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K2 Mindbender Alliance 88 vs Volkl Kenja 88 vs...?

#1
Newbie here on this forum. Hope this post is ok. Looking to invest a my first new pair of skis in 8 years.

About me: Been skiing 30+ years. Advanced skier but a bit of a lightweight (5'2", 110lbs). Ski east coast, mostly groomers, lots of hardpack, but lately have been wanting to spend more time playing in bumps and trees. Current skis are Salomon Bamboo circa ~2012.

I demoed a bunch of skis this season on a few different demo days and in different conditions. I fell in love with both the K2 Mindbender 88 and the Volkl Kenja 88, albeit not on the same day so it's hard to compare them directly. I also have heard good things about Dynastar Legend 88s. For reference, I demoed and didn't like the Atomic Vantage 90 and the Blizzard Black Pearl 88 as much.

Looking for good edge grip and stability at speed and on steeps, for a smooth, damp ride with minimal chatter, and for something that's more fun in bumps, trees and crud than my Bamboos.

Recommendations?
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#2
Newbie here on this forum. Hope this post is ok. Looking to invest a my first new pair of skis in 8 years.

About me: Been skiing 30+ years. Advanced skier but a bit of a lightweight (5'2", 110lbs). Ski east coast, mostly groomers, lots of hardpack, but lately have been wanting to spend more time playing in bumps and trees. Current skis are Salomon Bamboo circa ~2012.

I demoed a bunch of skis this season on a few different demo days and in different conditions. I fell in love with both the K2 Mindbender 88 and the Volkl Kenja 88, albeit not on the same day so it's hard to compare them directly. I also have heard good things about Dynastar Legend 88s. For reference, I demoed and didn't like the Atomic Vantage 90 and the Blizzard Black Pearl 88 as much.

Looking for good edge grip and stability at speed and on steeps, for a smooth, damp ride with minimal chatter, and for something that's more fun in bumps, trees and crud than my Bamboos.

Recommendations?
In addition to the two you demoed (great options!) I'd throw in the Nordica Santa Ana 88 and Stockli Stormrider Motion 85.

The Santa Ana will be a quite a bit easier than the Kenja in bumps and trees. They are really easy to scrub speed and pivot on and ski in tight spaces. Very stable thanks to two sheets of titanal (next year's model has one sheet, but they felt identical to this year's when I skied them.) I've skied mine for 120 or so days, and I absolutely love them.
 

BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
It sounds like we have some similar wants, @seriesofcontradictions. I'll share my experiences this season w/you even tho we are physically very different (I'm 5'7", 150 lbs). I demo'd the K2 Mindbender 88 twice this year and had good fun with it but conditions were mid-Atlantic hardpack only. The softer tail felt like it would be good for bumps but I had no opportunity to try it out in those conditions.

One of the above demo days, I also tried the Stockli Stormrider 85, which I ended up buying b/c I loved the added stability on the ice and the overall feel of the ski. I did a bumps clinic at Copper Mtn. ("BumpBusters") earlier this month on the Stormrider and I felt very comfy on it and made some good progress (did I mention that I'm a horrible-but-getting-better bump skier?). All this is leading up to my saying you might want to try the Stormrider as well. Terrific edge hold on the slick and the steep + they power through crud -- and if I can manage them in bumps given my limited skill they might be a good fit for you there too (I'm assuming your bump skills are far superior to mine).

I'm taking my softer Black Pearl 82s w/me to Steamboat on Saturday (another clinic next week) b/c I want to work more on bumps and would like a more forgiving ski until I see more improvement -- but I wouldn't be at all upset if I had to use my Stormriders again.

Btw, @marzNC is about your height and weight and I know she skis the Stormrider as well and could give you additional feedback.

So many skis, so little time . . .

Apologies - written before I saw @contesstant 's and @seriesofcontradictions 's posts above. I scored on my Stockli's - I bought the demo at 1/2 price ($600.) b/c it was the last one they had in inventory at the length I wanted. Lucky, lucky timing.
 
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ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#5
Welcome to the forum, @seriesofcontradictions ! I'm your size and an east coast skier, and I love my Santa Ana 93's. I have them in a 161 because they have quite a bit of rocker in the tip and tail, but they are awesome anywhere you want to take them -- groomers, hardpack, soft snow, crud, bumps, trees. This is my second season on them, and they never let me down.
 
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#6
Oh wow, so many responses quickly. Thank you ladies!!

Has anyone directly compared the Santa Anas, Mindbenders and Kenjas that would be able to speak to the differences? Also, has anyone tried the Dynastar Legends? I'm curious about them but haven't seen a pair to demo yet.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
Oh wow, so many responses quickly. Thank you ladies!!

Has anyone directly compared the Santa Anas, Mindbenders and Kenjas that would be able to speak to the differences? Also, has anyone tried the Dynastar Legends? I'm curious about them but haven't seen a pair to demo yet.
I've skied all three. I kind of outlined the differences between the Kenja and Santa Ana 88 above, the Mindbender I didn't get enough time on to share much more than they were easy to ski and I liked them enough to own a pair (except that I liked the Santa Anas more than anything that day so I bought them :becky:.) MY experience with Kenjas (I owned a pair a few seasons ago) was that they were really a hoot on groomers, but in crud and anything but groomers, they were a handful with a stiff tail, etc. I weigh more than you and they are still a lot of ski for me. I liked them so much on groomers last year, I knew I needed to get them into crud, so I did, and the tails were way too stiff for me there. I think they'd spank my butt all over the place in bumps.

I ended up on Black Pearls for two seasons as I progressed, but found myself wanting a bit more stability in crud than they offered, so last season I bought the Santa Anas, which I have described as having the playful feel of the Black Pearl, but the stability of the Kenja. I have skied them in EVERYTHING imaginable, including almost two feet of powder. Yesterday we had serious hard pack, and they handled it really well.

I have not skied the current Dynastars, but I did a few seasons ago on a similar previous versions and decided I was not a big fan of the five-point sidecut they use.
 
#9
Agreed with @contessant - I wrote a demo review here on theskidiva of the dynastar legend w88, the Santa Ana 93, the K2 back when it was called alluvit and the men’s was the pinnacle (1 season ago). I really enjoyed that ski.

Two more that come to mind to try if you can: The elan ripstick 94w and the Rossi sky 7.

I had similar feelings about the atomic vantage that you did (well, I think). I felt the ski skied me instead of me skiing the ski which is what I prefer. I flat out hated the blizzard BPs in demo.

I own the Santa Ana’s and they’re my daily driver for 2 seasons now. I teach on what are effectively dynastar legends w84 with twin tips (it’s over 10 years old now under a different name).

I feel Santa Ana’s are great at personal progression as they take instruction from the skier really well. Agree with what was said about SA’s in bumps and variable snow and terrain. If i had unlimited storage capacity I would get the K2 mindbender , the Rossi sky 7, and the elan ripstick I mentioned above — because they’re fun as heck especially in powder (uh east coast pow). And out of all of them, I would run and get the elan first.

One I want to try but haven’t yet are the black crows atris birdie.

I have a couple of backcountry/uphill skis too - DPS Zelda alchemist and Moment Balance. They’re both amazing skis.

I’m 5’4” and 118 so somewhat bigger than you. The SA’s are a heavier ski than the K2 mindbender and the other skis mentioned. Not sure if that is a factor but wanted to mention it. They are a great cut thru the crud ski, but wouldn’t be my first pick for powder turns — but are still plenty fun in pow. But not like K2 mindbender or the others mentioned above.

Best of luck! Tell us what you get and how much you love it :smile:
 
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BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
@contesstant and @echo_NY , if you were the OP, would you go for the SA88 or the SA93 (w/the understanding that the 93 will have less metal next year)? Everyone I know who has either ski loves them and would curl up on the couch w/them if they could. Is there a big difference in the way they ski?
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
@contesstant and @echo_NY , if you were the OP, would you go for the SA88 or the SA93 (w/the understanding that the 93 will have less metal next year)? Everyone I know who has either ski loves them and would curl up on the couch w/them if they could. Is there a big difference in the way they ski?
88 all day. I've skied the new 93, and it skis the same as the previous version IMO. Still, for whatever reason, a lot more ski, slower edge-to-edge, etc.
 
#12
Even 88 underfoot still feels wide to me as an east coast skier. I was skiing on skinny carving and racing skis through the 1990s and 2000s. I was pleasantly surprised by how well this new generation of rockered 88-width skis grip on ice in my demos. It's definitely not like it used to be. But I still think it's about the limit of what I'd go to for my daily driver. We just don't get enough powder to justify a fatter ski in these parts, amirite?
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#14
Even 88 underfoot still feels wide to me as an east coast skier. I was skiing on skinny carving and racing skis through the 1990s and 2000s. I was pleasantly surprised by how well this new generation of rockered 88-width skis grip on ice in my demos. It's definitely not like it used to be. But I still think it's about the limit of what I'd go to for my daily driver. We just don't get enough powder to justify a fatter ski in these parts, amirite?
Well, you're sort of right. On days that I know I'm going to encounter ice or extreme harpback, I take out my Renoun Z-77's. They're amazing on that sort of stuff, and very playful and fun.

That said, don't rule out the Santa Ana 93's as a daily driver. I've had them out on the iciest of days, and really, they're great. Besides, it's really nice to have a ski that can handle everything. Some days you just don't know what you're going to find out there.
 
#16
I agree that this is probably a preference thing (88 v 93). I find that the 93 is great for angulation from the hip while skiing but harder to do from the knee. It’s the only thing I would say doesn’t come easily. And — I don’t know if the 88 solves that. I doubt this matters though...! Try both and tell us what you think?

That is terrible that they’re going to de-metal the SAs! :(
 

BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#17
Renoun looks like such an interesting company, @ski diva. I was just poking around on their site. It looks like they are only available online. Do they demo in NE? The Earhart 88 looks fun, but I'm guessing they aren't making the Z77 any longer.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#18
I'm not aware of any demos in NE (btw, they're located in Burlington, VT), but I'm sure if you contact them they'll let you know. Alternatively, if you get a pair of their skis and don't like them, they'll give you a 100% refund within 100 days -- no questions asked. Which is pretty remarkable, if you ask me.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#19
I agree that this is probably a preference thing (88 v 93). I find that the 93 is great for angulation from the hip while skiing but harder to do from the knee. It’s the only thing I would say doesn’t come easily. And — I don’t know if the 88 solves that. I doubt this matters though...! Try both and tell us what you think?

That is terrible that they’re going to de-metal the SAs! :(
They're not removing the titanal, they are just reducing it from two sheets to one. Honestly, having skied the newest versions, they feel about the same to me.
 

BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#20
I'm not aware of any demos in NE (btw, they're located in Burlington, VT), but I'm sure if you contact them they'll let you know. Alternatively, if you get a pair of their skis and don't like them, they'll give you a 100% refund within 100 days -- no questions asked. Which is pretty remarkable, if you ask me.
I'd heard that about their return policy - incredible. They must have supreme confidence in their product. It might be interesting to buy at the beginning of next season and try them out for a while both here and out west. Like I need another pair of skis . . .
 

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