Nordica’s Enforcer (and women’s Santa Ana) is a leading all-mountain design that excels in everything from firm snow to moderately deep powder. The ski was updated for 2021 with more carbon fiber in the construction and notable tweaks like an extended wood core. We tested the 94-millimeter Enforcer (replacing the old 93) in Crested Butte and back home in Washington State in a range of conditions. The verdict: it's even more accessible and versatile than its predecessor while retaining a sturdy yet fun personality. Below we break down the Enforcer 94’s hardpack performance, soft snow performance, build quality and durability, fit and sizing, and more. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best all-mountain skis.
Nordica’s outgoing Enforcer 93 was a strong performer on hardpack, and that expertise has largely transferred to the latest 94 model. The ski still has two sheets of metal and a quality mix of beech and poplar woods, so it feels secure and powerful at speed. But what really stood out was how natural and immediately comfortable I felt on the latest Enforcer: it’s stiff but not overwhelming, has a satisfying amount of rebound and energy when transitioning in and out of turns, and felt confidence-inspiring at a wide range of speeds (you don’t have to tame it like some others in this directional all-mountain class). And despite the carbon fiber chassis, the ski is supremely smooth, predictable, and doesn’t get bounced around in crud.
As far as turnability goes, the front end of the Enforcer is light (more on this below) and not as stiff as others we were testing like Volkl’s M5 Mantra, which makes it a little more eager to initiate a turn (a plus for intermediate-level riders). Along with a 17.1-meter turn radius on our pair of 179-centimeter skis that lands on the slightly short end of the spectrum, the ski was happy with everything from quick and precise turns to moderately wide and fast sweepers. Ex-racers or those that put a premium on a rock-solid build will likely want a little more stiffness—those skiers may prefer the narrower and stiffer Enforcer 88 or an alternative like Volkl’s M5 Mantra, which is noticeably more rigid at the front end. But if you prioritize true all-mountain versatility and a natural feel (the wood core really shines here), the Enforcer is a great match.
The latest version of the Enforcer has increased only ever so slightly in waist width (from 93 to 94mm underfoot), but combined with some important construction tweaks, the ski has seen a noticeable boost in off-piste performance. The 94-millimeter waist is a versatile size for light snow days, and the ski’s True Tip Technology—Nordica essentially lightened the front end by removing ABS plastic and extending the wood core—helps make it more flickable and fun in the soft stuff. In addition, you get just enough tip and tail rocker and a smooth shape to boost flotation and keep it from being grabby while initiating or releasing from a turn. That said, the Enforcer nevertheless is on the heavy end of the spectrum and still requires some work to drive. The stiff tail in particular can be unforgiving if you have a tendency to shift your weight back, and it’s best in advanced to expert hands off-piste and in particularly tight spots.
We tested the ski in a range of conditions, from spring-like to a big 20+ inch storm that marked the end of the pandemic-shortened season. On the powder day, the ski excelled in areas with light to moderate amounts of fresh snow (approximately 6 to 10 in.), particularly where there was a firm base underneath where I could still lay into the ski. When I dipped into deeper snow, it felt more out of its element and occasionally got bogged down, but this wasn’t too surprising, and realistically a 100+ width ski would’ve been the ideal choice in these conditions.
In the end, those that spend a lot of time in the soft stuff and want a lighter and more maneuverable design (without getting out of hand widthwise) will be better off with a build like Blizzard’s Rustler 9 or Nordica's own Enforcer Free 104. However, by the end of the day, conditions were fairly chopped up and skied out, and the Enforcer revealed another strength: despite the lightened-up tip, it’s still quite damp and didn’t get kicked around. I was thoroughly impressed by how hard I could drive it (and trust it) through unpredictable snow. Taken together, the Enforcer is a true all-rounder that can function as a coast-to-coast daily driver in all but the snowiest of areas.
Performance in the Bumps
In short, the Nordica Enforcer 94 is the kind of ski that can perform well in the bumps but certainly requires a steady and experienced pilot. The stiff tail propels nicely and there’s a lot of pop, and the slightly softer (relatively speaking) front end is more forgiving than an alternative like the Volkl M5 Mantra or Salomon's new Stance. Most mogul skiers will likely prefer a lighter, even softer, and more flickable set-up like the Blizzard Rustler 9 or Salomon QST 99. But the Enforcer nevertheless is a viable mogul option for the right rider.
Unsurprisingly, the latest Enforcer doesn’t disappoint from a build quality standpoint. Considering its predecessor’s popularity and proven performance, this isn’t a radical redesign, but the tweaks have yielded real-world improvements. First and foremost, the ski has a great all-mountain-friendly shape and mix of quality materials, including two sheets of Titanal, a new carbon fiber chassis, and the aforementioned extended wood core. The graphics weren’t universally loved, but they’re also pretty innocuous and have fairly wide appeal. Like the prior model, this is a ski that’s built to last, and its well-rounded design should age well too.
At 5’9” 155 pounds, I tested the 179-centimeter version of the Nordica Enforcer 94 and found it to be spot-on for my needs. This is right in the heart of my preferred length range (mid/high 170s to 180cm), and as I mentioned above, it felt natural from the very first run. Further, I never felt like I needed more length for stability (plus, weight would go up by sizing up, which impacts performance in tight spaces). It’s worth noting that Nordica offers the ski in a total of five lengths (ranging from 165 to 191cm) at fairly close intervals, so most people will be able to find a good pairing. Finally, each length has a unique shape and turn radius (sizing down to the 172, for example, would’ve changed the specs to 126-94-114.5mm and a tighter 16.1m turn radius).
Other Versions of the Nordica Enforcer
We brought along the new Enforcer 94 for testing, and the lineup also includes a wider 100-millimeter model that’s ideal for all-mountain riders in areas with a good amount of snow like Colorado and Utah (price goes up to $750). As we touched on above, the slimmer 88-millimeter version is also an option for those who want more stiffness and rigidity. Rounding out the Enforcer lineup, Nordica also sells two “Free” variations—the 104 and 110, both of which cost $800—for skiers who like to head off-piste, explore local powder stashes, and have consistent access to the deep stuff. In terms of construction, the Free variations have more rocker at the tip and tail for better performance in soft snow, and turn radius varies slightly (17.5m for the 179cm Enforcer 104 Free and 16.5m for the 177cm Enforcer 110 Free).
Women’s Nordica Santa Ana
The Enforcer is a unisex design, and Nordica also makes the ski in a women’s model called the Santa Ana. We brought along the Santa Ana 98 (in the 172cm length) for testing and found it to be a similar overall performer to its men’s counterpart: confidence-inspiring at a range of speeds, easy to maneuver and turn on groomers, and very trustworthy in light to moderate powder (for more, see our in-depth Santa Ana review). Rounding out the women’s lineup (and comparable to the men’s collection), the Santa Ana also comes in slimmer 88- and 93-millimeter versions, as well as 104- and 110-millimeter Free models with less metal in the construction and more rocker at the tip and tail.
What We Like
- One of the most well-rounded all-mountain designs on the market: secure and powerful at speed, confidence-inspiring in a wide range of conditions, and very responsive.
- Despite the carbon fiber chassis, the Enforcer has a natural feel that's smooth and predictable.
- Fairly easy to get on edge, and it's comfortable with everything from quick and precise turns to moderately wide and fast sweepers.
- True coast-to-coast appeal in all but the snowiest regions.
What We Don’t
- Requires some work to drive off-piste. The stiff tail in particular can be unforgiving and encourages good technique in soft snow.
- Ex-racers and those used to a very rigid build will likely want a bit more stiffness and power.
- Not the most exciting graphics or colorways, although this is entirely subjective.
|Nordica Enforcer 94||$700||Intermediate to expert||127-94-115.5mm||17.1m||Wood, Titanal, carbon|
|Volkl M5 Mantra||$700||Advanced to expert||134-96-117mm||19.8m||Wood, Titanal, carbon|
|Blizzard Bonafide 97||$750||Advanced to expert||136.5-97-118.5mm||17m||Wood, Titanal, carbon|
|Salomon Stance 96||$700||Advanced to expert||132-96-114mm||20m||Wood, Titanal, carbon, flax|
|J Skis Masterblaster||$666||Intermediate to expert||125-96-114mm||18m||Wood, Titanal|
|Atomic Vantage 97 Ti||$700||Advanced to expert||131.5-97-120.5mm||19.1m||Wood, Titanal|
Nordica’s Enforcer has been one of our favorite all-mountain designs for years, and the changes for 2021 only improve on its already-impressive performance. One of the Enforcer’s longstanding competitors and another of our top picks is Volkl’s Mantra. Both are damp and capable options for all-mountain riders in a wide range of conditions. The M5 Mantra has a wider tip (134mm vs. 127mm for the Nordica) and a slightly wider waist, although we found it offered only average performance in powder. In our experience, the Nordica is easier to control and more forgiving in the bumps, although the Mantra is a little more planted on hardpack at top speed. Where your priorities lie should push you in one direction or the other—we give the edge to the Enforcer's wider appeal.
Another versatile all-mountain design to consider is Blizzard’s Bonafide 97. Like the Mantra, the Bonafide has a larger footprint (136.5-97-118.5mm) but similar accessibility and willingness to turn as the Nordica. That said, the Blizzard still retains two sheets of metal and a directional shape, meaning it’s comfortable at speed. In the end, the two skis are a close match, and it really comes down to splitting hairs. The Bonafide’s extra surface area will be a downside for those in areas not prone to much snow (like the East Coast of the U.S.), and it’s a bit less nimble than the Nordica. But expert riders will likely prefer its slightly more buttoned-down build.
Salomon’s Stance 96 is new for 2021 and one of the most notable entries this year into the all-mountain market. We also tested the Salomon in Crested Butte and found that it felt sturdier and faster than the Enforcer, although this could’ve been attributed to the longer length that our testers were on (I had the 182cm Stance 96, while our female tester had the 174cm Stance 94). We also didn’t like the dated and bland graphics, although the Nordica’s don't stand out either. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to test the Stance in deeper snow as the season was cut short due to COVID-19, but our initial take is that the Enforcer is the superior all-mountain design and feels much more natural (we were comfortable immediately on it, while the Stance took some getting used to and effort to control at first). We’ll follow up as we get more time on the Salomon, but our initial impressions were mostly positive.
Another intriguing alternative to the Enforcer is J Skis’ Masterblaster. Compared to the Nordica, you get similar specs including a marginally wider waist (96mm) but similar tip and tail (125 and 114mm respectively). The net result is a ski that’s slightly more playful but a bit less planted on hardpack. That said, the Masterblaster is a freeride design at heart, and those that like to head off-piste will appreciate the ski’s confidence when hitting jumps and drops. If you plan to spend a lot of time on ungroomed terrain, we think the Masterblaster is the more capable pick. But the Nordica is the better option for mixed on- and off-piste use.
A final all-mountain design to have on your radar is Atomic’s Vantage 97 Ti. In parsing out the differences, the Vantage offers a lighter but less damp experience. Both excel at speed on hardpack, but the Atomic isn’t as confidence-inspiring or natural-feeling as the Nordica. The upside is that the lighter construction allows the Vantage to be controlled and maneuvered more readily (in the right hands of an expert skier). All in all, we prefer the more approachable Enforcer, but the Vantage is an unmistakably powerful and responsive alternative.
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