Crud / Variable
Shallow (less than 8”) crud is an area where I have been very impressed with the Soul Rider. The extremities of the Soul Rider are definitely soft, but the ski does firm up as you come underfoot. Combine that with the tip and tail rocker profile and decently sized tip width, and the ski floats nicely over the soft spots while still providing just enough oomph not to fold completely in half when those soft spots come as a little surprise.
As I hinted in my initial review, this ski is by no means a charger in these conditions (or any really), and deeper crud overwhelms the ski. It requires a soft, balanced stance, a medium pace, and drifting, smeared-out turns. With that focus in mind, the ski is great fun, and given that crud provides millions of snow piles to jump off, the ski’s lack of pop isn’t even noticeable.
When conditions turn super variable—as in piles of pow among sheets of ice—the key to the Soul Rider is again a relaxed approach with a balanced stance, controlled speeds, and gentle, smeared turns.
Finesse is the name of the game in these conditions, and, done right, it feels superb.
Like crud performance, the Soul Rider does very well in the powder department, as long as it doesn’t start stacking up too light and deep. I’ve found it to perform best in under 12” of fresh, unless of course the snow offers a lot of support, i.e., is dense.
In light coatings of fluff (less than 6”), a little bit of speed gets the ski up on top, feeling smooth and easy to pivot. As the snow gets deeper, the Soul Rider requires a soft touch to keep from diving a bit. It is also easy to feel a little extra drag in deeper snow compared to many similarly focused skis that are just wider (105mm range).
In dense fresh snow, like what we’ve recently been left with here at Alta, the Soul Rider truly shines, not only forward, but also switch. The soft flex at the tip and tail combined with the rocker profile and width easily keep the ski on top, providing that drifty sensation we all love.
One important thing to remember in these soft conditions, however, is to stick drops very centered as the overall size of the ski can make it easy to punch deep into landing pads, causing a massive forward weight shift and the possibility of going over the bars.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had access to a terrain park, and I do feel like I’ve been missing a big part of what I love in skiing. While the Soul Rider may not be the most ideal tool for someone who spends the majority of their time in the park, it’s not far from it.
Whether lapping the smaller hits in Neff Land or the larger jump lines in Pick ’n Shovel, the Soul Rider has felt light, balanced, and predictable in every way, forward and switch. Here the rockered tip and tail keep takeoffs catch free, which I have appreciated greatly as I build my bag of switch tricks.
My only real complaint in the jumping department again relates to the soft tails. I have found the ski to feel a bit washy when landing a bigger jump after a rotation. The answer, of course, is to stomp tricks to the balls of your feet.
I’ve also been working on my rail and box skills, and the Soul Riders have been great here as well. Not only are the skis easy to butter up onto boxes and rails, but the extra width over a traditional park ski has instilled some extra confidence.
The bases and edges have also held up very well with this abuse.
The Nordica Soul Rider is perfect for someone looking for a ski around 100mm underfoot that is able to ski very well any place on the mountain. I would recommend it mostly to West Coasters or as a second set of sticks for East Coasters, given its preference for softer conditions. The Soul Rider absolutely loves flying through the air and ripping around after smaller storms.
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