I have been avoiding this debate because clearly there is no single answer even from a single skier (unless they only ski at one ski area....maybe). But your motivation for starting this thread is fair and perhaps....with any luck...it will help change some peoples' narrow minded perspective and stimulate productive discussion or debate that may actually help some people who are more confused than ever.
A) First of all, why is it that most of the advice, no scratch that...opinion on this topic are from people who live and ski in the west...or at least have done so for a long time? I think their perspective of modern skis in the east is just fundamentally flawed.
B) Why aren't there more Eastern skiers offering their opinions on this subject? I think that part of the problem is A) above and because there are no where near enough demos of anywhere near enough skis in the East. OR...we just don't care enough and would rather just ski.
C) Why is all of "the east" and especially when including the mid atlantic lumped together in one basket? While it has been said before many times, Jay Peak, Stowe and many many other mountains are not the same skiing as 400' vertical mountains in Pennsylvania (chosen randomly).
D) As a nod to one of the participants in these forums that I respect the most...Beyond, what on earth happened to the thinking of 3 or 4 years ago that 80 something width skis were the lost width because most 98ish skis had edge hold never before dreamt of plus greater versatility. MARKETING! Everyone has 98ish skis now (well hopefully only if they are out west) so they have to be told they need something else. Yes, this paragraph is all pure sarcasm.
On the other hand I do pay allot of attention to some of the reviewers on this board and it has helped allot in choosing skis because as I said before, there are not many opportunities to demo. My son who is by ALL standards a great skier, thinks all the reviews are bunk and goes totally by the dimensions, feel and flex of a ski somehow always chooses right (for him) OR maybe he can just ski on anything.
Now here is an interesting one... He and 3 of his friends are by far the best skiers I have ever seen in person (lets forget about pros of any sort). He skis on a Rossignol Sickle and his friends 2 Hellbents and an Obsethed. They really don't ski groomers...BUT, they do fly through very steep, bumped up, super tight trees (make that forests)....with or without snow. Must be a miracle.
On the other hand I do agonize over skis. Part because it is just fun and part because I hope it will help me keep up with them. See I am not that bad actually. So here are my perspectives on the skis I own: (BTW...I am 5'11, 225 pounds and I only ski groomers when otherwise I would just stay home)
1) Blizard G Force Supersonic, 174. Fun, easy good grip, reasonable stable. Only see groomer duty so I don't use them much. Will probably sell just because I do not use them much.
2) Dynastar Outland 87, 178. Bought based on the Hype here on Epic, could not demo. OK Ski, just not very exciting. For sale because: (Drum Roll) My Kastle BMX98's (178) do everything better. Smoother yet more exciting on hard snow. Definitely the Kastle's conform to bumpy terrain better and are allot better in chopped up snow even a few inches deep. I know what I said is impossible because they are 98mm underfoot but I am often told I am crazy.
3) DPS 112RP, 184. Have to spend more time on these. I have not yet skied them in over a foot of snow. But guess what, they are the easiest, most fun skis in bumpy trees with only a few inches of snow. Even when the troughs get icy. They bounce over loose piles of snow like a jackrabbit and generally turn on a dime. I am amazed! OK...they are not fun on flat hard snow at all and I still give the edge to the BMX98 in choppy snow, less bumpy as they just feel more powerful and planted.
So I am still looking for one ski to replace both my Outlands an Supersonics. Probably more psychological than anything else because I should probably just keep my Kastles nice and sharp and practice getting up to higher edge angles. But apparently that would be blasphemy.
I should have mentioned that I live in Quebec. I ski mostly at Orford and Sutton... Almost always in the trees and a good number of those runs would challenge 95% of the skiers here. So I am not at that 400' mountain in Pennsylvania. On the other hand I am certainly no stranger to ice...real ice.
So in conclusion (finally)...lets get more demos in the East, find what each of us really like instead of being told what we should like, challenge ourselves and have fun doing it.
Reviews and opinions are relevant especially as a starting point...But they are opinions, not absolutes!
As they say YMMV.