Ski: 2020-2021 Nordica Soul Rider 97, 185cm
Available Lengths: 169, 177, 185 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 182.25cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 134-97-124
Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 2,139 grams & 2,118 grams
Sidecut Radius: 18.5 meters
Core Construction: Ash/Poplar + Carbon Fiber (2-Layer) + Fiberglass Laminate
Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 72.6 / 64.7 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: 2.6 mm
Boots/Bindings: Jason: Dalbello KRII Pro; Will: Nordica Firearrow F1 / Marker Jester Demo (DIN at 10)
Mount Location: +3cm from “classic” / -4cm from true center
Test Location: Las Leñas Ski Resort
Days Skied: 5 collectively
[Note: Our reviews were conducted on the 12/13 Soul Rider, which was not changed for 13/14, 14/15, 15/16, 16/17, 17/18, 18/19, 19/20, or 20/21, apart from graphics.]
Formulating a full review of any all-mountain “one-ski quiver” demands that we evaluate a ski’s performance in a particularly wide range of conditions (hardpack, groomed, bumps, soft chop, crud, fresh snow, etc.), the full breadth of which can be hard to come by in a matter of days. Jason Hutchins put some time on the Nordica Soul Rider in Las Leñas. Will Brown did too, along with a few more days on the ski during the North American season. While they have not been able to test the ski in all relevant conditions, they’ve tried to assess the skis’ performance as thoroughly as possible so far.
Per our usual MO, we’ll fill in the blanks with an Update on this ski as soon as possible. For now, here are Jason’s initial thoughts on the Soul Rider, followed by Will’s.]
As Jonathan mentioned in our preview of the Nordica Soul Rider, you can find skis targeted toward many different individuals in this ~100mm class. There are very traditional-feeling skis like the Blizzard Bonafide, as well as more modern 5-dimension skis like the Rossignol S3 and DPS Wailer 99. Then, of course, there is my favorite portion of the class, where the Soul Rider fits in perfectly: the do-it-all, freestyle-oriented play sticks like K2 Kung Fujas and Moment PB&J.
Having ridden the Soul Rider only a single day, I am obviously cautious of saying too much. Luckily, that day was a fantastic one in which I was able to expose the skis to quite a variety of terrain, so I can at least offer some insight concerning the skis’ feel.
As usual, I started things off by hitting up Vulcano for a couple of quick groomer laps down Vulcano 1. Because I had a fairly early start, the snow on the upper third of the mountain was a nice, shallow layer of corn atop of a frozen base layer. I immediately could tell the Soul Rider was razor sharp, so I let them run, carving aggressively with confidence.
Much like the other Nordica’s I have ridden so far this year, the Soul Rider does an exceptional job of holding an edge, feeling very torsionally stiff when railing down firm snow. The skis preferred carving turns rather than a long-radius skid at higher speeds. This wasn’t a problem because the 18.5m sidecut allowed me to control speed simply by arcing railroad tracks from one side of the trail to the other. The Soul Rider was easily the most fun ski to carve down these groomers, given its tight turning radius and energetic bound from turn to turn. When it came time to shed speed quickly by breaking the tails free, however, the Soul Rider became much more nervous and chattery feeling at the high speeds. I would also attribute those sensations to the skis’ aggressive sidecut and energetic feel. Sometimes you can’t have it all….
With the snow quickly warming, I made my way south to the Caris lift so I could spin a few off-piste laps while waiting for the upper mountain to thaw. I alternated laps on el Casaco, Cenidor, and el Gasex, where I found exceptional corn on top of a firm layer, on a moderately steep, lightly bumped aspect. The Soul Riders loved the tiny erratically formed bumps as long as I kept the speed under control. The skis were the most fun when setting a firm edge on one small pile and bounding over to the next. Just as on the groomers, the skis were very energetic. When I tried a more aggressive, high-speed style, laying out much longer-radius turns, and attempting to drive through the snow irregularities, the Soul Rider quickly let me know it was uncomfortable with that particular style.
When Marte opened, I immediately made my way to the top. When I reached the top, however, most of the upper mountain was closed, so I decided to take a run down Jupiter (another groomer) and try out different turn shapes at different speeds.
The Soul Rider proved to be very easy to skid through short-, medium-, and long-radius turns and slow and medium speeds. The tip and tail rocker made the ski feel much shorter and easy to pivot at soft edge angles, while a more aggressive move would quickly engage most of the ski’s edge, bend the ski deeply, and provide energy into the next turn. Again, when I let the skis run, they felt great as long as I kept carving. Breaking the tails loose at speed still didn’t offer the most comforting ride.