I'm new here, but have been lurking for a few months.
Just got off my first full day on my brand new Kendo's, 184. I'm 38, 6'3 and 230lbs. I consider myself a 7 out of 9 skier. I've been skiing since I was 6, but this is my first true full season back after not skiing for 10+ years. I ski mostly Tahoe and nearby resorts out west. Love to ski long groomers as steep as they come with reasonable (sane) speed, skiing typically quick slalom style parallel turns on the steep and smoothing out to more GS style turns on the medium steep (where I quickly become bored). I'm pretty so-so in the chop and bumps but definitely aspire to improve there soon and would also like to explore trees and deeper powder as my ability and conditioning progresses.
As some background first, this season I've already demo'd 181 K2 Chargers, which were really fun and easy to ski on groomed piste, but I hated them in the crud and pow. 181 K2 Aftershocks which I had some fun with in the pow but *hated* on the steep groomers--they were super soft and couldn't hold my weight on edge or the speed I like to ski worth crap (but they did float me nice in the pow.) 178 Nordica Spitfire Pro's which were fun on-piste but I found their speed getting away from me a little too easily--a little too intense of a true racing ski for my liking.
So after much further research on other ski's that do great on groomers but still have some off-piste potential I had my initial choices narrowed down to the Volkl AC30 Unlimited, the K2 Rictor's or the Rossignol Avenger 82's. However, after going into my local shop and telling them about my ability and aspirations they steered me "heavily" toward the newer, wider All-Mountain skis like the Volkl Kendo, Elan Apex, Prophet 90's, etc. Basically their pitch was that ski's like the AC30's and the Avenger's are a dying breed; all the skis are getting fatter every year, but are also getting better at maintaining their performance on the groomers while offering much more all-mountain versatility. I also easily eliminated the Rictor when I flexed it side by side with the Aftershock and realized it was just as soft so would probably ski similar.
In my size, all they had were some previous season Elan 888's, the Kendo's or the Prophet 90's. They also had many wider skis like the Mantra, Gotama, and everything in between, but I was assured that those would likely be overkill for my initial needs. What I need now is really more of a true 50/50 ski that I can grow into as my skills develop. Seeing that the Kendo's in my size (184-191) are practically sold out in the Bay Area, and also buying into the dealer and internet hype, I took the plunge and bought the Kendo's without ever having ski'd them. Plus hey, they look cool too. ;-D
After a full day out today, I am very relieved because I absolutely loved them! I agree with every good thing I've read about them over the last few months on these forums and elsewhere and couldn't find a single negative quality in them at all. In fact, they were so confidence inspiring on the steep groomers I found myself pushing my normal speed limit even further with a big ol huge grin on my face. Super grippy and quick edge to edge. Super smooth quiet ride. I will easily ski this as my dedicated groomer ski and never look back.
I also took them in quite a bit of the "week since the last storm" ungroomed crud and they were fine there too--it was obvious that it's my ability lacking there and not the ski, whereas with a ski like the K2 Charger in the crud I felt like a total fish out of water; the Kendo's were definitely the best of any ski I've tried in the crud so far. I also tested their float in some roughly 18" powder between trees and the tips stayed up and they kept me above the snow. I was particularly worried about that because of all the comments in these forums that "a ski that narrow with metal" won't float you, but it definitely floated all 230lbs of me. :-)
All in all I am super thrilled with my purchase and feel I have a really great "one ski quiver" to grow into. The stiffness feels perfect for my skiing style and weight. Pretty much the only regret I have is I am wondering if I should have bought them in 191 considering how easy the 184's handle...