A center-mounted twin tip? Testers had to give the Soul Rider credit. It's a youthful model for all-mountain jib- bing, but even though no one skied it backward, testers loved its lively performance. With its huge tip the Soul begs to be bent and carved, and
its spry rebound is irresistibly playful. Don't count on it in powder-too narrow. But enjoy the savings and mount it back a few clicks. Casey: "Fun on groomers and in bumps."
This old friend got a make- over. A new tip and tail are more maneuverable in pow- der. A low-rise shovel and elongated sidecut engage the full edge instantly when tipped-eliminating the lapse that many rockered skis have on hardpack. The result is a ski that's floaty (No.
2) and grippy (No. 4). It's not quick or forgiving; it's a hard-charger humming with power. "It will be your ally in challenging terrain," said Cunningham.
The new NRGy series from Nordica aims for noth- ing less than all-terrain, all-conditions versatility. Testers thought it came as close as any ski can. While other skis at the top of the rankings dial up the playful, floaty side of things, the NRGy 100 brings more power and edginess to the game. Its broad, rockered tip certainly has a measure of skim in soft snow, but what impressed testers was its repertoire: powder, hardpack, crud, chalk...
it's up for anything, especially on the feet of an accomplished expert. Gleason: "Smooth, crisp, energetic. A true one-ski quiver with an invigorat- ing liveliness."
The sister to the Patron (see Men's Deep Snow), the La Nina is the player of the category. A wide, rockered, blunt-nosed tip steers itself-just look at the spaces between tight trees and it will take you there-and a rockered tail makes it pivot, smear, and dance down the fall line. It won the category in Forgiveness, which means it's a great "cheater" pow ski for the lesser skilled, but it also boasts a stability that stands up under expert pressure. All that tip and tail rocker-though it does have cam- ber underfoot-made it last in Hard Snow. But hey, it's a powder ski, after all. "A nice blend between surf and drive," said Tracy Gibbons.
Some skis are just strong. An exceptional few are strong and reliably fun at the same time. Like the Helldo, a former winner of this category that still holds its own in the elite top three. For starters, testers were awed by its intuitive performance in choppy snow, where it's easy to balance on. But it arcs on the hardpack with metal-reinforced, vertical-sidewall edge hold that belies its size. It loves going wicked fast. And it still puts up top Flotation scores. Strong, yes. But only when you want it to be. Bass: "Fits so nicely in all the little concave spaces. And then on edge it just rips."
Ready to crush the town- league races? Pull on a stiff boot, click into the Fire Arrow, and hang on. Testers deemed it one of the pure- raciest skis in the category- so quick, edgy, and explosive you need the skills (and conditioning) of a racer to stay on top of it. But if you can, oh, the trenches you'll dig, no matter how scraped-off the course is. Dyer: "Most ag- gressive ski of the day. Loves to lay down arcs-always gaining speed."
Drive 78 CA EVo
LENGTHS144, 152, 160, 168
RATING: 2.03 / 5
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The Nordica Drive comes from the company's Timeless All-Mountain collection, falling on the narrow, more price-point oriented side of the spectrum. At 78 millimeters underfoot, it leans toward groomer skiing, though a touch of rocker will provide some off-trail usability in addition to easier turn initiation and increased maneuverability. It's built with a full-wood core and partial sidewalls to deliver maximum performance while still being approachable and easy turning. The Drive is sold as a system ski.
The twintip Line Tease is designed for all-terrain and freestyle skiing. It's built using a semi-cap construction for increased forgiveness and weight savings without much of a sacrifice to edge power. True to it's park and freestyle design, the Tease implements a maple and aspen core and Line's extra fat base and edges for increased durability. Tip and tail rocker and its 86-millimeter waist make the Tease incredibly versatile both on piste and off. It's designed for intermediate to expert riders looking for an all-mountain twin. The Line Tease is sold flat without a binding.