2023 Nordica Unleashed 98 W Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2023 Nordica Unleashed 98 W Ski Review

Nordica is at it again, continuing its legacy in the ever-expanding market of freeride skis with the newest addition to their lineup for the 2022/2023 season: the Unleashed and Unlimited series. As a new and improved version of the Enforcer/Santa Ana series, Nordica introduced both lineups featuring many of the successes from the previous models but with updates to the shape and profile. For the Unleashed series, ladies have the option between the 90 and the 98, each offering similar park profiles, but with different construction and shape. As far as construction, we see attributes from the Santa Ana combined with the twin tip shape and freeride feel from the Soul Rider, leaving you with the best of both worlds. With the impressively high-performance of the Santa Ana, it seemed only logical to approach the Unleashed series with the same build but redesign the shape and profile to invite more of a freeride personality. The end result is a hard-charging twin tip with all-mountain capabilities, ample playfulness, and impressive stability.

Today we take a deep dive into the Unleashed 98 W, which will undoubtedly make a strong name for itself this season. What initially set the Santa Ana apart from its competitors, and what will continue to set the Unleashed series apart, is the impressive construction. Starting with a performance wood core, Nordica pairs a carbon fiberglass laminate with a sheet of terrain-specific metal, delivering powerful performance and maximum vibration damping qualities without feeling too heavy or demanding. The addition of carbon fibers results in a stiff and responsive flex while the sheet of metal provides edge grip, stability, and overall smoothness, all while keeping the weight to a minimum. The placement of metal is worth noting, as it is full-width in the tips and tails and partial width in the center of the ski, running vertically down the middle. The intention behind this is to allow the edges to be more flexible and playful where the metal tapers in while providing more power and stability in the extremities. Compared to a ski with two full sheets of metal, the performance speaks for itself—lots of energy and pop from the carbon stringers and dampness without too much bulk from the terrain-specific metal. It’s truly exceptional for those who want a powerful ski that is also maneuverable and energetic.


2023 Nordica Unleashed 98 W Skis






156, 162, 168, 174 cm

16 m @ 162 cm

130 / 98 / 119 mm

1,760 g @ 168 cm


Focusing next on the shape and profile, the twin-tip design takes the Unleashed 98’s playful performance up a notch, inviting more of a freestyle-oriented personality. Whether you want the option of skiing or landing switch, or you just enjoy the turned-up tail in the bumps or trees, this shape is going to appeal to a whole lot of skiers out there. From park skiers to aggressive freeride skiers, the asymmetric shape delivers fantastic versatility and playfulness without sacrificing performance. With a 98 mm waist width and powder rocker profile, transitioning from hardpack to soft snow conditions is smooth and responsive, with strong edge grip underfoot thanks to the traditional camber. While an asymmetrical shape sometimes lessens the effective edge, Nordica focused on less rocker and more tip and tail splay to retain better edge grip and an overall smoother from front to back. Add in the 16-meter turn radius in the 162 cm length, and you can make a range of turn shapes, from snappy, short turns to long, powerful arcs. Truly blending all mountain and freeride, it would certainly be a candidate for a one ski quiver for many. There aren’t a lot of strong twin-tipped skis on the market today and the release of the Unleashed series is sure to open up a world of possibilities for other brands in the industry.

As a freeride coach and former park skier, I like to ski pretty aggressively and fast, but also enjoy the option of skiing switch. When considering an all-mountain ski, I definitely prefer a twin-tip shape, one that can perform well in the bumps/trees and in the park. However, what I’ve found when looking at my available options is that there are not a lot of powerful, twin-tip skis that contain metal. Are there a range of lighter weight, playful skis with an asymmetrical design? Absolutely. But for the more aggressive skiers out there that want a strong carving ski that can easily transition into off-piste terrain and/or the park, the Unleashed series is the epitome of their dream ski. The same goes for me, checking off almost every box as far as my preferences in a one-ski quiver.

2023 Nordica Unleashed 98 W Skis: 2023 Nordica Unleashed 98 W Skis Camber Profile Image 2023 Nordica Unleashed 98 W Skis: 2023 Nordica Unleashed 98 W Rocker Profile Closeup Image

I spent an afternoon at Stowe skiing the Unleashed 98 W, making sure to fully put them to the test through a range of applications. The majority of the terrain was firm, groomed snow with mellow pitches, allowing me to ski fast and aggressively. My very first impression was made after only a few turns, realizing how stable and strong they felt underfoot. As soon as I initiated a turn down the fall line, they were eager to go, allowing me to turn up the speed dial and drive with power. With impressive edge grip and torsional stiffness, they certainly want to be on the feet of a capable skier, however I didn’t necessarily feel locked into my turn. This is where the ideal balance between strength and playfulness comes into play. The ease at which I was able to hop into my next turn with energy and agility was very impressive. I find that in some skis that feature metal in their construction, they tend to feel sluggish and fatiguing. Though I certainly felt the power and stability generated from the metal in these skis, I was surprised by the energy and playfulness. Nordica has done an amazing job in regards to the build, finding an ideal balance between maneuverability and power, especially for a twin-tip design.

Speaking of maneuverability, I was once again extremely impressed with how they performed in the bumps. Since I grew up skiing moguls at Mad River Glen, and continue to gravitate towards them, I love having a ski that can transition between smooth snow surfaces, groomers, roughed up terrain, and moguls. After experiencing the powerful performance and strong edge grip, I was eager to hop into the bumps to see if they would feel nimble enough. Much to my surprise, they were highly maneuverable and responsive, deriving plentiful energy out of the tails and were quick edge to edge upon the initiation of each turn. Hopping back onto the groomers, the transition was more or less seamless, which can’t always be said for a strongly-built ski. I even skied switch for the better half of a run and felt an impressive amount of control and precision.

2023 Nordica Unleashed 98 W Skis: Full Width Action Image 1 2023 Nordica Unleashed 98 W Skis: Full Width Action Image 2

Given the conditions on that day, I was pretty limited as far as terrain and was unfortunately not able to test the Unleashed 98 in fresh snow. That said, I can’t wait to take them out on the next powder day because I feel like they will be an absolute blast. Based on the shape and profile, the steeper shovel shape and powder rocker profile makes for the perfect floater, not only in soft snow but also in chopped up conditions that you are bound to encounter throughout the day. The full-width placement of metal is also beneficial in terms of deflecting snow, allowing for dampness and all-around smoothness. Given how composed they felt in the terrain that I brought them in, especially at high speeds, I imagine they will be able to handle a variety of snow conditions with confidence and reliability.

It’s hard not to tip our hats to Nordica for their notable contribution to the world of freeride and freestyle skis, building off of successes and taking new and innovative approaches to appeal to a unique audience of skiers. There is so much to love about the Santa Ana and Soul Rider, leaving many feeling like there was no need to make any changes. But with the Unleashed series, it’s hard to look back and feel the same. Taking the same construction approach but inviting a more freeride flair to the shape and profile has introduced a fun-loving, powerful twin tip ski with a strong build that so many skiers, including myself, will absolutely love.

2023 Nordica Unleashed 98 W Ski Review: Shop Now Image

Written by Emily Crofton on 1/19/23

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