The Nordica Soul Rider is back and unchanged for 2016. The Soul Rider is an all-mountain 95-100mm freestyle ski that comes close to being a do-it-all one ski quiver. Like all skis in this category, the Nordica Soul Rider does sacrifice performance in certain areas for its all-around versatility. It’s a ski that is good on most parts of the mountain, but not great in any one area.
2016 Nordica Soul Rider On Mountain Video Ski Review
Conditions: Powder, Soft Crud (5”), Groomers, Hard Pack, Bumps
Boots: Rossignol Alias Sensor 120
Bindings: Marker Griffon
On the Snow Feel: Like most skis with a camber/rocker/camber profile, the Nordica Soul Rider has a semi stable feel on the mountain. I found it pretty easy to maneuver and pivot, especially in the deeper snow, but on most parts of the mountain it gives you a nice stable and predictable ride.
Powder: The Nordica Soul Rider does a decent job floating and surfing in the powder. It has a soft flexing tip with a pretty low profile rocker in the tip and tail. This helps the ski to plane quickly, but at 97mm underfoot, you shouldn’t expect the float to be exceptional. I found that in deeper powder the tips would dive a bit, but with a more neutral stance, the ski would plane well enough. The tip and tail rocker also helps to keep the ski maneuverable in the soft snow, but both are pretty low profile, and the ski is not quite as surfy as others in the category. It also has a lot of camber underfoot, again making the ski a bit less surfy as others in the category.
Turn Initiation and Carving: The ski is relatively light-weight, and when combined with a relatively soft flex, the ski is quite forgiving. This makes it and feel much more maneuverable at slower speeds. At low edge angles it was quite easy to skid and smear turns, and it didn’t take a lot of effort to get the ski edge. Once you pick up speed the ski becomes much livelier. It has a pretty deep sidecut (16.5 on the 177), and the ski wants to turn. Its soft flex allows you to bend the ski really well, and it has a surprising amount of energy out of the turn. This isn’t a front side ski, and if all you plan on riding is groomers, there are much better options, but for an all-mountain freestyle ski, it was quite fun to “bounce” down the mountain.
Speed: The Nordica Soul Rider was quite fun on the front-side, but it does have a lower speed limit. Its soft flex is forgiving and easy to bend into a turn, but it’s a bit too soft at high speeds. As long as things weren’t too firm, or variable, the Soul Rider was fine at speed, but as soon as it got a bit bumpy, the soft flex showed its weakness.
Uneven Terrain: In the soft chop, the Nordica Soul Rider is actually a lot of fun. It doesn’t really charge through the chop, but with its soft and forgiving flex, the Soul Rider is fun to bounce off of the piles of snow. I couldn’t fly through this terrain, but if you took a more light-weight and balanced approach, the Soul Rider is quite fun in these conditions. As things firmed up, I was much more likely to get bounced around. If you’re the person that likes to charge through the crud, the Soul Rider isn’t going to be your ski, but if you like to take it slower, and “play” around in these types of conditions, the Soul Rider is quite fun.
Moguls: The Nordica Soul Rider is quite forgiving, and pretty nimble. I tend to like skis like this for moguls, but some skiers like something a bit more substantial and powerful. While it’s true that soft tails can sometimes fold if you get too back seat, I find them to be quite fun in the moguls. I use the soft flex to bend into the mogul, and bounce into my next turn. If you like to bomb the moguls a bit more, the Soul Riders will definitely be a bit soft, but if you take moguls a bit slower, and like to bounce from bump to bump, the soul Rider can again be quite fun.
Edge Hold: Edge hold on the Nordica Soul Rider is surprisingly good. It’s not the greatest on steep firm slopes, but the design of the ski allows for a pretty long effective edge when on high edge angles. This allows the ski to grip better, and I found that on smooth groomers, or soft snow, the edge grip was great. Even when things firmed up, the Soul Rider holds well…that is until it gets too tracked out or bumpy.
Flex: The Nordica Soul Rider has a medium flex to it. It’s not too soft or flimsy, but I did find myself wanting a bit more stiffness when at high speed or on the variable terrain.
Switch: The Soul Rider rides great switch
Jumps and Park: The Nordica Soul Rider is about as good as you’d expect an all-mountain freestyle ski to be. Like I said above, skis in this category often give up specific performance in areas for all-around versatility. The Soul Rider isn’t as good in the park, as a dedicated freestyle ski, but it has decent pop, a soft flex and really was quite fun in the air. The soft flex also allows for easy butters and presses, and for an all-mountain freestyle ski, the park performance of the Soul Rider is pretty good.
Like other skis in the all-mountain 95-100mm range, the Nordica Soul Rider sacrifices specific performance in certain situations, for all-mountain versatility. It’s a great all-mountain ski that would be best for an intermediate skier who likes to make snappy turns, and is okay with sacrificing top end speed and variable condition performance. It does well enough in the powder, and off-piste to be a lot of fun when you want to explore other areas of the mountain, and it’s park performance is pretty good.