Ski: 2014-2015 Nordica Ace, 177cm
Dimensions (mm): 113-86-113
Turn Radius: 19.5 meters
Actual Tip-to-Tail length (straight tape pull): 175cm
Boots / Bindings: Nordica Jah Love 120 / Look Pivot 14 / (DIN) 12
Mount Location: -1cm from true center
Test Location: Mammoth Mountain, California; Park City Mountain Resort, Utah; Mount Snow, Vermont
Days Skied: 10
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 Ace of Spades Ti, which was unchanged for the 12/13 season. The ski was renamed the Ace for the 13/14 and 14/15 seasons and features different graphics, but is otherwise the same ski as the one reviewed here.]
During the half-decade after the park ski scene took off in the early 2000s, a few of the bigger brands held a disproportionately large share of the market. Companies like Rossignol, Salomon, Armada, and K2 immediately come to mind, and a few independent brands like Line and 4FRNT were rounding out the picture.
Other race and recreational ski brands jumped into the market, albeit with smaller and often weaker twin tip offerings. Within this last category, Nordica remained somewhat obscure. They had a twin tip line for several years, but it never gained significant popularity. The skis and the brand itself just a little…plain. There wasn’t anything fancy or new about the skis, and they didn’t really have much of a team. It seemed like Nordica was jumping into a hot market they knew little about simply because twin tip sales were steadily climbing each year.
That changed a few years ago when Nordica made two monumental moves to change the image of the brand: they developed the Ace of Spades ski and boot series, and they signed TJ Schiller. Suddenly, Nordica had a legit line of modern park and pipe skis, and a big-name athlete to support it.
Buzz about the Ace of Spades ski spread incredibly quickly. Overnight, Nordica had transformed from a race ski manufacturer to a real contender in the competition-quality park ski market. Since then, they’ve signed on several talented riders and continued to develop and refine their Ace of Spades line—on top of putting out big-mountain and powder skis that seem more impressive each year.
I’m not sure whether I’m reluctant or proud to admit it, but Nordica’s strategic marketing and product development worked on me. A little over a year ago, my half pipe skis broke right before a big contest, and I was forced to buy a new pair at the last minute from a ski shop in Killington, Vermont. The Ace of Spades looked solid and stiff enough to work as a replacement for my crippled pipe skis, so I decided to give them a try.
I was immediately impressed by how well they tracked up the pipe wall and never wavered in a rough, melted-and-refrozen East Coast half pipe. The Ace of Spades’ even, responsive flex allowed me to ride confidently, carrying more speed into each wall. The ski felt a bit on the heavy side, but by no means held me back during bigger spins and quick body movements when popping, grabbing, or landing. Needless to say, I was thrilled with how well it performed in the stunt ditch, and I continued to ride the 2010-2011 Ace of Spades as my half pipe ski.
Oddly, history repeats itself in funny ways, and just a few weeks ago I wound up in a strangely similar situation at that same ski shop in Killington, only this time my park skis needed to be replaced. I was still very satisfied with how my ‘10-‘11s had been performing in the half pipe, so I bought a pair of the 2011-2012 version of the ski (now called this Ace of Spades Ti) to add to my quiver as my primary park ski, confident that the attributes of the ski that I enjoyed in the half pipe would carry over to jumps and rails.
In the few weeks since then, I’ve been lucky enough to put the Ace of Spades Ti to the test in an incredibly diverse array of conditions. With days at Mammoth, Park City, and Mount Snow, I’ve skied them on fast, firm groomers, boilerplate park runs, spring slush, and even in two days of powder. With ten days under my belt, I can confidently say that the Nordica Ace of Spades is one of the most (if not the most) stable and chargeable park skis that I’ve ever ridden.
But it isn’t totally perfect….