2016-2017 Nordica La Niña

I had been looking for a longer ski that had more stability at high speeds and that wanted to be driven fast down the fall line. But my original reservation in opting for such a ski was that it would be harder to turn at slower speeds or through variable snow, which was my experience on the 177cm Blizzard Dakota. The La Niña, however, has this impressive, unique quality that allowed me to feel comfortable charging hard, yet also have fun making smaller, quick turns.

I encountered a wide variety of spring conditions at Silverton, including frozen boilerplate, sun crust, corn, and slush—generally wet, heavy snow. In the softer snow, the La Niña beautifully smoothed out a potentially rough ride, and I was able stay on top and maintain my speed. Even though a ski that is 113mm underfoot wouldn’t generally be the ideal choice for spring skiing, I didn’t feel the width was overwhelming.

Toward the end of the day, as the temperatures soared to the mid-50s and we made our way up the last boot pack, I was feeling pretty tired. Even though the snow was bumped out and my legs felt like jelly, I was surprised that the La Niña was still manageable to work through the slush. At slower speeds it was fairly easy to recover when I got rocked into the back seat, but when I was skiing faster it was harder to get forward. The ski had the sensation of wanting to take off down the hill and leave me behind.

After an awesome day at Silverton, I got the order to head north to Salt Lake—a big storm was rolling in. Luckily, my timing was perfect. Alta reported 20” the first morning I arrived, with a storm total of 35” through the following day.  The snow was about as light as it gets, and the day was pretty much perfect.

Nordica La Niña, Blister Gear Review
Julia Van Raalte, Wildcat Bowl, Alta Ski Area.

We spent the morning lapping untracked powder in Keyhole and the Westward Ho area, and the La Niña was incredibly fun. It had a smooth, surfy feel. Because of its low tip profile, though, it had a little less float than other skis I have ridden, like the Line Pandora, which is marketed as a more powder-specific ski. Unless you are looking for the perfect powder ski, the La Niña still performs very well, and the extra length is a huge bonus.

Later in the afternoon I encountered a lot of deep, soft chop as I took runs down the popular trails High Rustler and Eagle’s Nest. The La Niña was able to plow through the snow with ease and stayed on the surface instead of sinking in and slowing down. I didn’t get a chance to ski in thick, heavy crud, but the stability I felt in other variable snow makes me think I wouldn’t have gotten completely tossed around.

Two days later dawned bluebird, and Supreme Bowl opened for the first time after the storm. The snow was light for the first couple of runs but started to get baked after an hour or so. I actually found the La Niña handled better in areas where the heavy snow had already been tracked out than in the untracked snow. Here, because of the low profile, I felt the tails grabbed quite a bit and slow me down through the turn. Although I do not ski heavy, untracked powder often, this could be something to consider if you ski in the Pacific Northwest or West Coast.

Throughout the week, the temperatures remained really warm, so I spent a little more time on groomers and soft bumps. The La Niña ripped on the groomers and I felt that I could get them in a deep carve if I had a slightly wider stance. They felt stable when I brought them up to top speed, though I did notice the tips had a little chatter.

For a ski this wide, I still managed to enjoy the bumps. I found it difficult to zipperline through the moguls, but their light weight made the La Niña easy to maneuver and maintain a fast, solid line.

I could not have asked for better conditions for my spring break—everything from deep blower pow to bikini-inspiring corn—and I could not have asked for a better ski to tackle it all. The La Niña is extremely versatile considering its size, and enjoyable to ski in a wide variety of ways. The ski would be ready to charge at any given moment, but would also be happy to make slow, leisurely turns.

While I think this is a perfect ski for strong advanced-to-expert women, I would caution intermediate skiers to search for a softer option. It still has a fairly stiff flex (I found there were few, if any, situations where I would have wanted a stiffer ski), and although it’s accessible as a 185cm ski, it demands some power. And if at the end of this review a 185cm ski still sounds terrifying, Nordica may also be offering the La Niña in a 175cm length next season.

Although there are many skis I like, I frequently find that there are one or two things about a ski that I am not satisfied with. But after my time on the La Niña, I am able to say that I have finally found a favorite.

22 comments on “2016-2017 Nordica La Niña”

  1. Hi Julia!
    I just love your reviews! I have been looking for what could be the perfect rockered quiver ski that would be great on those days that haven’t seen new snow for a couple weeks and of course those deep pow days. I would also like to be able to take them into the backcountry on shorter tours and possibly hut trips.

    I ski mostly here in Western Colorado and the snow varies constantly. I am currently on the ’11 Liberty Double Helix, which I have found I love in softer conditions (groomers, powder and corn), They are super stable, light and maneuverable when the snow is soft. I don’t like them when things get hard pack, choppy or icy, but I expect this from such a wide big mountain ski. I also have them mounted with the MFD Alltime Binding system which I plan to change out to my different skis. They are also the pre-“stealth” rocker version, and they have seen a couple deep days where the tips sank and I could barely move.

    Blister’s review of the Moment Bibby Pro made my head turn and I have been in limbo between that and the Armada JJ. I was able to demo the JJ on man made groomers and fell madly in love with it even though I never felt powder on them, but there is still something about the Bibby that has captivated me. The main thing I am uncertain of is the weight of these men’s skis. Right now the Liberty’s get to be a smidge heavy, but mostly when conditions aren’t the best.

    So I have been keeping some women’s skis in mind as well. The Line Pandora has been at the top of the list as well as the Armada VJJ based on my experiences with the JJ. I like my skis to be stiffer than they are soft, but I also am looking for something with a nice small radius so that tight trees will actually be more fun. The only problem with women’s skis obviously is their length, I am 5’9″ and 140lbs and definitely into more advanced skiing. So often I have to turn my head toward the men’s version of a ski because I guess they think most women are shorter, the taller women will ski men’s skis and they just don’t feel like making a longer women’s ski. But as far as weight goes, I know I have far less muscles than a man my height to control a heavy men’s ski with. I am liking the sound of this new La Nina. I would be nervous ordering a 185 length, but I have been told in a JJ I could go 175 or 185 and be fine. I guess in the end the length would depend on how well it turns in super tight spaces and how much extra it weighs.

    I am curious if you or anyone at Blister has any opinions on how the Pandora, the VJJ and this new La Nina compare. Is there anything in particular about each of these skis that might tip the scale one way or another?


    • Hi Nola!

      Thanks so much for your comment! Unfortunately I have not been able to get on the VJJ but would love to offer some comparisons between the La Nina, the Pandora, and another ski that I think might interest you- the Moment Bella.

      The Moment Bella is actually the female version of the Bibby Pro and is really fun! I wrote a review on it earlier this season which you should check out if you want a more detailed description. Despite being a woman’s ski, the Bella is still impressively stiff, floats really well, and handles crud better than any ski I have ridden this winter. The Bella is 106mm underfoot, a bit narrower than the Pandora and La Nina, so if you plan on skiing significantly more thick chop than blower pow, the Bella would be a great all-mountain option. As you had mentioned in terms of length, the longest ski offered is 172cm. If you think you want something longer, the Bibby Pro would be awesome (keep in mind it is a bit wider at 116mm underfoot). I actually just recommended the Bibby to one of my girlfriends who was looking for a longer, stiffer, all mountain ski.

      I absolutely love the Pandora as well, but again, the longest length is 172cm. While in Niseko, I didn’t feel that I needed a longer ski and it still ripped, but I was mostly skiing in the trees. If you’re planning on skiing bigger, faster lines, a longer ski may be the way to go. The width-115mm underfoot-and the clean tip and tail shape made for the best floatation I experienced, and surprisingly, it handled well on hardpack and in chop, though not quite as well as the Bella or La Nina.

      I was pretty content with the length of the Pandora and the Bella, but after spending time on the 185cm La Nina, I found that a longer ski is really fun. The amazing quality about the La Nina is that despite it being 185cm, I felt that it skied shorter when I needed it to, but still provided the additional length when I wanted to rip. Although I wasn’t able to take it into the tight trees, in more open trees and in rocky sections where I had to make hop turns, I never felt overwhelmed. And it is super fun on groomers and even in choppier snow. You should also keep in mind that I am a bit shorter and lighter than you are and never felt like it was too much ski- I am sure you could handle it!

      I hope this is helpful and if you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Considering your skiing style and advanced level, I think the 185cm La Nina could be worth waiting for!


  2. I was wondering what you thought about mounting location. My girlfriend just picked up a pair of la nina’s and we can’t seem to find any info on where the recommended line is. I’m assuming it’s the middle of the classic zone. Have you or anyone else here skiied them a little further forward toward the center mount zone?

    • Hi Geoff,

      I have not skied them further forward from the recommended line, so I cannot say how they ski from that position. I am currently trying to track down the information on where exactly that recommended line is. When I do hear back, I will be sure to let you know!


  3. Julia,
    thanks for your review. Perhaps you know if there is any possibility to buy La Nina in Europe? After reading all blister’s reviews about NLN I can’t imagine any other skis!

  4. Julia,

    great throughout review! Did you had a chance to ski the Rockette 115? I’m looking for some comparison input between these two. My wife had a great time on the La Nina 3 days ago at the Alta demo day, but didn’t quite like how it would go down some of the groomers on the wildcat area, too bad she couldn’t had a chance to try the rockette. She is an intermediate skier looking for a more pow/off piste oriented ski that can handle both pow and tracked days after the storm. I had my mind set that the rockette 115 would be a good fit for her since she isn’t looking for a super fat 115+ waist ski! I need for her something that she will be able to ski the whole day on a pow day and not get tossed around when it gets tracked! She is 5’3″ and 130lbs and tried the La Nina in 169 and was considering the Rockette 115 @164, she currently skis a 152 dynastar idyll 78mm underfoot.

    • Hi Marcel,

      Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to ski the Rockette 115 so I can’t speak to how it skis. I would suggest taking a look at my reviews on the Line Pandora and Moment Bella. The Pandora is also 115mm underfoot and is a great powder ski that I found handled tracked out snow very well. I did prefer the La Nina over the Pandora on groomers, but I still think it would definitely be worth checking out. The Moment Bella is a slightly narrower ski–106mm underfoot–but I was incredibly impressed by how well it skied both groomers and firmer, deeper chop. And at that width, you still aren’t sacrificing too much float, but gaining a bit more versatility in variable conditions and on groomers. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions!


  5. Hi Julia,

    Thank you so much for this fantastic review! I am pretty much set on buying the La Nina as my one ski quiver for Little Cottonwood Canyon, plus some touring around the Wasatch (I will mount it with a Marker Barron). But I am still seriously considering the Line Sir Francis Bacon. Have you had a chance to try out the Bacon at all?


    • Hi Hannah!

      Thanks for reading! I think the La Nina is a great choice for Little Cottonwood. I haven’t had the chance to ski the SFB, but did take a few runs on the larger Opus, which I loved too. If you haven’t already read Jason Hutchins’ review of the SFB, check that out and hopefully that will help you in your decision. Otherwise, I think both options will be great! Let me know if you have any more questions!


  6. Hi Julia!
    Loved your review! Thank you for the time and effort you put into that! I demo’d this ski back in the spring on the 169 and absolutely loved it but was unable to try out the next size up (177). At the recommendation of a few of my fellow lady shredders I ordered the 177. I just received them and at 5’3 and 110lb’s they look really big and I’m a little nervous. I know I’m strong enough to maneuver them but I’m nervous that I’m not going to enjoy them as much. I have a pair of Line Pandora’s in a 165 and a pair of Icelantic Gypsys in a 170 that I also ski and love if that helps with anything. Thoughts?


    • Hey Hailey!

      I think that you will be totally fine with the 177s. Before skiing the La Nina last season, I had mostly been skiing skis in the mid to high 170 range, so was also slightly nervous about the 185cm length. I ended up loving them and they were much more manageable than I anticipated. I found that because of the tip and tail rocker they skied a little shorter and had no problems making tight turns in trees or on steep sections. Then, in the areas where I wanted a longer ski- in powder and on groomers- they were a blast! This past season I spent some time on other skis that were 185cm, and were definitely more work than the 185 La Ninas had been. I’d say keep ’em and get excited!


  7. Hi Julia!
    I am looking at the La Nina –
    Thank you for the great review!
    I have skied the K2 Misbehaved 159 for years and love it – also have the VJJ in 175 and it is great in Pow but not enough of a charger and not able to really carve on the groomers.
    I want to move to a single ski – (except for a pair of fischer race skiis I reserve for the iciest groomers if that is all there is!)
    I love all I am reading about the La Nina – just want some advise on the length.
    I was going to size down this time (did the VJJ in 175 and thought maybe their length was part of the reason I didn’t love them) but after reading your review – I am thinking 177 for the La Nina.
    I am an expert skier – 53yrs., 5’6 3/4″, 125lbs.
    What do you think?

    • Hey Karen!

      Thanks for reading! I think that given your height and weight (same as mine) and expert abilities, you would be totally fine going for the 177cm La Nina. I, too, was worried about the 185cm length, but found that the ski’s significant rocker made the longer length much more manageable. I found that the La Nina was both easy to make tight turns on and could still be driven hard and fast, which is where you might appreciate the 177cm. I hope this helps you with your decision!


  8. Hi Julia!

    I really enjoy reading your reviews. I am looking for a ski to complement my powder skis 175 Armada JJs. I’d like a damper ski that does well in older snow, chop, chunder etc., but is still playful with a short-medium turning radius. I am considering the 172 Moment Bellas and the 177 La Ninas as options. I am an expert skier, 5’2″, 115 lbs.; I mostly ski in central CO, along with a couple of trips to Silverton each season.

    Thanks so much,

    • Hi Jane!

      Thanks so much for reading! I’d say both the Bella and the La Nina are good options, although neither ski is incredibly damp. While the La Nina is fun and playful and can still handle variable conditions, I wouldn’t necessarily say it dominates in crud and deep chop. The Bella is also pretty playful, and impressed me more with its crud performance — I felt like I could ski them confidently through variable snow. Although it is not as playful as the La Nina or Bella, you may also want to consider the 173 Blizzard Samba, which is a great crud ski. This ski has a much damper feel and can be driven fast in chop and is really fun on groomers! Let me know if you have any more questions and I hope this helps!


  9. This thread is very helpful! I currently have the Volkl Kiku’s which I adore. But I’m looking for a deep powder ski for an Alaska heli trip coming up and for deep powder in general. My Kiku’s are 156. I’m 5’1 / 112 lbs and really don’t like being on gear that’s too big for me. After reading this, I’m wondering if the 169 would work even though it sounds really big? I’m an expert skier and looks like a couple ladies in this thread are about the same size. What would you recommend? Thanks in advance…ashley

  10. Julia -amazing review of the La Niña. I am seriously thinking of this ski but nervous about the length. I have never really skied rockers. Currently I am on the Vokyl aura circa 11 pre rockered on a 156cm. 5’6″ /135 lbs. I know I should be on longer skis but I love the ability to make short and quick turns. I’d call myself advanced and will do just about anything at alta/ snowbird – have skied a lot in mineral/ gad2/ alta off supreme. I struggled a bit yesterday in big sky after a 20″ dump. The auras definitely don’t have that much float to handle the big dump. 6″ of freshies no problem! Would welcome your thought.

    • Hi Gloria! Thanks for reading! I definitely understand your concern with going longer, but I don’t think you would be sacrificing too much maneuverability if you skied the 169s. The rocker in the tips and tails significantly decreases the effective edge so you’re essentially working with a shorter ski. My friend who is about your size, if not a few inches shorter, recently got the 177s and was also really nervous. Turns out, she loves them! I think they were much more manageable than she expected, so at your height, you would probably actually enjoy the 177s but would be gaining even more ability to make quicker turns on the 169s. And, they would be a lot more fun than the Auras in more than 6″. I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any more questions!

  11. Hi Julia, just stumble across this site, thank you so much for this review! Very thorough and helpful! While this ski sounds pretty awesome, I wonder how it would compare to the new Nordica Santa Ana skis. I don’t usually ski heavy powder and prefer a slightly narrower ski. Have you skied on the Santa Ana’s yet this season? Would you have any comments on this ski?

  12. I am loving your reviews. I have the La Nina in 177 and love them most days. I don’t love them for all conditions here at Bridger Bowl in Bozeman, MT and am looking for an everyday ski. I am 5’10”, 140 lbs and an upper intermediate to advanced skier and thinking I want a shorter ski than 177. I currently have the Savory 7 in 178 and finding it hard to maneuver them in most conditions. I want a ski for chop, bumps and when lots maneuvering is required (still working on my quick, steep turns). I feel La Nina is hard for me once the powder is gone, although I love it on groomers :)
    I want something no smaller than 100 underfoot. Would you recommend the Moment Bella in 172 or something else?

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