Racing against cafeteria trays may be accurate to a certain extent..hahah. Our slogan last season was 'mud on the slopes, no problem!' and that was a real situation unfortunately.
Casual racer is probably the best way to describe what I'm looking for. Between my budget as qcanoe mentioned and our courses absolutely not being real sets, it seems like something with a smaller radius may make more sense. That being said, some people I've raced with who were from the northeast and grew up doing this said a more challenging, demanding ski would do me wonders. I'm just concerned that by the time I figured it out and was used to the shift, it's purpose would be gone. Additionally, all the deals I can find seem to be for high-performance consumer skis. The other thing I'm probably most conerned about is my weight/height, and I just don't have much of a refernce there to compare with kids who are racing seriously who I'm sure can handle FIS skis. For someone who's 5'7/140lbs, what would a serious racer be using with that kind of body (I stopped growing in 7th grade, if that helps at all).
For even more background info, I race in the USCSA Southeastern conference, and by a minor miracle (and a couple wicked kids from Vermont/New Hamshire) we qualified for Nationals this past season out in Idaho. Tons of fun, obviously we finished close to dead last. That course at Sun Valley made me feel like I was on little twigs, and when we train at Sunday River we got a really great set down Monday Morning and I felt like another 5-10 inches on my skis would have really let me attack that course rather than feeling out of control and hooking a lot of my turns.
Based on the feedback I've received, it really seems like I need to be considering two purchases here rather than just the one. Since these GS skis would really only be used for another season, it wouldn't be totally unrealistic for me to find a pair and then try to sell them back to a younger racer at my school. That being said, the radius really does concern me, most of the of the top guys in our conference used FIS specs, but from years past..since our sets are just way too small (take a gander at the trail map for Bryce if that would help with perspective).
I hope this helps, I'm sorry for being somewhat of a walking contradiction!