Expert Review: 2024 Nordica Santa Ana 88 Skis [with Video]Published on 11/04/2023 · 12 min readSkiing Experts Charlotte H. and Sara Beeken tested the 2024 Nordica Sana Ana 88 skis in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories.
Curated Skiing Experts Charlotte H. and Sara Beeken got their hands on the 2024 Nordica Santa Ana 88 this spring. Check out how it 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 Nordica Santa Ana 88 or need recommendations on which ski would be best for you, reach out to a Skiing 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.
What does Nordica claim about this ski? [Charlotte] Nordica advertises this ski as an all mountain ski for intermediate and advanced skiers.
[Sara] The brand claims this is an all mountain, intermediate - advanced ski.
What is your overall impression of the ski? [Charlotte] I loved these skis - I didn't know if I would! I really had a lot of fun on these skis. I envisioned myself going back to back to my roots, back to the East Coast, back to a small mountain in Northern Vermont, and just ripping trees on these skis. I just felt like they were so maneuverable, so fun, and so agile. I loved the bumps, I loved the trees, and I could put them up on edge on groomers. I just really had a lot of fun on these skis.
[Sara] My first impression of these skis before I put them on was that I really love the colors on them this year. I love that teal. I was also really impressed by how well they held up at speed. I've skied the Santa Ana 93, and I felt like this one was a little bit stiffer and could handle a little more aggressive skiing.
How does the shape of the ski affect the way it rides? [Charlotte] These skis have an 88 millimeter waist, which makes them really nimble, really agile, and easier to get up on edge. They have a decent sidecut, which is also going to help with powering through and carving through a turn.
[Sara] This has a pretty typical all mountain shape. It's got some rocker in the tip and then just a little bit of rocker in the tail with some camber underfoot. So, it's going to be great on groomers, but it's also got some versatility to take it off trail.
What is the flex like? [Charlotte] The Santa Ana 93 does have more metal in it which means it's going to stand up a little bit better to rougher conditions and to putting more power into the ski. It's going to give you a little more rebound coming out of your turns as well in comparison to the Santa Ana 93s. With that, they'll have a slightly stiffer flex and a little more pop.
[Sara] These are a little bit stiffer than the Santa Ana 93. They use a little bit more metal in it and I really liked that about these. These aren't the stiffest ski out there, but they hold up pretty well for somebody who's an intermediate or advanced skier.
How does the ski turn? [Charlotte] Because these skis sit at 88 millimeters underfoot, they're just a slightly smaller and more compact ski compared to something that's approaching 100 millimeters underfoot. Because of that, they felt really light to me. They felt responsive and agile. In terms of turning down the mountain, when I was weaving through moguls, when I was hopping into trees, when I was putting them up on edge on steeper and flatter groomers, they turned on a dime. I felt really pleased with the fact that I didn't have to work too hard to be in control of them.
[Sara] Turn initiation was really intuitive with this ski thanks to that tip rocker.
What is the edge hold like? [Charlotte] Their edge hold is pretty decent. It's not the strongest ski. It's not the one I would recommend if you're primarily at an icier mountain in the Midwest or East Coast that doesn't see a lot of softer snow. But, they did pretty well in terms of getting up on edge and then holding that for as much as I wanted them to.
[Sara] I felt like this had fantastic edge hold. I wasn't expecting a whole lot from it because I felt like it was more of an intermediate ski. But as an expert skier, the edge hold was really nice on these.
What about dampness? Any chatter in the skis? [Charlotte] On an icier slope on a steeper type of terrain, these skis are going to do a pretty good job of absorbing the chatter. If you're really hard charging and cruising down the hill, you're going to feel a little bit of chatter. They're not your most absorbing, dampest ski possible.
[Sara] Because this is 88 underfoot, it's not going to be meant for those days where you've got really chunky, soft snow - it's going to get a little caught up in that. But considering it's kind of more narrow a ski, the dampness was actually pretty solid. I could take it on the groomers after they've been kind of skied out. Someone on the East Coast who's skiing late in the day when the snow has gotten kind of chopped up, this would be a really awesome option because of that dampness.
How does it feel in terms of speed? [Charlotte] Similar to the Santa Anna 93s, they really thrive at a more mellow, moderate speed. They can take on a little more speed than the 9s, which I felt had a bit of flop in the tips. These ones have more metal, so they are a little more stable at higher speeds. Although, they're not the most damp, stable and hard charging ski out there in terms of waist width and ski profile.
[Sara] These held up pretty well at speed. There was definitely a speed limit eventually. But, for most people who aren't flying down the mountain, it's going to do just fine.
How is its energy/acceleration? [Charlotte] With the added metal in the 88 model of the Santa Ana’s, they have some pop, and they have a bit of rebound. So, when you're powering through a turn, they're going to give a little bit in return which is really nice. They are not the poppiest of skis. They don't accelerate you, and if you're really driving into a carve they're not shooting you into that next turn. But, because of that, they feel really stable and reliable, and they're not going to throw you off as someone who isn't looking to be thrown around from one turn to the next turn.
[Sara] I could feel a little bit of acceleration and pop across the hill on these skis - not a whole lot, it's a very approachable level. So, if you're somebody who's just getting into going a little bit faster, it's not going to be an intimidating ski, but it's definitely going to help you progress.
How is it for freestyle skiing? [Charlotte] There's no need to hop into the park on these skis. You can do it. You can do it on any ski. If you really want to get into the park, they wouldn't have an issue with it. Because they're a little more narrow, they might be a little more nimble in there and not the heaviest ski you could potentially be taking in there, which is a good thing. But, they are not primarily a park ski.
[Sara] These are directional skis meant for skiing forward, meant for somebody who has more of a directional style. So, if you're looking for a ski that's going to be great in the park and great at jumps and tricks, definitely look into something else.
Could you speak about playfulness and pop? [Charlotte] They're a pretty playful ski. I really had a lot of fun with them. I was smiling the whole way down. I wanted to take them everywhere.
[Sara] This isn't the most playful ski. It's not a twin tip - it's a directional ski. But, it's definitely very nimble and approachable for somebody who's getting into all mountain skiing and might want to take some of their skiing off trail into bumps, trees, or back bowls. It's a little bit narrow for deep powder, but for somebody who's maybe on the East Coast or isn't going up specifically for powder days, these would be a great choice.
Is it good for skiing switch? [Sara] I wouldn't recommend necessarily skiing switch on this ski. It's got a partial twin tip, so you could be all right spinning around a little bit, but it's not going to be made for skiing switch, going in the terrain park, or anything like that.
How is the ski with jumps? [Sara] I felt like these had a really good stable landing on jumps, but that's definitely not what they were primarily made for.
How is it in powder? [Charlotte] Given their more narrow waist width, they are not your top powder ski. I think they could do okay in a lighter type of powder, like a champagne kind of powder. If you were skiing heavier powder, more damp powder, or East Coast type of powder, I think they would have a tough time pushing through it. But, in a couple of fresh inches like we had today, they were a blast.
[Sara] At 88 underfoot, it's not a powder ski. It's going to be stable on some uneven terrain; but, if you want something for that deep powder, you're going to want to go with something that's a little bit wider.
How is it in uneven terrain and chunder? [Charlotte] When I took these skis into more variable terrain that had a bit of chunder, a bit of uneven snowpack going from icier parts of the trail into more powdery areas, they felt like they could be a little more stable for me. So, I did want to speed check a little bit and make sure that I was in control of my own skis because they are not the skis that are just going to completely push through all the crud.
[Sara] This ski does okay in some mild chunder and uneven terrain. I would say that if you're going to be out West skiing chunder and stuff like that, you're going to want something wider. But for the East Coast, this is extremely damp.
How is it skiing in the trees? How is its maneuverability? [Charlotte] Where I really loved to take them was in an area where I wanted to make tighter turns, like the bumps and the trees.
[Sara] These are really nimble and maneuverable in the trees, and they have good edge grip. So, for somebody on the East Coast who might not get a whole lot of powder days but they still want to go through the glades, through the trees, and the snow's a little more firm, this would be a great choice because it has excellent edge grip.
What terrain is this ski good for? [Charlotte] Anyone who wants to hop on the Santa Ana 88, my first thing I would tell you is try them in the moguls and try them in the trees - you're going to be so happy on them.
[Sara] These skis are great for an East Coast all mountain ski or a West Coast primarily groomers ski. You can certainly take them into the trees and have a lot of fun on lower snow days.
What terrain should skiers avoid with it? [Charlotte] I might try to avoid the park. Also, on steeper, icier groomers they are going to feel a little less stable for you. So, that might be an area where you want to just make sure you're being more careful on these guys.
[Sara] These skis should avoid anything over boot top powder. At 88 underfoot, they're not going to do great in that. So, they're going to be a lot happier on groomers or low snow off piste skiing terrain.
Who would you recommend these skis to? [Charlotte] The Santa Ana 88s are so versatile. They're going to be great for advancing intermediates all the way up to an expert skier. I would say an expert skier who isn't the fastest down the mountain is going to be really happy.
[Sara] I would recommend these to somebody who is a progressive intermediate all the way up to a more conservative expert skier who spends most of their time on groomed terrain, but likes to have that versatility. Also, I’d recommend them to somebody who wants to feel confident on their skis. This is a very intuitive ski and it's going to be a great fit for a lot of different people.
Who should avoid these skis, there are better options out there for them? [Charlotte] People who are really cruising down the mountain and moving at high speeds are going to want something that is more stiff and has more metal in its construction.
[Sara] There's not a whole lot of people who should avoid these. Very early beginners would want something a little bit more approachable. But, this is a great ski for a broad variety of people, and that's why it's been so popular every year. You can put an intermediate skier on this and they'll have a blast and have something to progress on. Or, a more conservative expert skier is also going to love these.
If you could pack these skis for anywhere in the world, where would you take them? [Charlotte] I want to take these skis home back to my home mountain in northern Vermont: Mad River Glen. Shout out - skiers only! These skis would be so fun there. It's primarily a mogul and tree skiing mountain. It's decently icy, but if you stick to the sides of the trails, these skis are going to be great. I might feel a little bit nervous on icier conditions, but these are skis that are meant for tighter areas.
[Sara] If I could take this ski anywhere, I would take it to the Northeast to ski some low snow trees.
Skis work differently for different types of skiers. If you are wondering whether the Santa Ana 88 is the right ski for you, chat with Charlotte, Sara, or any other Skiing Experts here on Curated, and they’ll put together free, personalized ski recommendations on the best skis for your needs.