Preview: Report from the 2023 Volkl Press Junket from Sun Valley

Product Launches are always informative and fun. This year, Volkl/Dalbello/Marker invited us to magnificent and picturesque Sun Valley, Idaho for the launch of Volkl’s new Kendo, Kenja, and Mantra 102, along with Dalbello‘s 100mm-last Veloce collection. Weather and snow conditions could not be better for this launch. Sun Valley received about a foot of snow on the previous day, perfect conditions for the skis we were about to test.

In transparency, MDV provided lift tickets, put us up at the Limelight Hotel, fed us, poured drinks down our throats and supplied us with a few take-home goodies, many which will be passed along our to readers. We provided our own transportation to the event.​

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Trickle-down, or in this case, trickle-expanding technology is nothing new; we see it in every industry. It is very common in building flagship skis and in the expansion to mainstream models. This is the case with Volkl. Last year, Volkl raised the bar with the class-leading M6 Mantra and Secret 96 by adding their 3D radius sidecut, Tailored Tip and Tailored Titanal Frame. The first two design technologies were also used in other Volkl models like the Deacon V.Werks, but the Tailored Titanal Frame was a M6 Mantra/Secret 96 exclusive in their freeride series. The current generation Kendo/Kenja brother and sister have the 3D sidecut, but for next season, the center sidecut will be shortened one meter from 17 meters to 16 in the reference 177 cm Kendo. That one meter does bring the ski alive and adds a sense of quickness that was rarely associated with previous Kendos.

Volkl’s Tailored Tip and Tailored Titanal Frame does not limit the skier to a one size offering. For example, a 177 in the Kendo is my reference size, but if I wanted a ski to charge with, I could step up to the 184. Tricia, who usually skis the Kenja in a 170, might want a more nimble version and can now drop to the 163. It all depends on what you want out of your experience. Please check out my review of the new 2023 Kendo and Tricia’s review of the 2023 Kenja . We expect to have both of these models in SkiTalk’s long-term test fleet.

These constructional differences were also immediately noticed when I got on Volkl’s charger, the Mantra 102. Obtainable is a word that we have used a lot lately, and it is appropriate here with the new 102. The Mantra 102 still has the power it is known for, but now you are no longer required to be the strongest skier on the hill. My review of the 2023 Mantra 102 is here. The women’s counterpart, the 2023 Secret 102, will return unchanged with just the upgrade of the graphic theme and will be posted when the ski is released.
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Two additional updates are the all-new Deacon 72 and Deacon 76, both of which share the shape and Tailored tips of the award-winning Deacon Master twins. However, they have a poplar core, versus the ash core of the Master, and the X-comp system bindings lose their piston plates. Reviews for these two new Deacons are upcoming.

Dalbello has a long history of making a full range of boots from entry-level to podium-winning on the World Cup. The all-new Veloce is at the top of their recreational collection. The 100 mm Veloce collection will range from a 90-130 on the mens side and a 75-105 flex for the women. All will come standard with GripWalk. Unfortunately, we did not have access to our test sizes because the sample size was the usual 26.5; I am a 25.5 and Tricia is a 23.5. But when I tried them on, I could tell the boot would provide a uniform fit. Once full-size runs are available, hopefully we will get a pair for one of our testers to review.
Photo Credit: Ray J. Gadd
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Philpug
I started skiing in the mid-70s in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania; from then on, I found myself entrenched in the industry. I have worked in various ski shops from suburban to ski town to resort, giving me a well-rounded perspective on what skiers want from their gear. That experience was parlayed into my time as a Gear Review Editor and also consulting with manufacturers as a product tester. Along with being a Masterfit-trained bootfitter I am a fully certified self proclaimed Gear Guru. Not only do I keep up with the cutting edge of ski gear technology, but I am an avid gear collector and have an extensive array of bindings as well as many vintage skis.

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