2020 Nordica Enforcer 88 Ski Review: // Ski Reviews
It’s a new year, and in the ski industry with the new year comes news and announcements about new gear. Around this time last year, we released a review of the 2019 Nordica Enforcer 110. This year we’re continuing that trend and looking at a brand new ski, the Enforcer 88. Before we dive into it, you should also know that January is the Nordica month for our SkiHappy Photo Contest. They’ve stepped up and are awarding the winning photo an Enforcer 88 or Santa Ana 88 of the winner’s choice. That’s right, you can win a ski that’s not even available to purchase yet! Pretty exciting stuff. In addition to these two skis, we also get a new Enforcer 104, new Dobermann Spitfire line, and some tweaks to the line in general. We’ll have more info on new 2020 Nordica skis in the coming weeks. For now, let’s focus on the Enforcer 88.
Here at SkiEssentials.com, we’ve been aware of this new ski since early December when we met with Nordica at Stowe Mountain Resort to go through the new line with their product managers, marketing team, reps, and more. About a week later, we were able to get on snow with a selection of the new skis, including the Enforcer 88 we’re talking about here. This is the narrowest Enforcer yet and is definitely an exciting and valuable addition to the lineup. If you’re unfamiliar with the Enforcer collection, chances are you haven’t been reading many reviews, ski tests, or other ski publications in recent years. The Enforcer skis have become very popular due to their impressive mix of power, stability at speed, maneuverability, playfulness, and forgiveness. Nordica left us with a pair of Enforcer 88s and we’ve been busy testing them over the past month.
To put it simply, these things rip. Before we get into performance, however, let’s take a look at the similarities and differences between this ski and existing Enforcer skis. The Enforcer collection in general has been split into Enforcer and Enforcer Free. We’ll have more info on this when we release the Enforcer 104 review, but essentially the Enforcer Free skis follow theme and overall concept we have seen in the 110, while the 88 is designed more like the 93 and 100. It isn’t, however, quite that simple.
For 2020, in the new Enforcer 88 and 104, we have some new construction techniques. The first is True Tip Technology. Nordica has removed heavy ABS plastic from the tip of the ski, while extending the wood core further into the tip. This reduces weight, while maintaining the power and stability that we’ve all come to expect from the Enforcers. This definitely has an effect on performance, which we’ll get to in more detail later in the article, but in the simplest of terms you can think of it as increasing maneuverability, playfulness, and the nimbleness of the ski. The other new construction technique is their Carbon-Reinforced Chassis. There are fill length carbon strips running along the fiberglass layer, and this layer is actually 35% lighter than traditional glass layups. Similar to the resulting performance of the new tip, this increases strength and stability while also shedding weight. In summary, all these changes are designed to make the skis both more stable and more playful. It’s like Nordica took what we love about the Enforcers and enhanced it even more.
We also have a new size breakdown in the new Enforcer 88. We’re getting a 165, 172, 179, and 186 cm length. A lot of skiers have found that they fall in between sizes on current Enforcer models, so this new width and new size range really will help round out options within the Enforcer collection. We’ve been testing the 186 cm length predominantly, with testers ranging in size from 5’10’ 150 lbs to 6’6” 220 lbs. For me, the smallest of those testers, I think the 179 cm would be a little more appropriate, but I also didn’t have any major issues on the 186 cm length.
Our first day testing these skis was a perfect day with packed powder groomers and plenty of soft snow on un-groomed trails too. Let’s start with their performance on groomers. Being the narrowest in the Enforcer collection, you could argue that these are more focused on frontside performance than anything else, and you’d be right. The narrower width and the new construction, both the tip and the inclusion of full-length carbon strips, result in a super responsive ski. Even if you take width out of the equation entirely, the 88 feels quicker and more energetic than the 93 or the 100. They’re also quite stout. You can really stand on the Enforcer 88 and give it a ton of power. In fact, it loves skier input. The more you give it, the more energy and power it will respond with. It’s really impressive. You still get the vibration damping and the ultra-smooth feel that we’ve come to expect from the Enforcers, but this 88 feels more precise, snappy, nimble, and lively than any Enforcer we’ve skied in the past, and that makes sense. A narrower ski is more focused on firm snow, just as a general rule in ski design. While performance is relatively similar across the 88, 93, and 100, this new 88 is distinctly the most focused on firm snow performance. It rips. Turn initiation isn’t automatic, but it’s still very smooth thanks to the Enforcer tip shape. Smooth rocker combined with smooth early taper give this ski a predictable and smooth feel when entering a turn.
Forgiveness has always been something that we marvel at when discussing the Enforcers. Considering the power they achieve, they have high levels of forgiveness. The 88 continues that theme, and the forebody of the ski is just as forgiving as any other Enforcer, but the tail feels a little stiffer in the 88. We give the carbon strips credit for this slightly different feel. It’s not so stiff that it’s going to beat you up or buck you if you make a mistake, but it’s noticeably stiffer than the 93 and 100, which provides some of the extra energy and power coming out of a turn.
In softer snow conditions and un-groomed terrain, the Enforcer 88 isn’t providing the same float as its wider brothers, but it has more nimble feel. It’s a fantastic bump ski. Bob, one of our testers on the Enforcer 88, was thoroughly impressed and quite pleased by its ability to ski zipper-line bumps. Bob even commented that you can actually drive your tips down when skiing fast bumps on the Enforcer 88, something he feels like a lot of all mountain skis lack these days. It’s not quite as easy to release the tail edge as some other all mountain skis in this category, but it’s not too challenging or overly demanding either. Considering how powerful it feels on firm snow, it’s still pretty darn maneuverable in un-groomed terrain.
Skiers who spend a lot of time in deep powder will likely want to go with a wider ski within the Enforcer collection, but this new Enforcer 88 provides a nice option in the line we haven’t had before. If you’re wondering, the Enforcer 88 essentially takes the place of the Navigator 90. The Navigators 85 and 80 are still in the line, but the Enforcer 88 is the new ski that sits in between the Navigator 85 and Enforcer 93, and we think that makes sense. The shape is designed for a little more versatility than the shape of the Navigators, which we think will be appreciated by most skiers looking for a ski in this width range.
To summarize, this is easily the best firm snow Enforcer we’ve seen yet. You’ve heard us talk about the 93 and 100 plenty here on Chairlift Chat, and you probably know we are impressed by the performance of those skis on groomers. The 88 just takes it to a whole new level. It’s outrageously fun to link carving turns on. It has enough power for super aggressive skiers, yet has that Enforcer-forgiveness and just a general approachability we don’t typically see in skis that hit this level of performance. We’re sure we’re going to get a lot of questions comparing this ski to others on the market, and we’ve been talking about it at length here at SkiEssentials.com too. We genuinely feel that the Enforcer 88 fills a bit of a void between skis like the Blizzard Brahma and skis like the K2 Pinnacle 88. Is this the goldilocks all mountain ski for skiers who like to ski the whole mountain, but still want some groomer power? It feels just right to us.