First a minor editorial comment - I'm always puzzled by the frequency of guys doing the ski shopping for their spouses. I'd think women buying skis could speak/ask for themselves. And that this might avoid some of the usual errors introduced by playing "telephone". (obviously surprise presents excluded from this comment ) That .02 said...
In any discussion about a ski making soft snow easy, the correct answer will not be a conventional cambered ski. What the correct answer will involve is a ski that is at least 100 or so at the waist, has tip rocker, has tail rocker, is flat or has mild camber and probably has some measure of early taper on both ends - although this last can be subtle.
I'd think about skis like
Praxis BC (ignore the "BC" name)
or at a shade wider...
next year's MissDirected (or 169 Obsethed)
Salomon Rocker2 in a shorter length (I think there is one)
or anything with the general shape of the above
Interestingly, regarding "fatter" conventional skis, I think my spouse was the just about the very first Aura fan back in the day on Divas. She has since left the Auras behind and has used only rockered skis - for all conditions - in a few hundred ski days. While skis like the Aura are fine enough skis, they will not make for that "step function" in easiness of skiing fresh snow.
Regarding the newer Volkls mentioned above - the odds of different glues/feel being in play in Germany vs China are virtually nil. Jarden/K2 Sports/Volkl manage a sophisticated global design/supply chain. They can build what they want, to their specifications, where they want - and they will likely cut up more skis than many indy companies produce just to run through batteries of tests in their labs. I'm not saying to buy or not buy their skis because of this -- just saying I think introducing some reality is pertinent. Don't fall for marketing hype designed to play to geographic or ethnic biases.
At least from the 2010/2011 crop, if you are thinking about the Line Pandora, actually look to the short Bacon instead - it has a better rocker profile (despite some marketing slight of hand, they are not the same ski).
I'm not sure how the CRJ would play for a smaller person, but I found it a surprisingly challenging ski on firm or cutup snow when I spent half a day on a pair. Now, I'm a bit over 200 pounds, so a smaller someone's mileage may vary on a smaller CRJ - but the ski seems to have a reputation for being interesting to get a handle on in/on hard snow.
While you can not buy powder dominance, you can most definitely buy easier powder skiing and more "easy" fun in soft snow. And that most definitely involves "real" rocker.
Edited by spindrift - 3/28/11 at 9:51pm