On my first day at Rusutsu, a ski resort on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido known for snow-covered rollercoasters and deep powder, I clicked into the Nordica Santa Ana 110 skis. I dove in head-first to the Japanese ski experience, my heart wanting nothing more than to charge down the mountain at full speed, floating off natural features like I had been born doing it.
The reality was a bit different. The Santa Ana has two sheets of metal plus carbon, making the first couple turns a bit of a wake-up call as the weight and stiffness of all that metal was a shock to my legs. Before Rusutsu, I had been spending time skiing lightweight and rockered powder skis that didn’t really need to be engaged from the cockpit to get down the mountain. On the Santa Ana 110s, I panicked a bit, afraid I wouldn’t be able to control the ski before having a brief chat with myself to calm down and get back to the basics.
After a few laps, I found the sweet spot. It wasn’t that the Santa Ana required different attention than any other ski, but days on what I’d refer to as my "floppy jalopy" powder skis had made me incredibly lazy: I was far from being in the driver’s seat, banking on the wide girth of those other fat skis to keep me on top of the snow. After all, that's where minimal work is required.
The sweet spot of the Santa Ana 110 became a magical place. When I focused on driving the ski from the front of my foot—where it is designed to receive the power transferring down from your legs—the ski's performance was amazing. In heavy, skied-off pow, I felt like a new person, charging through chunder with confidence. In the light, blower pow between trees I floated like a dream and the Santa Ana felt responsive and, well, fun!
The construction of these skis translated nearly perfectly to performance. They’re light enough thanks to the integration of balsa wood in the core, and maneuverable enough with camber underfoot and rockered tip and tail to feel good about getting into tighter trees. They are also heavy enough (hello, two sheets of metal) to crush variable snow and make stability your bitch.
Feel like you've seen these skis before? Editor's Choice Gear 2019
On groomers, a wide turn radius and stout construction make high speed, big turns a blast, granted these plank's specialty is not groomers. And in icy bumps—which sound tempting to literally no one—left a bit to be desired, especially considering the Santa Ana is too big to make tight zipper line moves unless you've got quads like Jonny Moseley.
After my first few days on the Santa Ana I had a revelation: I’d become a better skier. It's not that I leaned new skills or techniques, but more that the Santa Ana begs to be skied with good form. When you give the skis what they deserve, they give you so much more in return. Namely, confidence. And the difference between a confident skier and anything else is the difference between having fun skiing, and not.
Tip / Waist / Tail (in millimeters): 139-110-128 | Lengths (in centimeters): 161, 169, 177 | Turn Radius (n meters): 15.5 | MSRP: $799