2016-2017 Nordica La Niña

Julia Van Raalte reviews the Nordica La Nina for Blister Gear Review

Nordica La Nina

Ski: 2016-2017 Nordica La Niña, 185cm

Available Lengths: 161, 169, 177, 185 cm

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 184.2 cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 143-113-132

Stated Weight per Ski: 2050 g

Sidecut Radius: 16.5 meters

Core Construction: Poplar/Ash/Polyurethane +  Fiberglass Laminate

Boots / Bindings: Rossignol Radical World Cup 110 and Dynafit Gaia / Marker F12 (DIN at 8)

Mount Location: Factory Recommended

Test Location: Alta Ski Area; Silverton, CO

Days Skied: 7

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 La Niña, which was not changed for 14/15, 15/16, or 16/17, except for the graphics.]

Although it was easy to get distracted by the new-gear hype at SIA this past January, it was pretty clear that cool stuff is happening in the realm of women’s skis; manufacturers are finally listening. Many companies have added one, if not several, new skis to their women’s lineup, significantly increasing the number of options for next year.

And not only are there more women’s skis coming to market, there are more impressive skis, too.

Yet after browsing all the 12/13 selections, there was one ski I absolutely could not wait to get on: the Nordica La Niña.

I was initially attracted to the Nordica booth because they had sick graphics, but once there I noticed a modestly feminine-looking ski standing in the middle of their big-mountain lineup. The flowers and name definitely indicated that it was a women’s ski, but it was just as tall as the men’s. Could there really be a 185cm women’s ski? Unless I completely missed a similar-length ski made by another company, I believe the La Niña is the longest women’s ski available. Awesome.

While I was excited to see that Nordica had introduced a potentially game-changing product, I know that bigger doesn’t always mean better. This ski was long, but it could also be a noodle. In fact, the La Niña has a 25% lighter wood core than its male counterpart, the Patrón. With a simple hand flex, the ski felt a little softer, but certainly stiff enough.

(Note: Where the Patrón has a full wood core, the La Niña has a middle layer of ultra light polyurethane and beech stringers sandwiched by two strips of poplar, a construction Nordica calls its “Women’s i-CORE,” or “Wi-CORE.”)

Even though I’ve had the opportunity to ride on a number of skis this season, I have been hesitant to claim one as my favorite. After a week on the La Niña in a wide variety of conditions, however, I can say that this ski is my favorite to date.

Nordica La Niña, Blister Gear Review

Julia Van Raalte, Westward Ho, Alta Ski Area.

Given its length and relative stiffness, I was surprised how light the La Niña felt as I swung the ski back and forth on the chairlift. It was the first day of spring break, and though I hadn’t gone as far south as most, I had gone down to Silverton Mountain in southern Colorado, home to some of the steepest terrain in the state. It was the perfect day for spring skiing, with plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures. Silverton’s best terrain is accessible only by hiking (or by heli), so at the top of the lift I strapped the skis on my pack and started the boot-pack up.

We began hiking before the sun had really softened the snow, which required carefully placed, cautious steps. Silverton’s highest skiable peak is also 13,487 feet with some significant exposure, so I was definitely working hard. Yet I was pleased how comfortable the skis were to carry, even after a 30-minute hike. Although I didn’t get the chance to take the La Niña into the backcountry, I think their light weight would make them an excellent touring ski.

Standing at the top of the first chute of the day, I was a little apprehensive. I had not been on skis this long in several years, and I was going to need to make some quick hop turns. I dropped in and was instantly surprised at how easy it was pivot the La Niña and negotiate the steep terrain on hardpack snow. Toward the wider bottom section, I easily transitioned into larger, sweeping turns to the base of the bowl.

The Nordica La Niña’s versatility enabled me to feel confident in a broad range of conditions, turn sizes, and speeds. First, the ski has fairly exaggerated rocker in the tip and tail. So even though there is 185 centimeters of ski underfoot, quite a bit less of the ski is actually in contact with the snow throughout the turn. I found the skis to be nimble and quick in small-radius turns, and even while picking my way through rocky sections, hop turns were not an issue.

The La Niña also has camber underfoot and a good amount of sidecut, with a 16.5-meter radius—relatively short for a ski this length. This combination dramatically increases the ski’s ability to hold an edge, and I could actually rail them down firm groomers. They had a snappy, playful feel, and I never felt the tails wash out, which I’ve experienced on other rockered skis. And with just a little more work to get the ski up on edge, the La Niña was happy to carve turns.

22 Comments

  1. Nola Svoboda April 5, 2012 Reply

    Hi Julia!
    I just love your reviews! I have been looking for what could be the perfect rockered quiver ski that would be great on those days that haven’t seen new snow for a couple weeks and of course those deep pow days. I would also like to be able to take them into the backcountry on shorter tours and possibly hut trips.

    I ski mostly here in Western Colorado and the snow varies constantly. I am currently on the ’11 Liberty Double Helix, which I have found I love in softer conditions (groomers, powder and corn), They are super stable, light and maneuverable when the snow is soft. I don’t like them when things get hard pack, choppy or icy, but I expect this from such a wide big mountain ski. I also have them mounted with the MFD Alltime Binding system which I plan to change out to my different skis. They are also the pre-“stealth” rocker version, and they have seen a couple deep days where the tips sank and I could barely move.

    Blister’s review of the Moment Bibby Pro made my head turn and I have been in limbo between that and the Armada JJ. I was able to demo the JJ on man made groomers and fell madly in love with it even though I never felt powder on them, but there is still something about the Bibby that has captivated me. The main thing I am uncertain of is the weight of these men’s skis. Right now the Liberty’s get to be a smidge heavy, but mostly when conditions aren’t the best.

    So I have been keeping some women’s skis in mind as well. The Line Pandora has been at the top of the list as well as the Armada VJJ based on my experiences with the JJ. I like my skis to be stiffer than they are soft, but I also am looking for something with a nice small radius so that tight trees will actually be more fun. The only problem with women’s skis obviously is their length, I am 5’9″ and 140lbs and definitely into more advanced skiing. So often I have to turn my head toward the men’s version of a ski because I guess they think most women are shorter, the taller women will ski men’s skis and they just don’t feel like making a longer women’s ski. But as far as weight goes, I know I have far less muscles than a man my height to control a heavy men’s ski with. I am liking the sound of this new La Nina. I would be nervous ordering a 185 length, but I have been told in a JJ I could go 175 or 185 and be fine. I guess in the end the length would depend on how well it turns in super tight spaces and how much extra it weighs.

    I am curious if you or anyone at Blister has any opinions on how the Pandora, the VJJ and this new La Nina compare. Is there anything in particular about each of these skis that might tip the scale one way or another?

    Thanks!

    • Julia April 9, 2012 Reply

      Hi Nola!

      Thanks so much for your comment! Unfortunately I have not been able to get on the VJJ but would love to offer some comparisons between the La Nina, the Pandora, and another ski that I think might interest you- the Moment Bella.

      The Moment Bella is actually the female version of the Bibby Pro and is really fun! I wrote a review on it earlier this season which you should check out if you want a more detailed description. Despite being a woman’s ski, the Bella is still impressively stiff, floats really well, and handles crud better than any ski I have ridden this winter. The Bella is 106mm underfoot, a bit narrower than the Pandora and La Nina, so if you plan on skiing significantly more thick chop than blower pow, the Bella would be a great all-mountain option. As you had mentioned in terms of length, the longest ski offered is 172cm. If you think you want something longer, the Bibby Pro would be awesome (keep in mind it is a bit wider at 116mm underfoot). I actually just recommended the Bibby to one of my girlfriends who was looking for a longer, stiffer, all mountain ski.

      I absolutely love the Pandora as well, but again, the longest length is 172cm. While in Niseko, I didn’t feel that I needed a longer ski and it still ripped, but I was mostly skiing in the trees. If you’re planning on skiing bigger, faster lines, a longer ski may be the way to go. The width-115mm underfoot-and the clean tip and tail shape made for the best floatation I experienced, and surprisingly, it handled well on hardpack and in chop, though not quite as well as the Bella or La Nina.

      I was pretty content with the length of the Pandora and the Bella, but after spending time on the 185cm La Nina, I found that a longer ski is really fun. The amazing quality about the La Nina is that despite it being 185cm, I felt that it skied shorter when I needed it to, but still provided the additional length when I wanted to rip. Although I wasn’t able to take it into the tight trees, in more open trees and in rocky sections where I had to make hop turns, I never felt overwhelmed. And it is super fun on groomers and even in choppier snow. You should also keep in mind that I am a bit shorter and lighter than you are and never felt like it was too much ski- I am sure you could handle it!

      I hope this is helpful and if you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Considering your skiing style and advanced level, I think the 185cm La Nina could be worth waiting for!

      Julia

  2. Janice December 4, 2012 Reply

    Julia,
    Your review sold me on this skis. Thanks for being so thorough.
    Janice

  3. Geoff February 16, 2013 Reply

    I was wondering what you thought about mounting location. My girlfriend just picked up a pair of la nina’s and we can’t seem to find any info on where the recommended line is. I’m assuming it’s the middle of the classic zone. Have you or anyone else here skiied them a little further forward toward the center mount zone?

    • Author
      Julia February 22, 2013 Reply

      Hi Geoff,

      I have not skied them further forward from the recommended line, so I cannot say how they ski from that position. I am currently trying to track down the information on where exactly that recommended line is. When I do hear back, I will be sure to let you know!

      Julia

  4. Christina February 26, 2013 Reply

    Julia,
    thanks for your review. Perhaps you know if there is any possibility to buy La Nina in Europe? After reading all blister’s reviews about NLN I can’t imagine any other skis!
    Christina

  5. Marcel April 9, 2013 Reply

    Julia,

    great throughout review! Did you had a chance to ski the Rockette 115? I’m looking for some comparison input between these two. My wife had a great time on the La Nina 3 days ago at the Alta demo day, but didn’t quite like how it would go down some of the groomers on the wildcat area, too bad she couldn’t had a chance to try the rockette. She is an intermediate skier looking for a more pow/off piste oriented ski that can handle both pow and tracked days after the storm. I had my mind set that the rockette 115 would be a good fit for her since she isn’t looking for a super fat 115+ waist ski! I need for her something that she will be able to ski the whole day on a pow day and not get tossed around when it gets tracked! She is 5’3″ and 130lbs and tried the La Nina in 169 and was considering the Rockette 115 @164, she currently skis a 152 dynastar idyll 78mm underfoot.

    • Julia April 9, 2013 Reply

      Hi Marcel,

      Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to ski the Rockette 115 so I can’t speak to how it skis. I would suggest taking a look at my reviews on the Line Pandora and Moment Bella. The Pandora is also 115mm underfoot and is a great powder ski that I found handled tracked out snow very well. I did prefer the La Nina over the Pandora on groomers, but I still think it would definitely be worth checking out. The Moment Bella is a slightly narrower ski–106mm underfoot–but I was incredibly impressed by how well it skied both groomers and firmer, deeper chop. And at that width, you still aren’t sacrificing too much float, but gaining a bit more versatility in variable conditions and on groomers. I hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions!

      Julia

  6. Hannah June 19, 2013 Reply

    Hi Julia,

    Thank you so much for this fantastic review! I am pretty much set on buying the La Nina as my one ski quiver for Little Cottonwood Canyon, plus some touring around the Wasatch (I will mount it with a Marker Barron). But I am still seriously considering the Line Sir Francis Bacon. Have you had a chance to try out the Bacon at all?

    Thanks!

    • Julia July 1, 2013 Reply

      Hi Hannah!

      Thanks for reading! I think the La Nina is a great choice for Little Cottonwood. I haven’t had the chance to ski the SFB, but did take a few runs on the larger Opus, which I loved too. If you haven’t already read Jason Hutchins’ review of the SFB, check that out and hopefully that will help you in your decision. Otherwise, I think both options will be great! Let me know if you have any more questions!

      Julia

  7. Hailey July 20, 2013 Reply

    Hi Julia!
    Loved your review! Thank you for the time and effort you put into that! I demo’d this ski back in the spring on the 169 and absolutely loved it but was unable to try out the next size up (177). At the recommendation of a few of my fellow lady shredders I ordered the 177. I just received them and at 5’3 and 110lb’s they look really big and I’m a little nervous. I know I’m strong enough to maneuver them but I’m nervous that I’m not going to enjoy them as much. I have a pair of Line Pandora’s in a 165 and a pair of Icelantic Gypsys in a 170 that I also ski and love if that helps with anything. Thoughts?

    Hailey

    • Julia July 23, 2013 Reply

      Hey Hailey!

      I think that you will be totally fine with the 177s. Before skiing the La Nina last season, I had mostly been skiing skis in the mid to high 170 range, so was also slightly nervous about the 185cm length. I ended up loving them and they were much more manageable than I anticipated. I found that because of the tip and tail rocker they skied a little shorter and had no problems making tight turns in trees or on steep sections. Then, in the areas where I wanted a longer ski- in powder and on groomers- they were a blast! This past season I spent some time on other skis that were 185cm, and were definitely more work than the 185 La Ninas had been. I’d say keep ’em and get excited!

      Julia

  8. Karen October 22, 2013 Reply

    Hi Julia!
    I am looking at the La Nina –
    Thank you for the great review!
    I have skied the K2 Misbehaved 159 for years and love it – also have the VJJ in 175 and it is great in Pow but not enough of a charger and not able to really carve on the groomers.
    I want to move to a single ski – (except for a pair of fischer race skiis I reserve for the iciest groomers if that is all there is!)
    I love all I am reading about the La Nina – just want some advise on the length.
    I was going to size down this time (did the VJJ in 175 and thought maybe their length was part of the reason I didn’t love them) but after reading your review – I am thinking 177 for the La Nina.
    I am an expert skier – 53yrs., 5’6 3/4″, 125lbs.
    What do you think?
    Thanks,
    Karen

    • Julia October 22, 2013 Reply

      Hey Karen!

      Thanks for reading! I think that given your height and weight (same as mine) and expert abilities, you would be totally fine going for the 177cm La Nina. I, too, was worried about the 185cm length, but found that the ski’s significant rocker made the longer length much more manageable. I found that the La Nina was both easy to make tight turns on and could still be driven hard and fast, which is where you might appreciate the 177cm. I hope this helps you with your decision!

      Julia

  9. Karen October 22, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for your prompt reply!
    I am going for it with more confidence. Thanks!!
    Happy turns
    :)

  10. Jane February 8, 2014 Reply

    Hi Julia!

    I really enjoy reading your reviews. I am looking for a ski to complement my powder skis 175 Armada JJs. I’d like a damper ski that does well in older snow, chop, chunder etc., but is still playful with a short-medium turning radius. I am considering the 172 Moment Bellas and the 177 La Ninas as options. I am an expert skier, 5’2″, 115 lbs.; I mostly ski in central CO, along with a couple of trips to Silverton each season.

    Thanks so much,
    Jane

    • Julia February 16, 2014 Reply

      Hi Jane!

      Thanks so much for reading! I’d say both the Bella and the La Nina are good options, although neither ski is incredibly damp. While the La Nina is fun and playful and can still handle variable conditions, I wouldn’t necessarily say it dominates in crud and deep chop. The Bella is also pretty playful, and impressed me more with its crud performance — I felt like I could ski them confidently through variable snow. Although it is not as playful as the La Nina or Bella, you may also want to consider the 173 Blizzard Samba, which is a great crud ski. This ski has a much damper feel and can be driven fast in chop and is really fun on groomers! Let me know if you have any more questions and I hope this helps!

      Julia

  11. Ashley March 13, 2014 Reply

    This thread is very helpful! I currently have the Volkl Kiku’s which I adore. But I’m looking for a deep powder ski for an Alaska heli trip coming up and for deep powder in general. My Kiku’s are 156. I’m 5’1 / 112 lbs and really don’t like being on gear that’s too big for me. After reading this, I’m wondering if the 169 would work even though it sounds really big? I’m an expert skier and looks like a couple ladies in this thread are about the same size. What would you recommend? Thanks in advance…ashley

  12. Gloria March 19, 2014 Reply

    Julia -amazing review of the La Niña. I am seriously thinking of this ski but nervous about the length. I have never really skied rockers. Currently I am on the Vokyl aura circa 11 pre rockered on a 156cm. 5’6″ /135 lbs. I know I should be on longer skis but I love the ability to make short and quick turns. I’d call myself advanced and will do just about anything at alta/ snowbird – have skied a lot in mineral/ gad2/ alta off supreme. I struggled a bit yesterday in big sky after a 20″ dump. The auras definitely don’t have that much float to handle the big dump. 6″ of freshies no problem! Would welcome your thought.

    • Julia March 25, 2014 Reply

      Hi Gloria! Thanks for reading! I definitely understand your concern with going longer, but I don’t think you would be sacrificing too much maneuverability if you skied the 169s. The rocker in the tips and tails significantly decreases the effective edge so you’re essentially working with a shorter ski. My friend who is about your size, if not a few inches shorter, recently got the 177s and was also really nervous. Turns out, she loves them! I think they were much more manageable than she expected, so at your height, you would probably actually enjoy the 177s but would be gaining even more ability to make quicker turns on the 169s. And, they would be a lot more fun than the Auras in more than 6″. I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any more questions!

  13. Ana December 23, 2015 Reply

    Hi Julia, just stumble across this site, thank you so much for this review! Very thorough and helpful! While this ski sounds pretty awesome, I wonder how it would compare to the new Nordica Santa Ana skis. I don’t usually ski heavy powder and prefer a slightly narrower ski. Have you skied on the Santa Ana’s yet this season? Would you have any comments on this ski?

  14. Cwil February 8, 2018 Reply

    I am loving your reviews. I have the La Nina in 177 and love them most days. I don’t love them for all conditions here at Bridger Bowl in Bozeman, MT and am looking for an everyday ski. I am 5’10”, 140 lbs and an upper intermediate to advanced skier and thinking I want a shorter ski than 177. I currently have the Savory 7 in 178 and finding it hard to maneuver them in most conditions. I want a ski for chop, bumps and when lots maneuvering is required (still working on my quick, steep turns). I feel La Nina is hard for me once the powder is gone, although I love it on groomers :)
    I want something no smaller than 100 underfoot. Would you recommend the Moment Bella in 172 or something else?
    Thanks!

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