I'm struck by the disproportionate shift from technical (if you can call it that) to dumbed down (if you can call it that) in fatter skis. Have a hunch that in a few more years the only traditionally cambered skis will be below 75 mm, and aimed strictly at frontside carving "second skis" or recreational racing. In other words, the mid-fat, moderately rockered ski will be our primary tool, and we haul out the traditional carver only when we have to. So I wonder if in the next few year's we're going to see more examples like the 82Ti, where a legit excellent wide carver (that sold well, far as I know) gets dumbed down.
The flip side of all this is also interesting. I note that rocker evolved out of very fat, very specialized powder skis. So can we say that a 115 mm with rocker is dumbed down? Don't think so. Rocker is a great solution to turning in 3D conditions without having either to porpoise or go super fat for enough float. It's also led to an entirely new style of skiing, allows us to ski powder or chop as if it were soft groomed.
But it doesn't follow that rocker is the best solution to actual 2D snow. Again, I'm struck by how our desires to see ourselves as powder skiers is driving technology and marketing, rather than our desire to make the best possible use of the snow we/the average skier routinely skis.
As I've said elsewhere, seems like a growing disconnect between the frantic marketing of rocker to largely groomer skiers and actual climatic conditions. Unfortunately, Jim, your view of the rain coming down - at least you have rain, we just have warm dry blech - is going to be more common as the years roll by. Doesn't mean that lower elevation resorts won't get plenty of snow. But they'll also be getting more and more thaws and unseasonal rain. NOAA, various academic studies, all seem to agree on this. Or you'll have a big snow year, like 2011, followed by a no snow year like 2012. Won't hassle many of us at Epic who own silly numbers of skis, but for the average one ski at a time buyer, what do you tell 'em? Aim for 2011 or aim for 2012? In this sense I think the European experience is prescient. They're always had weird, variable weather, kinda like New England but with more real dumps. And they seem to support the world market in traditional carvers to (very) mild early rise mid-fats. (They also tour a lot more than we do, and on narrower skis.) That's why I crack up when someone calls Fischer or Elan or Stockli "old school" for "failing" to catch up with reality. Uh, seems to me they have a better grip (sorry for the pun) on reality than the companies who are betting their pile on U.S. freestyle wannabes. Or maybe not, seeing that Stockli apparently is introducing early rise to its entire Stormrider line. Maybe Elan is on the right track with amphibio; build bipolar skis for bipolar weather...
So for me, question is, will rockered 80-90 mm skis handle these swings better than traditional "compromise" skis? If there's more crud and slush and chop, then absolutely. Night and day. If there's more refreezing, coral reefs, patches of transparency between the bumps, scratchy over-goomed man-made, absolutely not. Day and night. Hmmm.