Nordica Wild Belle (2014)
When the light is flat and a mogul field lurks under the next knoll, you'll want these on your feet. The Wild Belle is so stable and versatile it gives you confidence to chuck yourself down anything. A lightweight wood core is made even lighter with foam stringers, but a g-force-loving, vertical-sidewall, fiberglass-reinforced laminate construction begs to be bent. Its best attribute, though, is Rebound Energy (No. 1). A couple of testers complained that the early-rise tip felt soft, but most agreed it's fine for the expert set. McElroy: "Best for a strong woman who really knows how to arc 'em."
With its narrow, hard-snow appropriate width (84 mm) the Wild Belle is particularly well suited to soft groomers, where expert skiers can drive it hard without trenching too deeply. Nordica's All-Mountain collection for women includes five high-performance models, all sold flat (Wildfire, Nemesis, Hell's Belles, Wild Belle, and Belle to Belle), plus three value versions, which are sold with bindings (First Belle, Drive 78 and Elexa) and are built using softer, simpler constructions. The collection covers a broad range of waist widths, from 107 (Wildfire) down to 75 mm (Elexa), and ability levels, ranging in price from $849 down to $449 MSRP. All are intended for all-mountain utility and all-conditions versatility for mainstream resort skiers. (For a dedicated powder ski, see the Freeski collection's women's-specific La Nina, with its 113-mm waist. For a technical hard-snow carver, see the Frontside Collection's Cinnamon Girl EVO, with its 72-mm waist.) All of the All-Mountain models are vertical-sidewall, fiberglass-reinforced laminate constructions, which Nordica deems the most trusted and proven way to build skis. The top five models are built using Nordica's women's-specific Energy CA wi-Core, which has two strips of PU foam to make it even lighter than the men's versions. The foam stringers are combined with wood down the middle and over the edges for edge stability and integrity. The top-of-the-line Wildfire is rockered in both the tip and tail, for maximum maneuverability in deep snow. All other models are rockered in the tip only, for enhanced flotation in soft snow and terrain-smoothing shock absorption. Nordica offers pre-cut climbing skins to fit the top models.
|Awards||Gold Medal Gear|
|Lengths||146, 154, 162, 170|
|Rating: Stability at Speed||3.84 / 5|
|Rating: Maneuverability||3.39 / 5|
|Rating: Hard Snow Grip||3.60 / 5|
|Rating: Crud Performance||3.36 / 5|
|Rating: Forgiveness||3.36 / 5|
|Rating: Flotation||2.10 / 5|
|Rating: Overall||3.39 / 5|