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2016-2017 Nordica Soul Rider

Nordica Soul Rider

Ski: 2016-2017 Nordica Soul Rider, 185cm

Available Lengths: 169, 177, 185 cm

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 182.25cm

Stated Dimensions (mm): 134-97-124

Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 2,139 grams & 2,118 grams

Sidecut Radius: 18.5 meters

Core Construction: Ash/Poplar + Carbon Fiber (2-Layer) + Fiberglass Laminate

Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 72.6 / 64.7 mm

Traditional Camber Underfoot: 2.6 mm

Boots/Bindings: Jason: Dalbello KRII Pro; Will: Nordica Firearrow F1 / Marker Jester Demo (DIN at 10)

Mount Location: +3cm from “classic” / -4cm from true center

Test Location: Las Leñas Ski Resort

Days Skied: 5 collectively

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

Formulating a full review of any all-mountain “one-ski quiver” demands that we evaluate a ski’s performance in a particularly wide range of conditions (hardpack, groomed, bumps, soft chop, crud, fresh snow, etc.), the full breadth of which can be hard to come by in a matter of days. Jason Hutchins put some time on the Nordica Soul Rider in Las Leñas. Will Brown did too, along with a few more days on the ski during the North American season. While they have not been able to test the ski in all relevant conditions, they’ve tried to assess the skis’ performance as thoroughly as possible so far.

Per our usual MO, we’ll fill in the blanks with an Update on this ski as soon as possible. For now, here are Jason’s initial thoughts on the Soul Rider, followed by Will’s.]

Jason Hutchins:

As Jonathan mentioned in our preview of the Nordica Soul Rider, you can find skis targeted toward many different individuals in this ~100mm class. There are very traditional-feeling skis like the Blizzard Bonafide, as well as more modern 5-dimension skis like the Rossignol S3 and DPS Wailer 99. Then, of course, there is my favorite portion of the class, where the Soul Rider fits in perfectly: the do-it-all, freestyle-oriented play sticks like K2 Kung Fujas and Moment PB&J.

Having ridden the Soul Rider only a single day, I am obviously cautious of saying too much. Luckily, that day was a fantastic one in which I was able to expose the skis to quite a variety of terrain, so I can at least offer some insight concerning the skis’ feel.

Groomers

As usual, I started things off by hitting up Vulcano for a couple of quick groomer laps down Vulcano 1. Because I had a fairly early start, the snow on the upper third of the mountain was a nice, shallow layer of corn atop of a frozen base layer. I immediately could tell the Soul Rider was razor sharp, so I let them run, carving aggressively with confidence.

Much like the other Nordica’s I have ridden so far this year, the Soul Rider does an exceptional job of holding an edge, feeling very torsionally stiff when railing down firm snow. The skis preferred carving turns rather than a long-radius skid at higher speeds. This wasn’t a problem because the 18.5m sidecut allowed me to control speed simply by arcing railroad tracks from one side of the trail to the other. The Soul Rider was easily the most fun ski to carve down these groomers, given its tight turning radius and energetic bound from turn to turn. When it came time to shed speed quickly by breaking the tails free, however, the Soul Rider became much more nervous and chattery feeling at the high speeds. I would also attribute those sensations to the skis’ aggressive sidecut and energetic feel. Sometimes you can’t have it all….

Off Piste

With the snow quickly warming, I made my way south to the Caris lift so I could spin a few off-piste laps while waiting for the upper mountain to thaw. I alternated laps on el Casaco, Cenidor, and el Gasex, where I found exceptional corn on top of a firm layer, on a moderately steep, lightly bumped aspect. The Soul Riders loved the tiny erratically formed bumps as long as I kept the speed under control. The skis were the most fun when setting a firm edge on one small pile and bounding over to the next. Just as on the groomers, the skis were very energetic. When I tried a more aggressive, high-speed style, laying out much longer-radius turns, and attempting to drive through the snow irregularities, the Soul Rider quickly let me know it was uncomfortable with that particular style.

When Marte opened, I immediately made my way to the top. When I reached the top, however, most of the upper mountain was closed, so I decided to take a run down Jupiter (another groomer) and try out different turn shapes at different speeds.

The Soul Rider proved to be very easy to skid through short-, medium-, and long-radius turns and slow and medium speeds. The tip and tail rocker made the ski feel much shorter and easy to pivot at soft edge angles, while a more aggressive move would quickly engage most of the ski’s edge, bend the ski deeply, and provide energy into the next turn. Again, when I let the skis run, they felt great as long as I kept carving. Breaking the tails loose at speed still didn’t offer the most comforting ride.

26 Comments

  1. Smarty October 1, 2012 Reply

    How does the Soul Rider compare to the Volkl Bridge?

    • Will Brown October 3, 2012 Reply

      Hey Smarty,

      The Scimitar and Bridge are practically identical skis. I’ve only skied the Bridge in a 179, not the more comparable 187, but in my experience they perform very similarly. They both feature the a subtle, full reverse camber profile, and have nearly the same dimensions (The Scimitar is 3mm wider underfoot). So, most everything I’ve said about how the Soul Rider compared to the Scimitar, I feel comfortable saying relative to the Bridge. Thanks to its traditional camber, the Soul Rider feels a little more stable running through uneven snow/chop bases flat or not at a very high edge angle, and it it seems to have a little more pop and energy (especially when carved aggressively). Hope this helps!

      Will

  2. matt October 1, 2012 Reply

    How would you compare the bonafide to the soul rider. Obviously one is more charger and one is more jibbery. But in terms of pure skiing and versatility. Which would you guys rather be on and why?

    • Jason October 7, 2012 Reply

      Matt,
      First consider that I have only spent one day on the Soul Rider, so I am a little gun shy to say just how great it is at everything. I spent more time on the 187cm Bonafide, and comparing the two I would personally rather be on the Soul Rider.

      The Bonafide is a great ski that prefers to carve down pretty much everything you throw at it. It is very torsionally stiff, damp, and stable due to its (hefty) twin metal laminate construction, and offers a straight forward traditional/directional feel. While I had some fun on the Bonafide, I personally prefer skis that are lighter and offer a more dynamic ride, much like the Soul Rider.

      The Soul Rider obviously is more freestyle oriented, and is much more balanced in flex and shape. I like skis that allow me to rip around the mountain AND play around with presses, kickers, drops, etc, and this is what I consider to be versatility.

      If you define a versatile ski as one that feels cool, calm, and collected nearly all of the time, the Bonafide is more apt to be that ski. If you’re more like me and consider versatility to mean you can take it from steep technical lines, to groomers, and to the terrain park, the Soul Rider takes it between these two.

  3. Joe October 6, 2012 Reply

    This ski is now on my radar, and is a serious front runner for my all mountain ski for this year. The 4FRNT Cody is my other top option, but there is minimal info on this ski yet. How about it, any words of advice on the Cody?

    My main goal is to have a ski that can huck cliffs on to hardpack (therefore smaller cliffs), carve hard, and be poppy, playful and buttery ski all at once. The cody seems like it may be this ski, and the Soul Rider seems like it may be this ski as well, after reading Jason and Wills’ review!

    • John October 10, 2012 Reply

      Earth to blister, you out there? Just wondering if the Cody was going to be reviewed?

  4. Kyle October 24, 2012 Reply

    how would you compare the soul rider to the sfb for an east coast one quiver ski?

    • Jason October 30, 2012 Reply

      Though my time on the Soul Rider is significantly less than that on the SFB, I found the Soul Rider to be slightly more damp feeling, and a bit more torsionally rigid. I also found the Soul Rider to be stiffer throughout.
      As much as I love the SFB, for an east coast one ski quiver I’d probably go with the narrower, slightly more hard snow oriented Soul Rider.

  5. Tarek October 26, 2012 Reply

    How does the soulrider compare to the el paco? any difference at all?

    • Will Brown October 30, 2012 Reply

      Hi Tarek,

      I have not had the chance to ski the El Paco. Effectively it is simply a narrower Soul Rider (at 87mm underfoot with the same sort of rocker/camber profile). I would guess that the El Paco is a little lighter and quicker feeling from edge to edge on hard snow, more suited for park/rail riding, will get kicked around more in uneven conditions and chop, and won’t float as well in soft snow. Of course, these are only assumptions I’m making. We’ll be sure to make more detailed comparisons if we get on the El Paco this season. Cheers!

      Will

  6. Coach Krinke November 4, 2012 Reply

    Ski Magazine (November 2012) Testers “found performance they could love at prices they could live with” and the Soul Rider was on their list. At $799 MSRP it was considered a “Value Ski”–of course we won’t actually pay the MRSP so it is even a better priced value. Testers thought “it could hold its own against the big guns of the full-price category” Looks like it is a great ski to have in your quiver!

  7. Paul November 5, 2012 Reply

    Hi There,

    I’m looking at buying these skis but I’m new to the concept of adjusting to rocker (which from what I understand makes the ski “shorter”) based on effective edge.
    I’m 5’11” and weigh about 150 lbs. I’m looking at the 185’s right now because I do like to ski pretty hard. Is this the right ski for me or is the 177 better suited?

    Thanks!

    • Will Brown November 6, 2012 Reply

      Hi Paul,

      You and Coach Krinkle (who has replied below) are both right that the rocker in the ski reduces it’s effective edge, which makes a 185cm ski a little shorter than it actually is. All in all, the Soul Rider is a very intuitive, cooperative ski, especially on the feet of an advanced skier or someone who likes to ski hard like you do. I think the 185 will suit you well. I can’t imagine you would feel it is too much ski (I’d be a lot less surprised to hear that you wanted more stability out of the 177). Hope this helps,

      Will

  8. Coach Krinke November 6, 2012 Reply

    Paul,
    Not enough information to tell you the right length. Add on: What you like to ski most–grommers, chutes, crud, powder, moguls, all of above? Plus, what type of boot are you in right now–flex, skier level.?

    The Soul Rider has an Early Rise camRock which pulls the traditional contact point of the tip back about 25% creating increased flotation, velocity and maneuverability in soft snow and all other conditions. If you like short and medium radius turns–go shorter. If you like eye watering GS and Super G turns, go longer. If you like moguls, chute skiing and park/pipe skiing–go shorter. If you want all around–either will do but shorter always creates smiles!

  9. Paul November 7, 2012 Reply

    Thanks so much for the help both Will and Coach Krinke!

    I really do appreciate the feedback and advice.

    While trying to find an answer to both of your follow up thoughts, I find that I do like to do it all. I really do enjoy charging hard on some days carving GS type turns, but I also like to dabble in the park with jumps as well as making quick turns in the bumps or on steep chutes.

    Although I don’t think the 185 would be too much ski, I might be giving up a bit of the playfulness I tend to look for as well.

  10. Paul November 7, 2012 Reply

    I guess I forgot one point above. I’m an advanced skier but fairly light. I’m in Dalbello Voodo’s right now. I find it’s progressive flex suits my weight and freestyle ability.

    And although I will be taking these skis in powder and big mountain, I will be spending about half my time on groomers.

  11. Jerry November 14, 2012 Reply

    Hi,
    Thanks a lot the good reviews. I’m surprised that noboday asked, but how does it compare to Nordica’s Enforcer Ti? They share almost the same shape, but the construction is different if I got it right?
    Thanks in advance,
    Jerry

    • Will Brown November 16, 2012 Reply

      Hey Jerry,

      The Enforcer and Soul Rider are very similar, though the former is a little more traditional with only slight rocker in the tip and a flat tail (unlike the Soul Rider’s twin, rockererd tail). I’d really like to get on the Enforcer myself for a comparison. I’d expect it to be more stable on hardpack and even more energetic through a carve. It might be a great option for people who aren’t looking to ride switch, or just like the feel of a more standard tail from a more forward stance. Thanks for the note!

      Will

  12. Fabrice Miralles January 25, 2013 Reply

    Hi,

    What size of Marker Jester did you use with the Soul Rider, 90mm or 110mm. Would you recommend buying a schizo binding to be able to adjust position on ski easily.

    Fabrice

    • Will Brown January 26, 2013 Reply

      Hi Fabrice,

      With a little bending, you’ll be able to use a 90mm brake on the Soul Rider without a problem (you could also use a 110 brake if you had to). The schizo binding does work very well and would be great on the ski if you do want to have the option to play with the mount point.

      WB

  13. Max January 29, 2013 Reply

    Hi,

    what size do You suggest for me (I’m 6.1 ft and my weight is 194 lbs), I’m a little more than an intermediate skier.
    What do You think about the Marker Tour (12) on this ski?
    Thanks.
    Max.

    • Will Brown February 8, 2013 Reply

      Hey Max,

      The 185 will suit you well. I worry that a shorter version could start to feel to short in another season or two as you progress. The 185cm ski is still quite easy to direct and skid around on, but will still feel adequate on down the road.

      If you’re looking to do some touring, then yes, the Marker Tour 12 would certainly be a nice pairing.

      Best,

      Will

  14. Comet Jo March 5, 2014 Reply

    Wondering if you had any thoughts on these vs 4FRNT Codys as an east coast all mountain twin? You mention planning to review them above, but I don’t see such a review.

    • Will Brown March 22, 2014 Reply

      Hey Comet Jo,

      We’re still working to get our hands on a pair of Codys (called the Gaucho for the 14/15 season). I’ll be sure to let you know when we get time on the ski. As for the Soul Rider as an East Coast all-mountain ski, it would be great for someone looking for a more forgiving, playful ski that could be taken in the park and would have a nice, looser feel in soft snow. But if you’re looking for something to bite into true ice/hardpack, then I’d look for a more traditional ski with a bit more burl like the Rossi Experience 88/98 or Volkl Mantra.

      Thanks,
      Will

  15. Jason Soderblom July 28, 2016 Reply

    Hi,

    I’m looking for a second “play” ski, for bumps, trees, etc. I’m thinking about the 15-16 Soul Rider or the 15-16 Sir Francis Bacon –– any advice on how these skis compare and how they’d work for this purpose?

    I’m an aggressive, strong skier, but am only 5′ 9″ & 160 lbs. I currently ski a pair of 177 Volkl RTM 84s.

    Thanks!
    Jason

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