I am a 5'9", 64-yr-old, 230 lb, 20-year backcountry skier who switched from tele to AT 2 years ago. My AT skis are Dynafit 7 Summits (178 cm, 80 mm waist for firm snow) with Comfort bindings, Dynafit Manaslus (187 cm, 95 mm waist for soft snow) with vertical AT bindings, and, remounted from my Tele days, Atomic R:EX (184 cm, 84 mm waist, now with Fritschi Freeride bindings for lift-served). I skied 110 days backcountry this season and 1 day lift-served, during which I felt my R:EX carved short- to medium-radius turns on the groomed snow well but seemed a little squirrely at longer radius turns and faster speeds. I'm anticipating doing considerably more lift-served because my grandkids are starting to get good (and, of course, very fast); I kept up with the 7-year old one day this year, but just barely because he straight lines it and my Atomics seemed a little unpredictable at speed. I have always felt my Atomics were short for me, but ironically I don't feel the same way about the Dynafit 7 summits on partially defrosted corn snow. I enjoy my 187 Manaslus and the two former skis are the only skis I've had under 187; I've never considered a 190 cm to be long for me.
I'm looking for a ski primarily for skiing the groomers and adjacent off-piste with the grandkids but also with opportunity to do some sidecountry as well; skiing would be fast on piste, moderate in the sidecountry. The oldest is zipping the blues and the occasional blacks, loves the trees, and probably will be taking lessons and doing more blacks and trees next year. So my big question: should I get my R:EX professionally tuned to see if their performance improves with tuning or should I consider taking advantage of summer prices and buying something like a Volkl Kendo or a Stockli Stormrider VXL? If I get a new ski should I stick to the low 180s or high 180s-191? Mount with the Freerides or with a Marker Touring binder (or dump the touring and have to get new boots too?). I ski the Atomics with 4-buckle Polyurethane Zzero boots.
Thanks in advance for sage advice; sorry if this is boring. I have spent considerable time searching and reviewing the posts about the Kendo, VXL, MX88, and other skis on this site and others. From my reading, and my experience, I really need some advice from bigger guys.
p.s.: skis would be used primarily in western Washington at White Pass, Crystal, and Mt. Baker.
Edited by Andy Carey - 7/17/11 at 3:48pm