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Differences between Santa Ana, Kenja, and Secret

vivian.wc

Diva in Training
Can someone sum up the differences between the Nordica Santa Ana 88 and the Volkl Kenja 88 and Secret 92 (2020/21 version)?

Where I live, I can't demo skis, and I'm coming from a 2015 Yumi so I want to do lots of research before I pick a ski! I'm also inexperienced when it comes to using wider skis, and under 100lbs so I'm a little worried that a wider ski will be too much for me, which is why I've picked the above waist widths to consider.

I've spent lots of time on snow and I'm actually a level 2 CSIA instructor so I'd consider myself fairly prepared to take on a tougher ski, but it's hard to gauge without demoing

Cheers!
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
Give me some snow and I'll be able to tell you more about the Santa Anna. Are you still looking for some instructor help?
 

vivian.wc

Diva in Training
I'm on the West Coast, in Vancouver! Snow is usually pretty wet and variable even on the same day.
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Despite all my efforts I still haven't managed to get on the Secret 92 (or the new Secret 96). Cmon Volkl, where are your demo days?!

I own the 2021 Santa Ana 88 and have demoed the Kenja 88 twice. Unfortunately I haven't actually demoed them back to back. The Kenja skied nicely and felt quite planted, a bit less poppy though I think if you ski a little faster, it really comes alive. I daily the SA88 and I personally find it one of the poppiest/most energetic skis I've been on in that waist width ski category. It's more stable than some other 88 width skis but not the most stable. I've heard the older SA88 (2020?) was a little better in crud.

I find the SA88 great on the groomers because of its energy out of turns (though I am not going super fast, so ymmv) and it has a nice shape for all-mountain skiing. For me it is mostly an offpiste ski because I have a pair of 70mm skis for early morning groomer zooming. I ski in NZ so we don't get a ton of snow here, so I don't need a super wide ski for an all-mountain daily driver.

From demoing the Kenja 88 it always felt like a slightly more stable ski to me, feels "damper" through crud and choppy snow, for me it is a little bit more work to ski but still very rewarding. I have been on skis that were damp but super boring, and I didn't find the Kenja to be like that. I actually have a friend who has the older version of the SA93 (2019 i think?) and she demoed the Kenja 88 and LOVED IT. She found it more energetic than her older Santa Anas (which she really does like).

Just wish I'd tried those two skis back to back, as it would be an interesting comparison. On the most recent day I demoed the Kenja 88, I had my Line Pandora 104 with me, so a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison haha.
 

vivian.wc

Diva in Training
Despite all my efforts I still haven't managed to get on the Secret 92 (or the new Secret 96). Cmon Volkl, where are your demo days?!

I own the 2021 Santa Ana 88 and have demoed the Kenja 88 twice. Unfortunately I haven't actually demoed them back to back. The Kenja skied nicely and felt quite planted, a bit less poppy though I think if you ski a little faster, it really comes alive. I daily the SA88 and I personally find it one of the poppiest/most energetic skis I've been on in that waist width ski category. It's more stable than some other 88 width skis but not the most stable. I've heard the older SA88 (2020?) was a little better in crud.

I find the SA88 great on the groomers because of its energy out of turns (though I am not going super fast, so ymmv) and it has a nice shape for all-mountain skiing. For me it is mostly an offpiste ski because I have a pair of 70mm skis for early morning groomer zooming. I ski in NZ so we don't get a ton of snow here, so I don't need a super wide ski for an all-mountain daily driver.

From demoing the Kenja 88 it always felt like a slightly more stable ski to me, feels "damper" through crud and choppy snow, for me it is a little bit more work to ski but still very rewarding. I have been on skis that were damp but super boring, and I didn't find the Kenja to be like that. I actually have a friend who has the older version of the SA93 (2019 i think?) and she demoed the Kenja 88 and LOVED IT. She found it more energetic than her older Santa Anas (which she really does like).

Just wish I'd tried those two skis back to back, as it would be an interesting comparison. On the most recent day I demoed the Kenja 88, I had my Line Pandora 104 with me, so a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison haha.
This is such a great reply! I think they really limited the Secret 92 production since I can't find them anywhere! I was hoping to get a good deal on them now since they were still expensive last season but I guess they sold out!

It's great to hear the SA88 is a daily, since Vancouver snow is constantly changing. Did you find that work you put in for the Kenjas to be worth its performance, or was it just tiring at the end of a day or two? Or I guess since you only demoed it you might not know, but would it be a ski that tires you out after about 10-15 hours?

And I've heard there's metal in both, but placed differently, do you think the less pop is attributed to that?

Thank you thank you!! :smile:
 

vivian.wc

Diva in Training
I'm also super curious on how the BP stacks up next to these guys, but I'm not sure why, my gut says I won't like them...
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
This is such a great reply! I think they really limited the Secret 92 production since I can't find them anywhere! I was hoping to get a good deal on them now since they were still expensive last season but I guess they sold out!

It's great to hear the SA88 is a daily, since Vancouver snow is constantly changing. Did you find that work you put in for the Kenjas to be worth its performance, or was it just tiring at the end of a day or two? Or I guess since you only demoed it you might not know, but would it be a ski that tires you out after about 10-15 hours?

And I've heard there's metal in both, but placed differently, do you think the less pop is attributed to that?

Thank you thank you!! :smile:
Thanks! Yeah it was wild, I was able to demo the Kenja 88 from a shop that was kinda randomly doing free on-mountain demos but they had never been sent any stock at all of the Secret - I asked them about it. I know the ski did exist in NZ this winter but in fewer quantities I guess.

Anyway - yes! I think Vancouver gets a ton more snow than we do in NZ but the snow may be of a similar consistency, as we get that kinda wetter, denser snowfall in NZ too - coastal climate and all that. But they are a great daily for me in NZ. Unfortunately I only had 2-3 runs on the Kenjas, it would have been really interesting to get a whole day on them. I thought it might tire me out after a day, but as I become a stronger skier, maybe not - you're definitely a higher level skier than I am, I've passed NZSIA Level 1 and i know that level 2 demands a higher level of skiing performance than I currently possess :smile::wink: I did enjoy my runs on them, so you might quite like them as well.

I'm also a little more sensitive to tiring skis than a lot of people because I have ongoing patellar tendon issues, slowly resolving these though!

I know that @scandium owns the older version of the Kenja 88 - so it's not the same ski but it's probably at least as tiring to ski over the day, but I think she's actually quite enjoyed it this season. The Kenja 88 is poppier and maybe a bit more maneuverable than the older version - not totally sure. The older version is a real crud buster I believe.

Yeah actually the metal placement is kinda interesting, with the kenja having it around the edges and the santa anas having it everywhere except the edges! I've read that the newer santa ana is poppier than the older santa ana too, probably related to the fact they shrunk the metal a bit and removed a layer, so I wonder if the kenja just has a thicker layer of metal. HMmm.

I'll also say that to my best knowledge - the Santa Anas have a bit more of an all mountain shape, while the Volkl skis like the Kenja are typically biased a little bit more towards hard snow performance. So the SA might have better offpiste/powder performance with the Kenja having better carving/groomer performance.

With regards to the Black Pearl 88 - I haven't demoed the 2021/2022 versions but I actually own the 2020 version (the older version)! I loved them, honestly I still have them because I can't quite bear to get rid of them yet even though I've only skied them 3 or 4 times this season, but when I tried the Santa Anas it was a sad day for the BP88s haha. The SAs feel similar but better - more energy, more stability, and I find them a bit better in powder as well (less inclined to tip dive for some reason). However the new BP88 is quite a different beast.

@AJM does own the new Black Pearls but I'm not sure if she's tried any of the other skis in this thread, to compare them to?

Also @Analisa is an absolute fountain of knowledge and can probably comment succinctly on all the skis here...
 

AJM

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm also super curious on how the BP stacks up next to these guys, but I'm not sure why, my gut says I won't like them...
As @fgor said, I have the new BP 88's and as much as I loved them at first I've found them quite different to the previous model. They are definately stiffer and ski longer, I've found it hard to find the sweet spot and they arent as playful as the older version. Gosh I'm not painting a great picture am I ??? Sad to say I'm not in love with them and have found them to be quite tiring after a few hours. Oh I'm a solid strong intermediate, advanced on a good day and 165cm tall and around 55-57kg, my BPs are 159cm. Sorry but I havent tried any of the other ski's in this thread to compare them to. Hope this helps x
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I've been skiing on the Santa Ana 88 for two+ seasons, owned the 2020 Secret, and tested the 2021 Kenja. The Kenjas are an absolute blast on groomers--they beg you to ski faster. Where they faltered for me was in ungroomed/off-piste where the tails would just demand that I turn even when I wanted to scrub and drift. The Santa Anas are MUCH easier in these situations (and also plenty of fun on groomers.) They are just more suited to off-piste fun, I think, as I prefer a narrower, less-rockered ski on groomers.

The Secret I bought after demoing in soft, foot deep powder at Grand Targhee. Got them home and they were just a bit too much ski for me. I was really bummed, as they were great in foot deep powder and crud.

My advice? Buy a Stockli and be done with it :becky: I'm getting some Nela 88s to replace my Santa Anas this season.
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Thanks @fgor - I haven't been on these personally and a lot of information is frustratingly hard to find given how popular they are, but there are some strong hints we get from their construction.

Weight
Santa Ana 88: 1652g in a 165
Kenja 88: 1650g in a 156
Secret 92: 1680g in a 156

Turn Radius
Santa Ana 88: 14m in a 158
Kenja 88: 22m in a 156
Secret 92: 14.2m in a 156

Mount Point
Pretty impossible to find, but the Enforcer 88 is mounted at -8.15cm and the Santa Ana 93 is at -8.3. Volkls tend to be mounted further back. The Secret 102 is at -11.3. Men's M5 Mantra is -11.5.

Shape
profile.PNG
Santa Ana, Kenja, Secret. The Santa Ana has more rocker than the Volkl. The Enforcer 88 has 62mm of tip splay (how high the rocker comes off the ground when you lay it flat). The Secret 102 and M5 Mantra have 55mm, and they tend to have a bit more than their narrower counterparts since they're more off piste/powder oriented. The Nordica also has more tip taper, which helps off piste, but doesn't feel quite as locked in on groomers, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on skier preference and if you like something with super solid edge hold or want to give up some for a little more agility and nimbleness. The Nordica also has more tip taper, which mirrors the impact of the rocker.

The other thing I notice is the thickness of the ski through the midsection vs. the tips & tails. The tips of the Nordica appear a little thinner, meaning they're likely a little softer & easier to engage, better to plane, etc.

Overall, I think those factors add up to:

Kenja is the tank of these 3. The weight, turn radius, and mount point all suggest it's a demanding ski. The 3D radius construction likely makes it a little more nimble than the flex/radius combo suggest, but when I was pulling stats, I noticed that Ski Monster made a similar comment in comparison to the Secret 92 that the Kenja needs to be skied fast & hard to perform while the Secret was more zippy & nimble. Personally, I'd kill to get these out on a dedicated groomer day. I'd be more intimidated taking them into the bumps and trees.

Santa Ana is the most approachable and easiest to turn. Weight, mount point, and turn radius are the friendliest across the 3 options and likely one of the more versatile options in powder, despite being narrower due to those more rockered, thinner shovels. It'll have good edgehold and stability at speed, but not best in class like the Kenja. Still likely on par or a step up from the Yumi.

Secret 92 looks like an intermediary between the two. More nimble than the Kenja, more demanding than the Santa Ana. On piste-biased but off piste capable, especially if you're talking low amounts of new snow or once snow gets bumped out. The further back mount point will help it float better than the shape & lack of tip rocker would suggest.

The other question I have is where you tend to ski. You mentioned width being a concern for your size, but width is only a part of the equation. R&D for skis starts with men so even if you're tiny, an 88mm wide ski is designed for the way men use it: mostly frontside. So it rarely has those well rockered and softer tips that work really well for off piste skiing. Wider skis also tend to be softer because fresh snow is lower density than groomers and you don't have as much resistance to work with to flex the ski. If you're worried about "too much" ski, I'd say the high 80s width class has a lot more tanks overall than 100mm+.

I'm a WA skier, around 115lbs. All my inbound skis are 104-110. I was really intimidated by wider skis since they were all rated "expert," but I found that it matched my skiing. I spend most of my time in dense trees at my home resort (Stevens) and do a decent job finding powder stashes even a few days after a storm, and I tour during those dry high pressure systems once the resort is skied out. Since tree skiing is rarely fast, I match well to those wider skis with soft tips that plane at low speeds and bend easily into tight turn shapes. I'm not saying that's right for you - if anything, as an instructor, I imagine you're spending a lot more time on piste either teaching or working on your own technical skills. But if you want better off piste performance than your Yumis or you've got better powder skiing on your goal list, the Santa Ana 93 or Sheeva 9 would be great additions to your consideration set. If you're still sure you're targeting the right width class in that high 80s low 90s, but are worried that the Kenja might be too much, the BP88 and Armada Reliance 92Ti should be slotted in as well.

That's basically my long way of saying don't let fear about width keep you from buying a ski that's a strong match for where you ski and what your goals are.
 

vivian.wc

Diva in Training
As @fgor said, I have the new BP 88's and as much as I loved them at first I've found them quite different to the previous model. They are definately stiffer and ski longer, I've found it hard to find the sweet spot and they arent as playful as the older version. Gosh I'm not painting a great picture am I ??? Sad to say I'm not in love with them and have found them to be quite tiring after a few hours. Oh I'm a solid strong intermediate, advanced on a good day and 165cm tall and around 55-57kg, my BPs are 159cm. Sorry but I havent tried any of the other ski's in this thread to compare them to. Hope this helps x
That helps so so much, so the pre-2021 BPs would be better than the 2021/22 ones?
 

vivian.wc

Diva in Training
Thanks @fgor - I haven't been on these personally and a lot of information is frustratingly hard to find given how popular they are, but there are some strong hints we get from their construction.

Weight
Santa Ana 88: 1652g in a 165
Kenja 88: 1650g in a 156
Secret 92: 1680g in a 156

Turn Radius
Santa Ana 88: 14m in a 158
Kenja 88: 22m in a 156
Secret 92: 14.2m in a 156

Mount Point
Pretty impossible to find, but the Enforcer 88 is mounted at -8.15cm and the Santa Ana 93 is at -8.3. Volkls tend to be mounted further back. The Secret 102 is at -11.3. Men's M5 Mantra is -11.5.

Shape
View attachment 16706
Santa Ana, Kenja, Secret. The Santa Ana has more rocker than the Volkl. The Enforcer 88 has 62mm of tip splay (how high the rocker comes off the ground when you lay it flat). The Secret 102 and M5 Mantra have 55mm, and they tend to have a bit more than their narrower counterparts since they're more off piste/powder oriented. The Nordica also has more tip taper, which helps off piste, but doesn't feel quite as locked in on groomers, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on skier preference and if you like something with super solid edge hold or want to give up some for a little more agility and nimbleness. The Nordica also has more tip taper, which mirrors the impact of the rocker.

The other thing I notice is the thickness of the ski through the midsection vs. the tips & tails. The tips of the Nordica appear a little thinner, meaning they're likely a little softer & easier to engage, better to plane, etc.

Overall, I think those factors add up to:

Kenja is the tank of these 3. The weight, turn radius, and mount point all suggest it's a demanding ski. The 3D radius construction likely makes it a little more nimble than the flex/radius combo suggest, but when I was pulling stats, I noticed that Ski Monster made a similar comment in comparison to the Secret 92 that the Kenja needs to be skied fast & hard to perform while the Secret was more zippy & nimble. Personally, I'd kill to get these out on a dedicated groomer day. I'd be more intimidated taking them into the bumps and trees.

Santa Ana is the most approachable and easiest to turn. Weight, mount point, and turn radius are the friendliest across the 3 options and likely one of the more versatile options in powder, despite being narrower due to those more rockered, thinner shovels. It'll have good edgehold and stability at speed, but not best in class like the Kenja. Still likely on par or a step up from the Yumi.

Secret 92 looks like an intermediary between the two. More nimble than the Kenja, more demanding than the Santa Ana. On piste-biased but off piste capable, especially if you're talking low amounts of new snow or once snow gets bumped out. The further back mount point will help it float better than the shape & lack of tip rocker would suggest.

The other question I have is where you tend to ski. You mentioned width being a concern for your size, but width is only a part of the equation. R&D for skis starts with men so even if you're tiny, an 88mm wide ski is designed for the way men use it: mostly frontside. So it rarely has those well rockered and softer tips that work really well for off piste skiing. Wider skis also tend to be softer because fresh snow is lower density than groomers and you don't have as much resistance to work with to flex the ski. If you're worried about "too much" ski, I'd say the high 80s width class has a lot more tanks overall than 100mm+.

I'm a WA skier, around 115lbs. All my inbound skis are 104-110. I was really intimidated by wider skis since they were all rated "expert," but I found that it matched my skiing. I spend most of my time in dense trees at my home resort (Stevens) and do a decent job finding powder stashes even a few days after a storm, and I tour during those dry high pressure systems once the resort is skied out. Since tree skiing is rarely fast, I match well to those wider skis with soft tips that plane at low speeds and bend easily into tight turn shapes. I'm not saying that's right for you - if anything, as an instructor, I imagine you're spending a lot more time on piste either teaching or working on your own technical skills. But if you want better off piste performance than your Yumis or you've got better powder skiing on your goal list, the Santa Ana 93 or Sheeva 9 would be great additions to your consideration set. If you're still sure you're targeting the right width class in that high 80s low 90s, but are worried that the Kenja might be too much, the BP88 and Armada Reliance 92Ti should be slotted in as well.

That's basically my long way of saying don't let fear about width keep you from buying a ski that's a strong match for where you ski and what your goals are.
I love the way you’ve organized all that info and summed it up, that’s basically what I was looking for! I just find that fat skis never have the grip I like, so I’m hesitant to move above the 92s. Could you explain more about the tank feel?

And the main concern I had with getting anything similar to the Yumi was the chatter. I wasn’t able to ski fast at all with that chatter through any slight crud, bumps, or really ski fast in general. Do you think the SA would handle that better?
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@vivian.wc Thanks! Glad it's helpful. So I'll add in Yumi & BP88 stats based on some of the comments, plus the Reliance 92Ti, Salomon Stance 88 and Liberty Evolv 90 because they round out this competitive set. But first, edgehold is totally a good reason to stay in that width range compared to height/weight hesitancy, so that's perfect. And what I mean when I say it's a tank - a tank likes long radius turns where you're making drawn out, high speed arcs instead of tight little squiggle turns. Tanks also want you in an aggressive position, very forward on your skis. If you tend to shift into the backseat when you're timid or naturally have more of a centered stance and style, it'll be hard to get the tips to engage. They also are very heavy and very stiff for skis in this range, which means they take a lot of force to bend them. You either need a decent amount of weight or speed on your side. Some people err away from putting a featherweight skier on a ski like the Kenja, but I think they underestimate that small women can be fast and aggressive. Sizing can also help since flex and size are scaled together, and going shorter can help get the desired flex. (For example, I usually like skis in the high 160s range, but I'd scale down to the 163 for something like the Secret 92 / 102).


Weight
Norms:
Skis in mid-80s to low 90s range from around 1300g for a mid-150s length on the lightest / softest end and to just under 1700g for the heavier and/or wider models.
Yumi: 2015s were 1210g in a 147. Today's are 1390g in a 154.
Santa Ana 88: 1652g in a 165
Kenja 88: 1650g in a 156
Secret 92: 1680g in a 156
Black Pearl 88: 1655g in a 159
Reliance 92Ti: 1575g in a 164
Evolv 90w: 1530g in a 158
Stance 88w: 1403g in a 154.
Notes: If you're looking for more stable, you're on one of the lightest skis on the market. Light skis don't have the stiffness or the weight to dampen out vibrations caused by inconsistent snow and higher speeds/force. The wood is mostly poplar, a flexy, poppy wood, and the laminates are a composite with fiberglass that don't add much weight or stiffness compared to carbon laminates and much less so than titanal laminates. There are a few skis on the market that are essentially other Yumis, like the Pandora 84 or Volkl Blaze 86 or new Atomic Maven 86 (not "C" or carbon version). Since the mid-2010s, the market has course-corrected from universally chasing lightness, so most options on the market are going to be an improvement. The Volkls, Santa Ana, Stance, and Reliance do it with partial sheets of metal in the laminates. The Evolv uses metal stringers. The Black Pearl got its weight gain from a few changes 1- thickening the amount of wood in the core and blending with stiffer, denser wood species that are less elastic. 2 - carbon in the laminates and 3 - a layer of titanal. The old BP88 was 1425g in a 159 vs 1655 today. For you, I'd probably recommend the new one. The old one would be a fairly minor step up from the Yumis. But that definitely explains what @AJM is experiencing and why the old ones might be a better fit for her. (All skis are good, but the ones that match your skier profile are best).

Turn Radius
Norms
: Turn radius shortens as you flex the ski, so take weight/flex and the TR in consideration together. Most skis sit between 13 and 17m, but there are a few outliers around 11 on the very nimble side and the Kenjas an outlier on the upper end at 22.
Yumi: 15.3m in a 154
Santa Ana 88: 14m in a 158
Kenja 88: 22m in a 156
Secret 92: 14.2m in a 156
Black Pearl 88: 13m in a 159
Reliance 92Ti: 16m in a 158
Evolv 90w: 14m in a 158
Stance 88w: 17m for the 154.
Notes: Since the TR shortens as the ski is bent, the TR itself isn't a good indicator of how easy a ski is to turn. But they are a good sign that a ski like the Kenja is very burly since it tops the charts in both. And for a ski like the Pandora 84 (13m turn radius and just over 1300g) is going to be extremely nimble yet unstable. Most skis on this list are a compromise with either a heavy weight/short TR or a lighter weight/long TR.

Mount Point
Norms
: All mountain skis can range from -11 as a very directional ski up to being mounted almost on the true center of the ski for more park/freestyle inspired skis (like if you were looking at an Armada ARW or Volkl Bash). You're used to a directional ski and skier profile matches it, so it makes sense to stick in the -8 to -10 range
Yumi: I'm gonna ballpark -9.5 to -10. No stats, but pulled pics of it and the SA88 and the boot sole mark is a smidgen further back
Santa Ana 88: roughly -8.15 to -8.3
Kenja 88: roughly -11.3 to -11.5
Secret 92: roughly -11.3 to -11.5
Black Pearl 88: -10.95
Reliance 92Ti: roughly -10.75
Evolv 90w: roughly -10.25
Stance 88w: roughly -9.6
Notes: The closer you are to the middle of the ski, the easier it is to access the tips, especially from a centered stance. The further back, the more you want to have a traditional, forward stance.

Add it all up and you get:
Yumi
: Light, springy ski with a tight turn radius. Very easy to ski. Rearward mount point and full sidewalls provide enough edge grip to carve and encourage "good" / traditional technique. Good learner ski for the technically oriented who aren't interested in going for an all out technical frontside ski.
Santa Ana 88: If you laid out all the 80-something all mountain skis in the market, I'd say the SA88 sits in the 60th to 65th percentile for burliness. Accessible to any skiers with solid chops and parallel turns, but has more to offer stronger skiers. Metal laminates cover the ski completely in the tip and tail and tapers in a bit through the waist, meaning lightweights and slower skiers can still put a bend in the ski, but the full sheet in the tips will keep chatter at bay. More rocker than the other skis on this list, so it'll be easier when you want to smear and slide through bumps and trees instead of executing perfect carves. Likely the most true "all mountain" ski on the list.
Kenja 88: Burliest women's ski on the mountain? It's either this or the Secret 102. Really likes long fast turns on groomers, will be a lot of work in instances where you need to make tight short radius ones. At under 100lbs, I'd keep it on the list if you know you ski like a bat out of hell. Otherwise it's a very extreme jump from a Yumi and, while it could work, I think there are less risky moves on the list.
Secret 92: Still a stiff ski with the classic Volkl construction that makes it amazing on piste, but slightly softer and a much shorter TR than the Kenja make it more versatile if you want to hit bumps, trees, or powder at all.
Black Pearl 88: If I put the SA88 in the 60-65th percentile for burliness, this probably sits around 65th to 70th. Little less rocker on this than the SA, making it a little more piste oriented, but can definitely get the job done in bumps, trees, and light powder.
Reliance 92Ti: The interesting thing about this ski is their "articulated titanal banding." They have channels in the titanal with an elastic compound. According to the marketing, you get all the stability of a metal laminate, but the ski's a little easier to bend and you get a lot of pop and rebound when you release the turn. More on-piste oriented an the SA88 and BP88. More off piste versatility than the Kenja. It's lighter weight but moderate turn radius mean you can make a variety of carved turn shapes depending on how deeply you're bending the ski. Could be a good option if you like the "bend & snap" sensation out of a flexy ski like the Yumi.
Evolv 90w: Likely the easiest on the list since weight & TR are both on the easier end of the spectrum. A love child between Liberty's old front side V-series and their very surfy, more progressive all mountain/powder Genesis set. Has a frontside bias, but will be more flexible and springy.
Stance 88w: 17m for the 154. Little easier to pivot & smear than the Secret, little less forgiving / more demanding than the Santa Ana. Prefers a longer turn, but doesn't demand it the way the Kenja does.
 

vivian.wc

Diva in Training
@vivian.wc Thanks! Glad it's helpful. So I'll add in Yumi & BP88 stats based on some of the comments, plus the Reliance 92Ti, Salomon Stance 88 and Liberty Evolv 90 because they round out this competitive set. But first, edgehold is totally a good reason to stay in that width range compared to height/weight hesitancy, so that's perfect. And what I mean when I say it's a tank - a tank likes long radius turns where you're making drawn out, high speed arcs instead of tight little squiggle turns. Tanks also want you in an aggressive position, very forward on your skis. If you tend to shift into the backseat when you're timid or naturally have more of a centered stance and style, it'll be hard to get the tips to engage. They also are very heavy and very stiff for skis in this range, which means they take a lot of force to bend them. You either need a decent amount of weight or speed on your side. Some people err away from putting a featherweight skier on a ski like the Kenja, but I think they underestimate that small women can be fast and aggressive. Sizing can also help since flex and size are scaled together, and going shorter can help get the desired flex. (For example, I usually like skis in the high 160s range, but I'd scale down to the 163 for something like the Secret 92 / 102).


Weight
Norms:
Skis in mid-80s to low 90s range from around 1300g for a mid-150s length on the lightest / softest end and to just under 1700g for the heavier and/or wider models.
Yumi: 2015s were 1210g in a 147. Today's are 1390g in a 154.
Santa Ana 88: 1652g in a 165
Kenja 88: 1650g in a 156
Secret 92: 1680g in a 156
Black Pearl 88: 1655g in a 159
Reliance 92Ti: 1575g in a 164
Evolv 90w: 1530g in a 158
Stance 88w: 1403g in a 154.
Notes: If you're looking for more stable, you're on one of the lightest skis on the market. Light skis don't have the stiffness or the weight to dampen out vibrations caused by inconsistent snow and higher speeds/force. The wood is mostly poplar, a flexy, poppy wood, and the laminates are a composite with fiberglass that don't add much weight or stiffness compared to carbon laminates and much less so than titanal laminates. There are a few skis on the market that are essentially other Yumis, like the Pandora 84 or Volkl Blaze 86 or new Atomic Maven 86 (not "C" or carbon version). Since the mid-2010s, the market has course-corrected from universally chasing lightness, so most options on the market are going to be an improvement. The Volkls, Santa Ana, Stance, and Reliance do it with partial sheets of metal in the laminates. The Evolv uses metal stringers. The Black Pearl got its weight gain from a few changes 1- thickening the amount of wood in the core and blending with stiffer, denser wood species that are less elastic. 2 - carbon in the laminates and 3 - a layer of titanal. The old BP88 was 1425g in a 159 vs 1655 today. For you, I'd probably recommend the new one. The old one would be a fairly minor step up from the Yumis. But that definitely explains what @AJM is experiencing and why the old ones might be a better fit for her. (All skis are good, but the ones that match your skier profile are best).

Turn Radius
Norms
: Turn radius shortens as you flex the ski, so take weight/flex and the TR in consideration together. Most skis sit between 13 and 17m, but there are a few outliers around 11 on the very nimble side and the Kenjas an outlier on the upper end at 22.
Yumi: 15.3m in a 154
Santa Ana 88: 14m in a 158
Kenja 88: 22m in a 156
Secret 92: 14.2m in a 156
Black Pearl 88: 13m in a 159
Reliance 92Ti: 16m in a 158
Evolv 90w: 14m in a 158
Stance 88w: 17m for the 154.
Notes: Since the TR shortens as the ski is bent, the TR itself isn't a good indicator of how easy a ski is to turn. But they are a good sign that a ski like the Kenja is very burly since it tops the charts in both. And for a ski like the Pandora 84 (13m turn radius and just over 1300g) is going to be extremely nimble yet unstable. Most skis on this list are a compromise with either a heavy weight/short TR or a lighter weight/long TR.

Mount Point
Norms
: All mountain skis can range from -11 as a very directional ski up to being mounted almost on the true center of the ski for more park/freestyle inspired skis (like if you were looking at an Armada ARW or Volkl Bash). You're used to a directional ski and skier profile matches it, so it makes sense to stick in the -8 to -10 range
Yumi: I'm gonna ballpark -9.5 to -10. No stats, but pulled pics of it and the SA88 and the boot sole mark is a smidgen further back
Santa Ana 88: roughly -8.15 to -8.3
Kenja 88: roughly -11.3 to -11.5
Secret 92: roughly -11.3 to -11.5
Black Pearl 88: -10.95
Reliance 92Ti: roughly -10.75
Evolv 90w: roughly -10.25
Stance 88w: roughly -9.6
Notes: The closer you are to the middle of the ski, the easier it is to access the tips, especially from a centered stance. The further back, the more you want to have a traditional, forward stance.

Add it all up and you get:
Yumi
: Light, springy ski with a tight turn radius. Very easy to ski. Rearward mount point and full sidewalls provide enough edge grip to carve and encourage "good" / traditional technique. Good learner ski for the technically oriented who aren't interested in going for an all out technical frontside ski.
Santa Ana 88: If you laid out all the 80-something all mountain skis in the market, I'd say the SA88 sits in the 60th to 65th percentile for burliness. Accessible to any skiers with solid chops and parallel turns, but has more to offer stronger skiers. Metal laminates cover the ski completely in the tip and tail and tapers in a bit through the waist, meaning lightweights and slower skiers can still put a bend in the ski, but the full sheet in the tips will keep chatter at bay. More rocker than the other skis on this list, so it'll be easier when you want to smear and slide through bumps and trees instead of executing perfect carves. Likely the most true "all mountain" ski on the list.
Kenja 88: Burliest women's ski on the mountain? It's either this or the Secret 102. Really likes long fast turns on groomers, will be a lot of work in instances where you need to make tight short radius ones. At under 100lbs, I'd keep it on the list if you know you ski like a bat out of hell. Otherwise it's a very extreme jump from a Yumi and, while it could work, I think there are less risky moves on the list.
Secret 92: Still a stiff ski with the classic Volkl construction that makes it amazing on piste, but slightly softer and a much shorter TR than the Kenja make it more versatile if you want to hit bumps, trees, or powder at all.
Black Pearl 88: If I put the SA88 in the 60-65th percentile for burliness, this probably sits around 65th to 70th. Little less rocker on this than the SA, making it a little more piste oriented, but can definitely get the job done in bumps, trees, and light powder.
Reliance 92Ti: The interesting thing about this ski is their "articulated titanal banding." They have channels in the titanal with an elastic compound. According to the marketing, you get all the stability of a metal laminate, but the ski's a little easier to bend and you get a lot of pop and rebound when you release the turn. More on-piste oriented an the SA88 and BP88. More off piste versatility than the Kenja. It's lighter weight but moderate turn radius mean you can make a variety of carved turn shapes depending on how deeply you're bending the ski. Could be a good option if you like the "bend & snap" sensation out of a flexy ski like the Yumi.
Evolv 90w: Likely the easiest on the list since weight & TR are both on the easier end of the spectrum. A love child between Liberty's old front side V-series and their very surfy, more progressive all mountain/powder Genesis set. Has a frontside bias, but will be more flexible and springy.
Stance 88w: 17m for the 154. Little easier to pivot & smear than the Secret, little less forgiving / more demanding than the Santa Ana. Prefers a longer turn, but doesn't demand it the way the Kenja does.
I would never have learned this much even going in person to a ski shop! You hit more than I could've ever dreamed of. I really enjoyed the tech spec breakdown and the summaries at the end, I'm so grateful, Thank you so so much! I've just confirmed my Whistler pass so hopefully I'll get to put all this knowledge to use and possibly demo them all!

I always thought the Kenjas would be easier than the Secrets, but goes to show I've got lots to learn! And now you've got me interested in the Reliance as well, unfortunately not within my height range, but hopefully one day the'll make some more shorter skis.
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@kmb5662 @AJM Thank you! It really means a lot. I've burned some major bridges in the reviewer world being too mouthy about the fact that women desperately want so much more content that links construction to performance. Only covering 1-2 skis in a competitor set or doing a bunch of podcasts where all the examples for certain concepts talk about men's skis isn't enough. We have a few solid options for snapshot reviews, but beyond that we're wildly underserved compared to men. (I had a person say that men were the ones more likely to nerd out about their ski gear and women just wanted to know enough to get something to have fun on. But the way I look at it is who's more anxious about their gear purchases? Who has less money and therefore tends to have smaller quivers and refresh their skis less often? Who feels like they can't just trust what someone says at a shop? Who is less confident about their ski skills and isn't confident they can grab any ski off the shelf and make it work? Women are the gear nerds. Especially the ones who don't have that ski nerd partner to help guide their purchases).

@vivian.wc Fantastic! Whistler's demo fleet is super deep and you should be able to find all but maybe the Liberty. I'd probably start demoing with one of the middle-of-the-road options from the list and adjust up or down depending on how that goes. (Ie. if the BP88 leaves you wanting more, no need to spend time on an Evolv). And yea, I totally see how Volkl's line sets that impression. The high 80s to low 90s width class is definitely the biggest volume, so most brands do a soft beginnermediate ski and a stiff advanced-expert ski that's usually pretty easy to sort out (like the old Vantage 86 C and the Vantage 90Ti, or the Mindbender 88Ti and Mindbender 90 C). Volkl really resonates with the ex-racer, advanced-expert crowd so they broke their's down as "advanced and more versatile" and "expert with a groomer focus" up until this season, when they added the Blaze 86, bumped the Secret up to a 96 and made that construction still a twinge easier.

Bummer on the Reliance. They made the previous Victa line down to a well-rockered 151 and I knew the 88C, 82Ti and 82C made it down to about 150, but the 92 width range has a lot of volume and is one of the places I'd do more sizes, not less. Like the Sheeva 9 gets made in shorter sizes than the BP78 because that mid-80s to low-90s window has the volume to do it. Hopefully it'll join later, but there's no shortage of great options in the meantime.
 

elemmac

Angel Diva
Can someone sum up the differences between the Nordica Santa Ana 88 and the Volkl Kenja 88 and Secret 92 (2020/21 version)?
You've already gotten a pretty good run down of experiences on these three skis, so I won't go into details on the differences. I do want to mention the differences in the Secret 92 (now discontinued) and the new Secret 96.

There's the obvious difference of 4mm of width, but there's also the updated construction that makes a HUGE difference on how the ski feels, especially for petite skiers, which is why I mention it here. Volkl is scaling the amount of metal they use in their new skis. The "Tailored Titanal Frame" is tailored based on the length of the ski, so a 149 is going to have less metal than the 170 version of the same ski. This allows a smaller skier to bend the smaller ski in the same way a larger skier bends the larger ski. In previous models, all skis were made with the same amount of metal, this would often result in the smaller sizes feeling a bit planky, and too stiff for smaller skiers. If you end up going with a Secret, I would definitely consider going up to the new 96 version.
 

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