I got to demo a couple of skis on my wish list recently so here's an attempt to share my take on these skis. Hopefully I can do the review justice.
Me: 5'10", 155, age 57. Ski about 25 days a year, sometimes a little more. Usually ski where ever the snow is best so often find myself in the trees. Ski mostly in northern Vermont. Skis I have skied quite a bit are the Head Monster IM 77, Head Monster 88 and Volkl Gotama.
The conditions for these demos were quite varied, from very hard and slick groomers to nicely spaced fairly easy soft moguls with 3 to 8 inches of wind blown snow.
Rossignol S 86 in 178. This was a ski I really wanted to love. I don't know what it was, the large sidecut or maybe a bad tune, but these felt very "hooky" to me. They held an edge pretty good on the hard stuff and were competent and somewhat easy to turn in the soft stuff, but I simpy couldn't get comfortable on them as they seemed to constantly want to hook up into turns. They seemed to have a pretty good flex in that they were not too soft or too hard and seemed to be pretty much a 50/50 hard snow/soft snow ski. However that hookiness bothered me the entire time I was on them and I never felt good letting these run at speed. I spent a couple of hours on them hoping I could get use to them but never really did. One of the guys at the shop I got them from really liked them and I've heard many others do too but they were not for me.
Volk Kendo in 177. What a difference this ski was. Within two or three turns this ski felt confident inspiring on the groomers and I found myself letting these rip, increasing my speed throughout the run. These skis held very well on the hard frozen groomers and I found I could manage any kind of turn shape too, as they seemed to do pretty much whatever I wanted them to do. In the soft bumps with heavy windblown snow though was where these really shined, as they seemed to turn quickly and easily with just the right amount of flex and forgiveness. Compared to my old Head 88s I would say they are not as damp as those skis in that the Heads seemed to absorb vibrations more and smooth things out while busting through crud. The Kendos seemed to have a lighter and quicker feel then the Heads, and although they did not seem as damp (I hope I am using that term correctly), they didn't get thrown around either. As on the groomers I again found that I could vary turn shape very easily and quickly. I also had the chance to take these into some untracked woods which was mostly very deep and very heavy windblown snow. When I had some room in there to let them run a little they performed ok but when the lines got tight and I had to slow down (ok, I also slowed down a bit due to my own inability too), they were somewhat difficult and tended to sink, but I don't think these are really the conditions this ski was made for (just for comparison I took the Gotamas into the same run an hour later and the extra surface area of those skis helped keep the tips up instead of sinking).
Overall, I would say that the Kendo is a very well balanced mid fat ski that is maybe slightly biased toward hard snow and crud versus soft snow but still competent at both. I think this is a pretty good East Coast all mountain ski.