I am bored, so I will play. My take on this, after skiing only 9 seasons, is this. I never paid much attention to what a ski was rated for, as most I bought were rated for advanced users. I would just do my home work, read as many reviews as possible from people in my weight class (presently 210lbs) and try and pick up a used pair in the beginning, as I knew I had little experience and frankly, I normally liked most every ski I tried with the exception of 2. After a few seasons, I started taking small group classes which helped a bunch. So IMO, lessons are very helpful/important and I still take a few a season. You will likely find that a beginner ski has a softer flex, as will boots, than gear targeted to an expert, as the expert will have the skill set and desire for stiffer, more burly gear, so they can really drive a ski. On piste, I do enjoy a stiffer ski as I am an advanced skier. However, in soft snow/powder, I prefer a tad softer ski, as I am not an advanced powder skier and I think a softer tip will plane up easier. So, yes, different shapes, camber, rocker and flex patterns make all the difference in the world. Also, I am usually not going real fast through cut up snow and firming up crud, so again do not need the stiffer ski required for blasting through cut up snow/crud that the expert skier may prefer. I think that covers it in general terms, but I am sure others can add their own nuances/tweaks to the general idea. And yes, there is a huge difference in skis aimed at a beginner and an expert skier.
Edited by liv2 ski - 1/26/13 at 11:24am