For 2020, Nordica beefs up its bestselling Enforcer lineup. Enter the Nordica Enforcer 104 Free.
Nordica’s Enforcer 100 has been one of the industry’s most popular skis—and a favorite of Powder7 customers—for several years. A mainstay at magazine ski tests, it’s received as much universal praise as any ski in the industry. So this winter when the company showed off some new models at Outdoor Retailer in Denver, the booth was buzzing, especially around the Nordica Enforcer 104 Free.
In particular, the 104 Free caught my eye for a couple reasons. One, it’s so close in waist width to the classic Enforcer 100 that it must be significantly different…right? And two: although it’s an obvious marketing flourish, the addition of “Free” to the monikers for the widest Enforcers seemingly promised a ski that would be even more appealing to pow-hungry freeride skiers like me.
I first tested the Nordica Enforcer 104 Free at Copper Mountain, skiing mostly groomers with some moguls and off-piste action mixed in. Profiling at 5’7″/160, I gave the 186cm model a whirl. I later took the 179cm size to Taos for a two-day extended test.
How the 104 Free differs from the regular Enforcer 100:
The Enforcer 104 Free is, for the most part, a narrower version of last year’s Enforcer 110 (which comes back with a new topsheet and the “Free” label for 2020). Compared to the Enforcer 100 and 93, this means more rocker, a twin-tipped tail, and the addition of lightweight balsa to the construction. In the 104 Free, that wood core extends further into the tips and tails to lighten the skis’ swingweight. Interestingly, though, the tips and tails of the 104 Free are actually stiffer than those of the Enforcer 100. Yes, they’ve still got two sheets of metal.
Caveat to everything I’ll say about the 104 Free’s groomer performance: At no point in my life have I been a ski racer (I also have no desire to become one). So compared to all you Ted Ligety imitators out there, I probably have a lower bar for carving performance.
That said, I do enjoy laying trenches (see ‘carving’) at Mach 5 from time to time. And daaaaang do these skis do it well, especially compared to the other models in this wide-ish “all-mountain powder” category. While they won’t grip quite like the narrower Enforcer 93s, they provide excellent stability on edge, and they snap in and out of turns of all shapes and sizes. The tips can chatter a bit. But I don’t notice any compromised edge hold, even with the extra rocker, when you compare these skis to the Enforcer 100s (see above caveat). Those stiff tails held strong through all the turns I arced.
Bumps and Trees
At Copper, I got to attack some soft moguls on the 104 Free. Despite being on the 186cm size (I typically ski stuff in the 176-181 range), I had a blast. The skis hold a line exceptionally well, but they’re also maneuverable enough for skiers who like to pick their way through bumps at slower speeds. They are, however, heavier than many similar skis.
The Rustler 10, which debuted a couple years ago, was the last comparable “all-new” ski that I raved about. It’s noticeably lighter than the 104 Free and a good example of a ski that’s a bit less demanding through bumps, trees, and other tight places. Compared to the Enforcer 100, though, the 104 Free slashes and pivots easier.
Powder and Mixed Snow
The same bulk that makes the 104 Free heavier than some competitors also puts it at the top of the class for mixed snow performance. Chopped up pow, refrozen crust, crud, chalk, cheddar cheese—these skis gobble up whatever you throw at them. They’re reliable and powerful for big-mountain lines in high-consequence terrain.
As for powder: The industry is trending toward lighter-weight freeride skis (companions for the Shift binding…), and plenty of folks dig lightweight, super-floaty skis for the soft stuff. The 104 Free is decidedly not that. In fact, its MO is to be as fun as those skis but with more backbone and thus more versatility. It floats better than I expected, and with its deep rocker lines, it’s an adept surfer for a 104mm-waisted ski.
If you don’t care about going fast and don’t need a crud-buster—or if you’re just trying to save weight for your legs—the 104 Free could prove heavy compared to some other similar options like the Rustler 10, Black Crows Daemon, Dynastar Legend X106, and Atomic Bent Chetler 100.
Like the Enforcer 100, the 104 Free is a great ski for a lot of skiers. Our bet for who will love it most? Freeride-style skiers who want fun skis with legit backbone and advanced/expert “all-mountain” skiers who want a little extra powder performance and more new-tech flair.
What else is new for Nordica in 2020? Find out here.