Choosing The Right Ski
Once upon a time, skiers had one pair of skis that let them float and fly across snow-covered fields, scale snowy peaks and then, with much courage and a little luck, ski safely down them. As ski technique and technology evolved, skis became increasingly sophisticated and specialized. Skiers could then choose between Alpine skis (for going down hills) and Nordic skis (for going pretty much everywhere else).
My, how times have changed. Today, there are Slalom, GS, Super G and Downhill skis, plus all mountain, freeski, mogul, powder, park & pipe, Norpine, Telemark, Alpine Touring, Nordic skating, classic and jumping skis. Compounding matters, many of them are also available in men, women or children’s versions. We now have so many different types, weights, widths, constructions, makes and models to choose from that even the most experienced skier can feel lost and confused when choosing the right pair.
Enter Ethan Korpi. The affable Product Manager and Field Services Director at Nordica USA knows his skis. He knows how and why different models or categories are designed and built the way they are. As importantly, how knows precisely who they’re for and how and why they’ll make the right end-user a happier, stronger and satisfied skier.
So, how do you go about choosing the right ski?
Says Ethan, “Whenever I get a call requesting help buying new skis, my number one question is always ‘where do you ski’? What type of snow or terrain do you like the most? What style or type of skier are you?” Armed with that information, Ethan can start matching the skier to the right type of ski. “While ability level will also point you to the right category,” he cautions, “it mostly dictates what length of ski you should use.”
Ethan likes it when someone recommends a ski to someone else. “Often,” he says, “that will lead them to try a new ski.”
Whenever possible, Ethan highly recommends demoing. “It can help you make a more informed purchase decision based on what you actually skied on. When demoing skis,” he advises, “step outside the box. If you’re an all-mountain skier, try a freeski or a carving ski. Make sure you’re getting both sides of the story. You could end up with a product that’ll be really good for your skiing style.”
Ethan also recommends demoing the same ski in different lengths. Says Ethan, “It all goes back to knowing your skiing. Do you like making shorter turns or bigger turns? Obviously the shorter ski is going to like making shorter turns. And, vice versa. If you’re torn between two different ski lengths, definitely demo both.”
“A HUGE misnomer is that inexpensive skis are good for novice skiers,” says Ethan. “Which is just not the case. Skis are at a price point because manufacturers have to build skis for skiers who only want to spend $399. We have to accommodate them, and serve that market.”
Ethan cautions, “I often see people hunting for a smoking deal online. There’s a reason why they’re on sale. If you’re planning to use a ski for its entire life, don’t sacrifice choosing the right ski in the correct length just to save fifty bucks.”
Choosing the Right Nordica: A Buyer’s Mini Guide
ON PISTE SKIS
Says Ethan, “If you’re picking a women’s slalom ski, we make one model, the 156 cm World Cup ski. If you’re a junior, we make it in a 150. I would question the validity of any race ski recommendation because it’s so specific to the individual and their ability level.” Which is why we’re excluding racing skis from this mini guide.
Nordica Dobermann SLR & GSR
The Dobermann SLR and GSR are two remarkably versatile, high-end, piste specific skis for guys and gals.
The SLR is for experts who love making high-speed, high-performance, short radius turns on firm, groomed, rolled out slopes where you really need a ski to grip it and rip it. Its sidecut and dimensions are very similar to the WC slalom ski. A new Recoil Power Plate makes the transitions really smooth, so you can change the turn radius more easily and more freely.
The Dobermann GSR is made for experts who love making larger GS-type turns on hard, smooth, rolled out slopes. Its Recoil Power Plate allows you to vary your turn shape when you need to.
Nordica Spitfire Pro, RB & Ti
Dobermann Spitfires marry a slalom tip or shovel with a GS body and tail. The result is a line of powerful yet playful crossover skis for men and women who love making mid-sized sized turns at medium speeds on firm, groomed slopes.
The 72 mm Dobermann Spitfire Pro is for experts who love carving up hard, smooth, rolled out slopes at medium and medium slow speeds.
The Spitfire RB shares the same 72 mm footprint. Its slightly beefier construction and Race Bridge Carbon Technology make you feel more comfortable ripping medium-radius turns at slightly higher speeds on hard, groomed snow.
The Spitfire Ti is for lighter perhaps older advanced skiers looking for a slightly narrower, mellower, more achievable and less demanding ski. One notch below an expert level ski, it’s for making medium-radius turns at medium speed.
The GT Family
The GTs are high-performance, all-mountain skis for men and women. The higher-end GT 84 Ti, GT SpeedMachine 80, and GT 80 Ti models have slightly wider platforms, a bit more tip rocker, and slightly turned up and rounded tails. If you mostly ski groomers but occasionally venture off them, they offer more floatation and greater versatility than classic on piste models.
The GT 76 Ti, with its narrow waist and slightly tuned down construction, is for skiers who want something that’s fun, but not too fast or demanding. The GT 76 CA is even mellower and more forgiving.
The Sentra Line
Nordica Sentras are made specifically for women who love to ski on smooth, rolled out slopes.
The Sentra SL 7 Ti is Nordica’s highest performance women’s ski. Two full sheets of metal and a balsa wood core make it a lightweight, but extremely powerful, no-nonsense tip-it and grip-it ski.
The Sentra S 6 is a little more relaxed, but still has a great short-turn feel. It can handle high-speed turns on smooth, groomed slopes, but doesn’t demand your total focus on getting maximum energy out of every single turn.
The softer, more forgiving Sentra S 5 is for advanced intermediates to experts who prefer skiing at moderate or medium speeds.
The Sentra S 4 is more forgiving still.
Off piste skis
The Freeskiing Enforcer & Santa Ana Families
Enforcer (for men) and Santa Ana (for women) Freeskis are built for expert skiers who know no limits or boundaries. Their full wood core, twin Titanium sheets, extended sidecut and Sharknose tip are built for stability and speed. The Santa Anas use Nordica’s revolutionary, lightweight Balsa Technology Construction.
Nordica’s widest ski, the Enforcer Pro has the most tip and tail rocker of any ski we build. Available only in a 191 cm length, it’s for skiers searching for those deep days and long chutes. Period.
The Enforcer and Santa Ana 110 feel most at home on soft snow. A powder rocker makes them easy to manoeuver in the trees, bumps and crud. An extended sidecut keeps them quiet when rocketing through pow, chop and crud.
The Enforcer and Santa Ana 100 are Nordica’s most versatile, all terrain, all condition skis. Great in powder and on slopes, they’re for experts who love making mid-size turns through anything at high speed.
The Enforcer and Santa Ana 93 have the same attitude as the 100, but because they’re slightly narrower, they’re for experts who divide their time between skiing on piste and off.
The Navigator & Astral Collections
The All-Mountain Navigator (for men) and Astral (for women) collections are the brothers and sisters of the Enforcers and Santa Anas. They have the same tip shape and extended sidecut, so they’re at home on soft snow and powder or out and bopping about on the groomers. Their squared-off tails, narrower waists and lightweight Titanium hex bridge construction make them feel snappier on piste. The Astrals have a lightweight balsa wood core.
If you mostly ski hard snow or groomed runs, choose the Navigator 80 or Astral 78. If you’re equally hard/soft snow oriented, choose the Navigator 90 or Astral 88. Still can’t decide? Then try the Navigator 85 (men) or the Astral 84 (women).
Soul Rider Series
The twin-tip Soul Riders can be skied going forward or backward. While they have less tip and tail rocker than Freeski skis, they’re great for buttering around the mountain or the park. Their smooth, playful, poppy construction, with a full wood core and vertical sidewalls, makes them lively, buttery and fun, fun, fun to ski on.
The Soul Rider 97 is right in the middle, between being groomed and powder oriented.
The Soul Rider 87 is perfect if you’re just a little bit younger or lighter or shorter and appreciate a slightly narrower waist width.
The Soul Rider 84 is for ‘tweener’ and up and coming park/all-mountain skiers. Super versatile, it’s fun in the park yet grips on the mountain. Low priced, it’s typically the last ski Mom and Dad will buy their kids before they get into an adult ski.
Youth & Children's Skis
The Dobermann Combi Pro is great tool for up and coming young skiers to learn how to ski on at the highest level. Because it can make both Slalom and GS turns, it won’t limit their ability to ski around the mountain.
With plenty of sidecut and a little bit of rocker, the Spitfire J, Navigator J, Enforcer J and Soul Rider J are great first skis for kids to learn on and use, until they figure out what kind of skiing they really want to do.
To learn more about Nordica skis or when and where you might demo them in your area, please talk to your nearest Nordica Dealer.