When I demo skis and have a choice among a few brands I often defer to the local in charge. At Revelstoke Mountain Resort in British Columbia last week, the man behind the counter handed me a pair of Nordica Soul Riders.
The skis, new in 2011 with updated graphics this year, are a directional twin-tip model (meaning they favor forward riding but also work for landing jumps or other tricks forward or backward). They have early-rise in the tip and tail, which helps them float over powder and crud and not catch edges easily, and there’s a small sweet spot under the 97mm waist where traditional camber lets the edges do their job.
They are designed as a versatile park/freeride ski, and the Revelstoke shop worker said for the conditions of the day — soft but not-so-powdery, with 4 inches in the last 24 hours — the Soul Riders would be perfect.
I wanted an all-mountain ride to rip for one day on an unfamiliar mountain in which I would ski as fast as possible and put in a lot of laps while chasing Salomon team freeskier Chris Rubens as he showed me around his local mountain.
I consider myself an expert skier, but I’m pushing 40 years old and don’t play with air and parks like I used to. Injuries just take too long to heal. That said, I still rip plenty fast and was able to stay with a patient Rubens as he jotted over small cliffs, across glorious bowls and through trees at Revelstoke.
At the end of a single day, I thought the Soul Rider skis were fun though not fantastic. But they let me do just about anything on the mountain. I even felt OK on some treacherous ice (caused by low elevation rain) that had our entire group nervous as we descended to the base of the mountain after a long day.
Nordica Soul Rider Ski Review
The Gear: Nordica Soul Rider 97
Price: $599 (sold flat, no bindings included) ($699 as of 2016)
Available: Now (The Soul Rider has been around a few years with updated graphics for 2014. This was my first chance to ride them.)
Where To Test It: All mountain resort ski that goes from the park to sidecountry powder to groomers. I haven’t tested it in a park (one of its intended stomping grounds) but it worked great everywhere at Revelstoke.
Who’s It For: The ski is designed for experts, but because of a very accessible design, I think it would work well for everyone from advanced beginners on up (with plenty of room to grow).
Boring But Important: With early-rise in the tips and tails, the Soul Rider allows for some margin of error and, while marketed toward park and pipe riders, may make a decent ski for newbies. Vertical sidewalls punch up the torsional flex for those who really stomp their landings.
Important Specs:The ski comes in a 134-97-124 profile at 169, 177 and 185cm lengths. Wood core from tip to tail, ABS sidewalls and carbon reinforcement over edges.
Made In: Austria
Killer! With early-rise tips and tails and some camber underfoot, the ski railed surprisingly well on groomers when laid over on edge. Not surprisingly, it had no problem charging shallow cut powder and soft bumps. I loved sticking landings on these and the soft tails seemed to eat up some of the impact from not-so-perfect drops. The ski handled everything I could throw at it and was easy to dial in during a single day.
Flaw: I was disappointed with its performance in trees and bumps, as they were hard to recover if I got thrown in the back seat because of the soft tails. These skis also felt loose and chattery at high speed when not on edge, which is not surprising given their design and intended purpose.
First Impressions: This is a good all-mountain ski that can do a bit of anything and probably will rock in the park (although I don’t ride park much).
Who Should Buy It: Skiers who spend a lot of time on varied terrain, want playful twin-tips and don’t want multiple pairs of skis.
Contact Brand/More Beta: Nordica Soul Rider