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.
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.