Nordica Hell's Belles (2014)
Here’s a ski that will make techie experts cry tears of joy and whip sloppy but determined intermediates into race-day form. While it does have a measure of off-trail agility, it’s really a piste-centric ski with a traditional, racy feel. Think 80 percent groomed snow and 20 percent off-trail. What had our ladies whooping are its beautifully round, powerful turns. Don’t be afraid to let these skis get out from under you and angle high during hard-snow carves—the stability is there in spades.
The Hell's Belles shares the same construction as the wider-waisted Wildfire and Nemesis. With a narrower 90-mm waist it's both less expensive and better suited to Eastern/hard-snow conditions, though still sufficiently wide for good flotation in soft snow and crud. 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.
|Lengths||154, 162, 170, 178|
|Rating: Stability at Speed||3.92 / 5|
|Rating: Maneuverability||3.42 / 5|
|Rating: Hard Snow Grip||3.75 / 5|
|Rating: Crud Performance||3.32 / 5|
|Rating: Forgiveness||3.09 / 5|
|Rating: Energy/Liveliness||3.18 / 5|
|Rating: Versatility||3.21 / 5|
|Rating: Overall||3.40 / 5|