Of course. But it is significant that Dawg thinks the bones are too stiff and Philiplug thinks they are the standard reference. Personal preference, skiing style, ability? I don't think so. I think the answer is weight. We know Dawg is a super athlete and likely in better physical condition than most people on the hill. We know they can both ski. But Phil is 180 and Dawg is like 150 (frightening that I know that--isn't it). I've often thought that some of Dawg's ski selections could be shorter…(IMHO). Would love to know what he thought of the 173--would it try truly be a different ski?
By the way--as long as I am riffing--walk into any ski shop and ask the seller --should I be in the 173 or 180--and what to 90% say: do you want to go fast or turn. I've heard that 1000 times. To every ski shop guy who has ever said that too me, just so you know, my standard thought has always been two fold : 1.) Yes and 2.) Lazy answer and probably smug answer. I think the more correct answer is that in all likelihood--one size is more appropriate for a given skiers weight/height and ability.
Weight plays a huge difference, no doubt. Take the demo being discussed; 2 pretty similar skis, the Fischer Motive 95 and the Bonafide in 180cm. Fischer is quite a bit softer. SSH and I preferred it to the Bonafide (Steve being 165lbs). The Bone is stiff: I had to ski nearly perfectly to get the tip to bend at the top of the turn. Rewarding, sure, but demanding (I did like the tip update, felt it arced at the top as well as any 90's ski I tried). It was fun, but I don't want to feel like I always have to ski perfectly to get it to ski well, and stiff skis can feel like that for me. If I were 200lbs, I would have been flexing it much better, and perhaps overpowering other skis. The Fischer isn't built like that; flex has to be at least 20% less. I can make a mistake and not get pushed around, bend it at the top of the turn without throwing myself down the fall line like I am in a race course. But as far as length goes, would a 173cm 98mm ski make any sense for someone like me? Not really. That is short for a wide ski. This isn't a carver, it won't be my groomer ski, so skiing a stiff ski short might work in terms of flexing it, skiing it short doesn't match the intended purpose of a 98mm ski, which is 97% off piste for me. So, yeah, save the Bones for heavier skiers, and something softer for lighter guys like me. There isn't a ski that works for everyone in every situation.
I don't think that weight plays a HUGE factor surprises anyone. Aside from skill and skiing speed, it has by far the biggest determination on who can do what on a ski. I have had fun on women's FIS GS skis; mens skis, no way.
Skiing style is more important than many people think. Ever see an intermediate pushing tails on a wide ski and seeing how much confidence they get in sliding around? Or a really static skier on a really stiff ski, because it is "edgy" and they can stand up on it? Yet a lot of the top performing skis out there are getting softer, not stiffer; good skiers need to bend a ski, not ski a plank. Lateral stiffness can be retained without making a ski an I-beam. Stockli comes to mind: as good as anything but not stiff at all. Kastles aren't super stiff, moderate at best: the new Monsters are much softer than the old ones, Motives are much softer than the old RX series, Elan's 88xti is so much softer than the old version. They all ski really, really well. When I get on a really stiff ski, it feels like it either was designed for a heavier skier in mind; groomers mostly, or simply a pretty obsolete design.
Regarding skiing style: a primarily cross-under skier like me is going to want a different ski than a cross over skier, who will typically prefer a stiffer platform to stand on. And also, the more dynamic the skiing style, the more or less flex a skier may prefer. Energy preference out of a ski depends on how dynamic the skier is. I like a lot of energy, I like to load it and have it release me and direct it into the next turn. That means I have to be able to flex the ski, over simply park and ride it.