For years, the Volkl Kendo has been a favorite of expert and advanced level skiers who ski mainly on-trail, but also venture into the woods and off-piste. Whereas the Mantra is a true 50-50 all-mountain ski, the Kendo could better be described as 60-40 in favor of on-trail performance. Nevertheless, it’s a stiff, burly ski with two sheets of metal and camber underfoot-there’s not a whole lot of relaxing and lollygagging on the Kendo-you have to be on it full time. But rewarded you shall be. The Kendo offers the best mix of groomer performance with some off-piste skiing that we know of thanks to its rocker profile and burly construction. The 2018 Kendo continues its trend of containing tip and tail rocker and camber underfoot. Purists scoffed at the tail rocker a few years ago, but have quickly come around to the tail’s continued ability to snap and pop in and out of turns. The tip rocker allows for easy turn initiation and the camber underfoot holds an edge on hard snow much like a race ski. The Kendo’s tip has some moderate taper to it as well, allowing better performance in softer snow and fresh snow conditions. The 2018 Volkl Kendo is constructed much like a race ski. With a full wood core and two sheets of metal, the Kendo is a stiff ski with no top end speed. It likes to be pushed hard and it responds in kind. If you’re railing turns on the groomers, be prepared, because the Kendo has some kick. If you slack off on it, you’ll get bucked. If you’re balanced and precise, it will reward you with some amazing feedback. All told, the 2018 Volkl Kendo is a purists ski-one that gives back what you put in.