Nick's post there actually reminded me of something I forgot to mention -- if you're concerned about the burliness of race skis, you can try a women's race ski. This is a fairly common recommendation for lighter guys looking for a race ski, but could also work for a recreational skier looking to use a race ski as a general-purpose frontside carver. Although at 6'5" you may have a hard time finding one long enough in the women's race models...
Originally Posted by Nick Z Taos
I never really noticed the difference between wood core and foam core. Both performed equally well. My conclusion (being drawn by my experience of skiing only 3 models fairly hard): wood cores and foam cores do not appear to have any major difference in performance characteristics or in longevity of the ski. Am I missing something? Am I not sensitive enough to nuances of how the ski reacts?
My recent experience has shown that foam cores (at least in Atomics) are just as good as wood cores.
What you're missing is that there are many different kinds of "foam" cores and constructions that can use them.
At a very, very high level, there are basically two kinds of foam cores: injected and milled.
In an 'injected' core, the center of the ski is a hollow box that they spray/squirt expanding plastic foam into during the manufacturing process. The foam expands to take up all the space in the box and then hardens. As a general rule, these cores are crap -- they don't fill or cure (harden) perfectly evenly, they don't have the same rigidity/flex/dampening characteristics, and they tend to break down with wear and tear. This kind of construction is normally used in cheap beginner or kids' skis, since it requires very little precise manual labor.
With a 'milled' core, they manufacture sheets or blocks of high-density foam (or solid plastic), then mill (cut/shave) them down to the exact dimensions required. The resulting block of material can then be used the same way you'd use a solid wood core -- wrapped in a torsion box, layered with wood or carbon fiber or metal ('laminate'), etc. These vary in quality depending on the material used, but at the high end they hold up well and if reinforced with metal or carbon can be plenty stiff.
I don't think "color" matters per se, but I would think that newer manufacturing processes have improved the consistency and strength of foam and plastic materials in general. These days I wouldn't say that either wood or milled foam cores are universally better or automatically make a ski better suited for a particular application.