Dear Thread :
I realized that I might not have been sufficiently explicit in explaining some aspects of my thinking. Hopefully this will help:
First, I should clarify I have no opposition to considering alternatives to short, narrow skis. In fact, I'm not specifically looking for a short, narrow ski. Rather, what I'm looking for is a ski that does what my short, narrow skis do so well (give me great confidence and control in tight, sketchy places, because of their superb agility and edgehold), but that would be less work (and thus more fun) to ski in deeper snow. The point of this thread was not to insist that one should be on short, narrow skis. Rather, it was to ask whether the recommendations for the characteristics one would want in an all-mountain mountain ski would change to something narrow or shorter if the intended off-piste terrain was less like that in videos#1 and #2, and more like video #3 -- and whether there are modern all-mountain skis that would have the particular (and unexpected) off-piste strengths of my slaloms.
Second, some have leaped to the unfortunate conclusion that I believe width and length are the sole important determinants of ski performance. This is not true. To make this explicit, let me say that I recognize that there are a multitude of factors that affect ski performance, and length and width are only two of them (though very important ones nonetheless). There's also: total mass and mass distribution (which gives swing weight); sidecut (and not just turning radius, but the specific shape); longitudinal and torsional stiffness (which are not fully described as individual numbers, since a full description requires capturing how these vary with position; and additionally: (1) torsional stiffness can vary with longitudinal deformation and visa-versa; (2) stiffness response to a slow deformation may be different from that to a fast one; and (3) there's the dependence of all of these on temperature); damping; where the skier is positioned relative to both the center of the sidecut and the center of the running surface; the shape and amount of camber, tip rocker, and tail rocker (which in turn collectively affect how the center of the running surface changes in 3D snow, which in turn affects skier balance); the effect of the plate (if any) and binding; binding delta; base and edge material; base structure; tune (of course -- this should have occurred to me first!); wax; and many others. Further, none of these factors can be taken in isolation -- each interacts with the others in some complex way. Finally, there's how all these attributes collectively interact with snow conditions, terrain, and of course the style, height, weight distribution, strength, power, agility, etc. of the skier. And since I'm not a ski designer there's certainly lots of stuff I've missed. And no, I didn't look any of this up -- I wanted to write something that reflects only my own knowledge and understanding (limited though it may be), so this is what I came up with in ~15 minutes off the top of my head. I hope this is sufficient to convince you!
However, having said that, I also felt obliged to recount my own experience in demoing skis in soft snow. I've repeatedly emphasized I'm aware that it's very limited: after all, I've only got four data points! [160 cm 62 mm fully cambered Atomic Slaloms, 170 cm 89 mm Volk Kendos with moderate tip rocker, and 165 and 172 cm Line Prophet 98s with moderate tip and tail rocker.] However, with this limited experience, I found that, irrespective of the differences in ski flex patterns, sidecut, etc., as the skis got wider and longer, they consistently lost agility: ranking agility in soft snow, for me it was Atomics>Kendos>165 Prophets>172 Prophets. This is hardly definitive -- but for me it is at least suggestive that I lose agility as I go longer and wider. But since it's merely suggestive, I'm entirely open to the possibility that some of the even fatter, even more rockered skis might give back the agility that the moderately wide, moderately rockered skis give up relative to the Atomics.
Again, I hope this helps. Thanks again to everyone that's given suggestions. I'm looking forward to demoing more new skis this year, and your input has given me a clearer picture of what sorts of skis, among the enormous number available, I should target.
Edited by chemist - 10/8/13 at 9:30pm