I'm writing this up now because I had the time to do it, with the hope that somebody with a similar skiing style gets some benefit. Demo days at my local mountain were in mid-December, and I enjoyed taking about 40 different skis for a spin.
I'm an expert skier, 6'1" and 230 lbs. I'm aggressive but far from gonzo. I like a ski that has decent edge hold on firm snow while still being lively and carve friendly. On ungroomed/powder/steeps etc., I want a ski that will not get pushed around by crud or other changes in snow quality, but is still forgiving where I feel I can haul the ski around in an instant if needed.
I currently ski the 2009/2010 K2 Kung Fujas in the 189. These are the first year that the ski was rockered with a 95mm waist. I believe newer models have a milder rocker profile they also have a 102 waist.
So, these are some of the skis I tried and my impressions. Unfortunately, lots of the manufacturer's did not have skis in the 190 range, so in several cases I could see that I liked the dynamics of the ski, but they were just too short to really drive like I could if they were in a proper size.
Demo was at Sunlight Mountain in Glenwood Springs, CO. Conditions were early season, but decent due to some snowfall a few days before. No untracked snow to be found, but there was loose snow on the margins of runs, and the ungroomed runs had developing proto-moguls and some crud. Basically, the demo weekend allowed for a pretty good sample of how a ski would handle day old crud and other challenging snow conditions.
Salomon Shogun- This was a ski I had been really interested in before I bought my Kung Fujas. Edge hold in hard snow was precise, and the ski was certainly competent, but also unexciting. It didn't have a lot of pop, and it seemed to lack both the pop of a floppier ski, while lacking the feeling of really being able to hammer into and drive the ski like a lot of the stiffer skis.
Nordica Patron- Hated. Hated. Hated. Ski felt dead and unresponsive, hard to transition between turns, and the on-snow turning radius of these is just insanely huge. Repeatedly, I would set an edge and initiate a turn, and the ski would grab in and cut an arc much shallower than the turn I was actually looking for. On crud, getting turns felt like I was skiing with 100 lb weights in each boot. Not what I am looking for at all.
BBR's- Had a great feel on hard snow, but that should be expected given that dimensionally it is a pretty narrow ski. I'm not sold on the purported deep- snow ability.
Volkl Kendos- Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap. More edge precision than I have ever felt in any ski I've ever run. These skis wanted to go 100 mph all the time, and to really be pushed. Great on hard snow, and a really fun ski. However, too narrow to be an everyday ski for me, but they were certainly a surprise.
Volkl Gotama- Still good edge precision, but not to the level of the Kendos. The demo pair was only in the 175 range, and its hard for me to get out of the backseat on smaller skis, which limited my ability to push these. Nevertheless, they responded well to crud and loose snow, and seemed to be a good all-around ski.
Libtech NAS Freeride- Loved this ski. Good edge grab and control, and a great balance of being lively yet a bit burly at the same time. Really a surprise.
Libtech NAS Horsepower- Same dimensions as the Freeride, but with basalt layer construction. Skied these back to back with the Freerides, and thought the Freerides had more power and were easier to haul around in turns on crudded snow.
Libtech NAS Pow- Decent edge grip on a big ski, but had the "dead ski" feeling, and didn't really shine on the crud that was out there.
K2 Obsethed- I expected that the Seths would ski pretty similarly to my Fujas, but I was wrong. They ski exactly the same. It was uncanny, they felt and reacted exactly the same, moreso than any other ski I tried, including the 2 Libtechs with the same dimensions. Obviously the Seths had more underfoot, which made for slightly less of an edge grab on hard snow, but they certainly didn't feel as wide as they are. Fun ski. I think for people trying to decide between a Fujas and the Seths, I just look at how often you will be hitting 12"+ pow days. If you are getting to ski a ton of truly deep snow, I'd lean towards the Fujas.
I'm interested in everybody that will tell me my impressions are crazy and worthless. Feel free to chime in with anything else too.