Perhaps the hypothesis being advanced here should actually be reversed. The contention is that race skis are being sub-optimized because manufacturers are being forced to design to a spec (which may or may not be sub-optimal) and as a result race skis and the trickledown effect to retail and retail race is adversely impacted.
Yet, if we look at some of the actual facts, the 30/35m FIS rules have brought a number of developments to the market sector, which have also cascaded out to the lower level. For example:
- early rise that actually works on a high performance ski without the tip feeling like a wet noodle
- improving turn-in on a longer radius (and arguably more stable at speed) ski
- a LOT of development around plates to really match it to the required characteristics (watch out for some significant developments from Atomic next season to get Hirscher back in the fold
- Development that not only considers the ski/plate interface but also optimizing the plate/boot interface and compatibility (this is a big area of focus although it flies under the radar screen
- Stability at speed and smoother ride without having the stiffness and (lack of) flexibility of a steel girder.
I could go on but I am sure you get the drift. And as myself and Atomicman (who both have a decent amount of miles on them), and Primoz (who has much closer contact to the real scoop) have pointed out, based on experience as opposed to reading a two year old blog, the new skis have now reached a level where they are actually superior in most ways to their smaller radius predecessors.
So, my hypotheses is that the constraints placed on design by the new regs have actually forced additional creativity and improved the breed, what racing is designed to do.....
If we look at F1, where there are very tight constraints and regulations we see the same thing. It has driven things like KERS, hybrid power trains, which are also starting to filter down to the mainstream (and spawned a new breed of super car like the Porsche 918)