Originally Posted by KevinF
So the "cheater" version is shorter, flexier with a smaller turn radius to make it friendlier for navigating race courses for mortals. It's called a "cheater" because it's not legal for use in elite racing circles, but if you're just racing NASTAR and beer-league courses -- who cares?
Kevin, I agree with 90% of your definition here. My perception of things is slightly different with regard to the flex piece. Of course, I'm not an authority on this topic any more than you are.
As far as the flex, I'm not convinced that the cheaters are always flexier. Specifically, as a lightweight (135lbs), I would normally ski a cheater GS ski in one of its shorter lengths - often the shortest - around 165 or 170cm. Typically these skis will be available in a range of roughly 165 - 185 to suit skiers of varying sizes. Obviously if I were to go for one of these in one of longer available lengths, I'd be on a ski with a flex designed for someone much bigger than I am, and this would not be fun.
By contrast, the SHORTEST FIS GS ski from a couple years ago is a 175cm ski with a 23m radius. This is a ski - I think - designed for the smallest racers, with a flex to match. My understanding is that this is why a 175 is typically called a "women's" ski. There is really nothing gender-specific about it otherwise.
Because I have been looking for some more stability and "cush" in the course, particularly when it's rutty, I'm doing an experiment this year with trying an FIS-style ski instead of a cheater. The flex situation I describe above has factored into my decision to take on this experiment, because I hypothesize that it will allow me to ski a longer length than I otherwise would be able to. Now, I hasten to add that the jury is still very much out re: whether these skis will help my race times. They may not. However, I have spent a whole day free skiing on them and they feel great. I have no trouble bending them at any substantial speed. Therefore I have begun to drink the Kool Aid proffered by some experienced racers on this site, such as ScotsSkier, who say that these skis deserve the attention even of duffers like us.
Back to the OP, though, Kevin's answer is essentially totally on target, and you should consider my commentary tangential.