2023 Nordica Santa Ana 110 Free Review
If you’re an expert ripper looking for a ski that can keep up with you in the deep stuff, this is your ski
This article was first published by SkiMag.com.
The Scores (out of 10)
- Overall Score: 7.45
- Rank: #5
- Flotation: 8
- Playfulness: 7
- Responsiveness: 7.17
- Quickness: 7.17
- Crud Performance: 7.5
- Stability at Speed: 7.5
- Forgiveness: 6.83
- Versatility: 7.33
- Price: $800
- Lengths: 161, 169, 177
- Dimensions: 139-110-128
- Radius: 15.5
- Level: Advanced, Expert
In a Nutshell
- Pros: Crud Performance (#2), Stability at Speed (#4)
- Cons: Quickness (#5), Playfulness (#6)
Nordica skis are notoriously reliable as frontside rippers, and the Santa Ana 110 Free is no exception in the powder category. This is a wide-waisted ski you can count on even during dry spells and when the pow gets all tracked out. Ranking high in Stability at Speed and Crud Performance, the Santa Ana 110 Free is one of those skis that rises to the occasion, whether it’s bombing down a big open face, driving into a choppy turn, or laying into your edges when rallying back to the base for one last tram lap. “This ski feels significantly burlier than the narrower Santa Ana skis, providing a really solid and reliable platform to trust in crud and soft snow alike,” reported tester Lily Krass. “It prefers a skilled driver but doesn’t shut down when you want to take it easy.”
That more accommodating nature is thanks to updates made to the previous iterations of this ski, tweaks to the construction which reduced the amount of metal in the core, replacing it with Nordica’s Terrain Specific Metal, which alters the amount of metal in each ski in the line. As the widest gal in the lineup, the Santa Ana 110 Free has the least amount of metal, making her slightly lighter, softer, and more approachable for her girth. But the metal that remains in the core is strategically placed to stiffen these planks up for busting through 3 p.m. crud, while lightening the load in the the tips to reduce the swing weight and make turn initiation easier and quicker. “Like going fast through powder, slush, and chop? This is your ski!” said tester Jordan Garrett. “It feels reliable underfoot as conditions warm up and the snow starts feeling heavy at the end of the day.”
Testers described it as energetic and balanced, raring to go if you want to go fast, but willing to cruise if you’re looking for mellower wiggles. “As expected, Nordica continues to dazzle with their forgiving skis that still pack a punch,” said tester Erika Northrop. “Cowgirl up! Any lady who wants a big ski for big fun can jump on the Nordica Santa Ana 110 Free.”
While testers describe this ski as energetic, they wouldn’t exactly call it agile. If you’re looking for a nimble tree ski, this isn’t our top choice. It ranked low for Quickness because it feels a little hard to lug through a turn in deep, gladed runs. The Santa Ana 110 Free favors wide open slopes and long fall lines, making for a smooth, stable ride as long as you’ve got a long line of sight. Testers also noted that the Santa Ana 110 Free becomes less forgiving the more constricting the terrain, which left them feeling worked towards the end of the day.
That said, if you’re an advanced or expert skier with a penchant for fall-line skiing—and you don’t mind working a little for rock-solid performance—it’s hard to find a powder ski with the Santa Ana 110 Free’s bell-to-bell power. “It’s an awesome powder ski that I would be thrilled to rip on any day,” noted tester Courtney Harkins.
Lily Krass is a freelance ski journalist based in Jackson, Wyoming with work featured in SKI Magazine, Powder Magazine, Freeskier, Teton Gravity Research, and Ascent Backcountry Snow Journal. She spends winters backcountry skiing in Grand Teton National Park and riding lifts at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with the occasional trip to the Alps (for the food, obviously). While she’s been in ski boots since she learned to walk, Lily has been professionally writing about skiing, gear, and all things outdoors for the past seven years. In addition to an all-consuming addiction to powder skiing mixed with heavy doses of Type II fun, Lily takes snacking seriously, and when she’s not writing or sliding on snow, she’s likely deep into a baking project in her tiny kitchen. She is the co-author of Beyond Skid: A Cookbook For Ski Bums, a collection of dirtbag-friendly recipes inspired by life in a mountain town.