Originally Posted by beyond
It would help us if you could tell a little about your sex, size, experience, where you ski, what you plan to use them for, what qualities in a ski matter to you. For instance, using these for fast rec skiing is one thing, using them for NASTAR, another, and it is a lot different than Masters, with club level falling somewhere in between, depending on the club or league. And if you're using them in Japan, probably different system yet.
As a gross overgeneralization, IMO Head, Stockli and Fischer make the beefiest adult FIS consumer available race skis (meaning they're not built to something like your specs). Then Blizzard/Nordica and Atomic. Then Rossignol/Dynamic and Volkl. Not sure where to put Elan, haven't heard much about them in a while. But this rank is very dependent on what level of ski; Volkl GS's made for a 16 year old are flexy compared to say, a Head. The same ski made for adults, not so much difference. And the recreational racing versions, which work better for NASTAR or its equivalent, and most beer league, all bets off, somewhat different ranking.
Beyond, if we look at the FIS spec skis now (at least the 183/188-30 Womens skis) this previous generation meme is no longer really applicable. What i have found having been on 6+ major brands is that there is very little between them now in terms of stiffness as a brand identity. The R&D guys seem to have all homed in on pretty much the same sweet spot. Where the differences are now is more in terms of the finer points of the characteristics. things like how they feel on turn--n, do they snap into it or is it a more progressive feel etc. In fact i will go out on a limb and say I would pretty happily race on GS skis from Blizzard, Volkl, Head, Fischer, Atomic, Stockli without any concern and I am confident my times would be in a pretty tight grouping. While there are a couple with feel that I personally prefer (and remember that I am buying them myself, without any manufacturer special deal so as always I give an objective view) if a brand wanted to offer me an all in deal, I would not have any concerns that i would be putting myself at a disadvantage or giving up some time on the clock.
Interestingly enough, I am also sensing a similar convergence in the FIS 165 slaloms. In the past I always found the Volkl for example to be a bit soft and plankish. However, last weekend I was able to spend some time in gates withe the 2015 Head and Volkl, as well as my current choice Nordica/Blizzard. Head has definitely made a big move forward with this year's slalom ski. Previously it was (IMHO) a little way behind the top 3 (Blizz/Nordi, Atomic and Rossi/Dynastar) but now it is right up there with them. (My opinion may have been colored a bit of course because the course I was training on with our U16/U18s was pretty slick and, even on a 10.5m set I was making a decent fist of it while they were sliding all over the place :) ) . An even bigger surprise to me was that the Volkl was also very good, really good hook up and a solid feel. Definitely not the Volkl of old. So as with the GS ski I would happily compete on any of these if the deal was available (Hint, hint, if anyone is listening out there !! )
So, again for the top 6 brands, all now much more similar than distinctively different. One point to note on the head slalom. I tried it initially a few weeks ago with the binding set at the midpoint. I jumped into them at the top of the course, took one run on them and realized it was too far back on the ski for me and i was having to really work to get them though the course (maybe i should have taken a free run first to see what they were like rather than jumping straight into gates ),
So, i remounted them 3/4 inch forward before I tried them last weekend and made a huge difference for me in how they worked.
But anyway, the takeaway for the OP. When it comes to FIS spec skis, we need to rethink our previous assumptions!