Some really intelligent, thought-provoking stuff here.
Stoic Dude: Nice pictures useful data. Cannot love Moments, but that's just me. Yep, lot of indies have thick edges and well-finished, visually appealing topsheets. Not sure about the meaning of the machine groves on the Nordies; may be intentional, inverse Volkl Speedwall, to break up drag. Or not. I haven't been as impressed with indie bases. It's not just about thickness, and hopefully, the old days of using band sanders is long gone, so they all have even striations, if not real structure. But DPS, for instance, makes very durable bases that are so hard they hate wax. So for those who ski on rock bands instead of snow, all good I guess. PITA for the rest of us. Other brands take several trips to the local shop to get the bases flat, let alone have a structure. And in all honesty, I tend to sell skis before I go through the edges, exception maybe racing skis that get tuned every week.
So the thick edge deal has always confused me. It may help prevent delams, and I guess if they get gouged on those rock bands, or landing on a pillow that bites back, the constant tuning off the scratches eats away edges. But how often does the average user actually sharpen his/her edges? Even racing skis last a couple of years. And these are supposedly soft snow skis. Some pros have famously said they never get their powder skis even tuned. And park skiers seem to like to ski out into the (sorry) parking lot; like boarders, dings and scratches are collected for status. Why do we need extra deep, extra heavy edges on soft snow skis? Isn't this a lot like buying a larger size burger because it represents more "value," even if we in no way need the larger size burger?
Ski Otter: Interesting comments. I agree that skis can change quality considerably when run over on edge. Can totally see that with the Soul Rider, which gets high marks here. But IMO that's a tactical approach that will work for any ski made; we just notice it more on lighter, flexier skis. As I see it, on edge there's enormously less surface exposed to perturbations from the snow surface, the metal edge itself will tend to cut, rather than ride over, and without working it out mathematically, more of the force from the skier is concentrated on a very small area, so it takes a far denser snow surface to send that force back into the ski and skier. Eg, why a woman's stiletto can dent a linoleum floor. So IMO these skis don't violate physics. You're good enough to adapt to their weaknesses and make them work.
The Sickles were fully rockered. IME manufacturers compensated for the shorter running surface of rockers by stiffening the longitudinal flex. So we have several iterations of stiff, short rockered skis that are easy to handle on groomers and can deal nicely with powder without being bent. For me, personally, though, not a successful design. Partly because of my style (although I grew up waterskiing, turns in deep soft snow feel more natural if I tip and bend the ski even though it's banking too), partly because of the terrain I ski (narrow spaces, bumps, often trees, out west, chutes or bounded faces, seldom more than 6" of snow, all of which mean controlled speeds where stiff skis can feel numb).
Iggy: No novel; appreciate the time you put in. You've convinced me to try a few of your skis when I can locate demos. The core thing interests me; I assume there's as much variance in balsa or synthetics as there is in bamboo, and also the lamination process, as much as the materials per se, must be key. Applaud your work on developing your own. However Stockli does balsa and syn pretty well, and Dynastar used syn very successfully in its highest end skis like the Legend series. Also realize you're responding to both the beef issue (followed the Wren reaction on TGR) and the female ski issue (ditto). FWIW, my family has a small business, and I can appreciate the problem of balancing core customer demands with longer range market targets.
Finally, a proposal you've probably already thought about, based on your comment about 40% of your direct sales being east of the Rockies, and climate change: You live in a place that gets a ton of snow that may transition to a ton of cold rain over the next couple of decades. Ditto for California, which yeah, seems like it's awash with indies, if not precipitation. I sincerely am nervous about the future of skiing all along the west coast, right up through Whistler. I grew up in LA, can recall local places that would open and close depending on when it snowed. Tough business plan to handle that much unpredictability.
But other regions may not follow the same pattern initially. As in the next 20-50 years. (After that suspect we'll all be ice skating indoors instead.) A piece about this year's snowfall in NE said apparently not a fluke, but due to warmer surface temps in Atlantic that send more moisture up, which have been colliding with unexpectedly deep arctic streams, so massive (for us) snowfalls. Prior to this, the predictions had been for more clouds and rain, but no one saw the polar vortex coming. So what if (definitely not a climatologist but it might be worth talking to one out where you are) North America will do a Return To the Future, circa 1934, with skiing flourishing in the North and Northeast? I'd guess within the decade, a band from the Northern and Canadian Rockies to Maine will be the most reliable for skiing. Not 1950 reliable, but best we'll have on the continent. (Could include AK, I guess, but from what I hear, our gain is their loss.) OTOH, this band seems to have plenty of thawing events; reliable snowfall won't translate to reliable powder. Just enough snow to ski on through the winter. Conditions at the last few SIA demos could become the norm.
So your comments about developing skis in the 90-110 range, with more sidecut and carving chops, would do well in a lot of that band. When it doesn't snow, we always have terrain parks and racing courses. When it does, we're all about bumps and trees. So your park skis should do well, and skis like your Wren 102 or Kartel 98 look like the future "soft snow" ski back here, as long as they can deal with the firm snow on the way to the soft snow. That's why I like your movement toward lighter cores instead of putting all your chips on carbon. IME carbon's a weird material; a little can be very supple and springy. A lot and my dentist gets to put in new fillings.
Retailers: Northern VT, like Jay, Stowe, or Smuggs, would seem fertile. Maine, places like Sugarloaf for sure. Killington has a ton of freestylers, so your park products definitely.