Just returned from the Snowbasin Ski Industry Demo.
Here are a couple of highlights for me (middle aged, 6'1". 230# - fairly aggressive, but getting older)
It is hard to find really bad skis these days, but most of the 2013/14 stuff I tested was pretty "vanilla" to me. But, here are a few exceptions.
Three skis really stood out from the crowd: "Standout Models"
Blizzard Brahma: (length tested - 180cm) - does it all well, groomed, off piste, bumps, hard, soft, you name it. Best of the 85-90ish skis that I tested. Although, I don't think that I would trade my Kastle MX 88's for them, the Brahma is pretty damn good.
Kastle FX 94: (length tested - 186cm) - this is a real improvement over it's predecessor, a little early rise in the tip, and thicker metal in the layup. It isn't quite as damp as the MX series of skis, but has good edge hold and is very usable off-piste and in bumps. I also think that it skis quite well on groomers at speed. Note: I also tested the FX 84 but it was kinda "vanilla" to me, the FX94 was much better - maybe because of my size. Don't know.
Rossignol Soul 7: (length tested - 180cm) - I did not expect to like this ski, because it is wider than I like (106mm at waist) and was very light in weight with no metal in the layup. Wow, was I surprised! This ski absolutely rips for me! It handled firm groomed snow like a much narrower ski, very quick and easy with surprising edge hold and stability. And it was money off piste, in the trees and in bumps. I didn't get to test the 188cm, but I assume that it would be even better for me. Give this one a try.
Two Skis with Unexpected Performance - "Honorable Mention Models"
Rossignol Sin 7: (length tested - 180cm) - this model replaces the venerable S3 that was a great soft snow ride for a lot of skiers, just not for anyone heavy or hard charging. Not so any more, still very light and easy to ski, but with a ton more range and skiability. Held an edge very well on groomers with a surprising stability. This ski compares very favorably with the Nordica Soul Rider that gets a lot of props on Epic. Big improvement for Rossi, and a hell of a value
Blizzard Peacemaker: (length tested - 186cm) - this ski has a 104mm waist, a rockered tip and tail, with some camber underfoot, no metal. Wow, is this thing fun. Wicked stable with good edge hold, and wants to go fast. Rails GS turns on groomers like a ski with metal, but is super nimble off-piste and in bumps. I think that this is going to satisfy a lot of skiers that wanted a Cochise, but weren't stout enough to bend it.
Two Excellent skis that No One will buy - "Sleeper Models"
Fischer Hybrid 8.5 (w/o metal): (length tested - 182cm) - new ski from Fischer that follows up on their "Hybrid" concept (the ski changes from full camber to an early rise tip with a flip of a switch), this one has no metal and is much lighter than the initial offerings. This Hybrid is very stable and smooth, like a soft GS ski in the cambered setting, and is quick, agile and fun off-piste, in the "rockered" setting. Americans don't like "gimmicky" adjustments, but this is an excellent ski with a ton of versatility for those that will try it. No one will buy it, because it is a Fischer and it's technical.
Head Rev 85 Pro: (length tested 177cm) - this ski has been reviewed here on Epic pretty extensively, and I will echo those that like it, It does everything pretty well, and nothing badly. Graphics are better for next year, and it's a hell of a value, but no one will buy it, because it is a Head and it isn't a race ski.