re still undecided on which pair is best for your needs, reach out to a Curated Ski Expert, like me! We offer free, customized advice and gear recommendations to help you find the perfect match for your next mountain adventure.

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Lauren Dobbins, Ski Expert
5.00
Lauren Dobbins
Ski Expert
I learned how to ski before I learned how to ride a bike! I grew up shredding my local hill at The Grand Geneva in Wisconsin, but I always had dreams of moving to the mountains after every family ski trip. I made my dream a reality when my husband and I moved to Colorado in 2018. We are the definition of Weekend Warriors, as we ski 70+ days each season while still maintaining a 9 to 5! I've made it my mission to ski every resort in Colorado (I've skied 14 in state so far). Breckenridge is my personal favorite (and the closest to my home), but I've grown to love the independent resorts like Monarch and A-Basin. I've checked off skiing in California and Utah and can't wait to plan the next out-of-state trip. From green catwalks to double-black bowls, there isn't a ski run that doesn't make me smile! Although I'm an aspiring ski bum, I work full time as a Program Manager in internal operations at a global consulting firm. In addition to skiing for fun, I also volunteer at the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park. When I'm not skiing, I'm learning how to snowboard. When it's not possible to ski or snowboard, you can find me mountain biking or hiking with my three rescue dogs. I love finding my new favorite ski gear, and I hope to help you find your new favorites too!
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Written by:
Lauren Dobbins, Ski Expert
5.00
Lauren Dobbins
Ski Expert
I learned how to ski before I learned how to ride a bike! I grew up shredding my local hill at The Grand Geneva in Wisconsin, but I always had dreams of moving to the mountains after every family ski trip. I made my dream a reality when my husband and I moved to Colorado in 2018. We are the definition of Weekend Warriors, as we ski 70+ days each season while still maintaining a 9 to 5! I've made it my mission to ski every resort in Colorado (I've skied 14 in state so far). Breckenridge is my personal favorite (and the closest to my home), but I've grown to love the independent resorts like Monarch and A-Basin. I've checked off skiing in California and Utah and can't wait to plan the next out-of-state trip. From green catwalks to double-black bowls, there isn't a ski run that doesn't make me smile! Although I'm an aspiring ski bum, I work full time as a Program Manager in internal operations at a global consulting firm. In addition to skiing for fun, I also volunteer at the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park. When I'm not skiing, I'm learning how to snowboard. When it's not possible to ski or snowboard, you can find me mountain biking or hiking with my three rescue dogs. I love finding my new favorite ski gear, and I hope to help you find your new favorites too!
17 Reviews
459 Customers helped

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