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Stockli Nela 88 - Women's Review

Easy to direct through a mogul field and a beast for speed, but far from an ideal powder ski
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Stockli Nela 88 - Women's Review (With a quick, snappy turn, this ski is a bit more fun in bumps than its middling score might suggest.)
With a quick, snappy turn, this ski is a bit more fun in bumps than its middling score might suggest.
Credit: Marc Rotse
Price:  $1,099 List
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Manufacturer:   Stockli
By Renee McCormack ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 15, 2023
61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 15
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 8.0
  • Carving Ability - 20% 7.0
  • Powder Performance - 20% 4.0
  • Crud Performance - 20% 6.0
  • Terrain Playfulness - 15% 4.0
  • Bumps - 5% 9.0

Our Verdict

The nimble and responsive Stockli Nela 88 is an exceptional bumps ski. But unlike other playful options that often make for fun bump skis, the Nela 88 is very stable and lacks a ton of rebound. This predictability and lack of spring keeps it on the snow, right where you want it, whether schussing through moguls or racing down hard pack. However, that same lack of rebound can also feel a bit dull when cruising around on groomers or when you're just looking to have some fun. Nor is the Nela 88 ideal for skiing fresh snow. But if you are a dedicated bumps skier, have full faith in our recommendations for this specialty ski. If this doesn't sound like you, it's better to consider another ski from our lineup of best women's skis.
REASONS TO BUY
Master of moguls
Strong and sturdy
Looks flashy
REASONS TO AVOID
Lacks energy
Submarines in powder
Very expensive
Editor's Note: We added the Stockli Nela 88 to our lineup on December 13, 2023.

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $1,099 List
$879.20 at Evo
$524.93 at REI
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$750 List
$749.95 at Amazon
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Star Rating
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Bottom Line This ski is best in the bumps and at high speeds on groomed snowPerfect for those looking for a single ski to rule them allLively and nimble, but also stable and grippyA blast to ski in fresh snow, mogul fields, and popping around on groomersFor intermediate and advanced skiers looking for something that’s easy on the snow and on the wallet
Rating Categories Stockli Nela 88 - W... Nordica Santa Ana 98 Blizzard Sheeva 9 -... Elan Ripstick 94 W Salomon QST Lumen 98
Stability at Speed (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Carving Ability (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Powder Performance (20%)
4.0
7.0
7.0
10.0
5.0
Crud Performance (20%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Terrain Playfulness (15%)
4.0
6.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Bumps (5%)
9.0
7.0
5.0
8.0
6.0
Specs Stockli Nela 88 - W... Nordica Santa Ana 98 Blizzard Sheeva 9 -... Elan Ripstick 94 W Salomon QST Lumen 98
Waist Width 88 mm 98 mm 96 mm 94 mm 98 mm
Sidecut (Tip-Waist-Tail width) 127-88-113 mm 132-98-120 mm 129-96-118.5 mm 136-94-110 mm 132-98-120 mm
Available Lengths 152, 160, 168 cm 151, 158, 165, 172, 179 cm 150, 156, 162, 168, 174 cm 154, 162, 170, 178 cm 152, 160, 168, 176 cm
Length Tested 168 cm 172 cm 174 cm 178 cm 176 cm
Turn Radius 16.9 m 16.3 m 16 m 18 m 16 m
Camber Profile Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot Rocker tip and tail, cambered inside edge, Amphibio tech Rocker tip and tail, camber underfoot
Weight Per Pair 7.3 lbs 8.1 lbs 7.9 lbs 7.4 lbs 8.2 lbs
Construction Type Sandwich system, Polywall Energy Ti W W.S.D. Fluxform Duramax sandwich full sidewall SST sidewall Double sidewall
Core Material Paulownia Super Light Core Performance Wood & Metal W.S.D. Trueblend Free Woodcore; Beech, Poplar and Paulownia Tubelite wood Poplar
Ability Level Upper Intermediate-Expert Intermediate-Expert Intermediate-Expert Intermediate-Expert Intermediate-Advanced

Our Analysis and Test Results

When our testers first skied the Stockli Nela 88, they knew there was something special about it but couldn't quite put their finger (or toes) on it. But once they brought it into a mogul field, they realized this terrain is where these skis are most at home.

Performance Comparison


stockli nela 88 for women - the porsche of the mountains on a snowy race track.
The Porsche of the mountains on a snowy race track.
Credit: Marc Rotse

Stability at Speed


With its rich history of landing racers on podiums, Stockli is known for making high-quality, stiff skis. The Nela 88 certainly upholds this reputation, but it didn't completely blow us away with its stability at speed. This was the first Stockli ski for many of our testers – the price point of these skis is often prohibitive – and many had imagined that this ski might feel a bit like a freight train with edges. It is, in fact, more delicate than that – maybe more like a Porsche with edges.


There is nearly no tip flap on the Nela 88, likely due in part to the limited rocker at the tip.

This gave our testers a feeling of confidence when they brought the Nela 88 up to high speeds – confidence, but not exhilaration. The lack of energy in the ski makes it feel a bit dead underfoot. Stockli's “Soft Flex” technology has made their traditional heavyweight skis more accessible for lighter-weight skiers. The Nela 88 is much easier to flex compared to the skis given their Olympians, which means that this same high-speed confidence is now also within reach of us mere mortals.

stockli nela 88 for women - the lack of a large rockered tip on the stockli helps it feel secure...
The lack of a large rockered tip on the Stockli helps it feel secure and stable in a carve.
Credit: Marc Rotse

Carving Ability


Given Stockli's reputation for building skis known for their fast and accurate turns, Nela 88 wasn't quite as perfect at carving a clean arc as our testers hoped it would be. However, transitions from edge to edge feel relatively quick compared to other similar skis.


The edge hold is decent when actively engaged, mainly when you really tip the ski up on its edge to arc a carve. But the Nela walks a surprising line between preferring to carve and preferring to skid. But the point is a bit moot because the Nela 88 can really do both with some facility – it can arc clean lines on a groomer about as well as it can smear a turn around a mogul.

stockli nela 88 for women - we were surprised by the nela 88's ability to smoothly smear through...
We were surprised by the Nela 88's ability to smoothly smear through turns, making it more versatile than expected.
Credit: Marc Rotse

Turn Radius


The advertised turn radius of the Nela 88 in the length we tested (168 centimeters) is nearly 17 meters, sitting in the middle of the range for all-mountain skis. Some testers felt like it was a bit longer than advertised, as it took a little longer to come around when set on edge. However, without the energy in the ski to spring back towards the next turn, the Nela 88 felt more sluggish moving from edge to edge than we expected based on its skinny, 88-millimeter waist.


On groomed runs and in hard snow, the 168-centimeter length (the longest Stockli makes) didn't feel too short. The Nela 88 features much less tip rocker compared to most all-mountain skis. The ski doesn't start arching away from the snow until farther from the toe piece than most skis in this category, so the effective edge is still decently long and feels appropriate to the length.

stockli nela 88 for women - the flashy titanal, brushed topsheet really shines in the sun when...
The flashy titanal, brushed topsheet really shines in the sun when you tip the Stockli on edge.
Credit: Marc Rotse

Powder Performance


Since the low-profile rocker in the tip is not very prominent, our testers were not surprised that the Nela 88 had the tendency to nose dive. But they were still a little shocked to feel the entire ski submarine beneath the powder. In 6 inches of fresh snow, the Stockli can manage, but anything deeper is a day for a different set of skis.


Waist Width


Our testers don't often have high hopes for powder performance for skis under 95 millimeters underfoot, and the Stockli Nela 88 did not surprise them. At only 88 millimeters at its waist, the Nela 88 simply doesn't have the width to provide the flotation necessary for deeper snow. Additionally, the longest manufactured size for this ski is currently 168 centimeters, which felt very small for our larger ladies.


Crud Performance


The Nela 88 manages to strike an impressive balance between often opposing strategies for handling crud: floating and slicing. It is lightweight enough to feel like you're sailing across the top, yet powerful enough to drive through chunks much like a hot knife through butter. Stockli's patented “Polywall” sidewall construction is intended to dampen their skis, and our testers agree that it provides a decently smooth ride through choppy conditions.


This is yet another metric where our testers feel like the lack of length is a detriment to this ski. The longest version, only 168 centimeters, feels way too short to adequately ski cruddy conditions – especially for our taller testers.

stockli nela 88 for women - the stockli moves well through chunky snow, but our taller testers...
The Stockli moves well through chunky snow, but our taller testers again wished for a little extra length despite testing the longest version of the Nela 88.
Credit: Marc Rotse

Terrain Playfulness


A playful ski should impart a feeling of energy, and often, a good indicator is the rebound of a ski at the end of a turn. But the Nela 88 just doesn't give us the feedback we were anticipating from an otherwise powerful ski. When we flex a ski through a higher-speed turn and then release that pressure, we expect to feel at least some response from the ski. The expected kick-back isn't there on the Nela 88. But that doesn't mean that this ski isn't any fun, either.


By combining a variety of layers – like titanal and a thin glass laminate, among others – Stockli designers have figured out how to maintain power while shedding some weight, giving the Nela 88 a very light, freewheeling feel. Despite its sturdy construction, it is also nimble and agile, an unusual combination that makes it inherently fun to ride.

stockli nela 88 for women - all the characteristics of the nela 88 meld to create the perfect...
All the characteristics of the Nela 88 meld to create the perfect mogul machine.
Credit: Marc Rotse

Bumps


A magical combination of factors come together for the Nela 88 in the moguls: the lightweight tech, a skinny waist, the shorter length, a stable core matched with a predictable flex pattern, a natural agility, and the distinct lack of rebound. They all add up to a winning strategy for an outstanding bumps ski. Whether you're a novice in the moguls, a zipper-line fanatic, or simply want to survive when you accidentally end up at the top of a field of chopped-up snow, let the Nela 88 be your guide.


We tested the Nela 88 side-by-side with all of the skis in our lineup in an ultimate mogul test. Our testers count how many monster bumps they can make it through in the zipper line before they get pitched out. The Nela 88 nearly doubled everyone's success rates – even folks who don't particularly love bump skiing.

stockli nela 88 for women - the nela 88 charges through a bump line.
The Nela 88 charges through a bump line.
Credit: Marc Rotse

The technology in the Nela 88 allows you to absorb undulating terrain without feeling like you're being dragged down into the troughs. The skinny 88-millimeter waist allows for efficient edge transitions, and the 168-centimeter length is a welcome respite within the confines of a mogul field. The Nela 88's strong, balanced nature and reliable flex pattern generate confidence in the bumps – it is just soft enough to flex when necessary but also stiff enough to withstand the jolting ride.

stockli nela 88 for women - the lack of kick-back is a benefit in the bumps, keeping the skier...
The lack of kick-back is a benefit in the bumps, keeping the skier in charge and charging.
Credit: Marc Rotse

The Nela 88 feels like a well-trained teammate through the moguls – it reacts quickly to your movements and follows your lead around every bump. Our testers actually found the Nela 88's lack of traditional “playfulness” to be a boon in this terrain because they were never bounced into the backseat. Instead, they could stay in the driver's seat for the joyride.

stockli nela 88 for women - the stockli nela 88 is great for those interested in moguls, those...
The Stockli Nela 88 is great for those interested in moguls, those who don't like rebound, and anyone keen to look sophisticated on the slopes - but it comes at a pretty penny.
Credit: Marc Rotse

Should you buy the Stockli Nela 88?


The Nela 88 is the ideal ski for folks who either already love to ski bumps or those who are looking for a ski to practice the art. Alternatively, if you aren't planning on skiing powder and really appreciate a predictable ride, then this is a solid choice for an all-mountain ski. At many resorts, skiing on a Stockli is a bit of a status symbol, and the unique brushed titanal topsheet certainly stands out in a crowd. However, we must note that it is a very expensive ski. Unless you're buying a specialty ski specifically for moguls, then the Nela 88 doesn't outpace the other skis commensurate with the cost difference.

What Other Women's-All-Mountain-Skis Should You Consider?


If you're looking for something comparably stable that arcs perfectly carved turns, the Blizzard Black Pearl 88 is a great choice, and it is a fair bit more affordable in comparison. For a similarly stable ski with a little more spring to its step, check out the Volkl Secret 96. On the other end of the spectrum in nearly every aspect is the Elan Ripstick 94 W, a brilliant powder ski with tons of rebound. Not to mention, it's one of the least expensive skis in our review.

Renee McCormack