The most versatile Santa Ana returns for 2023.
The Nordica Santa Ana 93—and the whole Santa Ana series—holds steady as a staple in women’s specific all-mountain and freeride skis. For the 2022-2023 season, the whole lineup returns generally unchanged apart from slight cosmetic updates. I spent a good chunk of my season last year on the Santa Ana 104 Free (which I love), so I was excited to spend some time on the narrower models, and present our 2023 Nordica Santa Ana 93 review.
2023 Nordica Santa Ana 93 Review: Field Notes
The Nordica Santa Ana series is the sister ski to the ever-popular Nordica Enforcer series, but features a different construction. While the Enforcer has two full sheets of metal (woof!), the Santa Ana trims it down to just a partial sheet of “terrain specific” metal. Each Santa Ana has different amounts of metal in it, depending on the width. The more narrow ones have larger partial sheets, while the wider ones have less. The idea being, if you ski more on trail or on generally firm conditions, more metal will help give you more power and stability when you need it. The wider models provide a slightly softer flex, to feel more playful in soft snow.
The Santa Ana 93 sits in the middle, with an 84, 88, 93, and 98 in the regular Santa Ana family. Just like the Enforcers, their shape looks like a pretty standard, modern all mountain ski. Deeper tip rocker for easy turn initiation, and then a relatively flat tail to elongate the effective edge. It’s not quite as flat as a Blizzard Black Pearl 97, which has great edge hold but can feel less maneuverable. At the same time, it’s certainly not the more twin tip shape of a Santa Ana 104 Free. The Free series from Nordica features the same interior construction (terrain specific metal), in a freeride shaped package.
I’m about 5’8″, 130lbs, and skied the 165cm during the Powder7 Ski Test at Loveland Ski Area.
The Santa Ana 93 can rip a groomer, to be expected. The ski quickly locks into the snow and holds a turn well. The 93mm waist width feels like something much more narrow, which is great when dealing with firmer snow. I found the directional shape to be helpful in making some nice, arced turns. On the other hand, with a decent amount of side cut, the Santa Ana 93 doesn’t lock you into a turn unforgivingly and is happier taking snappy, quick turns. The slightly stiffer flex transmits more power and lets you really lay it over with confidence.
Compared to skis with more metal and weight, like the Salomon Stance W 94 or Volkl Secret 96, the Santa Ana feels very light on your feet. Turns stay easy to initiate, even if you are really laying into a turn. The added weight of those other skis helps provide stability and a smooth ride, but certainly makes it more work to transition to your next turn.
Something I noticed right away was the very unique pop and energy the Santa Ana 93 had. Even at slower speeds, the ski springs you into your next turn. I can find a similar pop out of the Stance 94, but that requires more force to get the same energy. The Santa Ana feels like a natural born cheerleader. You can find that energy everywhere— whether skiing at slower speeds, or while getting heckled by ski patrol to slow down.
Bumps and Trees
With less rocker and a more directional shape than some more playful skis in this category, I thought the Santa Ana 93 might feel punishing at times in tight spots. Not the case! The light swing weight and easy handling on groomers translates well to bumps. Skiing some dust-on-crust bumps in the shade late in the day, the Santa Ana 93 performed well. It locked into the snow without too much effort, but remained easy and quick to turn when needed.
Despite the flatter tail, it’s easy to release a turn if you need to make a last minute turn. I appreciated this in some late season, variable snow in tree runs, with some last minute obstacles poking out of the snow. It’s not as pivot-y or slash-y as something with more tail rocker, like a Blizzard Sheeva 9, but doesn’t lock you into every turn.
Once again, that pop and energy comes alive with this ski. I bounced through those bump lines like a kangaroo. Lower angle bump lines became a total riot. On steep bump lines, the energy did affect the smoothness with a slightly too bouncy ride (almost a bit jittery). I think a longer length would have balanced the energy with a longer effective edge to feel a bit smoother.
If the bumps are a bit chunkier or have some chopped up snow, the Santa Ana still pushes through that snow easily. Despite having softer tips and tails compared to underfoot, that partial sheet of metal still runs all the way through the tips. I found this really helps keep your ride consistent, as the tips don’t get deflected easily.
Mixed Snow and Powder
I didn’t get a chance to ski the Santa Ana 93 in on a truly deep day, but definitely through some mixed stuff. We skied plenty of firm chop, with about an inch or two of fresh stuff falling throughout the day. At 93mm underfoot, the Santa Ana 93 is no powder ski, but often with our all-mountain skis, we’re looking for versatility. It doesn’t have to perform 10/10 in all categories, but at least handle deeper conditions with grace.
Like I mentioned earlier, the extra metal in the tip of the ski really helps push through the variable stuff. The directional shape trends towards wanting to take bigger turns in open spaces, and the ski’s construction helps support that. Since I was skiing on something slightly short for me, I found myself finding a line that skipped around the iffy snow, but the Santa Ana was happy doing that too. Either way, the Santa Ana 93 tracked well and stayed predictable. I think this really adds to the versatility of the ski. You can really pick and choose how you ski that day, and the ski supports that without a problem.
I generally like wider platforms for skiing these snow conditions, so while I would opt for the 98 for most of my daily skiing, the 93 does well enough to make it down without much stress. That being said, if you’re out East or upgrading from a much narrower model, the Santa Ana 93 should provide plenty of platform for handling deeper snow. If you’ll be spending a lot of time here, there are wider models that give you more support.
While that consistent spring and pop is quite fun, it sometimes feels it’s busting at the seams. I noticed this only when going for some speed or a more aggressive line, so I think this mostly had to do with skiing a slightly short length for me. If you are a more aggressive skier, I’d definitely recommend sizing up. The ski is plenty maneuverable on it’s own, and the extra length will help balance all the energy.
The Santa Ana 93 holds a pretty unique position in women’s specific skis. Not nearly as demanding as some other skis in this class, but not quite as playful as others. All at the same time, it never punishes you for leaning back and cruising a little more. This lets it hit a killer sweet spot.
With it’s versatile size and shape, I think it’s a great choice for intermediates everywhere looking to turn things up a notch, without hopping on a ski that demands great form all the time. It also serves seasoned skiers well, who are looking for a frontside oriented ski with a lot of energy.