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Can't decide between the Volkl Charisma and the Volkl Kenja

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I have been skiing for 3 years.  I currently have the Volkl Viola in a 148cm which is too short for me but when learning it was a length I was comfortable width.  I am 5'6 and weigh around 175lbs give or take.  I am athletic and not petite at all.  My boyfriend says my violas as fine and I should stick with them.  I say they are ok but I am outgrowing them quickly and after demoing skis with metal in them the viola seems very soft and noodle like.  I want more in a ski, something with metal that stiffer yet still playful that will take me to the next level of skiing.    I am not an aggressive skier but feel with the right ski I will ski faster and more aggressive. 

I have demoed the Charisma in 149 to get me started and then the Volkl Chiara in 155 to get me used to the length I want.  I hope to buy somewhere in the 155-156 range. 


I haven't tried the Kenja cause I am kinda scared due to its width.  What gives me hope is I heard that the charisma is still for advanced skiers but I found it fun and maneuverable and skied faster and better within minutes of getting on it.  Given this I think I can handle the Kenja but I am still scared as its wide.  The charisma is 79 underfoot and the Kenja is 87.  I am scared it’s too much ski for me.  I will try the kenja in 149 cause I know I can manage that size of a ski. 


I loved the Charisma, loved this ski.  I found it stiffer but very, very manageable, playful and maneuverable.  My boyfriend told me I was skiing faster and more parallel with the charisma almost right away.  This tells me that a ski like this is good for me because I felt it helped me ski better because of the construction of the ski.  I have heard the charismas doesn't live up to its name but I found it quite fun and lively. 


I want to ultimately buy the kenja but think the charisma might be a more in between ski for me.  I used to be afraid of the charisma because its marked for an aggressive advanced skier and I'm neither.  However, after being able to handle the charisma just fine and skiing quite well I think I might be ok with the kenja also.


What are folks thoughts between the two skis. 

Thank you in advance for your comments. 



post #2 of 17
Kenja. if you can find last years or the year before. The new one, 2014/2015 is black and didn't get the same marks for "forgivness". But if you do get the new one, make sure you pay attention until your used to it.

The Kenja is a great ski. Great edge hold.

I have STH10 binding coming today from evo.com for them. I got her last years Kenja's from www.skiessentails.com over the summer. Good luck finding them in 156cm. If you want, call Mike at skiessentails and talk with him. He was very helpful the other week when I called him. See what he can do for you.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you.  I just noticed I had a typo in the header of the thread, meant Charisma not Charism doh............ 

[Mod note: fixed title]


My home ski resort has the Kenja in 156 so at least I'll be able to get them there.  I will check out ski essentials to see what their prices are.  I have heard the kenja is a great ski.   I am afraid the charisma won't be a big enough of a jump up for me and I am thinking I should just get the kenjas.


Anyway, ski essentials is great, that's where I got my violas a couple years ago, great price on them as well. 


I guess I'll try the kenjas in 149 and 156cm and see how they feel.  If they aren't right for me now I think I'll be happy with the charismas and then maybe I will be ready for the kenjas in a year or two.


Is there anything wrong with the charisma or a reason why I shouldn't pick it or is the kenja just way better.


Am I wasting my time with the charisma?

Edited by surfsnowgirl - 1/12/15 at 12:14pm
post #4 of 17
I'd be surprised if you didn't like the Kenja. The ski is that good. If you don't like it, make sure the tune was good before writting it off. No shop is perfect when it comes to tunes.

That's why I do my own tunes.

The Kenja will carry you a long way and open up more of the terrain for you.
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you.  I love the ski essentials website, such good deals on there. 

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Skied at Butternut today in western Massachusetts. Conditions were hard packed and very icy. Demoed the Volkl Charisma in a 156cm and oh goodness this is an awesome ski. Likes my tight turns, is easy to maneuver and bites into the ice like a rabid dog.

The demo guy let me sneak out the Volkl Kenja in 156 for a couple runs. I was filled with trepidation cause i thought it was too advanced for me, was wider than i was used to and i thought it would ski me. However, the second i got off the chair lift i was smiling. This ski wants to go, its quick. The Kenja seems like it will do wharever you want it to do. She was fine going a little faster but she let me take her slow also. I was surprised at how light this ski was. I expected a heavy ski and it wasnt at all. It was very easy to maneuver. The kenja wanted to do longer turns but dammit i got her to do tighter turns. Seemed very stable except for a couple times when i was going over icy parts the Kenja didnt grip as well as i would have hoped and i slipped a little. Not sure if my weight wasnt over the skis correctly or what but i was surprised. I didnt have much time on these but i liked what i felt overall. I didnt want to stop for lunch and didnt want to turn the Kenjas in which i suppose is a good sign. I definitely want to take them out again.

My quick first impressions are the Charisma seemed to bite the ice better but maybe the charismas just suit my skiing style at this point. The Charisma seemed more comfortable to me but i wonder if the Kenja will be a better ski to take me to the next level. I liked the charisma a lot but i am sorta torn.
post #7 of 17

I notice you are skiing in the east and at Butternut.  Think about where and what you will ski.  I don't see any major difference in the "level" of the two skis -- what I see is a difference in terrain orientation.  The Charisma is narrower underfoot and designed mostly for groomers and hard snow.  The Kenja is more of a 50/50 ski -- good at groomers but also wider and more ready to go off-piste and into the crud.  Only you know where you ski...but I'm guessing you're mostly a groomer girl at this point (nothing wrong with that; it's primarily the nature of eastern skiing).  So in terms of mission, the Charisma would seem to fit best.  A few words about it from RealSkiers.com: 

"The Charisma is still a lightweight carver with a passion for short turns, but it now borrows its wood core structure from the avant-garde V-Werks series, so it’s lighter than ever. The new Charisma also is adorned with a dollop of tip rocker, but it’s so well integrated into the ski’s camber line the only noticeable effect is an improvement in ease in all conditions.A bundle of Charisma features bear the “Bio-Logic” stamp, all of which work together to improve not just comfort but to add to skier safety. The tail is a little narrower and not as stiff as the forebody, so the culprit in the caboose that plays a factor in some knee sprains will release the load on the rearbody of the ski. The ski’s top profile is used to elevate the toe piece of the (Marker Motion) integrated binding so the skier’s stance is level, helping to equalize the strain on quads and hamstrings, where an imbalance can likewise contribute to knee injuries.

In short, a lot of thought went into making the Charisma truly a women’s ski and not just a paint job with a forward mounting mark. The new Charisma is more comfortable that the old one running occasional raids into ungroomed environs, but it still shines brightest when lacing short slashes together down a pitched patch of crisp corduroy."

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

I think I am going to end up buying both the Charisma and the Kenja.  I have a chance to buy the Charisma in a 156cm as a demo at the end of this season.  This ski does amazing on ice, I was very pleased.  I demoed the Kenja the last weekend where the conditions were a little softer here and there but in places it was very hard packed and the kenja ROCKED everywhere.  I am thinking of the charismas to be my ice frontside on piste ski and then use the kenjas when there is hard pack, softer snow or if we get a little bit of powder and at 87 mm underfoot the kenja can handle this fine I believe. 


Now the question of what size.  I am thinking I will stay in the 156cm for both.  Both are up to my nose or so.  I am 5'6" and 175lbs.  The 156cm is good for my height but my weight dictates I should be on a longer ski.  However, I don't notice any chatter on the 156 with either ski and both perform very well.  I just don't want to get to big on the skis and want to maintain the nimbleness of having a shorter ski in the 156.

post #9 of 17
The Kenja is known for edge hold. That's the main thing my buddies wife noticed when she demo it. She skis with us big boy's and doesn't slow us down. The tune must not have been spot on, or you were not over the ski. The will hold on ice.

I would just stick with the Kenja, put the other money towards lessons or better boots that are fitted to your feet.

My GF a little lighter then you, sounds about your level, she has a little pole plant going and is still a little in the back seat, enjoy's her 2013/2014 Kenja's. The pretty blue/green one's with the gray tail.

I would push you towards the 156cm. Then in a year or so may be look at a fatter Volkl, if you'd like to ski in the fresh snow and Spring time crud, kiku, I think it is.

I'm on the Kendo and love my Shiro's for the Spring and fresh snow.
Edited by Max Capacity - 2/4/15 at 11:38am
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

I think that the first tme I had the kenja's out and I slid was because I didn't know I needed to be over the ski. The second time I had the kenjas out for the day I learned I needed to be over the ski and holy crap did that Kenja dig into the hard pack.  Not icy that day but it dug into the hard pack in the most amazing way


I have boots that are finally broken in so I think I am good there.


The edge hold of the Kenja is what fascinates my boyfriend.  He can't believe a ski that is so wide holds an edge like it does.


I am just starting to pole plant a little.  That's the other thing I learned with the kenja is I tried to do narrow tight turns and she definitely likes to make bigger broader turns.  Once I figured that out and that I needed to be on the ski it was pretty amazing.


I didn't want to get off these things, wasn't tired and just wanted to go and go.


The Kenjas grip the hardpack so well that I no longer enjoy my Volkl Violas which I used to be quite fond of.  Now when I hit ice or hard pack the violas just sorta slides down it..... :(


I think the kiku will be too wide for what I'd need here in new England.  I am really looking I think for a good frontside carver as my daily driver for ice and hard pack and then a good all mountain ski that's a little wider to handle all conditions so this is where the kenja will fit in. 


I am going to see if I can get the Kenja's on sale next week when I go to Vermont.  I still may get the charisma since I'll be getting it for 40% off.   I will stick to 156cm in size and if after a year of skiing on them I'll upgrade one of my skis to a bigger size.


I do know one thing is my violas gotta go.......................................

post #11 of 17
Glad you enjoy the Kenja's. The buddies wife demoed the Black Pearl's and Wild Bell's but when she finally got on the Kenja, she was blown away by it. She talks about it like you do, doesn't want to stop skiing them.

I still say take a lesson and work on learning how to make short radious turns. That skill will open up so much more terrain for you. I'm glad I learned that skill years ago. It give me so much confidance and control.

Enjoy the skis.
post #12 of 17
My significant other demoed the Volkl RTM 75 in 159cm and enjoyed that ski very much. She is 5'4", 144lbs, level 5 skier. She ended up purchasing the Rossi Temptation 80 instead in 153cm and enjoys that ski just as much even though it is very different than the Volkl.

The RTM 75 are our son's skies so she can ski them at any time which is why she went the Rossi road rather than purchasing the female Volkl version.
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you.  The charisma definitely seemed to be ok with making the short turns but the Kenja definitely wanted to make wider arcing type of turns.  I will take a lesson to work on doing this more with the Kenja.  I think I just need to lean into the ski more but a lesson will help with that.  I do think though the Kenja just likes wider GS style of turns.  Great ski though, everyone who loves the kenja seems to have the same reaction in that they don't want to get off them. 

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

My significant other loves his RTM 81s; its all he skis these days. 

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
I went skiing in Bromley today and pickings were slim in the demo area. They had the charisma in 156 but i already demoed them in ice and they rock but today was a powder day. They had the Volkl Kenjas in a 163cm. What to do. I demoed the Kenja in a 156 but never in 163cm. Was the 163cm too tall for me, it's a lot of ski. What the hell, if I don't like them I bring em back and take out something else. Lots of powder today, LOTS. OMG were the Kenjas fantastic. Once again on this ski, didn't want to stop for lunch and didn't want to quit at the end of the day. It's a sign, the 163cm wasn't too much for me at all. Now I will be selling my Volkl Violas so if anyone knows someone who wants a solid ski in a 148cm send em my way. So stoked, love my new Kenjas, can't wait to take them out again. Still planning on buying the chaarismas at the end of the season as they will be my ice carving skis. My question is will the charismas be ok in the 156, can my carvers be shorter than my all mountain all other condition skis.
post #16 of 17
Originally Posted by surfsnowgirl View Post

My question is will the charismas be ok in the 156, can my carvers be shorter than my all mountain all other condition skis.

I can't recommend a particular length for you, but answer to your question is "yes, carvers can be shorter than other, all-mountain skis".  I have a pair of 95 waist all-mountain, soft-snow skis in 180, and a pair of kastle MX78's for hard-snow carving in 168.  Hard-snow skis don't need the same float and flexibility as softer-snow skis.  

If you liked the Charisma's in 156 and didn't feel like you needed more ski or that they felt too short...they will afford you more short-turn ability.  My own opinion is that you can expand the range of your quiver by not only waist width, but also by length.  I ski hardpack with short-turn ability with my Kastle's and soft-snow longer-turn conditions with my 95's.  

post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much.  I will grab the Charismas at the end of the season in 156cm and use them for hard snow/ice carving and also have my Kenja's in 163cm for everything else.  The Kenja rocks in hard pack also but I really wanted a dedicated ice carver ski so I think the Charisma will fit that bill fine.  I felt great in the 156cm plus I like the shorter turn maneuverability it will provide.  I loved the Kenja in 156cm on hard pack.  I can't wait to get my 163s in some nice hard pack.

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