OK, I'll bite. Interesting followup.
First, I fully believe Dawg's composite core description. We are one of the more biased, non-representative special interest groups I've ever run across. According to recent studies (below), the average Oregon skier is 40 years old, 2/3 of them are married, 91% own their own skis, and they seldom ski; non-season pass holders go 6 times a year and season pass holders go 20 times a year.
Here, Dawg, if you haven't seen this, interesting reading: https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1794/12578/Ski%20Oregon%20Econ%20Impact%20Final.pdf?sequence=1
Far as I can tell, these numbers are not out of line nationally. The average age of all skiers in the U.S., for instance, is 38.5, according to SIAA. But it's a non-normal distribution with a big lump of >65 boomers. So I think that there are actually three "lumps:" 20-something freestylers, married folks with tweener kids, and cranky old guys like me and Rossi Smash who obsess over perfection.
Second, I think this entire "freestyle" rubric is becoming overworked. There are plenty of so-called "freestyle" skis that do nicely on hardpack (anyone skied a Blizzard or Nordica lately?), and plenty of so-called "traditional" narrower skis that suck on same).
Moreover, the average skier really doesn't care about fit of ski to conditions, according to this or other documents; he (majority of us are male) gets his data from peer reviews, ski mags, and friends' recommendations, and claims to care about performance. But shop guys I've talked to say the buzz around a ski and its test scores is what's important, rather than whether the ski fits the conditions it'll be used in. Or the actual skill set of the buyer. Not that we here at Epic would ever contribute to buzz, but how many average skiers really need a 98 mm ski? Let alone one with lotsa metal in it? Let alone a 106?
Third, I'm not convinced that most skiers actually notice the lack of fit. What I mean by this is that an intermediate who skids down a icy pitch on a blue groomer tends to write off the run as about conditions, not about equipment. Or their lack of skills. Saw a lot of this the last few weeks in NE. Oddly, they don't get all that upset; conditions are acts of god, y'see. And he/she may not be far off; IME most of the skis we drool over here will shine in ways that will be lost on folks who don't carve, don't speed along, and don't expect silky smooth runs through crud. We want envelopes that exceed what the average skier will ever approach.
Fourth, calling a ski "forgiving" is the kiss of death here at Epic, but I bet most skiers will enjoy a easy going/forgiving ski under variable conditions a lot more than a ski that is perfect for the same conditions but asks more of the operator. For instance, some here have long been ridiculed for saying that rockered fat skis are better for beginners and intermediates. (I've been among the ridiculers.) But if you define "better" as "easier and more fun" rather than "more appropriate for learning to carve," they may be right.
A ski that comes to mind is the Atomic Theory. It's never gotten much love around here compared to stiffer, higher performance (and more expensive) skis. It appears to be a classic B+ ski, and freestyle to boot. But I see a lot of them around the slopes, and what folks like about them, when I ask, is that they are (wait for it) versatile, cheap, and capable of getting by on ice. People get by on ice, y'see. They don't expect to dominate it. Or care. They wait for the soft snow and remember it when it comes. Another example is the Rossignol 88. Not nearly as sexy as the Brahma or Steadfast or MX88, but there are about 10-20x more of them on the slopes. Because they are (wait for it) versatile, cheap, and capable of getting by on ice. A third example is the Volkl Bridge. Slopes are cluttered with them. Some reviewers here don't like them because they're "greasy." Yup. But they pivot on a dime, they can set an edge on ice, sorta, and they feel great on features in a park with 4" of new wet snow. And they're (wait for it) cheap and etc etc.
Conclusion: Freestyle or lightly rockered skis that are wrong for the conditions prolly do lead many to struggle more than they could otherwise. Yep. Agree. On record, and all that.
But on the other hand, they may also make skiing on the average day for the average skier more enjoyable precisely because that skier doesn't have to worry about the proper weight distribution, or angulation, or all that cool stuff. They can pivot and slide and skid down the groomer, whooping all the way, hit a few tame features, survive a bump field, and feel like heroes at lunch. I see this every weekend at the lodge, and y'know what? More power to them. They're plateaued, and they're prolly having way more fun than me having one of my self-critical meltdowns over edge angle during retraction.
Edited by beyond - 1/13/14 at 4:30pm