Review: Nordica Santa Ana 104 Free Skis

By: Kristi Teplitz + Save to a List

Butt wiggle and "slarve" with the best of them.

Nordica's tagline for the Santa Ana 104 Free skis is "Ski anything, Your way" and after testing these in various conditions this season I have to agree. The 104 Free skis are the newest member to the Santa Ana line, and they're a daily driver you can take anywhere. 

Still playful and easy to ski like others in the Santa Ana line, I've found the 104 Free skis to also hold their own in surprisingly crappy conditions. I live around Lake Tahoe and we've had some fun storms this winter, but let's face it, we've also had a season of variable conditions. When you're sitting on Headwall's chairlift at lunch looking out over glistening slopes, you know you're likely in for some funky turns, even if you know the perfect line to ski to get the best snow possible. 

I'm generally a fan of the 104-106mm range for my daily driver and one-quiver skis. But sometimes your ski schedule doesn't line up with an epic storm or the post-storm cold front that keeps snow chalky, and you're left with variable bumps, ice patches, crust, crud, and groomers. In these scenarios a heftier ski that can hold an edge and plow through whatever comes your way is helpful. 104mm can sometimes feel wide in these variable conditions, but the construction and carbon in the 104 Free keeps the skis stable and responsive. 

As Nordica's description says, these skis crave powder and that's true. They're super fun in powder. But they're also fun at the end of a powder day when everything is tracked out; or a few days after a storm when you have soft bumps with icy trenches; or even weeks after a storm and when you're ripping groomers and working on your "slarve" technique down icy north-facing slopes. And yes, they're fun in corn, too. 

As the stereotype goes for women's skis, I've been one to find in the past that a lot of women's skis are too soft for me. Some brands in the industry are starting to change this, and the 104 Free skis are a great example. Tell them where you want to go and they'll take you there. Whatever you put into the ski, you'll get back. So if you're like me and want to practice your jump turns down a chute, or perfect your bumps game, or just decide to play and chase your pro skier friends down the mountain, these skis have got you covered. Playful when you want it. Stable when you want it.

I'm still working on building my perfect ski quiver, but I'm happy to have the Santa Ana 104 Free skis in the mix. Sure, you may want a skinnier ski for ripping early season groomer days, or a fully rockered fat ski for deep powder days (hence why you have a multi-ski quiver in the first place), but the Santa Ana 104 Free skis are a great daily driver that can hang when you need them to hang and also have a little extra "umph" in them for when you want to send. 

You can find construction details on Nordica's site, and you can buy them on Backcountry.com

Happy shredding!

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