Rating: 3.69 / 5
Waist Width: 90
Stability at speed: 3.86 / 5
Hard snow performance: 3.90 / 5
Crud performance: 3.30 / 5
Flotation: 2.29 / 5
Forgiveness: 3.86 / 5
Overall: 3.69 / 5
It's a new Kenja, but it's in a familiar place atop the rankings. Devoted fans of this perennial champ could be excused for fearing change. They can relax, testers said. It's just three mm wider and still built for high-end performance wood core, metal laminates, vertical sidewalls. But the women noticed a brighter note in its personality, and they no longer warn that it's best left to experts. It still arcs like a Volkl on hardpack, but now there's an easy pivotability that opens up creative new options in the way it can be skied, especially on soft-snow days. "Like poetry in motion. Now any level skier can enjoy the playful, poppy fun of this classic."
NOTES: While the Aura, at 100 mm, might suit a Western skier for everyday purposes, Volkl's Kenja, at 90 mm, should serve Eastern and Midwestern women better. Its narrower waist gives it an extra measure of hardpack performance, but it's still wide enough for appreciable flotation in powder and soft snow. The two models are otherwise identical in construction.
The Kenja is part of Volkl's Women's Freeskiing collection, which features six soft-snow, freeride-oriented models ranging in width from 116 mm down to 83 mm. All except the new 100Eight W are durable wood-core constructions with solid-feeling vertical sidewalls and a glass-reinforced internal torsion box (the core is wrapped in a fiberglass sheath to resist torsional flex, or twisting). The 100Eight features Volkl's new 3D Ridge construction, which is thick down the middle so it can be thinner, lighter, and more sensitive over the edges. The Aura (100 mm) and the Kenja (90 mm) both have metal reinforcement. The two narrowest and least expensive models-the all-mountain Yumi (83 mm) and the park-oriented Pyra (85 mm)-are reinforced with fiberglass only. Rocker profiles also vary: The One W, 100Eight W and Aura are fully rockered for loose powder performance; the Kenja and Pyra are rockered tip and tail, with camber underfoot for traditional rebound energy. The Yumi is rockered in the tip only. All models are sold flat (no binding).