I just skied my first day on a pair of 185s with a race stock binding. Mostly hardpack conditions and a little leftover pow. ... but first a little background:
I'm transitioning out of a pair of 200cm 9.20 Beta Race boards, so I'm coming from a "longer and stiffer" shape ski background. I'm 6'2" - 210, expert, and tend to ski really aggressively ... read: Super-G turns at Mach 2, usually. (Case in point, I'm using a pair of Solomon XCourse Screams ... stiffer than a Margarita in Tijuana - but I wouldn't trade them for anything. I love stiff boots, and up until now stiff skis).
So there is a bias here - I've been skiing a stiff, long race board in all conditions in Colorado and a 185 is the shortest ski I've skied in over 20 years. Before I went out, I read this discussion and the sizing chart (which says I should be barely into a 175) - and frankly was somewhat worried about the 185 being too much board. These things are about as stiff (or lack thereof) as my wife's Volkl Motions - which is a totally new experience for me.
Also, a friend of mine took a pair of 185s out, worked 'em hard and bent them on his first day. The Atomic rep (in Jackson) told him that there was a problem with the pulser arms on the initial release, but that Atomic had rectified the issue. Anyway, I was under strict instructions to "put 'em through the paces" and see if the problem was really fixed. ... bottom line, on a cruiser day I was STANDING on them.
After about 4-5 runs to figure out how to load up such a (in my mind) short ski, I started to feel the power of this ski. The "technocrap" of the pulser arms sticking to the snow is nothing of the sort. In huge arcs, over headwalls, these things were glued to the snow. Also, the torsional stiffness is as good as advertised. When I had these skis really decambered, they were rock solid through the arc. However, what really impressed me was the stability of such a wide ski when the velocity was up, as well as the incredible agility of a ski this wide. Very nimble edge to edge in short radius turns.
In all of these discussions, I'm seeing some LARGE skiers debating on ski length - and albeit, I'm used to a LOT of ski. However, at no point did I think that this was too much ski at all (in a 185). As a matter of fact, it feels like the perfect length (as evidenced by the ski's stability at speed). I'll even go as far as to say that the Atomic sizing chart may be a little bit too restrictive (kinda like when your local ski shop sets your bindings to 4 to avoid being sued when you don't release). I think a 175 might not be enough ski for me (in terms of sacrificing stability and float). Certainly you guys who are pushing 250 - 260 pounds should entertain the thought of 185s. (If you're not big enough to handle the longest board, then who is? ... or why would Atomic even make a ski that large?).
Bottom line: this ski is fun, fun, fun. I can't wait to get it off-piste and see what it's made of in the terrain it's really designed for ... and I'd recommend this ski (as well as the additional length) to any expert skier who skis aggressively and considers himself to have above average leg strength. Hope this helps any prospective buyers.