Because it performed so highly in nearly all our metrics, the Nordica Santa Ana 98 takes home our most prestigious award, the Editor’s Choice. This ski is a remarkable piece of gear, shifting skill sets between powder and hard snow with grace and alternating between hard fast charging and precise bump skiing without batting an eye. We didn’t find it particularly energetic, lacking pronounced spring to its step, but the confidence it gave us to test our limits outweighed these missing components. If rebound and excitement are what you’re after, this ski might not be the perfect choice. The Santa Ana 98 is a fantastic ski for anyone on the hunt for a “one-ski quiver” that will easily take you anywhere you want to go on the mountain.Editor’s Note: We updated this Nordica Santa Ana 98 review on March 6, 2022, to include more details about our testing process, a candid take on value, and suggestions for other comparable products.
Nordica Santa Ana 98 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Crud blaster, dependable, great one-ski quiver option, good for every ability level
Cons: No wow-factor, not a lot of rebound
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Nordica Santa Ana 98
|Price||$489.96 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
$439.99 at Amazon
|$679 List||$700 List|
$489.99 at Amazon
|$454.96 at Backcountry|
Compare at 2 sellers
|Pros||Crud blaster, dependable, great one-ski quiver option, good for every ability level||Awesome powder tool, fabulous fun factor even for light skiers, affordable price||Great stability at high speeds, good on hard snow and crud, more affordable than others||Superbly stable at high speeds, great edge hold||Quick edge to edge, strong carving ski|
|Cons||No wow-factor, not a lot of rebound||Gets bouncy in crud, slight tip flap, doesn’t carve perfectly||Only for shallower pow days, needs strong skier to guide them||Too burly for lighter gals, not nimble||Need to be engaged to ski it well, not much excitement, sinks in deeper snow|
|Bottom Line||A great all-rounder ski that we think is the most versatile option for a one-ski quiver||A fun and responsive toy for powder days, groomer antics, and bumps, with a value-oriented price tag||This model will do great in everything but the deepest powder and is ideal for an aggressive skier||A good choice for hard-charging speed demons that still performs decently off-piste||Though not especially playful in deep powder, this ski is our top choice for carving with its skinny waist and quickness edge to edge|
|Rating Categories||Nordica Santa Ana 98||Elan Ripstick 94 W||Faction Dictator 2.0X||Volkl Secret 96||Blizzard Black Pear...|
|Stability at Speed (20%)|
|Carving Ability (20%)|
|Powder Performance (20%)|
|Crud Performance (20%)|
|Terrain Playfulness (15%)|
|Specs||Nordica Santa Ana 98||Elan Ripstick 94 W||Faction Dictator 2.0X||Volkl Secret 96||Blizzard Black Pear...|
|Waist Width||98 mm||94 mm||96 mm||96 mm||88 mm|
|Available Lengths (cm)||151, 158, 165, 172, 179||154, 162, 170, 178||155, 163, 171, 175, 179, 183, 187||149, 156, 163, 170||147, 153, 159, 165, 171, 177|
|Length Tested||172 cm||178 cm||171 cm||170 cm||171 cm|
|Turn Radius||16.3 m||18 m||18 m||16 m||15 m|
|Camber Profile||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot||Rocker tip and tail, cambered inside edge, Amphibio tech||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot||Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot|
|Weight Per Pair||8.1 lbs||7.4 lbs||7.9 lbs||8.5 lbs||8.0 lbs|
|Construction Type||Energy Ti W||SST sidewall||Sandwich||Full sidewall||Sandwich compound sidewall|
|Core Material||Performance Wood & Metal||Tubelite wood||Paulownia & Poplar||Beech and poplar||True Blend Woodcore|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nordica Santa Ana 98 performs well in all terrain and snow conditions. The only downside we found was its slight lack of playfulness and rebound. It provides a confidence-inducing ride for skiers of all ability levels — a quality difficult to find in women's all-mountain skis. Most skis are either too stiff for smaller or lower-level skiers to bend or too soft for experts or larger women to feel secure. The Santa Ana 98 is a "Goldilocks ski" in this regard. Somehow Nordica managed to make it just right for most people.
Stability at Speed
A quality companion for those who like to ski fast, the Nordica Santa Ana 98 feels far more stable than one might expect for having such a wide waist and rockered tip and tail. Nordica has removed some heavy plastic from the ski's tip and replaced it with an extension of the lightweight wood core. It seems that they have achieved their goal here: the tip does not flop around at higher speeds, but the ski remains agile.
We noticed that the ski felt slightly less stable in a shorter turn. This reaction was surprising given its 16.3-meter radius. Once we opened up the speed and the turn size, the ski came into its own, feeling steadier in a larger high-speed turn.
At 8.1 pounds per pair (unmounted), the Santa Ana 98 is – as our "Goldilocks" assessment suggests – just right. This wood and metal laminate ski is neither too heavy nor too lightweight and offers the perfect balance of stability and agility.
We felt some chatter in the steeps on very firm, spring morning snow, but it would have been difficult to find an all-mountain ski that would not have in that setting. Overall, the Santa Ana 98 feels like a strong, stiff ski underfoot that will easily carry its momentum over most snow conditions.
The Santa Ana 98 is a wide ski for this task, yet it performs it with relative ease. It moves quickly from one edge to the other, much smoother than might be guessed given its width. The carbon fiber integrated into the woodcore helps lighten and energize the naturally damp material.
This ski is not too difficult to flex, but it doesn't offer nearly as much rebound as marketing materials suggest. We just didn’t feel it propel us back in the other direction when we finished our turn. For making a medium radius, cleanly cut carved turn, the Santa Ana is more than capable.
We did not feel like the Santa Ana 98 turned true to its 16.3-meter radius – it wanted to make a slightly larger turn, perhaps closer to 17.5 meters. It is tough to put an exact number to our best guesstimate, but this ski certainly does not pivot as easily as other skis with a 16-meter radius.
When we aimed for this larger turn, both skis tracked effortlessly. If we tried to arc a shorter turn, occasionally, we weren’t leaving perfectly clean tracks. Not quite as perfectly carvable as our top pick for cutting up groomers, the Santa Ana 98 is still able to hold its own against much more narrow skis.
Once again, the Santa Ana 98 made us feel confident and secure skiing powder. It stays mostly afloat in deeper snow, and when it isn’t quite on the surface, it still manages to feel maneuverable from just beneath the surface. In both heavier and lighter fresh snow, the Nordica felt reliable and kept us moving.
The manufacturer discusses using “terrain-specific metal” in their line of skis. This design puts more metal in their narrower skis for greater stability on groomed terrain while putting less metal in the wider skis to allow for more fun in softer snow. We felt the combination they blended into the 98-millimeter width was about perfect; it had enough strength to handle well on-piste while having enough lightness to feel fun off-piste.
The Santa Ana 98 is fairly fat, at 98 millimeters underfoot, but it isn’t a life raft. The 30% tip rocker allows the front of the ski to maintain a close connection to the surface, bringing us back up to breathe between turns.
This ski is far from the widest option in the field of skis we tested. Understandably, other models make better powder-specific skis. But the beauty of the Santa Ana 98 is its ability to navigate deep conditions despite a waist width of under 100 millimeters, which makes it a versatile ski regardless of the weather forecast.
Chopped-up, day-old powder is where the Nordica Santa Ana 98 is boss. This ski can handle crud in any manner you prefer to ski it; it can blast through with force as easily as it can pop airborne and avoid the worst of the chunks. We loved the feeling of setting this ski on a course through a minefield and not feeling a single bounce as we cruised.
The carbon chassis Nordica uses in this ski seems to find the perfect balance in choppy snow; it is stiff enough to simply plow through it while also being flexible enough to bend into it when you need or spring up if you want.
There is not a very pronounced or consistent rebound on this ski. However, the confidence it inspired in our skiing made it feel playful, even if the Santa Ana 98 didn't exude this characteristic.
The Santa Ana 98 is easy to turn and carve and is stable at high speeds and a crud-crusher. The knowledge that we could take this ski anywhere and feel surefooted gave us a certain joy. It is light enough to get airborne easily and is reassuring to land on afterward.
We were impressed by the Nordica Santa Ana 98's agility in a mogul field for such a wide ski. Despite feeling like it preferred making a longer turn, it seemed perfectly happy making quick and agile turns when our skiing involved bumps.
Even some of our smallest testers enjoyed the Santa Ana in this terrain, commenting that it felt easy to bend, initiate a turn, and maneuver through the bumps.
Should You Buy the Santa Ana 98?
Suppose you're in the market for a single ski that can take you into all types of terrain, handle a variety of snow conditions, and still confidently rip groomers at speed. In that case, you are looking for the versatility that only the Nordica Santa Ana 98 can offer. We were also impressed by how this ski catered to various audiences – both our expert level and less experienced testers loved the confidence this ski inspired. Approachable and easy to manage for intermediates, yet stiff and strong enough for hard-charging women, a general "wow-factor" defines the Santa Ana 98.
What Other Women's All-Mountain Skis Should You Consider?
The Nordica Santa Ana 98 scored consistently high marks across the board, but other skis still excel in particular disciplines. The Elan Ripstick 94 W is much more playful in powder, as is the Icelantic Riveter 95 in the bumps. The Faction Dictator 2.0X is an equally powerful crud-buster but offers more energy than the Santa Ana 98. Even though this ski is a strong and stable carving ski, we had more fun cutting up groomers on the Blizzard Black Pearl 88.
— Renee McCormack
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