2023 Völkl Kenja 88 Review
A beefy ski with stability and power for strong intermediates and up
This article was first published by SkiMag.com.
The Scores (out of 10)
- Overall Score: 7.76/10
- Rank: #5
- Hard-Snow Integrity: 8.14
- Stability at Speed: 8.14
- Carving: 8.14
- Quickness: 6.57
- Responsiveness: 7.43
- Playfulness: 6.71
- Forgiveness: 6.71
- Crud Performance: 7
- Versatility: 6.86
- Price: $700
- Lengths: 149, 156, 163, 170
- Dimensions: 129-88-113
- Radius: 14 (163cm)
- Level: Strong Intermediate to Expert
In a Nutshell
- Pros: Hard-Snow Integrity, Stability at Speed
- Cons: Quickness, Playfulness
The Völkl Kenja is a dependable ski with confidence-inspiring energy…if you work for it. While it is more animated and livelier than past iterations, it’s still a burly ski—but that means when you hit the gas, it’ll blast into hyperspeed. And that’s a lot of fun.
The Kenja finished sixth in last year’s Frontside category and improved upon that performance in this year’s gear test, where it ranked fifth. Like last year, there were very few skis that rivaled the Kenja 88 in the Hard-Snow Integrity and Stability at Speed departments. “It was quite burly, but so stable,” said tester and former U.S. Ski Team member Abby Ghent. “If you are willing to work for it, it’ll give you anything you want.”
It is certainly a beast of a ski, but if you put everything you have behind it, it’s a blast in all kinds of conditions, especially given its all-mountain build. At 88mm underfoot, it skews toward an all-mountain ski, but its Titanal frame construction and carbon tips give it the stability that makes it rival the best groomer skis on hardpack. It also touts a 3D Radius Sidecut design, which means it can quickly adapt to different terrain and skier input. There’s also a little tip and tail rocker, allowing a little surfy float for when you want to test the day-old powder in the trees.
Given its stout structure, the ski lacks some playfulness—but testers noted it’s definitely more lively than previous iterations. “More energetic and easier to initiate than its predecessor,” said tester Tracy Gibbons. “Really fun in a variety of turn sizes and frontside conditions. More friendly than the Kenja of the past.”
A number of the testers suggested sizing down from your usual preference. Völkl’s Tailored Titanal Frame technology in this ski means that shorter lengths of the ski feature less metal than the longer lengths in order to make sure flex and stiffness match the ski length. This gives the 149cm and 155cm Kenja a little more forgiveness and allows for more versatility. “This has the performance capabilities for someone looking to level up,” said tester and SKI’s Editor in Chief Sierra Shafer. “Fun to ski a bit short and rip around.”
By and large, more novice skiers may be outskied by this beefier stick unless they choose this ski in a short length, but advanced and expert skiers who want a stable ride will be pleased by the ski’s dependability and stability in a variety of conditions.
Courtney Harkins grew up ski racing, starting on the icy slopes of New England and finishing at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She now lives in Park City, Utah and works as the Director of Marketing & Communications at the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team. She also freelance writes and consults in the skiing and Olympic industry. When she’s not traveling with the team, her home mountain is Deer Valley Resort, where she loves to arc turns on groomers, but also knows all of the secret spots for days-old powder. Harkins has been testing skis since 2016 and has been a SKI gear tester for three seasons.