For 2014 Nordica has very well created the benchmark for all One-Oh-Something skis to be measured against. I am not saying that there haven’t been very good skis in this segment, the Volkl Gotama and Blizzard Cochise have been very well accepted skis and critically acclaimed skis but neither have the versatility nor the range of Nordica has accomplished with this new collection of skis for 2014. This is a case of “The early bird gets the work but the second mouse gets the cheese”. Nordica is doing a fine job being the second mouse.
This is not just a case of “badge engineering” nor has Nordica just blanketed the design brush and just sized the mold for different length, Nordica’s engineers went the extra step and designed the sizes of these skis to be proportionate to the skiers who will be skiing them. Many times manufacturers create a four or five size model run and while the “meat” sizes, usually the middle two, are very well designed and great skiing skis, the extremity sizes at both ends of the size run are disproportionate. The molds of these three models come in four lengths with three different dimensions...
- 169cm- 135-105-123 (Wildfire, Vagabond)
- 177cm- 137-107-125 (all three)
- 185cm- 137-107-125 (Vagabond, El Capo)
- 193cm- 137-109-125 (Vagabond, El Capo)
...With the basis of this series being “107” for a medium sizes skier, as the skier size goes up or down, the extreme lengths will still have same feel as the core/meat sizes so these skiers do not get short changed. Flex and construction of these skis is similar yet all three have a different feel on the snow but like the lengths are proportionate to the sized skier they are designed for. The Wildfire and Vagabond coming out of the Hell & Back series are Poplar/Beach/Fiberglass with the Vagabond having a single PU stringer for lightness and the Wildfire having the Wi-Core (Woman’s I-core?) a double I-Core stringer for addition lightness. The El Capo replaces the I-Core strands with additional wood and also adds two sheets of metal for stability and dampness creating a more of a power feel verses the finesse feel of the Hell & Back lightness and pop.
On snow feel of the Vagabond, with the added lightness verses the El Capo with it’s additional metal and dampness are very similar due to their shape, but the reaction is really good for the two different skier types. Personally, I am more of a finesse skier so it was easy for me to gravitate to the Vagabond, REVIEW HERE, the core shape and feel of the ski is right in my wheelhouse for a wide open type ski for when I ski Alpine Meadows and Squaw type terrain, the Vagabond is great in the open terrain but nimble enough to take into the trees and even the bumps. While, if there wasn’t a Vagabond, I think I would be almost as comfortable on the El Capo but I feel I would want to spend some more time at the gym to maximize it’s potential.
Trekchick has been skiing the Wildfire and really enjoying it. At 5’6” and just under 130lb, she normally skis most of her skis around a 170cm length, the Wildfire that she has been skiing is a (usually) long for her 177cm but her adaption to the additional length was seamless due to how easy and light the Wildfire is to ski. You can read her review from a link at the bottom of this page
Nordica envisions the El Capo replacing the Enforcer in their product line as the big mountain charger and while ski widths are ever evolving wider, I was scepticle at first but this series of skis really belies their dimensions in widths and sidecuts (with TR’s being in the “mid 20M” range) they perform with a tremendous about of versatility. Over the past few years manufactures have been trying to create segments, segment bust or create a solution for a problem that has yet to exist and much of this has been to try to figure out this in between One-Oh Something segment..is it a powder ski? Is it a charger? is it a park ski? is it a desert topping? No one knows and if you ask seven skiers, you will get nine answers. But Nordica has gone a made a darn good versatile ski that does a lot of things really really well and in the sizes and constructions offered.
Image Library: HERE