As far as the mag testers.............one of our employees was a tester in that one again this year and she just shakes her head about some of the "stuff" that comes up. "Un Atomic-Like"...........really?..............like, what is that? and izzit bad?
I talk about that 'balance' thing a lot and that is generally what separates my own personal favorites from the pack.
I'd guess that this isn't the testers but what happens afterward. All testing is about differentiation, right? No one wants copy that says, "These ten skis we already culled out to feature are super good, any of them can do everything you need, they all rule."
So the copy editor is rewriting some intern's summary of the various cards. Who's been told to produce 50 clever words about a ski that basically performs about the same as the rest of the preselected top ten, at best it feels different completing the same tasks just as efficiently. So a statistically insignificant lower score for edge hold on a single card or two (and trust me, all the score differences are statistically insignificant for that non-random sample size, power of test, and error) can produce an insignificantly lower summed score, which the intern then gets turned into a defining characteristic of the ski. Which the copy editor foregrounds because that'll make people read the review.
But that said, have also noticed lot of variation in scores/evals for the Atomics at other places. Say in comparison to the Mantra or Bonafide, where everyone agrees closely on how they feel and what they do well, whether they like or dislike the outcomes. Another 2013 line that seems to produce a lot of variation in basic evals are the new Big Stix's. Either smooth and planted or jouncy and unreliable at speed, depending on who reviews them. My hunch is that while the Atomics' overall grip is just fine, some testers like a balanced flex, others can't quite make it fit with their skiing style. Or with the Big Stix, a finesse skier may appreciate Fischer carbon construction, a power skier may find it nervous.
Personally, have long thought your balance fetish makes a lot of sense, am also interested in how sidecut change versus camber change contributes to a feeling of predictability during edging. Eg, the number of 2013 brands that mention matching these in some novel, patentable way.
Now how about those TST weights?