Originally Posted by Mike3216
I agree, if there is a reason. But I can't see any reason, unless there is a tendency for bindings to fail with age, which should be negated by tuning and maintenance.
There is, and tuning and maintenance can only somewhat negate that tendency in the very most expensive ones, which also happen to be the heaviest ones. Aside from the tendency to fail, there is the tendency to have the setting points drift (be inaccurate for the setting) and *that* incurs cost to you because the older the binding gets the more often you need to pay to have it checked (and chucked if they drift too far).
Originally Posted by Mike3216
But, since the initial introduction of the shaped ski designs, have there REALLY been a lot of advancements, or has it beens smoke and mirrors with the sole goal of selling more skis? I am asking this question earnestly, because I have haven't kept up with ski technology in the least.
Yes. Shaped skis started off being slightly-shorter-than-GS-length skis with symmetrical sidecuts and no one had a really good idea of what they wanted the cores or the flex to be. Let's call this the first generation. Think Elan SCX, Kneissl Ergo, Dynastar Max. Ski tip widths are in the high 90mm ranges, ski waists are in the low 60s. Not much versatility in these shaped skis, not much float, race skis are still straight. The term 'parabolic' really belongs in this era of design - those symmetrical sidecuts were surpassed almost immediately. Bindings are *barely* revised editions of designs from the straight ski era, with marginally better materials and slightly better lateral release but not much better elasticity. Your 7.1s are from this era.
Then, approx. 99-'01 shaped GS race skis and consumer detuned race skis really become good. Really, really good, and versatile enough to be skied with skidded technique on a wide variety of terrain. Think Volkl P30/P40, Atomic 9'18, K2 Patriot. These were the years we skied "race carvers" everywhere including powder and moguls. Ski tip widths go up and over 100mm, ski waists are in the mid 60mm ranges. Slalom skis are sort of off everyone's radar at this point; powder and "mountain" designs exist but are very specialty. Your Volants are from this design era, a 'carver' design with some elements from the 'mountain' toolbox including a slightly wider waist.
Then, approx. 2002-'04 Shaped slalom skis become very very good, and become the default "all mountain" ski. These were the years we had 200+ pound guys skiing 150cm-160cm skis everywhere that wasn't powder. Ski tip widths go up and over 110mm, ski waists up and over 70mm. Think Atomic 9'12, 9'16, Dynastar Omeglass/Omecarve, Nordica Speedmachine/SUV, Elan 662/666. There are (finally) specialty powder designs by most major manufacturers and there is a beginning of a trend to bridge the gap between "all mountain" SL types and powder skis. These are the first 'midfats' - but they mostly feel like GS skis underfoot at this point. Twintips become popular. There is a tendency to create system skis, skis + bindings in one package. Bindings get redesigned, even the flat ones; shaped skis are really not nice to previous designs.
Then, 2005-'07 we had fat slalomish skis go into the mid-high waist ranges, 75mm+ and they truly become all-mountain, that is everywhere except big powder. With the exception of one pretty-durn-fat-for-its-time ski (Atomic Metron) people start skiing slightly longer skis again, noticing that they can still do tight turns but with better modulation. Powder skis become really good for their role, and people start experimenting with adapting flex and reversing sidecut. Twintips become very diverse, from all-mountain to park-only to mogul-specific. Mid-fats become good and for the first time become a decent this-is-my-only-pair-of-skis choice.
By 2008 those mid-high-70mm waist skis become dated, even the Metron. Mid-to-high 80mm designs can do just about everything they could, and more. Pretty much everyone with a quiver has a 95+mm ski in that quiver. Reverse camber becomes an accepted thing in powder skis, and starts trickling down to slimmer skis by way of early rise shovels.
In 2010 everything changes *again* - others can explain that; this post is already too long. Suffice it to say that carving as the end-all-be-all went out 2 generations of skis ago.
Now, you can make the argument that what I have broken down into 6+ generations of shaped ski design is really only evolutionary and that it doesn't really affect 'playability'. I offer you the counterargument that every generation of design required someone 'playing' at a high level to re-evaluate their skillset and build it up to match the new gear. I offer you the further observation that someone skiing an early design ski will *not* be able to follow in the tracks of someone with an equal skillset on the new gear, unless the leader is deliberately keeping it tame. As in: skiing evenly down the fall line on a groomer.